Accommodation in Phnom Penh, as in the rest of the country, is great value no matter your budget, with quite literally hundreds of guesthouses and hotels to choose from. There are some great boutique hotels around the city if you want to treat yourself after an upcountry adventure.
North Central (Riverfront)
While the idea of resting up on the riverfront has obvious appeal, you’ll find better value elsewhere. Also keep in mind that hotels along the river tend to be noisy, and most budget rooms are windowless or face away from the river. A few superb options exist at the top end, but worthwhile pickings are much slimmer in the budget and midrange categories.
North Central (Inland)
If you want to be near the riverfront but not pay riverfront prices, this area is a happy hunting ground. Be aware, though, that the blocks running west off the river from St 104 to about St 144 are gritty and have sleazy areas; a handful of delectable new boutique hotels point to the slow gentrification of this prime real estate. Meanwhile, St 172 between St 19 and St 13 has become Phnom Penh's most popular backpacker area.
Boeng Kak Area
Boeng Kak Lake was once backpacker central, a lakeside version of Bangkok’s Khao San Rd, until the lake was completely filled in with sand in 2011 as part of a massive development project. The area has an abandoned feel these days, as most guesthouses moved south to St 172 or St 258. Some residents are still holding out for compensation from the government, and there are still a handful of guesthouses here, but the main reason to venture north is the street art scene, with lots of Banksy-style art on the remaining walls.
South Central (Norodom East)
The hotels in this zone are ideally positioned: they're located on or within walking distance of the river and are close to the Royal Palace. Cosy boutique hotels set around a pool are in abundance here. Walk-in backpackers can target St 258, which has a clutch of cheap guesthouses.
South Central (Norodom West & Psar O Russei)
With the downfall of the Boeng Kak area, the zone south of Psar O Russei has emerged as a popular alternative for budget travellers. It's a mix of high-rise hotels and backpacker-oriented guesthouses.
South Central (BKK Area)
Popular among NGO workers and expats, the Boeng Keng Kang (BKK) and Tonlé Bassac districts, south of Independence Monument, comprise the flashpacker zone, with an expanding selection of fine midrange hotels to go with a wealth of trendy bars and restaurants (plus a few good hostels). Many of the hotels are centred on St 278, dubbed ‘Golden St’ because of the preponderance of hotels that feature ‘Golden’ in their name.