Destinations / Travel

10 sustainable and eco-friendly hotels to book for your next green holiday

Travel is a hot topic amongst sustainably-minded individuals. Is there a way to do it in an eco-friendly manner? Is all travel, by virtue of expending carbon in transit and at luxurious accommodations on the other end, inherently unfriendly to the environment?

While it can be difficult to get around the carbon emissions emitted during flights or on long drives, there's something that can be done when it comes to choosing where you stay. While AirBnBs and staying with friends are some obvious ways to reduce your travel footprint, sometimes the point of taking a vacation is to steep ourselves in a little luxury. And that means, booking ourselves in at a hotel.

Hotels can be notorious energy-draining entities – from relentless consumption of electricity, to the waste produced by having to replace bathroom amenities and wash sheets on the daily. But – there is a silver lining. There are some hotels on the RUSSH radar that aren't just doing the work to reduce their footprint, they're actually pioneering a way forward for completely carbon-neutral and sustainable holiday-ing. Even better? There's no need to compromise on luxury at these locales – in fact, we'd argue you'll relax a little deeper into your stay knowing that you're doing your bit for the environment.

Below, we round up some of the sustainable hotels and eco-friendly resorts around the world that we've got bookmarked for our next vacation.


1. Hotel Belmar (Costa Rica)


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Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica

Sustainability accreditations:

  • regenerative dining
  • Top Blue Flag Recognition for Carbon Mitigation/Climate Change 2016-2023
  • Monteverde’s First Certified Carbon-Neutral Hotel 2019.

A carbon-neutral boutique hotel, Hotel Belmar's flagship suites boast stunning views of the Gulf of Nicoya, and are installed with hardwood floors, spa-inspired bathrooms, and a sprawling terrace featuring an outdoor whirlpool and a hanging daybed. Immerse yourself in their 'Farm to Table Dining' experience, which culminates in a delicious lunch prepared by their on-site chef with fresh ingredients from their own organic garden.⁠ Complimentary for all guests, you can indulge in a jet pool gazebo surrounded by a green garden oasis for a soothing hydrotherapy session.


2. Crystalbrook (Byron Bay)

Location: Byron Bay, Australia

Sustainability accreditations:

  • silver benchmarked by Earth Check for 2023
  • locally sourced produce at restaurants
  • free-to-hire bikes.

Nestled into the leafy surrounds of the Northern Rivers in Australia's New South Wales, Crystalbrook Byron Bay is a hotel as much about luxury as it is about sustainability. The retreat is set amongst 45-acres of magical, subtropical rainforest, and offers guests free bikes to ride into town on. Wake up in your own tranquil suite among the trees, and enjoy their on-site Forest Restaurant and Bar, which dishes up breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, sourcing more than 80% of its ingredients from the surrounding community.


3. Hotel Corazón (Mallorca)


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Location: Tramuntana Mountains, between Deia and Soller, Mallorca

Sustainability accreditations:

  • 50 orchards on-site, farmed traditionally and regeneratively, that service the hotel restaurant
  • food not grown on-site comes exclusively from local growers and suppliers.

Hotel Corazón in situated in the Tramuntana Mountains, and sits on a site that has been lovingly restored into regenerative farmlands by its owners, Kate and Edgar Bellm. It's part-artist-space, part-farm, part-restaurant and hotel – and is serviced by the abundant produce grown in its 50 orchards, and from exclusively local sources. The 12-room hotel is centred on ideas of wellness and living off the land, and offers yoga, massage, reiki and sound healing sessions, as well as guided hikes and a pool overlooking the mountains.


4. The Hotel Britomart (Auckland)

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Sustainability accreditations:

  • free-to-hire bikes
  • rooms feature eco-friendly fibres, textiles and skin and haircare products
  • 5 Green Star Design and Build ratings from the NZ Green Building Council
  • public annual sustainability report.

Smart, soulful and contemporary, The Hotel Britomart overlooks Waitematā Harbour, with the best of downtown Auckland right on your doorstep. Visit their Libraries Lounge where the hotel's sommelier will host you for an evening of exceptional wines, elegant cocktails, or a sumptuous banquette. In your room, bathrooms are stocked with ceramics by local artisans and clean skin and haircare products by Sans[ceuticals]. Don't want to hire a car? You can explore Auckland’s waterfront on a one of the hotel's free bike hires.


5. Soneva (Maldives)


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Location: Kunfunadhoo Island, Eydhafushi, Maldives

Sustainability accreditations:

  • 2% environmental levy on all stays
  • public annual sustainability report
  • island-wide, insecticide-free mosquito management solution
  • partnerships with NGO Save Our Seas, the Olive Ridley Project and the International Pole & Line Foundation, as well as the Soneva Foundation to propagate 150,000 corals every year.

