Gone are the days when you had to choose between staying in a sustainable hotel or luxury accommodation. There are now an abundance of hotels that combine the two, offering luxurious stays and stylish interiors while making their facilities as sustainable as possible.If you’re planning a trip to Europe, here are six of the very best hotels that combine sustainability and luxury to provide the perfect place to rest your head.
Areias do Seixo, Portugal
Located close to the sea, just an hour’s drive from Lisbon, Areias do Seixo perfectly combines luxurious rooms with a sustainable ethos. Designed to blend in with the natural environment, the hotel features large windows and private terraces, allowing guests to be at one with nature. There are four loose themes to the rooms, with rainfall showers, sunken baths and suspended fireplaces helping to provide the ultimate in comfort. The hotel won the Green Project Award in 2012 thanks to its commitment to sustainability. A geothermal heating and cooling system, solar gain, solar thermal system, water and waste management and an organic garden supplying the restaurant all help to lower its carbon footprint. There’s even an online eco clock that allows guests to monitor the hotel’s energy consumption.
White Pod, Switzerland
High in the Swiss Alps, 12km from the nearest town, White Pod offers a small group of luxury sleeping pods with dramatic views of the mountains. Each pod is made from a steel frame covered in white canvas during the winter and green camouflage in summer to have minimal visual impact on the landscape. Inside the pods are decorated with beautiful antique furniture, cosy sheepskin rugs, comfortable beds with organic sheets and tree stump bedside tables. There are private terraces for sitting outdoors in the summer and wood-burning stoves to keep you warm in the winter. Each pod has its own bathroom with a shower on an eco-timer and a selection of eco-friendly toiletries. The emphasis is placed on enjoying the great outdoors, and instead of a TV and Wi-Fi, you’ll be supplied with binoculars, a head torch and a map of the local area.
Lefay Resort, Italy
This breathtakingly beautiful hotel spa on the hillside overlooking Lake Garda is 100 per cent carbon neutral, including offsetting the travel of its guests. Dedicated to a sustainable programme, the hotel partakes in strict measures to constantly improve waste management, water saving and social responsibility. Inside each of the soothing, simple rooms you will find natural cotton sheets and sustainable toiletries. The restaurant and spa use olive oil grown from their own groves for food production and spa treatments. Guests can enjoy the immersive eco spa, with its salt-water pool lit by a huge artificial moon or can spend their time simply admiring the views of the lake.
Scarlet Hotel, England
The Scarlet is a luxury hotel in the south of England, just for grown-ups. Located on the beach, the rooms offer magnificent views of the surrounding coastline. Guests can dine on locally produced food in the restaurant, enjoy a soothing day in the Ayurvedic spa or soak in one of the cliff top hot tubs. Not only does the hotel offer discount for anyone who travels to it via public transport, foot or bike, they also take every step to be as carbon neutral as possible. A biomass boiler, rainwater harvesting, thermal solar panels and renewable energy sources all help their sustainable credentials. As a nice touch, all guests are provided with a pair of slippers made from recycled plastic bottles that they are free to take home and reuse.
Luz Houses, Portugal
Located right by the Fatima Sanctuary, Luz Houses consists of a complex of suites, rooms, a swimming pool and a wellness area. In all aspects of the hotel’s design and daily running, efforts are taken to reduce its carbon footprint while providing a luxurious stay for its guests. There is a focus on stylish and eclectic rooms, with suites available for those who wish to self-cater. Sustainable practices include using low-consumption lighting, rainwater harvesting, thermal bricks that maintain a pleasant indoor temperature all year round and solar panels for heating water. There is also an organic garden to explore and a compost circuit that helps to support its growth.
Tree Hotel, Sweden
Sweden’s iconic Tree Hotel is known for its unique hotel experience. Seven immaculately designed, luxurious treehouses sit high in the trees in the middle of the woods, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. From the very beginning, there has been a huge focus on sustainability, with each treehouse boasting a modern combustion toilet, water efficient sinks and eco outdoor wooden floors that don’t contain chemicals. All of the treehouses are designed to have minimal impact on the local environment, using eco-friendly materials and construction techniques, and all electricity is sourced from local hydroelectric power.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.