11 of the most extraordinary sustainable boutique eco hotels

 (The Datai Langkawi)
(The Datai Langkawi)

It sounds too good to be true: beautiful hideaways that spoil you when you stay, and have big hearts when it comes to looking after their environments and communities. But they do exist and these are the best.

Blyth Rise Stays, Laxfield, Suffolk (Hawthorn Huts)
Blyth Rise Stays, Laxfield, Suffolk (Hawthorn Huts)

Blyth Rise Stays, Laxfield, Suffolk

Characterful self-catering lodges, quirky igluhuts and back-to-basics good times. Blyth Rise Stays is Wi-Fi-free and adults-only, so embrace a digital detox, hit the woodland saunas, borrow bikes to head to the beach, and connect with nothing but each other and the great outdoors. Forage for fresh herbs or pick up just-plucked produce in the honesty shop, grown in their garden — fertilised with composted food waste, modelling circularity. Wholesome and home-spun, the lake lodges were hand-built by neighbouring craftsmen, curtains stitched by a village seamstress, and the team members are either family members or from the community.

Eco boast: Renewable energy, Douglas fir tree planting, and user-friendly for car-free Londoners wanting to explore close to home.

Doubles from £108 a night, breakfast not included; blythrisestays.co.uk

 (Breac House)
(Breac House)

Breac.House, Co. Donegal, Ireland

On the windswept west coast of Ireland, this bungalow has been reborn as a photogenic, forward-thinking bed-and-breakfast. The owners lay on lots to love as part of the price: local kombucha, picnic lunches, Irish drinks and treats on tap, seaweed baths, a sauna and bikes. Taking in that fresh air is as thrilling as a far-flung adventure without the faff of cross-continent forays. Make your way to Dublin or Belfast and it’s an easy bus ride to the village where they’ll collect you by EV for a 10-minute transfer.

Eco boast: A rainwater harvesting system, air-source heat pump, solar panels and every detail sourced locally, down to the artisan-made shampoo and conditioning bars and a tweed designer transforming offcuts into sleep masks.

Doubles from about £300, includes breakfast, lunch, drinks; breac.house

 (Vila Planinka)
(Vila Planinka)

Vila Planinka, Jezersko, Slovenia

You’re off to a greener start just choosing this sustainability-savvy nation, where the eco-living is easy. This contemporary 23-suite chalet, 30 minutes north of Ljubljana, ticks a blizzard of eco boxes, without a whisper of worthiness. Here in the heart of Jezersko village, this modernised mountain lodge is Michelin-listed for its world-class, low-carbon alchemy of the finest local, seasonal ingredients. Thank Mother Nature for its health-boosting outdoors. For centuries, locals have celebrated four healing ‘energy points’ steps from the property, and glugs of the magnesium-rich lake-sourced waters.

Eco boast: Kudos to Planinka for earning Michelin status without compromising on their hyper-local provenance. Even their excellent wines are all strictly Slovenian, representing the country’s nine wine-growing regions. These include vegan and biodynamic vintages, all showcased in the new Wine Room.

Doubles from about £220, including breakfast; vilaplaninka.com

 (Valsana Hotel)
(Valsana Hotel)

Valsana Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland

This mountain-view, design-led retreat wows those seeking wellness, skiing, hiking, while being soothing to eco-consciences. Part of the Tschuggen Collection, the Moving Mountains programme engages guests with the healing powers of nature. Since climate-friendlier diets eschew animal products, make like a climavore and graze on the plant-based, vitamin-packed menu devised by a leading University of Westminster nutritionist.

Eco boast: This recharging retreat takes green energy to the next level with an innovative ice battery. Hydropower cunning and heat capture create the cleanest electricity; book a Green Valsana Tour to learn about their geothermal genius.

Doubles from about £400, including breakfast. tschuggencollection.ch

 (Storfjord hotel)
(Storfjord hotel)

Storfjord Hotel, Alesund, Norway

Here in Western Norway, Storfjord — which means ‘big fjord’ — has conserved all the charm of traditional farm log cabins with living roofs, concealing every modern flourish. Screensaver-worthy fjord panoramas, pure-as-is-possible air and immersive original experiences at the foot of the Sunnmøre Alps. Part of the 62º Nord portfolio, owners Knut and Line Flakk, lure luxury travellers to these soul-stirring scenes and postcard-cute villages with a sensitivity to nature. Their unrivalled knack for elevated Norwegian hospitality for exacting adventurers extends to electric Porsche Taycans.

Eco boast: In a nation powered by hydro, where most cars are electric, and gender equality ranks highest globally, 62º Nord is also making investments in local infrastructure.

Doubles from about £280, including breakfast; storfjordhotel.com

 (The Datai)
(The Datai)

The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia

A refined resort of 121 rooms, suites and villas might not sound an obvious nature-positive destination. The difference with this tropical paradise with a private white-sand beach, is its rich natural history and Datai Pledge commitments. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, this firm favourite with generations of discerning Londoners seeking Asian rainforest relaxation, The Datai is a lesson in responsible resort reincarnation. This retreat with award-winning wellness also proves a hotel can transform itself from a traditional approach to indulgence to the most sustainable and sensitive of stays.

