Have we found London’s friendliest vegan restaurant?

Guest blogger Erin Moncur discovers an eco-friendly restaurant that is causing a worldwide stir amongst vegans looking for more than a good salad…

222 Veggie Vegan, just a five minute walk from West Kensington station, first opened its doors in 2004 and has since firmly established a reputation for being London’s friendliest vegan restaurant, serving wonderful and inspiring dishes alongside a great, relaxed atmosphere. Even at its busiest times, it doesn’t take long to be seated and made to feel welcome.

Yummy food at 222 Veggie Vegan
Yummy food at 222 Veggie Vegan

Meet Ben the chef

Ben, who has been a vegan himself since his teenage years, is passionate about helping other vegans enjoy their experience of eating out and, more importantly, to enjoy their food. He picks the menu himself and lovingly prepares the dishes using fresh, natural ingredients that are low in fat and salt.

He also makes sure they are GM free and organic where possible. He works with a small team who share his passions and ideals. If you ask any of them about the food, they can all tell you where it comes from.

The menu

The menu is reasonably priced considering the location of the restaurant. The evening mains vary from £8.95 to £11.95 and the lunch buffet is set at £7.50, or £5.50 if you need lunch to be a takeaway. The dishes are unusual but amazing, from Seitan Stroganoff (a customer favourite) to Pumpkin Noodles with Grated Coconut. You will also find a fabulous mixture of starters, side dishes and desserts.

Their 222 Burger, made from tofu and veggie mince, is delicious. The team are more than happy for you to make requests and variations to suit your own requirements and I encourage you to pop into the kitchen to meet Ben and chat about the food.

Outside 222 Veggie Vegan
Outside 222 Veggie Vegan

For buffet lunches and candlelit evening meals, this is a place to go and experience, vegan or not. It is not hard to see why they were awarded the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor in 2013.

Location: 222 Veggie Vegan Restaurant, 222 North End Road, West Kensington, London W14 9NU

Contact for reservations and more info: 020 7381 2322 / info@222veggievegan.com

 

Seafood and sea views at Rocky Bottoms, North Norfolk

You can’t get much better than eating local seafood in the sunshine, while gazing out to the very sea it was caught in…

That’s the treat Goodtrippers enjoyed last week when we visited the (relatively new) Rocky Bottoms cafe in North Norfolk. This eco-friendly, purpose-built eaterie is run by a local fishing family of over 35 years.

The cafe sits in its own field set back from the cliff-tops of West Runton in North Norfolk. Serving fresh, locally-caught seafood daily, this is a fantastic foodie addition to the Norfolk coast.

pull up a deckchair at Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk
pull up a deckchair at Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk

Local and seasonal menu

Pick from smoked mackerel, fish cakes, smoked salmon sandwiches, and fresh lobster or crab (famous in this part of the world) caught down the road at Weybourne. We tried the delicious grilled lobster and fries which was topped with garlic butter and served with an inventive, caper-filled salad. There’s also a very yummy seasonal tart on offer – lobster and asparagas in the spring, turning into lobster and samphire in the summer.

Kids can also enjoy the local seafood with a children’s menu offering morsels such as line-caught cod goujons. Puddings are also available – try the ‘Runton Mess’ or classic ice-creams.

Drinks on offer include the usual teas and coffees plus refreshing Fentimans so you can wash it all down with a ginger beer. Or the restaurant operates a BYO option at just £1 per person (so bring some bubbles and make it even more special!).

And you don’t have to eat in – a takeaway menu means you can grab some perfect picnic food for taking down to the beach.

the 'eat in' menu at Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk
the ‘eat in’ menu at Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk

Beautiful surroundings

On a sunny day such as our visit you have to grab an outdoor table (plenty of them but on busy days, which are frequent, it would be best to book), or sit inside for a bit of shelter (large glass sliding doors ensure you can still feel the sea breeze if you want to).

Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk
Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk

If you’re having a briefer stopover, sit back on one of the many deckchairs in the grounds and gaze out at the sea view peeking up over the horizon. The lovely sandy beach of West Runton is a mere three minute walk away.

