It's enough to make any urban dweller green with envy: A place where you can breath clean air, explore a lush landscape, and sleep under the stars just a 30-minute ride outside the teeming, traffic-choked city center -- by public transportation, no less -- without giving up all the comforts of home.
Guests at the new Bangkok Tree House can whisk themselves away from the Thai capital and its 12 million people by hopping on a recently completed extension of the city's elevated-rail network, the BTS Skytrain, to the Bangna station and then continuing on by foot, bicycle, or boat. (There's no road access to the hotel.)
The 'Greenest Hotel in Thailand'?
Proprietor Joey Tulyanond hopes to make his 11-room lodge, a cluster of jungle tree houses including the new two-person "View with a Room," a wall- and ceiling-free sleeping platform that offers "360 degrees of nature," the "greenest hotel in Thailand." So far it seems like he's off to a good start.
Locally sourced bamboo was a major component in the construction process, which also employed upcycling of discarded materials, including the driftwood that washes onto the riverside property. "Discarded juice cartons were used to insulate our walls, used plastic drums were used to build our pier, and reclaimed wood was used to build our walkways," the owners write in their "Green Alphabet" of the hotel's features.
Green From 'A' To 'Z'
At the Bangkok Tree House, all kitchen and organic waste are composted; laundry is line-dried; water is served in refillable glass bottles; solar cookers are used to prepare the lunchtime meals; plants clean the air in the rooms and the water in the natural swimming pond; organic herbal soaps and shampoos come from local sellers; outdoor and restaurant lights are powered by the wind and sun; and 2.2 pounds of trash are removed from the adjacent Chao Phraya River for every booking made.
The hotel's "Reflect" restaurant menu highlights organic, local, and in-season produce -- much of it grown on premises, using harvested rainwater -- in its sustainable seafood, Thai, and vegan options. (Travel bloggers J.J. Grill and C.B. Maiginpak have penned a mouthwatering description of the fare.) Even the wine list includes organic, biodynamic, and vegan selections.
If guests tire of lounging, eating, and swimming, they can hop on free rental bikes to pedal through fruit orchards and native vegetation on the area's many bike paths, visiting 200-year-old temples, a nearby botanical park, and the Bang Nam Peung floating market. There's so much to bike to in the area that the travel bloggers the Globetrotter Girls wrote: "If you do not do cycle here, you are wasting your stay at the Bangkok Tree House."
The owners caution, however, that "the Tree House is not for everyone" and encourage prospective guests to make sure they are a "compatible match" before booking (i.e. they won't freak out if they see a few bugs roaming around): "You will love the Bangkok Tree House if you love trees, plants, exotic lizards, birds, fireflies, cicadas, butterflies, and mother nature."