Marissa Carruthers reviews TRIBE Phnom Penh, which has opened in the Post Office Square in the Cambodian capital.

As the latest international chain hotel to open in the capital, TRIBE Phnom Penh promises to make waves with its new concept that combines a modern hotel experience with creative community hub.

The entrance to TRIBE Phnom Penh sets the pace for what is to follow. A neon pink elephant stands at the entrance. A black and white pattern adorns the ceiling and the hotel brand’s signature contemporary industrial-style prevails: concrete floors, block-coloured walls and exposed pipes in the ceiling.

TRIBE Phnom Penh’s entrance

A Community Hub

Unlike the vast majority of hotels in Phnom Penh, this latest entry doesn’t have a lobby on the ground floor. Instead, it has three floors of parking – sensible in a city where parking seriously lacks – with the lobby located on the fourth floor. One of many things this hotel is doing differently.

“We want TRIBE to be an experience, more than simply a hotel,” says marketing and communications manager, Sabina de Groot Malikova, as she greets me in the lobby of TRIBE Phnom Penh Post Office Square.

Unlike the usual hotel lobbies that are full of guests checking in and out, this sprawling space is filled with young Cambodians working ferociously away at their laptops or sitting at tables holding talks that seemingly have purpose. After two years of entering hotels that are eerily empty, this serves as a refreshing sight.

Tribe Phnom Penh

“We want to create a creative community hub,” adds Sabrina as we walk through the lobby that also works as a free co-working space for outside guests. Grey cement walls feature throughout, exposed pipes adorn the ceiling and bursts of colour are provided by plump pink and blue sofas and bold artwork.

Pitching itself as a new form of lifestyle brand aimed at the modern traveller, TRIBE Phnom Penh is playing with concepts and pushing traditional accommodation boundaries. A smart idea in the wake of the pressures the pandemic put on hotels that solely rely on outside visitors for revenue.

Also in the lobby-cum-co-working-space, which boasts 24-hour access for the city’s night owls, sits TRIBE Express café, which serves coffee, drinks and snacks around the clock. Local entrepreneurs can also hire The Studio, a multifunctional space for private meetings and small-scale events. And the gym and spacious outdoor pool, also on the fourth floor, are open to outside guests for a small fee.

Tribe Phnom Penh

Clever Spaces

The 260-key property for now has only opened 90-odd rooms – another sensible move as the country awaits the tourist boom that is yet to materialise – offering six types that range from TRIBE Comfort through to TRIBE Comfort XL Suite. True to TRIBE style, the focus is on design, functionality and comfort.

We stayed on the 14th floor in a TRIBE Comfort twin with balcony. While the room was compact, every inch of space was put to use and it didn’t have a stuffy feel. Under the bed sits a space to store luggage, with the mini bar – dubbed sky bar – hanging on the wall.

A small balcony offered views of the Mekong River, with floor-to-ceiling windows ensuring the light floods in. In contrast, blackout curtains served well at keeping the morning rays locked out. The bed is a dreamer’s delight and sits way up there with one of the most comfortable I’ve slept in – the pillows were like fluffy balls of cotton wool.

In line with the modern traveller vibe, bathrobes have been replaced with TRIBE sweat robes complete with a hood. Clunky irons and ironing boards have been traded in for steamers, and while the bathroom may be boutique there’s still space for a power shower. There has been some serious thought put into the smart design of the rooms.

Additional Amenities

Dotted throughout the hotel’s public spaces is a series of Instagram-able spots – again, a smart move considering the selfie-obsessed younger generation. On the 15th floor sits Mescal Mad Memories 21. The quirky bar is inspired by the iconic Mad Max movies and offers Cambodia’s largest selection of Mescal-based beverages from a monster truck.

Adjacent sits Hemisphere, the rooftop restaurant serves a blend of Asian and continental cuisine that can be enjoyed from the spacious indoor area, or abundant outdoor space that offers 360-degree panoramas that take in Wat Phnom and the Mekong River – great for sunsets.

Located in Phnom Penh’s historic heart, TRIBE has definitely brought a fresh and modern concept to the city in an area that is slated to grow in the coming months as more renovation works take place and new bars and restaurants pop up in this special pocket of the capital.

TRIBE Phnom Penh

For more information, visit: TRIBE Phnom Penh Post Office Square.