All in all, we think this is one to rival (whisper it) the infamous Cookies seafood restaurant down the road at Salthouse – Rocky Bottoms has friendly service, wonderful food, and a fantastic location. (We can’t wait to go back to try out their candle-lit indoor eating area for an early seafood supper later this year!).

West Runton beach, Norfolk
West Runton beach, a short stroll from Rocky Bottoms

Opening times: Mon-Sat 10am until 6pm (with later 8pm closing during high season Thurs-Sat); Sun 12pm until 5pm.

Location: Cromer Road (look for the orange signs), West Runton, Norfolk NR27 9QA. Tel: 01263 837359

 

Feast at Malaysia Night, London

From laksa to satay, roti canai to beef rendang, we can’t get enough of Malaysian cuisine with its melting pot of influences, so it’s great news to hear that the Malaysia Night food festival is back!

Now in its fifth year, the free festival, organised by Malaysia Kitchen, will be taking over London’s Trafalgar Square on Friday 26 September. From noon until 10pm, you can feast to your heart’s content on Malaysian dishes from twenty restaurants and street food eateries. Live entertainment including songs in Malay by Bonnie Freechyld and performances by traditional Malaysian dancers will also be bringing a piece of this corner of SE Asia to the capital.

Malaysia Night, Trafalgar Square London

Interactive cookery demos and food market

Enjoy interactive cookery workshops with Malaysian chef, Norman Musa. Watch cookery demonstrations by BBC Masterchef Champion 2014 Ping Coombes and Masterchef Champion 2011 Dhruv Baker alongside Caroline Mili Artiss, TV chef and one of the original Youtube chefs.

Inspired by some authentic recipes, you can then shop at the Malaysian food market selling everything you need to recreate those mouth-watering dishes at home. (We’re told the infamous durian fruit will be on sale – try it if you dare…!).

Visitor info: Entry is FREE; 12noon to 10pm (live entertainment from 5pm), Friday 26 September 2014.

Where: Trafalgar Square, London (nearest stations – Charing Cross, Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus)

For more information visit: www.malaysiakitchen.co.uk

Restaurants appearing at Malaysia Night

  • Resta Sambal Shiok
  • Puji Puji
  • Rasa Sayang
  • Uncle Lim’s Café
  • Azi’s Kitchen & Catering
  • Satay House
  • Pak Awie
  • Bonda Café
  • Pelangi
  • Makan Café
  • Malaysia Corner
  • Malaysia Deli
  • Kerisik
  • Tukdin
  • Pan Chai
  • Bunga Raya
  • Penang Laksa Co.
  • Roti King
  • C&R Restaurant
  • Mangosteen

 

Malaysia Night

 

Putting the green into gourmet at T.E.D Restaurant, London

We’re very pleased to welcome our newest guest blogger Jane Cook of award-winning eco-friendly food/travel/lifestyle blog HungryCityHippy (recently named the Guardian’s sustainable blog of the week)! On a recent weekend in London, Jane tried out the new T.E.D restaurant in King’s Cross…

TED restaurant, Kings Cross, London

“Think. Eat. Drink”

T.E.D is an acronym for ‘Think. Eat Drink’; it’s also the name of the consultancy team behind the restaurant, and should tell you a lot about what the founders of this special place are trying to achieve. Restaurant entrepreneur Jamie Grainger-Smith and his team are behind it all, whose brilliant brains have also brought us the likes of Fifteen (with Jamie Oliver), and other eco-friendly restaurants including The Waterhouse. They have a vision to drive the food and drinks industry to create forward-thinking and environmentally aware businesses that are commercially successful, and T.E.D Restaurant is living, breathing proof that it’s an idea that works.

Smart-casual

Situated in the increasingly up-and-coming area of Kings Cross, if I had to describe T.E.D’s interior, I’d say it’s got the elusive ‘smart-casual’ dichotomy absolutely nailed. Bright, modern and airy, the white walls act as a perfect canvas for the splashes of colour found throughout, and vases of fresh, delicate meadow flowers adorn every corner. The black and white signage outside is contemporary yet classic, and the tan leather booth in which our party of four were seated was cosy and intimate without being crowded. In truth, I loved it all.

