Britain’s greenest hotels — from eco hot tubs in Cornwall to waste-free menus in the Cotswolds

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 (Scarlet Hotel)
(Scarlet Hotel)

Michelin-star dining from an organic on-site farm. Natural air conditioning harnessed from the sea breeze. Wild swimming pools cleaned by plants instead of chlorine.

Committing to a sustainable staycation no longer means pitching your tent in a wet field and eating homegrown veg from a tupperware. A luxe new wave of stylish eco hotels are popping up a short train ride from the capital and many of them are planet-protecting pioneers: climate-conscious Cornish bolthole Scarlet just scooped Seaside Hotel of the Year in last year’s “Oscars of the industry”, the Good Hotel Guide; West Sussex’s South Lodge Hotel Spa just became a B-Corp for its commitment to responsible travel; and Hampshire’s Heckfield Place was awarded a Michelin Green Star in February for its locally-sourced menu. Leading eco chef Skye Gyngell from Spring at Somerset House is culinary director.

So which one to book? First, choose your shade of green. From the Sussex Regency mansion with its own pickling room and vineyard to climate-conscious treehouses nestled in the Peak District, these are the most eco-friendly hotels in Britain.

The Regency haven with its own vineyard: The Pig in the South Downs, Sussex

Hours from London: Two

USP: Ultra-local wine. The hotel’s on-site vineyard comprises of 4,000 vines of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and is due to produce its first harvest in the summer of 2023

 (The Pig)
(The Pig)

Local is the order of the day at each of The Pig’s eight award-winning countryside boltholes, but the latest addition to its litter - a relaxed Regency mansion in the heart of the South Downs - is the most sustainable yet. Like its siblings, everything on the menu is sourced from a 25-mile radius, and much of it from closer still: the Pig’s on-site apple orchard, pickling room, flock of South Downs sheep and heaving two-acre kitchen garden, where staff are hard at work growing and gathering everything from the edible flowers you’ll find on top of your cocktail to the signature rhubarb and custard dessert on the South Downs Meets The Sea evening dinner menu.

Don’t expect to find avocado with your eggs in the morning: instead, breakfast is a impressively varied spread given it’s all grown so close by - think boiled eggs, berry compotes, homemade granola, giant almond cruffins and smashed peas on rye bread with lemon and chilli. The bulk of the furniture is reclaimed or repurposed and the bar coasters and napkin rings are made from old menus.

Rooms from £165, thepighotel.com

The clifftop eco retreat: Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall

Hours from London: Five

USP: Sun, sea and sustainable design. The entire hotel has been thought through with the climate in mind, from the construction of the building to the flip flops in the spa

 (Scarlet)
(Scarlet)

This beachside north Cornwall bolthole has been a pioneer in eco tourism since it opened in Magwan Porth near Newquay in 2009. The key to its winning of so many sustainability awards? Devilish levels of detail, from the low-energy LED lighting that switches off when no one is around to the flip flops in the spa, made from recycled vehicle tyres. Unlike many eco hotels, this climate-conscious thinking started at the very beginning, with insulation from the old hotel dismantled and sent to a monkey sanctuary and more than 120 small reptiles living in the old stone walls being rehoused.

In its place: a sleek new sustainability-first hotel made from recyclable materials, with Tesla chargers in the carpark and replacing and reusing at the heart of its design: a cool Atlantic sea breeze replaces the need for air conditioning; reeds and algae are used to clean the pool instead of chemicals; and the plumbing system has been cleverly designed to reuse “grey water” (waste water from the showers and baths) to flush the toilets. The roof itself is lined with sea thrift, a native plant, which provides a better ecosystem for local insects and the vertical wooden posts around the hotel’s gardens are repurposed coastal erosion posts from the nearby harbour.

But Scarlet is proof that protecting the planet doesn’t have to get in the way of a luxury experience. Scarlet’s indoor pool is kept warm using a sophisticated solar heating system, the upside of the hot tubs not bubbling is you can listen to the sea sounds below, and fresh tea and coffee is made fresh and brought to your room on request to save on tea trays and wasteful single-use plastic sachets. Soap bars are sourced from a local maker in Cornwall and guests are invited to take them home in an organic cotton bag to reduce waste.

From £245, scarlethotel.co.uk

The Michelin (Green) Star manor: Heckfield Place, Hampshire

Hours from London: One or two

USP: Farming, but make it fancy. Heckfield is the first UK hotel to be certified biodynamic thanks to its on-site organic farm

 (Heckfield Place)
(Heckfield Place)

Scroll through Heckfield’s 65,000-follower Instagram and you’ll find all the hallmarks of an elegant Georgian country house popular with London’s A-listers (Harry and Meghan had their babymoon here in 2019): a grand red-brick facade, dining rooms decked out with traditional wood panelling, Bridgerton-worthy pleasure grounds - which makes the fact that it tops almost all sustainable hotel lists all the more impressive.

The 438-acre estate is at the forefront of sustainable tourism, with plastic-free rooms and biomass heating, but the jewel in Heckfield’s eco crown is the food. Its in-house restaurant Marle boasts chef Skye Gyngell (famously from Spring at Somerset House) as its culinary director and was recently awarded a Michelin Green Star, an ethical and environmental accolade held by just 23 restaurants since it launched in 2020. Produce is grown on the hotel’s biodynamic farm nestled among the croquet, badminton and boating on its 400 acres of grounds. Make sure you go and say hello to the 400 free-range chickens, 53 sheep, 10 saddleback pigs and 60 dairy cows.

