Bangkok's city centre is on your doorstep, but you'd never know it at this chic eco-getaway, writes Kit Gillet
The 10-minute ride on a small ferry to Bangkok Tree House across the Chao Phraya River to Bang Krachao, a small peninsula known as Bangkok's "green lung", seems to take you into another world. Compared with the lights shining brightly from the city centre to the north, a few lights flicker in the darkness on the far shore.
Bangkok Tree House is an 11-room boutique eco-hotel built on stilts and hidden among the mangroves, palm trees and waters of an island that few know of.
"I bet 90 per cent of Bangkok residents don't, to this day, know it exists," says Joey Tulyanond, the owner of Bangkok Tree House.
Within this landscape of ancient temples, floating markets and traditional Thai living, Bangkok Tree House offers guests something absent from the capital's luxury-first hotels: nature.
A stylish and modern space with room for 25 guests, the hotel has taken a rather novel approach to engaging with its surroundings. Rooms are based on themes of ants, butterflies or birds, and decorated accordingly. In the ant room, there is a line of 30cm-long ants crawling across the ceiling above where you sleep - a cool design touch, but perhaps a bit startling to wake up to.
Each "nest" is a two-storey structure, with the shower and entrance area downstairs and the bedroom above. From the lower floor, guests can look through glass windows into the waters below, while decking on the roof opens up views of the area and the stars at night.
Outside, thin wooden walkways link the rooms with the reception, relaxing and dining areas, and you can walk a path to the private dock.
The hotel is even experimenting with a swimming pool with plants that keep the water clean to avoid the use of chemicals.
If you want to sleep out under the stars, there is a platform high above the rest of the hotel, suitably called the "View With a Room", fitted with a king-size mattress, candles and mosquito net. (Guests get a nest, too, in case it rains.)
Basic comforts have not been overlooked, though. Rooms come with air con and an entertainment system. The restaurant's menu offers gourmet cuisine made with local products and fruits.
The hotel offers free bike tours to explore the surrounding area, and discounts for those who arrive on their own bikes to explore. The last ferry leaves at 9pm. From then on, there is nothing to disturb you but the bats and fireflies.
Bangkok Tree House
Petch Cha Hueng Road, Phra Padaeng, Samut Prakan, Greater Bangkok bangkoktreehouse.com
The easiest way is to take a taxi to Bang Na ferry crossing. Otherwise, access to the peninsula by bridge involves a major drive to the south. From the ferry terminal, it is a twominute walk north to the hotel.
there Nests start at HK$1,160 a night, with breakfast, bike hire and home-made ice cream (made from local fruits) included. View With a Room costs HK$1,650 and includes use of one of the nests, in case of rain.