Eating and drinking at T.E.D is special

The regularly-changing menu at T.E.D is centred around sustainable British produce, with a focus on seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. One of the signature dishes is Somerset beef tartare, hand-chopped and served with toasted sourdough bread and a single, free range, egg yolk. Of course, in any ethically-driven restaurant, vegetarian food is going to be a big deal too, and on my visit I tucked in to a beautifully balanced main of fresh pappardelle served with chilli, broccoli and anchovies. Other menu highlights included diver-caught plaice, cockles & girolles, and a lovely, cheesy courgette risotto with ricotta and courgette flower.

A drinks list to-die-for

The wine list here is bursting with biodynamic and carbon-neutral bottles, and there are a couple of organic beers on offer too. If cocktails are more your bag, the list is eclectic and imaginative. I’m never one for dessert, so when I visited, I ordered a ‘Black Forest Flip’ to finish my meal – a pretty lilac-coloured drink made from Martell VS Cognac, Black Forest syrup, free range egg and fresh cream. It was a decadent and delicious treat, something all cocktails should be, but sadly so few ever are.

T.E.D Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday- Saturday, and 12-4pm on Sunday. Two courses with wine for two, approximately £75.

For more information and booking visit www.tedrestaurants.co.uk

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Use ethical and responsibly-sourced ingredients
  • Sustainably sourced fixtures and fittings used throughout the restaurant including salvaged furniture
  • Hand-picked contractors built the restaurant were selected based on their eco-sensitive practices
  • Part of the T.E.D consultancy, a wider network within the food industry whose aim is to eat, drink and think more ethically

 

About the author: Jane is a lifestyle blogger from Cardiff with a focus on the ethical and eco-friendly. Her blog HungryCityHippy covers restaurant reviews, travel, beauty and environmental awareness and is based mainly in the cities of Cardiff and London. Catch more of her on Twitter @HungryCityHippy.

Five of the Best Vegetarian Fine Dining Menus

At Goodtrippers we love to champion good, ethical, sustainable food, and great vegetarian eateries top the list! Here are five of the best vegetarian tasting menus served at some of the UK’s finest dining establishments.

Vegetarians often have to trawl through those ‘top 50’ style restaurant lists and guides to find somewhere that offers more than the sole ‘vegetarian option’, so to highlight the best dining options for veggies, Travelzoo has created a map of the UK’s best fine-dining restaurants, showing where to go in Britain for an elegant night of exquisite food. The map has been created with the help of the UK’s food bloggers and there were clear favourites for vegetarian fine dining. Here we take a look at five of the most exclusive fine-dining restaurants in the UK and their meat-free menus:

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Pied a Terre, Fitzrovia, London
This two-Michelin-star restaurant in the heart of London has chef Marcus Eaves at the helm, creating dishes that have been meticulously prepared and perfectly executed. The dishes sound delectable with courses on the taster menu including delights like a salad of white asparagus with shaved parmesan, confit meyer lemon and black olive dressing. The atmosphere is sophisticated; the right blend of polite, professional and relaxing.

A 10-course vegetarian tasting menu is available from £94 a head

Manchester House, Manchester
Located in Tower 12, the Manchester House restaurant is not what it first appears to be. The ‘normal’ façade of a city tower shouldn’t fool you – inside is Aiden Byrne’s restaurant, serving up luxurious dishes in a comfortable and fun atmosphere. How you dine is up to you – choose à la carte or dine at the Chef’s Table. A tasting menu is available for both lunch and dinner and includes scrumptious morsels such as Hot and cold pea soup, pea mousse and lemon emulsion; Braised salsify with artichoke gnocchi and cavolo nero; Apple and eucalyptus sorbet, verjus granite.

A vegetarian 13-course taster menu is available from £95 a head

The Ledbury, Notting Hill
Located in Notting Hill, The Ledbury received its much coveted second Michelin Star with Head Chef Brett Graham at the helm. Brett started his career is Australia in a simple fish restaurant at 15 years old, working up to a role at the Banc restaurant in Sydney where he won the Josephine Pignolet Award. Brett’s roots in seafood echo through the vegetarian menus with dishes like Sliced Turnips with Seaweed and Frozen Horseradish. Although the atmosphere is as professional as you would expect from a restaurant with two Michelin stars, there is a very welcoming and laid back tone to it whether you enjoy a visit at lunch or at dinner.

