Room for rent: Booze and good vibes included

By: Bennett Murray

A new bar in Street 246 has opened with a business model that’s more akin to a function centre than a traditional watering hole.

Clients can rent The Room – which is decorated in a late French baroque style with comfy wooden armchairs and ornate end tables – for whatever purpose they wish, whether it’s a lavish birthday celebration or a public DJ party.

While most bars and clubs are willing to host events, owner Sebastien Berry is keen to make every night at The Room a private party – or at least outsource the music and marketing.

“They are free to do whatever they want – we’re just here to help them,” said Berry, adding that clients can even charge a cover if they want.

Berry himself is new to the bar business – two years ago, he was a subway driver in Paris – but once he moved to Phnom Penh, entering the nightlife industry seemed a natural option.

“I knew I liked to party and drink, so I said let’s try to have a bar,” he said, adding that, although he enjoys his new profession, the intense competition and human resources management takes some of the fun out of it.

“You have to drink all the time,” he joked.

The Room costs $300 a night – with booze extra. However, to sweeten the deal, clients will have the initial $300 discounted or even refunded if they bring in enough paying revellers.

So far, the venue has proven popular with nights feature deep house, techno, soul and funk.

Berry keeps the bar open Thursday to Friday and runs a weekly Thursday night event with local DJs and an Italian caterer who serves free tapas. Plans for regular mixologist guests are also in the works.

While he admitted he made some mistakes at his previous establishment, Frost¸ Berry said he is optimistic that his projects are only improving.

“I cannot say it’s a dream, but it’s a good experience and let’s see what’s going to happen,” he said.