Top 6 eco-friendly hotels in the world

When we think of sustainable travel, the image of an eco-lodge on a beach in Costa Rica, for example, often comes to mind. But traveling sustainably and responsibly isn’t just reserved for the realm of “ecotourism” and nature getaways – there are a number of ways that you can lower your impact on the environment when traveling for business as well.

A great step to take towards becoming a more sustainable business traveler is to book environmentally-friendly hotels. Low-impact travel and staying in high-end business or luxury hotels can coexist, and hotels around the world are exploring ways to step up and be more sustainable every day.

So, whether you’re booking your next big company retreat or simply hoping to find a hotel with a lower carbon footprint the next time you travel to meet the team in person, this is the list for you.

How to identify hotels with sustainable practices

There are many things to look out for when booking an eco-friendly hotel. It boils down to asking yourself “what green initiatives has the hotel implemented?”. Here are a few things to think about before booking a hotel:

  1. Have they made an effort to get rid of single-use plastics? Getting rid of those small shampoo bottles we all love to take home, or bottled water, are great examples.
     
  2. Has the hotel been built in harmony with its natural surroundings? Think about whether the construction and building materials are harmful to that specific ecosystem or not.
  3. Does the hotel use renewable energy (like solar energy), at least in part? 
  4. Has the hotel deployed the use of technologies like motion sensors to turn the lights or air conditioning off in guest rooms when no one is inside them?
  5. Does the hotel support local communities? Do they employ locals? Do they source food from the neighboring area?
  6. Does the hotel have a composting or recycling program implemented to help make more responsible travel a reality?

These are just a few of the many ways hotels can be sustainable. For a more in-depth look, check out our dedicated article here. 

Top 5 most sustainable hotel chains for business travelers

Sustainable travel isn’t just about checking into a treehouse hotel in Tulum or a beachfront bungalow in the Philippines. Some of the world’s biggest hotel chains are taking measures to become more eco-conscious, and choosing hotels with sustainability practices is an important step toward making business travel more sustainable.

1. NH Hotels

Cool rooftop hotel bar
NH Collection Barcelona Gran Hotel Calderon

The NH Hotels put responsible environmental, social, and economic behavior at the heart of what they do. They launched a series of energy efficiency projects where they replaced equipment like light bulbs, minibars, and heating with alternatives that consume less energy. They installed water recovery and reutilization systems to reduce water consumption. They implemented a new ethos to work primarily with responsible suppliers who recycle and reuse materials within the responsible consumption of resources. These initiatives, among many others, set the NH Hotels up as truly green hotels. 

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

2. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Hotel pool by the beach
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts La Quintana

The company motto, “committed to doing what’s right”, drives the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Their Count on Me culture means that they operate best practices in water conservation, waste diversion, and the responsible use of energy. Some noteworthy examples of their green initiatives include using energy-efficient lighting, air sealing their properties, installing irrigation controls for landscaping, and minimizing single-use plastics (like water bottles, for example). The company remained committed to sustainability actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and anticipate sustainable travel to be a major trend in our new reality. 

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

3. Ruby Hotels

Sustainable building Germany
Ruby Hotels Cologne

The German boutique hotel chain Ruby boasts properties like Ruby Marie or Ruby Lissi, which have been awarded the LEED Platinum certification by the U.S Green Building Council. They rely on green electricity, locally source food from organic gardens and farms, and offer guests drink vouchers not to have their towels washed every day. Ruby Hotels have also installed technology to ensure that energy is not being consumed when guest rooms are empty,  and work hard to eliminate food waste and limit their own greenhouse gas emissions. 

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

4. Intercontinental Hotel Group

InterContinental New York Barclay

With a truly global presence, the IHG Hotels & Resorts have placed sustainability as a core value of their business. All of the hotels in their portfolio are subject to the IHG Green Engage™ system, where each establishment is able to measure and manage its impact on the environment. IHG hotels are able to choose from a number of green solutions to help them reduce energy usage, track consumption data, focus on sustainable purchasing, or install energy-efficient appliances, to name a few. Hotels are ranked on 4 levels according to their sustainability efforts.

Read more about their sustainability efforts here.

5. Marriot International

Las Vegas Marriott

Marriot International has embedded sustainability into everything they do, from integrating it into every phase of their supply chain to putting it at the heart of site building and design. With a focus on responsibly sourcing local materials and working with like-minded suppliers, this hotel chain is able to reduce the negative impact of its operations on the environment. 294 hotels within the Marriot International group are pursuing or have achieved LEED®, BREEAM®, or Estidama certification.

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

Top 5 most sustainable urban hotels for business travelers

You don’t have to go off-grid to find a sustainable hotel to stay in – many urban hotels around the world are making sustainability commitments. Check out these urban eco hotels before booking your next business trip!

1. Yurbban Trafalgar, Barcelona

Yurbban Trafalgar

With thermal insulation and intelligent air conditioning systems in place, the Yurbban Trafalgar proudly boasts a Class A Building Certification. A relatively new hotel, they place a huge emphasis on employee and customer wellness, participate in social projects, and sponsor the preservation of Catalonia’s olive trees. They also celebrate the local community by working with local producers and craftsmen.

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

2. Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona

lobby hotel pulitzer barcelona
Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona

With a Biosphere Responsible Tourism Certification, the Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona prides itself on high-impact initiatives like the use of certified food products, solar panels, LED lights, appliances with an A+ energy rating, recycling, the promotion of sustainable mobility, and EU Ecolabel cleaning products. The hotel also collaborates with a number of NGOs across Spain, including the Doctor Clavel Foundation and the Sant Joan de Déu social project. They were also chosen as having one of the top 10 hotel sustainability and rehabilitation projects in the 3rd edition of the Rethink Hotel competition. 

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

3. PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore

PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering Singapore

With a hotel-in-a-garden design concept, the PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering in Singapore has to make it onto any list of best eco-hotels. Four-story tall sky gardens, reflecting pools, waterfalls, and of course, cutting-edge technology introducing sustainable design are all elements of this iconic hotel that make it the perfect place to stay for the environmentally conscious business traveler. Green and blue glass is used throughout the property to improve solar performance and water usage is minimized through rain harvesting, among other groundbreaking innovations in hotel design.

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

4. The Rubens at the Palace, London

“Living Wall” – The Rubens at the Palace

This luxurious London hotel’s most prominent feature is no doubt its 350 square-meter “Living Wall”, housing 10,000 herbaceous plants. Not only does it provide a wildlife habitat in the heart of the bustling city, but it also works to maintain the hotel’s temperature throughout the summer and winter and improve air quality in the surrounding area. The hotel also works closely with Belu Water, which gives 100% of its profits to WaterAid to help transform lives with clean water.

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

5. Element New York Times Square West, NYC

Element New York Times Square Wests

Originally constructed with recycled materials, the Element New York Times Square West is an emblem of sustainable design in the Big Apple. The hotel has come up with several innovative solutions to weave sustainability into its day-to-day – from mounting art on the walls with recycled tires, to introducing a towel reuse program and eliminating plastic utensils and paper cups. They also use green cleaning products throughout their property and have water-efficient faucets and fixtures.

Learn more about their sustainability efforts here.

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