The vegetarian tasting menu starts at £100 a head

Texture, Marylebone
Diners who enjoy a wine experience as much as a food experience are in safe hands at Texture; Agnar Sverrisson and Xavier Rousset, Head Chef and Head Sommelier respectively, established Texture in 2007 but have a long history working alongside each other and have picked up many impressive awards along the way. Head Chef Sverrisson grew up in Iceland and the menu has an obvious Scandanavian influences with ingredients like skyr, Iceland’s famous yoghurt-like export. The vegetarian tasting menu showcases the chef’s modern European style with dishes like New Season English Beetroots with goat’s cheese snow and pistachios.

The taster menu starts at £72 a head (with five complementing wines available for £52)

Blue Elephant, Imperial Wharf, London
Using the freshest ingredients and exotic fusions, Head Chef Khun Noroor Somany Steppe has created a collection of authentic vegetarian Thai dishes for Blue Elephant’s tasting menu. Using a mix of traditional methods and novel flavour unions the Blue Elephant has reached global success with 12 sister restaurants around the world. One of the most popular vegetarian dishes is the Doi Kham Eggplant Salad; during her collaboration with the Royal Project, using vegetables and herbs from the farm at Doi Inthanon, chef Nooror created a purple eggplant salad with towhu, herbal spice and a hint of truffle oil.

The vegetarian tasting menu is available from £38.00 per person

Find out more: Travelzoo has created a fine-dining map showing 200 of the best restaurants all over the UK, with recommendations from the UK’s foodie bloggers.

Enjoy US southern charm at North Carolina’s Proximity Hotel

Guest blogger Andrew Lisa reviews North Carolina’s eco-friendly Proximity Hotel – the first to be awarded LEED Platinum Hotel status in the USA.Proximity Hotel, lobby

I love North Carolina. I got married there. From the beautiful beaches in the east to the Great Smoky Mountains in the west, there is no state in the USA that offers such a perfect blend of cultural character and aesthetic beauty.

In the city of Greensboro, you’ll find the Proximity Hotel which is a perfect marriage of old-world Southern charm and the cutting edge of the modern green movement. Whether you see them or not, there are dozens of systems – from the lift which generates its own electricity, to the solar-panelled roof – that makes the hotel run on 40 per cent less energy than others in its class.

Accommodation

Speaking of class, every single one of the hotel’s 147 rooms exudes luxury. Complete with custom-designed furniture and commissioned art, every corner of the hotel is a statement to the fact that no expense was spared in making Proximity a top-tier destination hotel. Rooms vary from loft kings, to suites, to studios. There is something for everyone, and every room is beautifully furnished, lit and decorated.

Food

Dining options include the hotel’s sister business, the award-winning Print Works Bistro, which offers a brilliant wine selection, including many by the glass. Three walls of windows set the atmosphere, and if you’re just in the mood for drinks, there’s an old-school bar.

Proximity Hotel City SuiteFacilities

After you hit the fitness studio, which is next to the pool, check out the spa or book yourself an in-room massage. Hang out in the cavernous yet exquisite social lobby – wifi is complimentary there, as it is throughout the hotel.

Activities

Take advantage of the complimentary transportation to local shopping or dining. Not in the mood to drive? Enjoy the garden or get up and go on the Greenway, the local biking and hiking trail right outside of the hotel.

Recommended for… Business travellers – called the “best small city for business travel” by Entrepreneur Magazine, the Proximity just might be the best hotel into which a business person could land.

Be aware that… There have been reports of harassment of tourists in certain parts of Greensboro. The area surrounding the hotel is safe, but as with any city, do some research before exploring the town.

‘Good’ credentials:Proximity Hotel, reception

  • High-efficiency Kohler plumbing fixtures saved two million gallons of water in the first year alone
  • Over 1,500 pounds of debris were diverted from landfills by recycling 87 per cent of construction waste
  • Cutting-edge technology and construction allows the building to operate using 39.2 per cent less energy than a conventional hotel/restaurant
  • Large, energy-efficient ‘operable’ windows provide natural sunlight to 97 per cent of regularly occupied areas

For more information about the Proximity Hotel visit www.proximityhotel.com.

