Six Of Europe’s Best Eco-Hotels
By Alexa Scott-Dalgleish
Travel is swiftly making its way back onto the agenda and we couldn’t be happier about it. For many, the year-long hiatus has given pause for thought when it comes to how we can travel more responsibly, and to help you on this journey, we’ve rounded up our top six eco-hotels in Europe. These sustainable masterpieces are pushing the boundaries when it comes to innovative design, recycled materials, state-of-the-art technologies and celebrating nature, so pack your bags. We’re off on an adventure.
Valsana Hotel - Arosa, Switzerland
The Valsana Hotel, located in Switzerland’s Graubünden mountains, sits at a lofty 1,800m at the entrance to Arosa village surrounded by staggering views of the undulating landscape. Both its architecture and interior design pay homage to the hotel’s natural surroundings with extensive use of stone, wood and glass, resulting in an atmosphere that is equally as charming in summer as in winter. The same sensitivity to its surroundings played a key role in its construction, which saw it built from scratch on the footprint of the previous property using reclaimed wood and stone. Today, its 49 rooms and apartments, restaurant and spa all run on recycled energy thanks to an ice-powered battery (which limits its ecological footprint to just 4%), and feature furniture and decorations made up of renewable materials such as coconut fibre.
For further information please visit valsana.ch/en or T. +41 81 378 63 63.
Borgo Pignano - Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany is no stranger to enchanting hotels and refined elegance and Borgo Pignano is undoubtedly one the brightest jewels in this crown. Located on a sprawling 750-acre estate, the sensitively restored 18th-century villa oozes Tuscan spirit with endless views, grand stone staircases, original frescoes and beam-covered ceilings. The historic building is contrasted with state-of-the-art facilities including a spa, art gallery, and yoga studio, whilst outside, its ancestral pastoral charm lives on with organic gardens, a vineyard, orchards, and a smattering of pigs, chickens and beehives.
Sustainability forms the backbone of the estate with the 14-room villa, farmhouses and four apartments all restored using environmentally-friendly materials such as locally-sourced stone, reclaimed slate, organic plasters and eco-paints. Heating and hot water systems are fuelled by solar panels and chip-fired boilers fed by wood harvested from the estate’s forests, whilst in the organic farm, they are actively experimenting with innovative techniques such as swales – a natural system for retaining rainwater and preventing soil erosion.
For further information please visit borgopignano.com/en/ or T. +39 0588 35032
The Albus - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The only urban hotel on our list, the 74-room Albus is a true pioneer in its field and claims the prestigious title of being Europe’s first carbon-neutral hotel. The family-run, 4* design hideaway can be found in the heart of the vibrant city centre making it the perfect springboard for exploring, and comes equipped with modern interiors punctuated by splashes of colour and statement pieces from leading international designers. Ever conscious of its environmental footprint, the hotel invested in a new cooling and heating system eradicating the need for any fossil fuels, whilst also focuses on reducing food waste, purchasing organic, fair trade and local products, and reducing and separating waste.
Whitepod Hotel - Monthey, Switzerland
The Whitepod hotel is comprised of a collection of 15 – you guessed it – white pods scattered across a mountainside in the village of Les Cerniers, Monthey. Looking out over a sweeping valley, their interchangeable skins allow them to blend seamlessly with the seasons, reflecting the stark white of the snowy wintery landscape followed by the rich greens of the springtime meadows.
The geometrical exoskeletons were not only selected for their unique aesthetic but also for their energy efficiency, which allow for continuous ambient airflow and subsequently less energy to maintain temperatures. Each of the cocoons come equipped with wood-pellet heating systems, closed fireplaces and water-saving devices in order to reduce consumption as much as possible, along with a strong commitment to source locally – a sentiment that infuses not only the hotel’s food offering but also its staffing! This unique mountainside hideout also offers a host of nature-based seasonal activities, including dog-sledding, paragliding, and ski touring in winter and mountain biking, foraging and caving in summer.
ION Adventure Hotel - Nesjavellir, Iceland
This striking box hotel juts out across a stretch of moss-covered lava fields and stands as a wonderful of example of how design can interact harmoniously with nature. Formerly an inn for workers at the Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant, it stood abandoned until 2011 when it was renovated using the highest sustainable standards and building materials into what it is today. It is surrounded by natural springs which provide geothermal hot water and energy to the hotel and pool, whilst inside, it is a celebration of its otherworldly landscape with lava walls, furniture made from found-wood, Icelandic wool and vast windows to drink in the views.
A low carbon footprint, water-saving showers, organic fairtrade bedding, and furniture constructed of sustainable and recycled materials has seen it top many of the ‘best sustainable hotel’ lists, whilst its glacial treks, Aurora Borealis sightings, horse-riding, ice-caving and snowmobile excursions make it a firm favourite amongst adventure lovers.
For further information please visit ionadventure.ioniceland.is/
Vivood Landscape Hotel - Benimantell, Spain
Reclining in the torrid heat of Spain’s Alicante region is Vivood Landscape Hotel, a secluded network of folding wood and steel units from entrepreneurial architect Daniel Mayo that look out over the Valley of Guadalest. Each of the 29 boltholes has concrete-free, reversible foundations to tread as lightly as possible on the landscape, as well as low consumption lighting, solar panels and water-saving systems. Their vast windows and raised location create a sense of absolute immersion in nature, whilst an adults-only policy establishes it as the ultimate spot to disconnect and bask in the sun-soaked, relaxed way of life that embodies Alicante.
The wider hotel lays claim to spa, yoga studio, infinity pool and multiple hammock-filled terraces, alongside an organic garden that serves the hotel’s kitchen in a bid to keep its carbon footprint to an absolute minimum.
Alexa is the Content Manager at Talia Collective. Previously, she worked for a top travel PR firm with a focus on sustainability in London, before moving to Madrid to learn Spanish and cut her teeth as a freelance travel copywriter and PR consultant.