Hotel Review: Intercontinental Phnom Penh on Priority Club PointBreaks

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This is an installment in my March 2012 Asia Trip Series which includes: A Birthday Present To Myself: Business Class on the World’s Longest Flight for $2.50Help Me Plan My Asia Trip Starting With SingaporeFlight Review: Singapore Airlines All Business Class Flight From Newark To SingaporeHotel Review: Intercontinental SingaporeVideo Trip Report: SingaporeHotel Review: Le Meridien Bangkok Avantec SuiteVideo Trip Report: BangkokHotel Review: Le Meridien AngkorVideo Trip Report: Siem ReapHotel Review: Intercontinental Phnom PenhVideo Trip Report: Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge Killing FieldsHotel Review: W Hong Kong.

The Intercontinental Phnom Penh.

Thanks to the advice of several TPG readers, I decided to extend my stay in Siem Reap and just pass through Phnom Penh for a day and a night before continuing on to Hong Kong and the final leg of my Asia trip. I will post a video trip report about my time in the Cambodian capital later this week, but for now, I wanted to share my thoughts on my hotel: the Intercontinental Phnom Penh.

Getting There
I originally wanted to take a boat from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, which takes about the same time as a car and costs less than flying. However, the river levels were low and I was told the trip could take up to 10 hours. No thanks! Instead, I hired a  driver with a nice Toyota Highlander for about $200 (it seemed like almost every car in Cambodia was a Toyota or a Lexus). We stopped for lunch along the way, but overall it was a long 5 hours in the car, and traffic in Phnomh Penh was pretty rough. I was glad when we finally got to the Intercontinental, though getting into the hotel was like entering Ft. Knox with metal detectors and huge ASEAN Summit delegations in the lobby–lots of movers and shakers there.

My King Deluxe room at the Intercontinental Phnom Penh.

As luck would have it, I made it to Phnom Penh in time to take advantage of the fact that the Intercontinental Phnom Penh was one of Priority Club’s PointBreak properties for January-March, so at the last minute I was able to use 5,000 points (which I equate to about $30 in value) instead of either the usual 25,000 a free night at this property usually requires, or paying the $180 nightly rate a King Deluxe room would have cost. Hat tip to TPG reader Sean who reminded me that it was on the PointBreaks list in my Cambodia tips post!

I wouldn’t normally encourage transferring Amex or Chase points to Priority Club, but in the case that a PointBreak hotel works for your needs, it can make a lot of sense. In this case, my Priority Club points ended up being worth 3.6 cents each. Even though I’m a Royal Ambassador, Intercontinental doesn’t include all the normal benefits on award stays, but I was upgraded to a Club Room (no suites were available), and given access to the club lounge, where there was free internet, and decent spreads of breakfast in the morning, and evening snacks and drinks.I also got a silver elephant welcome amenity and a fruit tray, so I thought that the redemption was a great value considering I only spent 5,000 points.

The club lounge at the Intercontinental Phnom Penh.

The room was perfectly fine–nothing too special–but it was spacious and clean, the fabrics were colorful, it had a king bed, a little sitting area with a loveseat and coffee table, a work desk, cable TV (though a chunky old one) and wired internet for a fee. The all-tile bathroom was nice and bright with a walk-in shower and separate tub, and a dark granite single vanity.

Lunch at La Residence, recommended by the IC Phnom Penh concierge.

One of the other reason’s I’d chosen this hotel is because of its central location–it’s just about 10 minutes to the infamous S21 prison, which is now a genocide museum, and about 30 to the Killing Fields, which were the two things I wanted to see when I was there. The hotel desk arranged a driver for the half-day of touring and a drop off at airport for $30. I told the concierge I also wanted to eat in a good restaurant for lunch, and he made reservations at Le Residence which was an absolutely delicious French/Cambodian high-end fusion restaurant. I’d highly recommend it.

Prawn parmesan risotto at La Residence.

Overall, I thought it was a good experience, especially for my point redemption, and I’d recommend it for anyone popping through Phnom Penh.

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The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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