About the author: Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about travel and destination providers such as Bluegreen Resorts.

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The Kings Head, Norfolk, England

The King’s Head

Holt Road, Letheringsett, Norfolk NR25 7AR

T: 01263 712691 / E: kingshead@flyingkiwiinns.co.uk

www.kingsheadnorfolk.co.uk

The Kings Head, Letheringsett, Norfolk

I love this pub – plain and simple. It could be the award-winning food; it could be its own brewed ‘Kiwi Ale’; it could be the beautiful rural location (maybe I’m biased – it is my home turf). But I’m not the only one – The King’s Head was awarded ‘Norfolk Dining Pub of the Year 2011’ by the Good Pub Guide. The King’s Head is one of five ‘Flying Kiwi Inns’ across Norfolk run by Master Chef and New Zealander Chris Courough. His passion for local, seasonal food dictates the brilliant menus.

Food: The menu makes the most of the North Norfolk location with fresh seasonal produce direct from local fishermen and farmers dominating the dishes (Chris’ ‘Food Heroes’ who specialise in some of the finest quality produce in the country). Naturally, the menu changes daily but expect dishes like caramelised pork belly with scallops, fillet of seabas with crab risotto, pan fried pigeon breast with beetroot, followed by homemade gooseberry fool or Kel’s chocolate brownie with pistacio semi-freddo. The pub rears its own herd of cows for the menu (best not to look at them in the adjacent field if you’re planning on ordering the beef…).

Drink: The pub offers an extensive wine list (specially selected by Norfolk Kiwi ale at The Kings HeadChris and UK Master of Wines John Atkinson) but as with all good country pubs, the real winners for me are the beers. Norfolk grows some of the best malting barley and local microbrewer ‘Jo C’ brews two ales for The King’s Head, ‘Norfolk Kiwi’ (my favourite) and ‘Bitter old Bustard’.

Additional information: The pub was extensively renovated in 2007 and is at the smart end of gastropub decor – leather club chairs, Farrow and Ball paint, cosy snugs and the ‘Shoot Room’ (available for private hire). It has a very large beer garden (with big play ‘castle’ for kids). Alongside lunch and dinner, the pub also serves morning and afternoon cakes and coffee, and ‘kid’s high tea’ midweek during term time.

Recommended for… A pint of the ‘Norfolk Kiwi’ local ale with your Sunday lunch

Be aware that… Vegetarians are well catered for with the lunch menu but less so for dinner with maybe only one or two dishes suitable (but an early word with the kitchen on booking could result in some dishes being adapted).

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Emphasis on local, seasonal produce direct from farmers, fishermen and producers
  • Specialist microbrewed ales
  • Own herd of cows reared for menu in adjacent field (zero food miles!)
  • Menu ingredients include produce such as ethically-reared quail

 

Date of visit: April 2012

 

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Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge, Morocco

Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge

Tighanimine El Baz, BP 5323 QI, Agadir, Morocco

T: +212661488504

www.atlaskasbah.com

(Review by Amal Benaissa)

[gdl_gallery title=”Atlas” width=”122″ height=”115″ ]

Located a few kilometres outside Agadir, Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge appears from a distance perched high on a hill overlooking a beautiful green landscape. Nestled within the Argan Biosphere, it is the first eco lodge in this area of Morocco. The Argan Biosphere is a UNESCO World Heritage site bordered by the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and open to the Atlantic in the West. Both the hospitality of owners Helene and Hassan and the commitment to sustainability make this place very special.

Accommodation: There are a total of eight rooms and three suites (55 m² in size) that mix Berber and European décor harmoniously. Spacious and clean, each room has an en-suite bathroom (note: there is no TV).

Restaurant: All delicious meals are served in the restaurant of the Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge; the terrace of the restaurant offers breath-taking views of the mountains and adjacent plains. Pre-selected menus offer a sample of Moroccan cuisine; you can also request a vegetarian option. Foodies can take lessons with the chef in the kitchen of the Kasbah. My favourite bit about the food was the traditional Berber bread, made in front you in the outdoor stone oven by a local Berber woman.

