Eco-friendly hotels in Ireland for sustainable staycations

Travel news: from beehives to squirrels to roof gardens, these hotels are making changes

The Bush hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon

The Bush hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon

 

Green means go

Can lovely hotels and environmental care go hand-in-hand? From One Small Change to bigger steps, the answer is yes. Staycationing yourself is the best start: with no airmiles to account for, there are some super places just an electric car, bus or train ride away. On the hotel side, The Cork International opened a roof garden this year, which it uses to grow herbs and veg for cocktails and snacks, and they have set themselves the target of reducing energy consumption by 5 per cent per year. Meanwhile, the Merrion has beehives on its elegant Georgian roofs, uses its coffee grounds for garden compost, and donates any unused food to the Capuchin Day Centre. Change happens when people decide to call for change, so when you’re booking your next trip, ask what measures your destination is taking, before deciding where to spend your money.

The Bush hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon
The Bush hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon

No beating around the Bush

Carrick-On-Shannon’s Bush Hotel is a charming family-run former coaching inn, dating from the 1700s, when “coach” meant horses, not diesel. An early adopter of eco ways, in 2009 it was the first hotel in Ireland to be awarded the EU’s EcoLabel Flower Award, which examines everything from electricity to water, lightbulbs to plastic packaging (or lack thereof). With added electric car charging points, the Bush is a great Leitrim base. Its autumn offer includes two nights’ B&B with dinner on one night, plus admission to the nearby Arigna Mining Experience (which is pretty amazing) and the Drumshanbo Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, €145pps. Offer ends December 20th. bushhotel.com

Slieve Aughty Centre, Loughrea, Co Galway
Slieve Aughty Centre, Loughrea, Co Galway

Eco horsepower

You could argue that you can’t get much more eco than a horse, and they are a key part of the adventures to be had at Loughrea’s Slieve Aughty Centre. Add an organic garden, a sustainably built guest house, eco lodges and glamping, a certified organic restaurant, and the aforementioned equestrian centre. Horses not your thing? You can still go walking or cycling and just soak up all that lovely Galway nature. While it’s fun for the whole family, you might want to leave the kids behind for the Birds n Bees Romantic Escape package, which includes two nights’ Lodge accommodation, an organic picnic, horse trek and a bottle of bubbly. From €350, slieveaughtycentre.com

The Hendrick in Dublin
The Hendrick in Dublin

Hendrick Happenings

Ireland’s first hotel to gain an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold cert, Dublin’s Hendrick won the accolade for its sustainable design. The LEED crew were impressed by the water efficiency, energy and atmosphere – though please note they were gauging a different kind of energy and atmosphere than the Smithfield spot’s guests might be in the market for. The Hendrick’s Rediscover Dublin package gives you a welcome drink and a free Dublin Pass to city attractions, from €110 per night, minimum two-night stay. Offer runs until the end of the year. hendrickdublin.ie

Gregans Castle, the Burren, Co Clare
Gregans Castle, the Burren, Co Clare

Squirrelled Away

Founding members of the Burren Ecotourism Network, the relaxing and beautiful Gregans Castle is also lovely to the environment. From chemical-free, refillable natural bathroom products, to weed killer-free gardens, to a tree-planting programme that has seen native Irish red squirrels and log-eared owls move in, they also actively work with community groups with the aim of making the Burren an eco as well as a botanical paradise. Their food is pretty fantastic too. One night in November, with dinner, B&B comes in at €435 per couple, or €598 if you want to stay on for one more sleep. gregans.ie

Cliff House walks in Co Waterford
Cliff House walks in Co Waterford

Hill Skills

Climb every mountain – or at least some Waterford ones – as Ardmore’s Cliff House has teamed up with MuddyBoots, aka explorer Mario, to get you on track. Walks are suitable for beginners, and Mario will lead you up hill and down dale, imparting his Leave No Trace skills en route. The two-night break includes B&B in a sea view room, dinner on one night, and a packed lunch to keep you going on the uphill bits. From €1,055 for two. cliffhousehotel.ie

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