Five of the best eco-friendly hotels around the world

Jill Starley-Grainger

Travel journalist and editor

Want to help the planet while you’re exploring it? Opt for these luxurious abodes to do some good while you’re globetrotting, vetted by travel journalist and eco-enthusiast Jill Starley-Grainger

The Savoy London

Travelling provides considerable benefits both to individuals and society at large. These include relaxation and stress relief for you, and financial boosts for the businesses at your destination. But travelling also causes some negative impacts, from an increased demand on the earth’s resources to effects on local communities. However, you can offset many of these issues by staying in ‘green hotels’. These vary from basic to luxurious and address these issues in positives ways so that your stay is beneficial to both you and the planet.

How can you spot a green hotel? It’s not always easy. Most of the work happens behind the scenes, so you might not notice anything as an ordinary guest. The use of environmentally-friendly building and cleaning materials, ethically-sourced ingredients in the restaurant, reduction of energy and water consumption and the employment of staff from local communities are just some of the ways hotels can help the planet. But just walking around the hotel, you’re unlikely to see evidence of any of these.

So how do you know for sure? You could ask at reception for a hotel’s sustainability policy. The more people that ask, the more likely hotels will be to realise they need to address these issues. By raising the topic, you’re helping in your own, small way. But if you want to know before booking, search the hotel’s website for ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco’. If this brings up a page dedicated to a raft of green initiatives, then you’re probably onto a winner.

To help narrow down your search, here are five hotels that are both gorgeous and green, proving you don’t need to sacrifice luxury to travel ethically.

The Savoy, London, UK

The Savoy guest room London

Very few guests at this London landmark would have a clue that it’s green, which shows just how feasible it is for hotels to provide a five-star experience while still reducing their impact on the planet. The Savoy generates 50 per cent of its own energy through the use of green technologies; uses low-flow systems to reduce water consumption; and recycles everything – even old candles, computers and champagne corks. Yet it still manages to provide the top-rate service and facilities the world expects of a global icon, with resplendent afternoon teas, decadent Edwardian and Art Deco-styled guest rooms (pictured above) and glamorous bars credited with creating classic cocktails, including the White Lady and Corpse Reviver. Dine at the hotel’s elegant 1920s-esque restaurant, Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill, for a sublime meal of locally-sourced, sustainable selections too.

Starhotels E.c.ho., Milan, Italy

Starhotel Echo Milan Italy
Starhotel Echo,Milan

It makes sense that this four-star hotel is right by Milan’s main Centrale station, given that trains are one of the greenest forms of travel. But once you step onto E.c.ho.’s light wood floors, you’ll forget the hubbub outside and breathe in the beauty of this nature-themed business hotel. All of the interior furnishings – from huge sofas in the lounge to plants in the guest rooms – were sourced sustainably (pictured above). And like the eco-certified cleaning products, the furnishings and the forest-inspired wallpaper and murals are free of harmful VOC fumes, which makes for improved air quality. Add in water recycling, a solar power plant and a solid 93 per cent rating with the Green Globe accreditation scheme, and you can be sure you’re in one of Milan’s most environmentally-friendly hotels.

Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali Indonesia

Perched on a cliff over the Indian Ocean, this architectural beauty wows with its modern Balinese design – and with its exceptionally high environmental credentials. Easily the greenest hotel in Bali, this honeymoon-worthy five-star doesn’t skimp on the luxury, with butlers for every villa, infinity pools with sea views and guest rooms larger than most flats (pictured above). But Alila Villas Uluwatu also features organic, locally-made toiletries, excellent water recycling and a high percentage of staff hailing from the surrounding community. No wonder it has won awards for both its sustainability – EarthCheck’s Gold Certification – and its beauty, with an award for international design from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, California, USA

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles California USA

The city of angels might be better known for its celebrity residents than its eco-credentials, but this swish five-star is hoping to change that. Part of the luxury Ritz-Carlton group, its Los Angeles property is one of the brand’s greener hotels. The use of sustainable materials in its design and construction significantly reduces its carbon footprint, plus it features energy-efficient windows and roof, environmentally-friendly cleaning products and a good selection of local organic food in its restaurants. Even the on-site spa endeavours to use organic treatments and products. Yet guests lounging in the spa, around the rooftop pool (pictured above) or sipping drinks in the sky-view lounge probably don’t realise it’s one of the city’s greenest hotels. The Ritz-Carlton even provides “Impact Experiences” for conference groups, offering the opportunity to participate in on-property experiences that contribute to the local community from chipping in with the culinary team to preparing dishes for hunger relief organisations, or assembling book bags of school supplies for underprivileged students in the region.

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, New South Wales, Australia

Wolgan Valley Resort  Spa New South Wales Australia

Set within its own vast nature reserve in the Blue Mountains, 180km from Sydney, this luxury ranch spares no expense on its guests – or the environment (lead image and pictured above). It was so carefully designed that not a single tree was removed during its construction, and this respectful ethos carries through to all aspects of the property. The hotel funds the conservation of the 7,000-acre surrounding area, and the materials for its villas are sourced from within 100km, minimising the use of fossil fuels for their transportation. What’s more, Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa was the first hotel in the world to receive impressive carbon-neutral certification by CarbonZero. Here, too, guests can get involved with conservation by planting trees or helping to protect wombats with guidance from the hotel’s “Field Guides”. Explore the grounds by horseback or on mountain bike, then soothe your muscles with a treatment in the spa, which only uses chemical-free products for a pure, back-to-nature experience.

If these enticing eco-hotels sound like a dream holiday stay (and they are!), search your dates and make that dream a reality here

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