Facilities and activities: Guests can also enjoy the swimming pool, massage room and Hammam (Moroccan steam bath). There are many activities on offer upon request (and dependent on the number of participants) including an astronomy night to watch the stars with professors from Agadir, bird watching, native language classes, Moroccan pottery classes, yoga and meditation, hikes, donkey-rides, surf classes, mountain bike rental, day trips and more!

Recommended for… Those who love outdoor activities! While the ecolodge is great for rest and rejuvenation, the range of activities on offer which make the most of the incredible location, are second to none.

Be aware that… The remote location (it’s a 20 minute drive from the city) means there is little or no wifi and weak phone reception (but then isn’t that for the best…?!)

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge was granted the prestigious Responsible Tourism Award from the Ministry of Tourism of Morocco and the International Green Key Eco Label from King Mohamed VI Foundation for the Environment
  • Water conservation: the lodge uses mixer taps, double flush toilets, intelligent irrigation for the garden, and uses biodegradeable cleaning and bathroom products
  • Energy conservation: 80% of the electricity and all water heating comes from photovoltaic panels, they use low consumption light bulbs, and maximise the use of natural lighting and ventilation
  • Waste management: observe the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle), and leftover vegetables are used as animal feed
  • Organic fertiliser is used in the garden where local and endemic plants are grown
  • Emphasis on seasonal produce and local/non-pollutant products
  • The lodge showcases local, traditional architecture with interior and exterior walls made entirely of natural materials (mud brick walls and tradelakt)

 

About the author:

Amal Benaïssa

Amal Benaissa is a Doctoral Researcher at LSE with an international spirit and a love for discovery

Follow on Amal on Twitter: @EvolvingSun

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Malihom, Penang, Malaysia

Malihom

Kiri N/T168, Bukit Penara, Mukim 6, Balik Pulau 11000 Penang, Malaysia

www.malihom.com

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You don’t have to love the exotic durian fruit to love staying on this private estate (durian fanatics descend on this hilltop estate during durian season June-July). It provided one of the highlights of our Malaysian trip.

After arriving tired, frustrated two hours after arriving at the Georgetown ferry port (our taxi driver got lost navigated the windy roads into the hills – Malihom is very remote!), our hosts Mim and his family (who look after the estate year round) could not have been more welcoming (the chef had finished for the evening but Mim cooked up a welcome and delicious meal within minutes). The following four days followed a similar pattern of friendly staff, fab food, and peace and relaxation.

Accommodation: The name Malihom means ‘village of the fragrant rice’ and nine converted rice barns are available to rent (we stayed in BaanMai – meaning ‘house in the woods’) mostly accommodating 2 people and all en-suite with balcony/platform areas. All are decorated to a high standard and enjoy a variety of views – the estate is on top of one of the highest hills on Penang so you can enjoy panoramic views across to the mainland or out to the ocean on the western side.

Restaurant: All meals are included (alcoholic drinks are extra) with a mix of SE Asian and European dishes available for breakfast, lunch and dinner (it’s a set 3-course meal at dinner, no choice but always good). You can choose to dine on the upper or lower decks, both ‘semi-al afresco’ which offers a rather special setting day or night.

Facilities: As a boutique retreat, Malihom offers the expected spa treatments (massage, aromatherapy), swimming pool and yoga, but also encourages guests to enjoy its unique surroundings (there are a number of trails around the estate – take some binoculars as bird-watchers will get a thrill from spotting species including the Japanese sparrowhawk and crested serpent eagle). We visited out of season (early January, just before Chinese New Year which is one of Malihom’s peak periods) and, apart from one night, had the entire estate to ourselves! We didn’t leave (the nearest town is several kilometers away down a long, windy road) but spent our days strolling around the pretty gardens (and counting dozens of frogs in the ornamental ponds), taking in the scenery from the look-out tower, exploring the orchards and woods surrounding the estate, and on one particularly rainy day, reading and relaxing in the communal living room. If you do like durian fruit, visit during May-August (book well ahead) when you can taste some of the best durian around!

Recommended for… Complete relaxation! Best to visit out of season when you need a break from a hectic schedule, or June/July if you love the ‘King of Fruits’.

