The White Mansion Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Posted on
Jul 28, 2014
Posted in: Hotels

I am writing today about our hotel. Because I needed a break from the Khmer Rouge before launching into our visit The Killing Fields. Because I am a huge, whiny wimp.

The White Mansion Hotel in Phnom Penh is posh. It was by far the fanciest of the places at which we stayed during our trip.

The more we explored the city, the more I became aware of the contrast between the massive white building and its surroundings.


It felt removed from the chaos of Phnom Penh – almost too removed. Inside the massive lobby, I couldn’t hear the sound of the tuk-tuks, I couldn’t smell the fish and durian and incense in the air.


In a way, I felt like I was cheating – staying in a fancy hotel that might as well have been anywhere. But this helped stave off culture shock, and I was slowly able to step into this new place like a someone wading into a pool of too-cool water. Some people just run and jump. I like to inch my way in, bit by bit.

I figure that’s okay, right? As long as I eventually dunk my head below the water.

Our room was massive, with high ceilings, and enormous windows that reached all the way from the floor up to them.

Poor Nicci had to share a bed with me. I’m prone to eating cookies in bed. And also cake. And sometimes fondue.


We even had a sitting area, where fresh fruit was left for us every evening.


And the bathroom had two sinks – so that Nicci and I could get ready at the same time, which was rather convenient.


Every morning we’d wake up too early from jetlag, and step out on to our balcony. From here we could smell burning wood, the air already warm with heat and humidity that would build steadily over the day.

View from our hotel room, circa 6:00 AM.


Then we’d head down to breakfast. It was easily my favorite part about the hotel, and sometimes even my favorite part of the day. We had our choice from a menu – traditional western breakfasts of eggs and toast, or crepes, or the “Asian-style breakfast”, which Nicci and I ordered almost every day. It was a light, garlicky broth of soup, with thin rice noodles and shrimp, and a small scoop of fried rice with chicken.


And passion fruit juice. Every. Single. Morning.


And the fruit platters, which sat at the intersection of familiar and not.


After breakfast, we’d venture out into the city. And after I got used to the temperature of the water, I’d duck my head under. All day long, I’d swim through the streets of Phnom Penh, until we returned to the White Mansion. I’d towel off and shake the water out of my ears.

Then I’d think about going for another dip.

Leave a Comment

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • I didn't do nearly all that I set out to do today. But I had a lovely dinner thanks to this man and some excellent out of town guests. So perhaps the measure of a day isn't always about that damn checklist. (Maybe. Ask me again tomorrow when all the stress hits me. 🤔😅)
  • You can't expect things to look *exactly* like the picture in the cookbook. But sometimes they do anyway. #alisonroman #diningincookbook #diningin #cocoabananabread #instadesserts #baking
  • Here it is, folks. The paperback edition of my book is out today. The hardcover came out more than two years ago, so it's wonderful to know that this story of mine still has life and is, gasp, still selling copies. Don't miss the book that Lauren Graham called "the travel companion you'll be happy you brought along" and that some guy on Twitter said was "immature and stupid." It's available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. #bookstagram #summerreading #bookworms
  • This lady. ❤️❤️❤️ So proud of her.
  • HAPPY LAUNCH DAY!! I really want to curl up in bed with this amazing novel today, but I can't - for an amazing reason. Because I'm going to be at the Lake Forest Park location of Third Place Books tonight, discussing it with the author, my dear friend @andreadunlop. Lady, I'm so proud of you. ❤️ ❤️❤️ #bookstagram #summerreading
  • Baking in an AirBnB is always an adventure. I didn't have a measuring cup for the flour so I eyeballed it, and had to use a wine bottle as a rolling pin to make these handpies. Not my best work, but @demeritt and @randderuiter seemed cool with the results, so I'm going to accept that sometimes good enough is, well, enough. 🥧🍴
  • "I hit the jackpot." That's how I once heard Michael J. Fox describe his marriage years ago, and it stayed with me. I've never found a better way of describing our relationship than that. Bells ring. Lights flash. Coins spill everywhere. Now, where's my complimentary breakfast?
  • Someone sent Rand socks with his face all over them, and he's really bothered by this but I'm gonna rock the hell out of them.
  • I told him to stop looking at the camera.
  • Eating junk food on the ferry with this guy right before dinner is kind of the dream.

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.