Eco boast: Enveloped in a pristine 10-million-year-old rainforest inhabited by dusky leaf monkeys and Sunda flying lemurs, The Datai has its own Nature Centre. Naturalist-led treks and garden tours educate guests on why we need to care about ecology. The Datai Langkawi is hosting a week of talks from September 22, with hornbill-protecting social enterprise Gaia, marine mammal conservationists MareCet and wildlife photographer Peter Ong’s bird-spotting excursions on the agenda.

Doubles from about £460, including breakfast; thedatai.com

andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya

With unrivalled views over the Masai Mara National Reserve, the luxury of this intimate safari camp isn’t sleeping in elegant raised standalone tents, kitted out with every creature comfort. It’s being surrounded by wildlife — and knowing how much work your hosts have done to protect the cast of characters passing through these plains, pangolins and elephants in particular.

Eco boast: As well as having the best possible rangers getting you out there for responsible animal encounters, experience their community development in action with visits to education and reforestation projects funded by their partner charity, Africa Foundation.

Doubles from £310pp based on two people sharing for a classic tent, including breakfast; andbeyond.com

 (Montemar Eco Galapagos)
(Montemar Eco Galapagos)

Montemar Eco Galapagos, Santa Cruz, Ecuador

On the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos, Ecuadorian owners biologist Roberto Plaza and ecologist Reyna Oleas invite us to their 43 acres in the name of helping them save the giant tortoise. They opened these two super-eco luxury villas in 2019 — four-bedroom Tortuga and two-bedroom Lechuza — to support their endeavours protecting this endangered species. A regenerative farm feeds guests and locals, the yields of which are not sold, but bartered, with the sale of their organic coffee providing vital funding for their conservation.

Eco boast: Built with locally sourced lava, bamboo and cedar, the passive-style of construction keeps the villas at the perfect temperature, naturally. Furnishings and artworks by local talents speak to their ‘think global, act local’ values.

Two villas, sleeping four and eight people, from £580 per person per night, full board, including transportation and excursions in the Galapagos; montemar.ec

Cap Karoso, Sumba, Indonesia

The soaring thatched roofs of Sumba’s traditional homes — uma mbatangu — may cut a striking silhouette, yet this resort on Karoso Beach blends into its south-west-coast backdrop. A plastic-free buffet-skipping escape of almost 50 rooms, 20 pool villas and a kids club, French adventurers Fabrice and Evguenia Ivara have ensured their purpose-powered property honours the culture of this easternmost Indonesian island throughout. A breath of fresh air in all senses, the bioclimatic design eases the need for air conditioning. This is due to the strategic landscaping and organic farm supplying almost all the vegetables, eggs and dairy, with the Farming School imparting eco-agricultural techniques.

Eco boast: It may seem nonsensical to fly so far to be sustainable, but tourism is crucial for this island’s economy: it unlocks employment, education and essentials for Sumba's remote, vulnerable communities.

Doubles from £245, including breakfast; capkaroso.com

 (The Bull Inn)
(The Bull Inn)

The Bull Inn, Totnes, Devon

This ethical pub and restaurant on the high street of this climate-action-aware town comes from Geetie Singh-Watson, founder of the UK’s first organic pub in London back in 1998 (her husband, Guy, runs Riverford). The menu models hyper-local and best of British, and chalkboards declare a manifesto that attests to fairer trading and models supply-chain transparency with statements such as “Be rigorous in procurement” and “Choose certified first”. Upstairs, bedrooms are a simple but charismatic portrait of reclaimed chic, with Naturalmat beds and pure wool carpets. Visit greener: take the three-hour train from London and stay out of high season: we love spring for its clear skies and stargazing.

Eco boast: Their growers at Baddaford Farm are experimenting with perennials (so no digging soil and releasing carbon) and dabbling with natural-pigment plant dyes to upcycle retired textiles, such as turning tablecloths into aprons.

Doubles from £120, including breakfast; bullinntotnes.co.uk

 (Grove of Narberth)
(Grove of Narberth)

Grove of Narberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales

As the tale goes, it was a serendipitous wrong turn in the Narberth Hills back in 2007 that caused Neil and Zoe Kedward to chance upon, and swiftly fall in love with, a derelict centuries-old manor house. In June 2008, the Grove of Narberth opened with just four bedrooms and a simple vision: to provide a comfortable place to stay for mountain bikers here on this former farmland. Over the years, the property has matured into a more elevated offering that now includes standalone suites with glass-box porches, though the heartfelt hospitality that the husband-and-wife team injected at the beginning remains a strong draw. The property now spans 25 bedrooms, suites and separate solar-powered cottages.

Eco boast: If a retreat run on renewables is your benchmark for green, here the biomass boiler is fed by local chippings with solar panels showing that Wales can deliver enough sunshine to keep the water heated for the cottages. Martin Hulbert’s imaginative interiors can be held up as a lesson in creating the perfect boutique eco-hotel: hand-loomed upholstery, textured wool cushions, original artworks and dramatic black-and-white photography all evoking the tones, terroir and topography of Pembrokeshire’s postcard-perfect countryside and coastline. Tactile and tasteful to a tee at every turn here in the misty Preseli Hills, many of the Persian rugs were sourced from Welsh antique shops, and the grand second-hand armchairs were refurbished from salvage to luxury hotel standard. If only all hotel dressers could work such upcycling magic.

Read the full Eco Weekender review.

From £390 in a Classic room; also available on an exclusive-use basis. grovenarberth.co.uk