Be aware that… Malihom is a retreat on top of a high, remote hill so once you get here, you won’t be going anywhere else for a while! As an otherwise private estate you won’t have a choice of bars, places to eat, shops etc – but once you’re there, you’ll realise you really don’t need them…

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Most of the stuctures on the estate are built from reclaimed/recycled wood (the barns were unused rice barns from Chang Mai in Thailand; the decking around the main living areas are made from reclaimed railway sleepers)
  • Cleaning products for furniture and flooring are 100% biodegradable and natural
  • Bathrooms are stocked with organic handmade toiletries made at Malihom
  • Malihom encourages guests to appreciate the wildlife and natural surroundings of the estate

 

Date of visit: January 2011

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Our Jungle House, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Our Jungle House

Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

T: (from outside Thailand) 6681-417-0546; (from inside) 081-417-0546

www.khaosokaccommodation.com

[gdl_gallery title=”Our Jungle House” width=”122″ height=”110″ ]

‘Our Jungle House’ is well away from the (small) town on the edge of the Khao Sok National Park, and is nestled deep inside 25 acres of privately owned rainforest. You will only hear the sound of gibbons, hornbills and the running stream! Run by American Bodhi and his Thai family, they are committed to responsible tourism and ensure that everything they do at ‘Our Jungle House’ has minimal impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local community. Bodhi has been working at similar tourism ventures (including Golden Bhudda Beach Resort also recommended on this site) and is always happy to suggest ways to expand your experience by volunteering in the area.

Accommodation: Over four nights we stayed in three of the thirteen tree houses and riverside cottages (due to a busy booking period!) so feel quite well-versed in their accommodation facilities – all very impressive! The Romance Tree House (with its ‘outdoor’ bathroom and large, secluded balcony overlooking the river and incredible limestone cliff face) was the best, closely followed by the Thai House riverside cottage (high on stilts and spacious with two floors – balcony does face the pathway though). The Hideaway Tree House is cute but is rather cramped in comparison with a tiny balcony! Cottages and tree houses suit from 1-2 people or 1-4 people (with one suiting up to 5).

Food: Thai, American and European food (breakfasts , lunches, snacks and dinner) is available at the restaurant and bar, both downstairs and upstairs (choose the upstairs open balcony seats for cocktails under the stars).

Facilities: Being on the edge of the Khao Sok National Park means you can’t stay here without booking a trek in the jungle. You can arrange a number of treks and tours (half, full day or overnight treks; treks to see the Refflesia flower; survival treks; wildlife tours; night safari, a trip to Chiew Larn Lake etc). If the river is high enough you can try river tubing or relax with a Thai or oil massage. Free internet available (they’ll even lend you their computer if needed at less busy times).

Recommended for… The fantastic tree houses (especially Romance Tree House) make the very most of the jungle environment – and what a view with those limestone cliffs on your doorstep!

Be aware that… Size and aspect of each tree house and riverside cottage can vary greatly – the small difference in price doesn’t reflect this so if it really matters to you (although all three of the choices we tried were very good), check this out before booking (via website pictures or asking staff).

Good credentials:

  • Energy conservation: by foregoing air conditioning, hot water, and televisions
  • Respectful building: treehouses and riverside cottages are made from natural materials, and even more importantly, over 80% of the property is undeveloped
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle: all waste is sorted into compost, glass, plastic, metal, and paper.  Since beginning this program, trash sent to landfill has been reduced by 50%. Even empty juice boxes are reused by an artist in Phuket who builds furniture out of them.
  • The owners love the forest: they’ve created a wildlife trail around the property and intend to live in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem
  • Food is bought locally: organic limes, cucumbers, green beans, and chili peppers are among the vegetables purchased from neighbours.
  • Staff are local: most of Our Jungle House service providers are locals, from guides and bartenders to the electricians and tree trimmers, so they make a big contribution to the local economy.
  • Supporting education: in 2011, Our Jungle House raised over 2 million baht to build a school for Burmese children who lack access to education.  In 2012, they are building a new kindergarten for children at the local Bang Pru school (ask them about it – guests are invited to help if they wish)
  • Conservation and community development projects: the people behind Our Jungle House are involved in many projects including scholarships, building community centres, a youth conservation network, and community-based tourism

 

Date of visit: February 2012

 

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