Think eco hotels are scratchy towels and not washing the bedsheets? Think again.
Embracing sustainability at every level, these eco-friendly hotels take being green to the next level – from structural build to circular waste systems.
Best of all, they’re absolutely gorgeous. So green hearted or not, these are not getaways to be sniffed at.
Top Eco hotels from around the world
1. Bawah Island, Indonesia
Nothing screams luxury like a group of tropical all-inclusive islands accessible only by private seaplane. Bawah Island is a pocket of paradise, consisting of 35 suites and bungalows made from sustainable bamboo, driftwood and other natural materials.
The resort also focuses on sustainability (we won’t mention the seaplane). It’s powered by a renewable microgrid, with solar water heating, fortnightly beach cleaning, a nursery to repopulate the forests and a permaculture garden.
Dabble in some chilled activities during your peaceful stay – try your hand at paddle boarding, kayaking, diving, stargazing, snorkelling or bird watching. If you prefer something even more chilled, unwind at the yoga pavilion or spa.
Image Bawah Island, Indonesia is a true slice of eco chic paradise
2. Valsana Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland
When picturing the breathtaking Swiss landscape, glistening white snow springs to mind. The Valsana Hotel in Switzerland, has taken this one step further, by using ice to power the resort.
Yes, you read that right – the eco hotel is powered by a self-sufficient energy system called an ice battery, which draws waste heat energy from everyday devices and appliances.
The interior is thoughtfully decorated with gorgeous recycled furniture and coconut fibre mattresses. Each room even comes with its own vintage record player, a selection of handpicked books and you’ll fall for the stunning sauna.
Image Are the mountains calling you this winter? Look no further than the eco-friendly Valsana
3. Peru EcoCamps, Peru
Prefer your holiday with a bit more adventure? Peru EcoCamps has got you covered. Located right in the heart of the Andes, the eco-domes are the perfect spot to access treks to the incredible Machu Picchu.
Each of the five one bedroom domes has a king-size bed, piping hot showers and woodburning stoves. If you’re feeling peckish, the lobby and dining domes have a bar and restaurant, stocked with locally-sourced wines to reward you after a long day’s hike.
The Peru EcoCamp caters to guests’ adventurous spirits by providing luxurious treks along the Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu. The route is less heavily trafficked than the busy Inca Trail so you have a less stressful experience.
Image Have an offgrid eco experience while taking in the big ticket attractions of Machu Picchu
4. Taj Exotica Resort, Andaman Islands
Situated on Havelock Island’s gorgeous Radhanagar Beach in the Andaman Islands, the Taj Exotica Resort massively ticks the box for stunning scenery.
Discover 46 acres of jungle, forests and mangroves, the amazing island eco-system has been left untouched by the hotel – not a single tree was felled during construction.
Inspired by the stilted huts of the indigenous Jawara tribe, the 72 villas blend into the natural landscape – this is a true slice of paradise. It gets better, the resort has an onsite water bottling plant, converts waste into gas and compost and there’s no commercial fishing allowed. It’s also the luxury hotel Taj chain’s first single use plastic free eco-friendly hotel.
Fancy an educational afternoon? Guests can learn more about the surrounding jungle from the in-house naturalist, quietly kayak through the mangroves or dive the local reefs.
Image If you can get to the Andaman Islands, this is what awaits you
5. Tivoli Évora Ecoresort, Évora, Portugal
The stunning Tivoli Évora Ecoresort, just an hour’s drive from Lisbon in Évora, Portugal, is a nature-lover’s dream escape.
Shaded by old cork, oak and olive trees, the 56-suite eco hotel blends effortlessly into the sunny Portuguese scenery. The expansive grounds offer privacy, peace and tranquility – perfect for unwinding and soaking in the sunshine.
Making the most of the local resources, the resort is covered in cork, which acts as a natural form of thermal and acoustic insulation.
Even the heating is eco-friendly at this hotel – geothermal energy heats the building, and solar panels heat the water and pools.
Image Relax in a quiet corner of Portugal and drink in the olive groves in front of you
6. Manon les Suites, Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark’s not short of an ecohotel or two. But new opening, Manon les Suites, is a tranquil, modern haven – right in the heart of Copenhagen’s city centre.
If you want the convenience of a city break but still want to find somewhere relaxed and eco-friendly, the hotel is a breath of fresh air. All the food is organic, goods are recycled, and products are packaged sustainably.
The Green Globe-certified hotel has gorgeous interiors to match, too with living walls and a pared back colour palette. Combining effortless luxury with minimalist Scandi-chic, Manon les Suites will make your city break one to remember.
7. Gökçe Gemile, Turkey
Travelling with a big party or need some privacy? Over on the Turkish coast, on the Gemile Peninsula, three stunning houses Gökçe, Elmali and Gemile, can be taken individually or all together – and sleep 22 people in total.
These stunning properties from Fairlight Jones took three years to build and are completely free from plastic, as the craftsmen hand-built the houses with local stone, reclaimed wood and iron. Backed by forest and overlooking a private waterfront, this is a blissful retreat option.
The houses are built to embrace the incredible forest. Sea views mesmerise through impressive walls of glass,and all of the existing natural features have been maintained. One of the houses even has the original carob tree growing inside it.
And don’t forget to offset the carbon from your flights.
8. Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia
This new eco hotel from the Bensley Collection is pretty serious about its sustainable credentials. Three hours from capital Phnom Penh, this luxury tented camp sits within the South Cardamom National Park, famed for its wildlife.
Choose to enter by Jeep or zipwire, this is an ecochic, 60s style channelling safari adventure featuring foraged food fine dining, kayaking the jungle, hikes, birdwatching and wild swimming.
There’s a permaculture farm, a team of on site naturalists and anti-poachers and views of the rich forested park that have to be seen to be believed.
What is an eco hotel?
An ‘eco hotel’ is a hotel that is one that is reducing its impact on the environment and has either been designed to be eco-friendly from the start, or has worked hard to make an older building as eco-friendly as possble.
Sustainability should be woven through everything from its purchasing policies to ensuring fair wages, from no single use plastic to acting as a guardian of its land.
What makes a hotel sustainable?
There are many ways a hotel can be sustainable and it’s not enough to just wash towels less or offer plastic -free straws.
A sustainable hotel is one that ensures it makes environment as a priority in a number of ways. Here are some to look out for:
- Reducing its water, carbon and energy usage
- Has a responsible waste strategy
- Employs sustainable architecture
- Doesn’t use single use plastic as much as possible
- Uses renewable options as much as possible
- Support and promotes the local economy
- Engages, drives or funds local conservation
- Employs and pays fairly
- Helps guests access other eco-friendly intiatives, restaurants, experiences
- Reduces its food waste
- Offers sustainable, seasonal or local menus
- Supports biodiversity on its grounds in rhythm with the local climate
Greenwashing in hotels
Sadly, as in many industries, there are many hotels who allude to being sustainable without actually having a roadmap or journey to get there.
It’s not enough to not serve water in single use plastic or no longer stock minature toiletries and at the moment it’s often up to us as guests to do our research to ensure the accommodation we’re booking really is green.
A truly sustainable hotel will want to shout about its achievements, both consumer facing and beind the scenes and the more information it shares, often the more sustainable it really is.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions before you book or ask for verification.
Closing thoughts on some of the best eco hotels
The number of hotels which are choosing to look after the planet and their people is growing and eco hotels are becoming more widespread at every budget level, from solar powered hostels to seriously luxurious private retreats and resorts.
It’s a joy to see even those hotels who don’t necessarily identify as “eco” adopt more eco practices. All of this change comes from you, the traveller putting on the pressure so keep it up!