There are many ways to “eco travel” the world. From living out the back of a van, to cycling with your tent strapped on the back, what’s an adventure without some questionable nights of sleep? But perhaps the most conventional option is choosing to spend your nights catching Z’s in a hotel. Sounds boring, right? It doesn’t have to be. And the good news is that if you’re trying to travel sustainably, there are plenty of hotels going that extra mile to look out for the planet and the footprint left behind by guests. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can have the convenience of a hotel and the moral reassurance that you’re still doing your bit by choosing eco travel. Time to get wanderlusting, I’m afraid.
1. Whitepod, Switzerland
What better way to start than with a bang? Our first hotel is Whitepod in the majestic Swiss Alps. Nestled amongst the mountains you’ll find a collection of 15 geodesic structures that are energy efficient havens. The spherical shape allows constant airflow, meaning temperatures are maintained at a constant. It takes much less energy to heat one of these, too. The internal fire uses wood that is locally sourced, and the water available is from local springs. There is also limited lighting after hours for those conscious of skyglow. The color of the pods is changed from white in winter to green in summer, thus blending them in with the surrounding flora. Cleaning products and consumables are all-natural and biodegradable, and guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in and learn about the nature within which they find themselves during their stay. Sign me up.
2. Proximity Hotel, North Carolina
It might not be in the most exotic of locations, but this hotel boasts 70+ sustainable practices that cover everything from the use of solar and geothermal power to using recycled building materials during construction and recycling most of the waste produced during the process. Proximity places emphasis on its water-saving design features throughout the hotel and its use of sustainable furnishings. If that wasn’t enough, it also provides bicycles for guests wanting to explore the local area. Trip to the East Coast, anyone?
3. Hamanasi Dive Resort, Belize
Next, it’s over to Central America for a dive resort that gives back. Their ethos is eco-tourism through and through–i.e. encouraging guests to engage with the culture and environment of their destination, but also giving back to the community that supports them. During construction, they took care to leave as much of the natural habitat in tact for local wildlife as possible. They also use eco-friendly cleaning products on site while supplying natural beauty products for guests. Furniture and artwork are locally-sourced, and they use energy-efficient electrical devices throughout and provide sustainable, seasonal foods free of packaging to guests. They’ve got an organic garden on site and as well as composting–and are hot on all kinds of recycling. Please, let me live there already.
4. The Green House, UK
On my own little island and I’ve yet to visit?! What is this madness? True to their claim of being “serious about sustainability,” The Green House is the most environmentally-friendly hotel in England. From use of renewable energy to local wooden furniture and textile furnishings, they get down to the specifics. The Green House uses vegetable inks on their wallpaper and local and seasonal produce in their restaurant. They also train all staff in sustainable practices. It’s pretty impressive. Carpets are made from recycled felt, wooden floors are sourced from sustainably-managed forests, they decorate with eco-paints, use low energy electricals throughout, and use recycled and recyclable wherever possible. Well, this has to go on the list really, doesn’t it?
5. Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Off the coast of Zanzibar lies a small privately-owned island upon which a collection of eco-lodges can be found. The operation boasts state-of-the-art eco-architecture including rainwater catchment, gray water recycling, solar power, and composting toilets. This is another place that takes measures to avoid skyglow by not lighting up any of the beaches or nature trails at night. Solar-powered flashlights are, however, provided if required. Another great aspect on Chumbe is that the coral park uses the services of locals rather than recruiting from abroad.
6. Essentis, Berlin
If you’re planning to eco travel to Germany’s capital, you might want to consider staying in the Essentis Biohotel which is located on the outskirts of the eastern side of the city. Chic and minimal, Essentis prides itself on its sustainable approach to tourism. They distribute organic, non-toxic products throughout the hotel, use fresh and organic produce in the kitchen, and use solar power as a main form of energy. But back to the restaurant, Amaranth, for just a moment. Did I mention it’s vegan? I know. I know.
7. Finca Luna Nueva, Costa Rica
What eco travel sustainable hotel collective would be complete without a Costa Rican mention. Finca Luna Nueva considers itself both paradise and a living classroom all in one. They host projects such as the building of biological corridors connecting isolated plots of rainforest in the surrounding area. This encourages wildlife to move between plots for increased habitat space. Additionally, they promote sustainable agriculture on site, taking care not to interfere with local biodiversity. On site, you might enjoy yoga amongst the trees or a dip in the solar-powered and spring-fed jacuzzi. Take me to paradise already.
Which is calling your name? Have you ever tried eco travel or stayed in an eco hotel?
Also by Kat: Be More Than Just a Galway Girl—How To Do Ireland In A Week (& Eat Vegan!)
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Photo: Tripadvisor, Proximity Hotel, Hamanasi, Greenhouse Hotel, Chumbe Island, Essentis, Finca Luna Nueva,