When picturing an eco hotel, visions of treehouses nestled in Costa Rica’s jungle or bamboo lodges blending effortlessly into Indonesia’s forests might spring to mind, but eco hotels are no longer reserved for far-flung tropical locations. From boutique city hotels to all-inclusive resorts, hoteliers are slowly waking up to the huge impact they’re having on the environment and its natural resources.
A handful of London hotels have focused their attention on minimising their environmental impact, from building natural habitats for bees, to rewarding guests who are environmentally conscious.
But staying in an eco hotel doesn’t mean compromising on luxury, we’ve rounded up the most luxurious hotels in London which are also helping to protect the planet.
Check in to your eco-friendly hotel with these sustainable pieces in your suitcase. Fashion and beauty editor Lisa Haynes suggests these socially conscious staples.
THE PACKING EDIT
The Zetter Hotel
Boutique hotel The Zetter (sister hotel of The Zetter Townhouse) has been focused on sustainability since it opened 15 years ago. A borehole beneath the converted 19th Century building is used to flush the toilets and run the AC units in all 59 guest rooms. There’s also an Energy Loop System in place, so when you turn the heating on in your room the energy used also cools the fridges in the hotel’s kitchens. In-room toiletries are supplied by natural skincare brand REN, whose products are free from harsh chemicals and parabens – perfect for using in your ‘Raindance’ shower.
The Zetter Hotel’s central location in Clerkenwell means that many London attractions – like the British Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral – are within walking distance, and bikes are free to borrow for exploring further afield. The Zetter Hotel also employs a specialist Green Team which meets monthly to ensure that the hotel is reaching its environmental and sustainability goals, and last year they managed a 20% reduction in energy consumption.
The One Aldwych hotel is housed in a beautiful Edwardian building in the heart of Covent Garden. The historic hotel is the first in the UK to be awarded a Gold Luxury Eco Certification, thanks to several environmental schemes it has in place. There’s a comprehensive recycling scheme which includes everything from paper to cooking oil and an EVAC water drainage system that uses 80% less water than conventional toilet flushing. LED lighting in all bedrooms also helps to reduce energy consumption.
The hotel is completely bleach-free, and their swimming pool has a mineral-based cleaning system rather than a traditional chlorine-based one. An in-house florist ensures the hotel is full of beautiful blooms at all times – the floral arrangements in the lobby are particularly impressive. Guest rooms also get fresh flowers delivered daily, which pair perfectly with the pink pastel décor.
The Savoy is one of London’s most iconic hotels; it was the UK’s first luxury hotel when it opened in the 1880’s and has been a popular haunt for the well-heeled crowd ever since. The hotel’s enviable location on the banks of the River Thames also offers spectacular views from the majority of its 267 rooms. Although steeped in history, the hotel has moved with the times when it comes to sustainability and the environment.
Seafood restaurant Kaspar’s at The Savoy has a 3-star Sustainable Restaurant Association rating (the highest available). The rating means that the hotel is consistently working with sustainable, local suppliers (think herbs from their garden and fish from Cornwall) and are ensuring they minimise their impact on the environment where possible. Bottle corks from all on-site restaurants are donated to local schools for craft events and all food waste is converted into renewable energy.
Outside of the kitchens, the hotel is working with conservation charity Thames21 which manages River Thames foreshore clean-up days.
Royal Lancaster London
The five-star Royal Lancaster London is located on the edge of Hyde Park (the largest park in central London). Its proximity to the green expanse has inspired many of its environmental practices, including the recently unveiled ‘green living wall’, which holds nearly 9,000 plants and will provide year-round greenery and a new habitat for wildlife in the area.
This year the Royal Lancaster London also celebrates the 10th anniversary of its urban bee farm. Located on the roof of the hotel, the bee farm was the first of its kind in London and now houses 80,000 bees in 10 traditional hives. Guests can enjoy the light, citrusy honey at the hotel’s sustainable restaurant, Island Grill.
The hotel has a comprehensive recycling policy and an excellent waste management programme has seen the hotel achieve zero-landfill status. There isn’t a pool at the hotel, but the Serpentine lake is just a short stroll away and is the perfect place for some natural swimming.
East London’s Qbic hotel is quirky, modern, and full of character. Qbic wants to ensure that their environmental impact is a small as possible, a ‘tiny little environmental footprint, not a great big stomp’, and proudly call themselves London’s Greenest Hotel. Solar panels on the roof help to offset energy used and the hotel also has its own Electric Car Charging Points. Glass bottles of filtered water are available in all rooms, and toiletries are provided by eco-conscious brand, Stop-The-Water-While-Using-Me (which disappointingly are still in plastic bottles) which aim to reduce water consumption in guest rooms.
Perhaps the most original scheme Qbic has implemented is rewarding guests, who stay more than one night and choose not to have their room cleaned, with a free drink at the bar. On-site restaurant Motley has a veggie-focused menu which includes a daily changing ‘Waste Not’ dish made with ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. Qbic hotels can also be found in Brussels, Amsterdam and a Manchester location opens.