When it comes to luxury, there isn't much that compares to the Maldives, and the Soneva resort. Stay in one of their iconic over-water villas or beach-front island residencies, each with unparalleled access to water sports, dolphin cruises, private cinemas and snorkelling sessions. Since 2008, the resort has implemented environmental levies, and provide a public report on the quantitative impact of all their social and environmental initiatives. They've successfully implemented an island-wide, insecticide-free mosquito management solution, and have partnered with multiple ocean charities and initiatives to rehabilitate coral reefs.


6. Ananda in the Himalayas (India)

Location: Rishikesh, India

Sustainability accreditations:

  • plant-based Ayurvedic cooking lessons
  • native tree plantation program over the last two decades
  • eco-conscious building design
  • online energy monitoring system
  • plastic reduction and bottling plant on-premises.

Residing in the former Palace Estate of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal in the foothills of the Himalayas, Ananda's philosophy is centred on a holistic approach to wellness. Offering Ayurvedic, planet-based cooking lessons twice per week using Himalayan herbs grown organically in their on-site garden, Ananda help guests to learn and implement healthy food habits and lifestyle changes to improve their overall quality of life. The hotel is immersed in its natural locale – sprawling across a 100-acre property that encompasses both gardens and surrounding forests. Guests can also indulge in a suite of treatments and wellness activities available too, like yoga, acupuncture, meditation classes and fitness programs.


7. Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons (Oxfordshire)

Location: Oxfordshire, England

Sustainability accreditations:

  • 11 on-site gardens servicing the hotel
  • discarded soaps and candles are reused by a local charity in craft workshops
  • 100% eco-friendly and recyclable amenities in rooms
  • on-site composter and dryer allows the hotel to process around 100 metric tons of organic waste for use in gardens.

Belmond's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons is a countryside, 15th century manor located in the village of Great Milton near Oxford, in Oxfordshire, England. It's the perfect destination for curious foodies (its hotel restaurant has held two Michelin stars for more than 30 years), green thumbs (its resplendent grounds encompass an organic kitchen garden, Japanese garden and orchards), and of course, for those simply looking to indulge in a luxurious stay.


8. Hotel Marcel (Connecticut)


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Location: Connecticut, USA.

Sustainability accreditations:

  • 100% electric energy (completely independent from fossil fuels)
  • on-site generation, storage and management of renewable energy (solar panels etc.)
  • one of ten US hotels to be certified LEED Platinum under the US Green Building Council's LEED standards
  • will be the first hotel in the US certified to Passive House standards
  • will be the nation's first net-zero hotel for the elimination of fossil fuel usage.

This 1970s Brutalist building was originally born under the creative vision of Bauhaus icon Marcel Breuer before being reborn more recently as a part of Hilton's Tapestry Collection. Its 165 rooms have adopted minimalist, industrial interiors, and its original pre-caste concrete designs have aided in the efficient heating and cooling of the building. Not only does the hotel run on 100% electric energy (no fossil fuels), they also generate, store and mange their own renewable energy on-site through initiatives like solar panels.


9. MUJI Hotel (Tokyo)


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Location: Tokyo, Japan

Sustainability accreditations:

  • hemp-blend mattresses and sheets
  • recycled wood room keys
  • hangars made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials
  • waste and energy-saving initiatives on-site
  • repurposed paving stones and recycled debris featured in interiors
  • focus on seasonal produce.

Located in the center of the Ginza district, above their flagship Ginza store, is the MUJI Hotel. Spanning the 1st through 6th floors of the building, the store's nearly 7,000 products make up the foundations of the hotel ethos and aesthetic. MUJI Hotel comprises bakeries, art galleries, restaurants, coffee salons and a library, making it a convenient home base for your next stay in the Japanese capital. Its interior design features repurposed paving stones from century-old trolley ways that ran through Tokyo, and recycled materials salvaged from ship debris. The front desk can offer you just about any service you might need – including rental gear for a jog!


10. InterContinental Paris Le Grand (Paris)

Location: Paris, France

Sustainability accreditations:

  • awarded both the Green Globe and Green Key certifications
  • established its own sustainability program called Green Engage.

Found in Paris's 1st Arrondissement, InterContinental Paris le Grand is an iconic property, centrally located, that has bee awarded several certifications for its dedication to sustainable practices. It boasts unrivalled, magnificent views of the Opera Garnier, and its historic restaurant, Café de la Paix, serves the great classics of French gastronomy.


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