We’ve all seen that sign in hotels where we are encouraged to reuse our towels for the sake of the planet. Often it’s just lip service. But what if that idea is taken a level upwards – to make your whole hotel sustainable?
That's the premise at Wren Urban Nest, Dublin 2. Opened last September, this Dublin hotel uses 100 per cent renewable energy and recyclable and biodegradable materials. Aiming to be Ireland's most sustainable hotel, it makes a conscious effort to limit single-use plastics in its 137 rooms and puts a big emphasis on local. Wonky veg is used in the kitchen and waste is reduced by using Too Good To Go. The ALT bar makes the most of local distilleries and breweries, with Irish whiskey, Dingle gin and micro ales on tap. It's a four-minute walk to Trinity College and Grafton Street and a 19-minute walk to Connolly station.
Rooms from €129, wrenhotel.ie
On a farm in southern Iceland, Hotel Fljótshlíð has been certified by Svanurinn, a Nordic eco-labelling scheme, which means it is one of the most environment-friendly hotels in the area. Its 14 rooms have heated floors and private bathrooms, all powered by renewable energy. Nationwide, Iceland uses 70 per cent hydropower and 30 per cent geothermal. Guests can pay to plant trees to offset their carbon footprint, and the hotel is aiming for zero food waste. Local jams, meat, eggs and vegetables can be bought on site or in the restaurant. There are views of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and guests can go horse riding or tour the working farm.
Doubles from €127 B&B, smaratun.is
In Zagori, north-western Greece, Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas was built with traditional methods and using only locally available materials. Water consumption is minimised with pressure regulators and wastewater is recycled through a hi-tech cleaning system. It's a member of Stay Beyond Green, a hotel network that is vetted according to United Nations sustainable development goals. The hotel's award-winning Salvia restaurant uses fruit and vegetables from its own gardens and greenhouse, rears its own chickens and has local trout on the menu. The 24 rooms, suites and villas are spread out so they blend into the mountains, and activities include hiking, rafting, horse riding and bird-watching.
Doubles from €178 B&B, aristi.eu
In the Alqueva dark sky reserve, Montimerso Skyscape Country House has 15 rooms, all with contemporary Portuguese furnishings, and a terrace or balcony. Rainwater is used for irrigation and, because of its dark sky location, light pollution has been reduced. The staff are mostly from the local Alentejo region and local food suppliers are used wherever possible. The big draw here is the sky – the reserve was the world's first Unesco-certified starlight tourism destination. Guests can use binoculars to look at distant stars and planets from the stargazing platform; other activities include cycling and wine tasting.
Doubles from €200 B&B, montimerso.pt
In west London, room2 in Chiswick is said to be the world’s first net zero “hometel”. It’s forecast to be 89 per cent more energy efficient than a typical UK hotel and has a host of sustainable measures, from solar panels to recycled furniture, zero food waste and a wildflower roof. Each room has a kitchenette – hence the hometel moniker – so it’s great for those who want to keep costs down by self-catering. Rooms have three-in-one bins for food waste, mixed recycling and general waste. The energy-efficient shower – said to use 40 per cent less water – is huge and powerful enough for any long-stayer.
In the Boca restaurant kitchen, there are no big fryers or extractor fans, and the menu has been adapted to be low energy. Potato peelings are also made into vodka and any other waste is recycled or available on Too Good To Go.
There is no need for a car park at room2, as public transport is so good. Turnham Green station is three minutes' walk away, from where it's a 20-minute tube journey into central London.
Room2 has beauty and utility in abundance, and shows that being net zero doesn't have to mean compromising on comfort or style.
Doubles from €140 room only, room2.com