Amidst prevalent greenwashing and a saturated market for eco-friendly stays, these five UK hotels stand out for their tangible efforts, innovative infrastructure and regenerative practices that ensure transparency throughout guests’ stay.

Whether looking to teach little ones about reducing waste, chasing a romantic getaway with positive impact or taking an adventure that welcomes local wildlife, choosing a holiday with heart promises high return in 2022.

1. For Romance and Regeneration: Scarlet Hotel

The Lowdown: For those in search of serenity and sustainability, Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall is built to the highest eco-standards. Perched on the clifftops looking out over the golden sands of Mawgan Porth in North Cornwall, the hotel boasts careful energy usage, new eco-technologies and electric car charging services to help every guest contribute to a positive climate impact.

The hotel encourages guests to support local groups such as Surfers Against Sewage, a grassroots environmental group that fights to protect the coastline or Coast: One Planet Tourism Network, a Cornish social enterprise that promotes sustainable tourism.  The roof is lined with sea thrift, providing native plants for local insects and repurposed wooden posts that were once coastal erosion barriers now frame the hotel gardens.  Scarlet opts for a cooling sea breeze instead of artificial air conditioning and shuns chemicals for the use of reeds and algae to cleanse the outdoor pool.  

Price: Rates at The Scarlet start from £245 on a B&B basis

2. For Nature Loving Families: Lympstone Manor

The Lowdown: Lympstone Manor is situated on a 28-acre estate in the heart of Devon on the foreshore of the tranquil Exe Estuary. The hotel has 21 individually designed bedrooms and suites, six woodland setting Shepherds Huts, a tennis court, vineyard, and outdoor pool.

A hive of biodiversity, each area of Lympstone Manor has been sympathetically restored or reinstated to help bring the grounds and mansion back to its former glory. In partnership with Coastal Recycling, the team at Lympstone implement a recycling and composting centre, ensuring minimal waste for landfill or the Aerobic Digester. Plant species on the estate have been chosen to encourage pollinators and this is matched by the meadow sites which have wildflowers for the bees and butterflies (the hotel has its own beehives which produce honey for guests). Nothing goes to waste on the estate; wood from damaged or fallen trees is reused to create seating or paths and kitchen waste and trimmings are recycled to fortify stocks. Working with the Devon Wildlife Trust, Lympstone Manor also help to monitor the ever-changing population of the Exe estuary, ensuring a hospitable environment for several key bird species, including Avocet, Merlin and Red Shank, that flock to the bountiful area to feed.

Price: Nightly rates in the main house at Lympstone Manor available from £360 per night including breakfast and based on two sharing

Photo credit: Mark Ashbee

3. For Wild Swimming and Zero Waste: South Lodge Hotel and Spa

The Lowdown: South Lodge is a quintessential West Sussex Country escape and, as part of the Exclusive Collection, proudly became the UK’s first hotel group to become a B-Corp in 2021. Housed in a sleek, modern building curved into the natural contours of the (93 acre) grounds South Lodge was designed with sustainability in mind.

The Spa complements the landscape, featuring the UK’s first wild swimming pool which uses no chlorine or chemicals but oxygenates plants to clean the water making it wildlife and environmentally friendly. Botanica is the spa’s Mediterranean inspired restaurant where head chef Jonathan Spiers draws on the South Downs as a larder for fresh and seasonal ingredients. Although not totally vegetarian, the menu features a plethora of plant-based plates including our standout dish, the undeniably delicious Wasted Burger, made entirely from the pulp from the freshly prepared morning’s juices.

Price: Rates at South Lodge start from £285 per night on a B&B basis

4.  For Lakes, Walks and the Wilderness: The Tawny Hotel

The Lowdown: Set within the 70-acre grounds of the wonderfully restored wild garden of Consall Hall Estate in Staffordshire, The Tawny Hotel opened in July 2021. Comprising 55 idyllic Shepherds Huts, Treehouses, Boathouses, Retreats and the Lookout – each space is designed to emulate the natural surroundings.

The Plumicorn Restaurant offers a menu that speaks of Staffordshire and the Peak District, utilising quality local ingredients sourced from the hotel’s own kitchen garden as well as the neighbouring area. Eco-friendliness was at the forefront of The Tawny from the very start. Materials used to build accommodation were carefully considered, based on their environmental impact. There is also no floodlighting or ‘street’ lighting of the landscape. The hotel also provides eco-baths and ‘pinning’ structures into the ground to prevent tree-root damage. Activities include bird spotting and stargazing. Recycled bikes are also available.

Price: Rates at The Tawny start from £230 in the Wildwood Huts, £360 in the Lookout, £400 in the Boathouses, £420 in the Treehouses based on two sharing and inclusive of breakfast

5. The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell 

The Lowdown: Conscious hoteliers, The Zetter Group have used energy-saving technology and eco-friendly materials wherever possible. This approach also includes water pumped from the hotel’s own 1500-foot bore-hole beneath the building which helps make the building self-sustaining.

With bags of personality, The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell’s eco-friendly features and practices include: all the timber used in the building’s construction was bought from sustainable sources, and all the paints used in our interiors are environmentally-friendly; when a bedroom window is opened the air conditioning has been designed to cut out; and all bath and shower products have been chosen for its environmentally friendly packaging and the formulations, which contain no parabens, phthalates, petrol-derived ingredients.

Price: Double rooms from £169 per night