Sep 13, 2022
WHEN IS A HOTEL NOT A HOTEL? When it’s home to your Tribe.
The newest addition to the hospitality skyline here in Cambodia‘s capital, Tribe Phnom Penh Post Office Square – to give the property its full name — is a stylish modern property opposite the city’s historic postal center. The attention-grabbing black-and-white colored building, with its hint of Art Deco influence, stands apart from the yellow palette of its colonial-era neighbors. It sits in a superb location, framed by Wat Phnom (the hilltop temple for which the city is named) a short distance to the west, the busy night market just a few hundred meters walk away, and at the start of the riverside path that runs all the way down to the royal palace.
Pulling up to the building, you think there’s no lobby to speak of; instead you enter a ground floor reception area home to an attention-grabbing artwork – a bright red metal statue of an Asian elephant – and catch the elevator up to the ‘check-in’ area two floors up. Here’s where the Tribe brand ethos starts to make its impact. The PR material explains the hotel is all about building a community of like-minded people — a Gen Z crowd that doesn’t want or need the traditional extras that come with hotels (think lobbies, minibars and spas), appreciates design and Instagram backdrops, and wants to connect with a community.
Accordingly, that’s why the check-in area at Tribe Phnom Penh also serves as a public co-working space, with a cafe (and bar for later) dishing up sandwiches and salads 24/7. Artworks are dotted around the space, with a long black counter at the far end the only indication you are still in a hotel. Off this space is a saltwater pool (and gym with high-end equipment from Italian-based Technogym), which was a little chilly during our August visit, the sunlight sadly blocked by the apartment building directly opposite. Our room was directly behind, a swipe card the only separation between public and private spaces.
The twin room (aka Tribe Comfort with balcony) is cozy at 21 square meters but smartly designed, with the sink outside of the bathroom, which was stocked with amenities from Australian stylist Kevin Murphy, bottled in refillable, recycled plastic. The two-tone scheme from the exterior continues inside the room, livened up with splashes of color designed to accent guests’ social photos. We really enjoyed wearing the super comfy sweat robes, a workout alternative to the bathrobes (yes, you can buy them). The suite (Tribe Comfort XL) is more spacious at 35 square meters, providing a lounge area that makes it more of a room to hang out in.
However, no room here is massive and that’s because the whole setup at Tribe seems to be designed to get you out of yours and mingling (or, at least, co-sharing a space with others). Emerging back out from our secure ‘hotel’ part of the floor, we saw young Cambodians had arrived to occupy the workstations – a mix of high tables, cubicles and low seating – snacking on fresh baguette sandwiches from the Tribe Express cafe. There’s more to dining, though. Seeking to turn Tribe Phnom Penh into a dining destination as well as a place to stay, the hotel hosts a number of outside eateries, including Hong Bao, a Thai-Chinese chain that serves affordable dim sum, and an outpost of yakitori diner Jua, also a transplant from Bangkok (note: you can’t bill these meals to your room!). However, there are two Tribe-run outlets found on the roof.
As the elevator doors open, your field of vision is overwhelmed by what lies in front. At first sight it resembles an armored Humvee covered in shiny metallic scales, a prop from the Mad Max movies. However, MMM21 (it stands for Mezcal Mad Memories) is in fact a cleverly disguised bar serving one of the largest collections of the Mexican spirit in the city. Next door is dining outlet Hemisphere, which serves Asian fusion dishes (a mixed bag when we dined here, but the menu will undoubtedly continue to evolve), but the restaurant is overshadowed by the fantastic roof terrace at the far end, with its views over the former French administrator’s residence (former dictator Pol Pot also lived here for a short time).
The outlet seems destined to become a go-to sundowner hangout for the city’s young and hip. Which really is half of the hotel’s target market. For, while guests will be drawn to stay by its downtown location, cool design, and rooftop bar, Tribe Phnom Penh seems equally destined to become a hangout for young Khmers. A meeting place where digital nomads can connect with local content creators, whether on social media, or just plain socially.
Tribe Phnom Penh Post Office Square; doubles from US$105 net.
All photos courtesy of Tribe Phnom Penh Post Office Square.