The best UK hotels for an eco-conscious staycation

These destinations fuse modernity with mindfulness

The pandemic has heightened our collective desire for escapism – but it’s also changed where we’re able to go. Domestic travel ticks all the boxes while reducing carbon footprints and helping the local economy – these eight UK hotels have a firm hold on environmental ethics and sustainable responsibilities.

And they manage to do so without faltering on their design aesthetic.

Courtesy of The Reading Rooms, Margate

Take The Reading Rooms in Margate as an example. This three-room boutique bed-and-breakfast’s owner is all for ethical payroll, and they pride themselves on being a UK Living Wage employer. The rooms are light and bright, with vaulted ceilings and exposed lime-washed wooden beams, offset with antique chandeliers and large antique wall mirrors.

Courtesy Bankside Hotel

Bankside London – which recently re-opened – controls its energy consumption and works diligently to reduce its carbon footprint. The intimate six-storey hotel responsibly-sources its food products and ingredients, making sure to follow seasonal trends and source locally wherever possible to reduce food miles. And 15% of their revenue goes to Crisis, the UK’s largest homeless charity.

Another destination hotel that pays close attention to its produce is Birch. The 55-acre Hertfordshire estate is designed to allow its guest to play as well as rest, has an on-site farm that offers introductions to composting and foraging and supplying produce for its two restaurants.

Going one step further, Hampshire’s destination hotel Heckfield Place has a biomass centre that powers water and central heating along with its aerobic digester, used to process all recyclable waste and provide compost for the garden. They even harvest rainwater. And none of these eco-features take away from the gloriously grand Georgian family home, restored by practice Spratley & Partners, now a sumptuous boutique hotel with 400-acres of secluded grounds.

A bedroom suite at restored Georgian country estate, Heckfield Place

The Treehouse Hotel in London strives to be sustainable, with a similar composting and recycling programme, and a commitment to reducing its single-use plastic use. Bedrooms are outfitted with organic cotton sheets and bathrooms with locally sourced products.

Looking to sustainable yet sleek styling, Market Street Hotel in Edinburgh remains eco-conscious by utilising the environmentally sustainable Saint Luc furniture and re-usable glass throughout its decor.

Also in Scotland, Saorsa 1875 in Perthshire is an 11-room hotel in a 19th-century baronial house dedicated to showcasing ethical luxury. Designed for vegans, vegetarians and the plant-curious individual, Saorsa champions seasonal and foraged plant-based produce at its restaurant. Guests can also discover craft beers, an impressive wine list and cocktails inspired by the region.

Above: the lobby of Edinburgh’s Market Street Hotel

At the other end of the UK, in Cornwall, is a high-end eco-hotel designed just for grown-ups. The Scarlett Hotel offers idyllic spaces to unwind, from meadow gardens to clifftop hot tubs – all with a negative carbon impact.

In 2011, The Scarlet and Bedruthan – its sister hotel – set up a Community Fund financing new or existing projects that improve the local natural environment and provide a social benefit to people living in the area.

So whether environmental ethics or social sustainability is a factor, these UK hotels offer a stylish experience that won’t cost the Earth.

Above: bedrooms at the Saorsa Hotel in Perthshire are decorated with bright colours and contemporary furniture.
Above: Seafront views from the Scarlett Hotel’s clifftop hot tubs
Above: Interiors at The Treehouse Hotel
Above: Heckfield Place
Above: Heckfield Place

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