From £450, heckfieldplace.com

The climate-conscious city pad: The Zetter Hotel, London

Hours from London: Zero. The hotel is a five-minute walk from Farringdon station, right in the heart of Clerkenwell

USP: Pedal power. Food is delivered by cycle courier PedalMe and there are free Brompton bikes available for guests to get around town

 (Zetter Townhouse)
(Zetter Townhouse)

Zetter saved 20 per cent of its energy consumption last year - proof of its dedication to protecting the planet. The boutique Clerkenwell hotel is a converted Victorian warehouse and has its own 1,500ft borehole underneath the building for flushing the loos and cooling the fridges and bedrooms, making the hotel almost entirely self-sufficient.

There are toxin-free REN toiletries in the rooms, the air conditinoning cuts out when you open a window, and there’s an occupancy detection system in the bedrooms so minimal energy is burned when you’re not there. Expect a naturally-lit central atrium and skylight windows - a dream for natural light lovers.

From £142, thezetter.com

The farm-powered inn: The Wild Rabbit, Cotswolds

Hours from London: Two or three (there are electric charging points in the car park if you’re driving)

USP: Daylesford-powered goodness. The hotel is part of the Cotswolds’ famous Daylesford estate, one of the most sustainable organic farms in the UK

 (The Wild Rabbit)
(The Wild Rabbit)

Handpicked flowers from an organic cutting garden. Surfaces made from reclaimed wood. Locally-sourced seasonal dishes cooked up in an award-winning, waste-free kitchen. The magic of a stay at The Wild Rabbit is almost everything comes from the estate it sits on: Daylesford, the rich hedgerows and wild flower meadows of which guests are encouraged to explore on foot or on two wheels (there are walking maps and bikes available at reception).

The hotel comprises of 13 elegant pub rooms and several clusters of cottages a short walk away, each featuring electric agas and low-energy lighting powered by 1,800 solar panels spread across the farm. In the rooms, mattresses are handmade using horsehair, wattle and daub panelling has been restored and re-rendered and walls are plastered with natural lime. Each pub room is named after an animal found within a three-mile walk - keep an eye out for the wild boar rumoured to roam in the Odddington Ashes nearby.

From £175, thewildrabbit.co.uk

The huts in the woods: The Tawny Hotel, Staffordshire

Hours from London: Four

USP: Your own eco bubble. The Tawny is made up of 55 idyllic shepherd’s huts, cosy cabins, treehouses and boathouses set within 70-acre grounds

 (The Tawny)
(The Tawny)

There’s no flood lighting or street lighting at The Tawny. Instead, soak outside your eco hut in a luxury (chemical-free) copper spa bath lit up by fairy lights. There are skylighs for stargazing at night and recycled bikes available at reception for bird-spotting excursions and rides around the restored wild garden of Staffordshire’s Consall Hall Estate.

The hotel opened in July, with each of its huts designed to emulate the woodland surroundings and a menu sourced from Staffordshire and the Peak District, as well as its on-site kitchen garden.

From £230, thetawny.co.uk

The wild swimming sanctuary: South Lodge Hotel Spa, West Sussex

Hours from London: One

USP: The UK’s first wild swimming pool, which oxygenates plants to clean the water

 (South Lodge)
(South Lodge)

South Lodge is a pioneer when it comes to sustainability firsts: not only did its hotel group Exclusive become the UK’s first hotel group to become a B-Corp last year, but it’s also home to the country’s first wild swimming pool, an alfresco haven that’s wildlife and environmentally-friendly thanks to a process that uses plants instead of chemicals to clean the water. Goodbye chlorine feeling.

There’s also an indoor infinity edge pool, vitality hydrotherapy pool and spa, plus a South Downs-sourced, plant-based menu for rewarding yourself afterwards. The popular Wasted Burger is made entirely from the pulp from the freshly prepared morning’s juices.

From £285, exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge

The waste-free retreat: Lympstone Manor, Devon

Hours from London: Four

USP: Birds, bees and butterflies. The hotel has its own beehives, butterfly meadows and works with Devon Wildlife Trust to welcome flocks of avocets, merlins and red shanks to the Exe estuary area

 (Steven Brownhill)
(Steven Brownhill)

Nothing goes to waste at Lympstone’s five-star Grade- II listed Georgian manor house hotel: wood from damaged or fallen trees is reused for seating and paths, kitchen waste and trimmings are recycled to fortify food stocks, and there’s an on-site recycling and compositing centre for ensuring minimal waste for landfill.

Choose from 21 rooms and suites in the main manor or six woodland Shepherds Huts for a weekend exploring the Exe Estuary and Jurassic Coast, but be sure to leave time for exploring closer to home, too. The 28-acre grounds are also home to tennis courts, a swimming pool and pool house restaurant opening this month, a 10.8-acre vineyard and world-class wine cellar, plus Michelin-star fine dining from acclaimed chef Michael Caines MBE.

From £360, lympstonemanor.co.uk

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