By Robyn Gravestock
An increased awareness in the importance of sustainable tourism has caused more holidaymakers to seek out hotels that are caring more for the environment. Fortunately, the result of such demand is that the leisure industry has upped its eco-friendly hotel offerings to include features from solar panels and rooftop allotments to beehives and organic cotton linens.
But where to go? That’s still a big question, given the domination of large, corporate hotels that dominate major travel sites online, so we asked Travel Supermarket for their list of the most eco friendly hotels in Europe so you can plan your next holiday in the world’s most historically fascinating continent with a clean, green conscience.
1. Bern, Switzerland
The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can trace its origins as far back as the 12th century with its medieval architecture. Bern boasts one of the longest, sheltered shopping promenades in Europe with over five kilometres of arcades, making it the perfect place for a weekend break, come rain or shine.
Top eco-friendly hotel: Hotel Allegro Bern uses a waste heat recovery system that captures heat from machinery used throughout the hotel to warm the building. All of its laundry (and in hotels, that’s a lot!) is done using green and environmentally friendly methods, and it even recycles an impressive 90% of its mattresses and furniture.
2. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
The city of Luxembourg has history at its centre, with stunning medieval castles and beautiful architecture. Almost one third of the city is beautifully landscaped green spaces with many parks and gardens to explore.
Top eco-friendly hotel: Melia Luxembourg Hotel has over 50% of its beverages certified organic, sensors in the bedrooms that will adjust temperature when not in use and even provides education for guests on habitat loss and conversation.
3. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is the centre of the European Union, and it’s the place that made the sweet law that allows for compensation for any delayed flights to be paid to travellers (not many places like that in the world!) But apart from being famous for its role in the EU, it’s also well known for its chocolates, fries and beer. Brussels also has an excellent choice of markets, legendary jazz bars and numerous Art Nouveau – Art Deco sights. Brussels is Europe’s greenest capital city with 27 square miles of parks, gardens and forests. Its Royal Library features an urban allotment on its rooftop, and the EU institution has many beehives on its own.
Top eco-friendly hotel: All cleaning products used at the The Leopold Hotel Brussels are eco-certified, infrared and low wattage heating is installed throughout, and the place is obsessed with recycling: even its carpets are recycled! Water-based paints were used to decorate its interiors, lowering the VOCs you inhale in the building.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
Effortlessly blending traditional heritage with striking modernism and dramatic architecture, Lisbon is Portugal’s thriving capital. It’s also Europe’s only capital city located close to sandy beaches, offering visitors both culture and fun by the sea.
Top eco-friendly hotel: The Inspira Santa Marta Hotel which has been designed around the principle of Feng Shui, a Chinese belief that the way your house is built or the way that you arrange objects affects your success, health, and happiness. The hotel’s pool is solar-heated and a waste-heat recovery system is used to capture heat from the machinery to warm the building.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam arguably has one of the richest histories amongst cities, from its modest beginning as a small 13th century fishing village to its present role as a cultural hotspot and major hub for tourism. As a visitor, you can enjoy world renowned museums, quirky festivals, theatre and live music.
Top eco-friendly hotel: Conscious Vondelpark which prides itself on an ethos of ‘eco-sexy’ – striving to be as green, sustainable and eco-friendly as possible without being an eco-fundamentalist. All beer served in the hotel is brewed locally to reduce its carbon footprint and the rooftop is even an eco-roof with hives for wild bees.
6. Oslo, Norway
Norway’s capital and largest city, Oslo, offers a unique combination of nature experiences and city life. As a visitor, you’ll struggle to pick between live music, eye-catching architecture and vibrant restaurants.
Top eco-friendly hotel: Voksenasen AS Hotel claims the highest score for eco-friendliness in Norway. The building’s design helps regulate temperate with south facing overhangs, a geothermal system is used to regulate the hotel’s heating and cooling, and over 25% of its roof is planted with vegetation for wildlife habitats.
7. Vienna, Austria
In the heart of Europe, Austria boasts a spectacular array of both cultural and natural attractions and has long been recognised as a leader in sustainable tourism. Vienna offers visitors cultural events, imperial sights, elegant Kaffeehauser (coffee houses) and cutting-edge design, architecture and contemporary art.
Top eco-friendly hotel: Boutique Hotel Stadhalle features over 130m ² of solar panels, a roof garden that’s home to Vienna’s largest lavender field and gives guests green bonus rewards for travelling by bike or train.
8. Dublin, Ireland
From Leprechaun Museums to urban design, Dublin is a vibrant and ever-evolving city with heaps to discover. The city is home to some of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, including the largest walled park in Europe, Phoenix Park, making it perfect for those who enjoy the outdoors and getting back in-touch with nature.
Top eco-friendly hotel: Sandymount Hotel uses ladybirds instead of chemicals to control pests in the rose garden and Irish turf, a natural, sustainable fuel for its beautiful and historic Victorian fireplaces – themselves an eco-friendlier means of heating the building.