I’d been dreaming of staying at Babel Guesthouse for years as so many of my fellow responsible travelers gush about the genuinely environmentally and sustainability the boutique hotel. It was a no-brainer to take a room at the tranquil responsible guesthouse for a month as I explored all of the exciting responsible travel experiences in Siem Reap. To make matters better, the eco-hotel recently renovated to embody a dreamy decor scheme of wicker accents and hand painted palm leaf murals — my all-time favorite aesthetic. The name of the eco-friendly guesthouse, Babel, is from the biblical story about why so many languages are spoken around the world. Here are 5 things you’ll love about Bable Guesthouse in Siem Reap.
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TRANSPARENT APPROACH TO SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY
It’s important to support businesses that are dedicated to social and environmental sustainable practices so Babel Guesthouse was the obvious choice of accommodation for me in Siem Reap. They’ve been giving back and supporting the community for nearly a decade and are at the forefront of moving away from the typical wasteful products most hostels use. You won’t find plastic toiletries in your guestroom. Each guestroom is equipped with a book complete with local community-based tourism experiences that travelers may support while they explore Siem Reap.
Babel Guesthouse operates in order to provide a path for the many financial benefits of the tourism industry to the local community in Siem Reap. All of the staff at Babel Guesthouse are local including drivers and guides apart from the dream team behind the property, Katrine and Simen and their expanding family. Each staff member receives expert-level training, safe working conditions, fair salaries, flexible working hours, and team building experiences to enable the staff to continue their education and have prosperous lives. Workshops are held often to teach staff about sustainable practices with local organizations such as Plastic Free Cambodia.
The Babel Educational program currently supports half of the staff at Babel Guesthouse in their pursuit of Bachelor degrees at Build Bright University (BBU) and The University of South East Asia. Other staff members are supported in their English studies at ACE school. English lessons are also provided for staff on-site at Babel Guesthouse. Occasionally Spanish, French, and German lessons are also provided.
Protecting children at risk of trafficking has always been important to Babel Guesthouse. All staff are trained in the ChildSafe Movement policy. Friends International created the program in order to empower more people on how to know and recognize children that may be trafficked and what to do to protect them.
DEDICATION TO REDUCING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
The environmental programs at Babel Guesthouse are extensive and full-circle and naturally led to the opening of the zero-waste shop in the eco-hotel’s lobby. Plastic bags have been nixed in favor of biodegradable bags from Cleanbodia. Trash bag liners are made of cassava and laundry bags are canvas so plastic bags are rare but those that the Babel Guesthouse does accumulate are donated to Rehash Trash which then makes beautiful upcycled products for the hotel, such as the tank of potable water. Other soft plastics are given to HUSK Cambodia which uses the recycled material to create eco-bricks made of plastic that are used to build the walls for houses.
Babel Guesthouse makes it easy for guests to be eco-friendly by selling their very own branded Refill Not Landfill reusable water at the zero-waste shop and offering unlimited free refills of potable water. Babel Guesthouse reports that 4.6 million plastic bottles ending up in the Cambodian countryside each month.
CAMBODIA’S FIRST ZERO-WASTE SHOP
The Babel Eco-Shop and Refill Station is a natural extension of the philosophy that powers the green hotel. Katrine and Simen were already working with many of these local partners to provide supplies for Babel Guesthouse and their own personal use and realized that travelers weren’t able to stock on up eco-friendly products anywhere in Siem Reap. The shop opened during my visit and was constantly busy with locals, expats, and travelers who are mindful and want to minimize their impact by using plastic-free items. I love the darling tropical tote bags with the powerful message that there is no planet B. The bags were custom created by the social enterprise Friends N Stuff which creates job opportunities for locals.
If you don’t have your own containers to refill, don’t fret. Babel collects empty jars that you may take free of charge. Fill them up with as much product as you’d like as it’s a pay-what-it-weighs policy for the bulk supply of all-natural shampoo, conditioner, body soap, body lotion, laundry detergent, and more. You can purchase any size so it’s a great way to test out the ethical beauty products to see how you like them. The eco-shop has everything from menstrual cups, reusable pads, natural deodorant, organic coconut oil, charcoal powder, and lemongrass to keep bugs away.
I spent a month living out of one of the palm tree adorned rooms at the sustainable Babel Guesthouse and honestly never wanted to leave. The eco-hotel is located on what was once the busiest hub of accommodation for travelers. Fortunately, backpacker hostels have moved over near pub street and this calm area is now a sanctuary for travelers who appreciate peace and quiet.
Babel Guesthouse has 22 newly decorated guest rooms that are adorned to mirror the greenery of the stunning outdoor garden. There are rooms that can accommodate several guests if you’re traveling with friends and even rooms with bathtubs.
DARLING OUTDOOR RESTAURANT
The tropical vibe of the guestrooms extends into the lush outdoor Babel Guesthouse restaurant. Babel expanded the menu recently to offer a broader selection for plant-based eaters including Instagram-worthy smoothie bowls, delicious garlic hummus, and mouth-watering jackfruit and bean tacos.
Babel sources ingredients from local farmers at the market and vendors who’ve committed to making food deliveries in reusable bags. Leftovers can be taken away in biodegradable containers and all natural cutlery is available if you don’t have silverware at home. Containers for sauces and spices are recycled in the Eco-shop where shoppers can use them for free to store the bulk supplies they purchase.
Drinks come with locally-made bamboo straws and drinking water flows freely. Babel Guesthouse’s approach to waste is full-circle. Any leftover food waste is given to local farmers to use as feed for pigs. Used cooking oil is donated to Naga Earth who use the upcycled material to create biodiesel. Babel then buys this biodiesel for their generator.
Babel Guesthouse is a haven for intrepid adventurers who want to be conscious of the impact of their travels. I applaud Babel Guesthouse for their ongoing commitment to sustainability. They continuously seek ways to be better in their business and aim to operate in a way that generates as little waste as possible. Sustainability is the root of every aspect of the gorgeous Babel Guesthouse.
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I was partially hosted at Babel Guesthouse. All opinions and photos are my own. This article contains affiliate links. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.