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TEN OF THE BEST ECO-FRIENDLY BREAKS

Julie Vuong

Back to Inspirations
Getting away with the whole family needn't by riddled with guilt about negative impacts on the environment. From urban hotels using energy efficient methods and boutique B&Bs that only source food locally, to mountainside cabins built in harmony with the land, Britain's hospitality market is increasingly taking its green credentials seriously. Julie Vuong shares her top breaks to see spring come alive, and where to spoil yourselves without spoiling the environment!

No green-loving sybarite would leave The Titanic off their list. It boasts the original and, some say, best eco-spa in the UK. And don’t take our word for it, this pioneer of sustainability, nestled in the Pennine hills, has won some of the most glitzy awards including best luxury eco spa at the World Luxury Spa Awards. The beautifully restored 20th century textile barn runs on renewable energy from solar panels, plus water flows from its own natural water supply, 100m below the spa. Usually one of the biggest energy uses of a hotel and spa, the towels, has been solved too. There's an on-site laundry to deal with that, which means no unnecessary transport, plus the OTEX cleaning system is a leader in energy efficiency, delivering powerful washes at cool temperatures. 

Organic by name and by nature. Take yourselves away from the hustle of modern life at Costislost, a glorious 16th country farmhouse B&B that’s designed to comfort and cosset you in tandem with nature. Based near the North Cornwall coast among 25 acres of lush Cornish countryside, the whole estate is geared up to put you at ease, from the four-poster beds laden with Egyptian cotton linen and welcoming lounge with wood-burning stove and library of books. Then there’s the carefully sourced organic and local produce, naturally-based toiletries and on-site yoga and meditation room to really reconnect with yourself and your surroundings.

You don't have to trade in luxury mod cons for back-to-nature grit and grime. The Grove five-star retreat does eco with aplomb. Just 18 miles outside of London, this Hertfordshire icon is a recipient of a Green Apple Environment Award for its continued work on sustainability and protecting the environment, including the replacement of single-use plastics (it’s eradicated plastic bottles, bags and straws). The grounds, wonderfully maintained, are something to behold. And the kids will love it too at Easter. Over the break there’s a packed schedule of events such as an Alice in Wonderland makeover of the outdoors with tea parties and egg hunts, and for those who would rather pull on their wellies and get closer to nature, hit the many paths including the Cycle Trail, the Musical Meander Trial and the Wildlife Trail. 

For all-out luxury with added eco-credentials, look no further than this superb property in Elmley Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. Enjoy the wild scenery and spotless Blue Flag beaches (including the property’s own private stretch) at this historic 18th century farmhouse, which has been beautifully restored to yield an uber glamorous yet green getaway. There’s enough room to fit up to 14 friends and family, with plenty of space for everyone around the huge kitchen table that boasts uninterrupted views across the surrounding 3,300 acres of land. Energy is supplied via solar panels and a wind turbine is to be added to boost its self-sufficiency further. with the outdoors with a stay at Kingshill Farm, concealed away on Elmley Nature Reserve.

One look at The Steading, a cabin that's almost carved out of the mighty rugged and rocky Perthshire hills, feels like it's surely good for the soul. This architecturally designed B&B is in keeping with its natural surroundings – albeit crafted in a more Scandinavian vibe – thanks to its natural material and timbers. Inside the rooms are dressed in The White Company linen and luxe cushions and throws from Scottish designer Anta, while all the produce is as local and seasonable as possible. The eggs, for example, come from their own hens, the coffee is provided by Glen Lyon (said to be the most remote roastery in Scotland) while smoked kippers and black pudding are sourced from areas nearby. 

Stay at the Wild Rabbit and enter a world of eco-elegance. Quite literary, given this pub with rooms is part of the renowned Daylesford brand, which has become a byword for green beauty thanks to its organic farm shop and spa in Oxfordshire; the brainchild of Carole Bamford. The property itself is quintessential Cotswolds: set within the centre of honey-stoned Kingham with its pretty church and village green. The commitment to organic is impressive: restaurant staff will give you the low down on where the food is sourced, while at reception they’ll be able to whisk you over to Daylesford’s Haybarn Spa where the farm is set to be 75% energy self-sufficient this year. What’s more, it’s incredibly family friendly (including dogs!) and kids can happily dine in the restaurant and get their share of organic sausage and chips. 

Make the green and pleasant Notgrove Estate your stomping ground this Easter. For those averse to camping tent-and-pole style, don’t fear, at Notgrove there’s a proper roof over your head. These delightful wooden cabins, providing a low-energy, low impact break, will please anyone in pursuit of the great outdoors. Every pod, which fits up to four, comes with en-suite showers and WCs, flat-screen TVs, outdoor seating and a fire pit. There’s plenty for the family to do at Notgrove, including petting the farm animals and taking scenic walks along the marked paths. Outside of the estate, Bourton-on-the-Water is just a five-minute drive, described as the ‘Little Venice’ of the Cotswolds, with its idyllic waterside shops and cafes. 

Given its name, being eco-friendly was always going to be at the core of what The Green House offers. This award-winning eco-establishment with 32 bedrooms has all your needs covered - with smart and alternative ways to deliver it. From free electric car charging points in the car park to a clever heating and power combi unit. The bedsteads are sustainably sourced wood and even the meeting room chairs have been upcycled from video games consoles! It might be an urban hotel, close to the beach, but there’s a real connection with nature. Bird and bat boxes are installed in the garden, and the restaurant’s honey is sourced from the beehives on the roof. As you would expect, the food is organic, Fairtrade and supplied by local artisans, ensuring the restaurant, Home to Arbor, is destination dining.

You can go green, even in the massive metropolis of London thanks to hotels like The Cavendish leading the way. It publishes its own sustainability charter, one for its own practices and another for visitors, so everyone make positive environmental choices. It's also created an action group to monitor and push forward initiatives, such as the installation of new energy efficient lifts, using only low energy light bulbs and bio degradable waste sacks, and donating furniture and uniforms to charities. Visitors are rewarded with a prime spot in Mayfair, with central London and its parks, shops and world-renowned restaurants at your disposal. 

You can’t get closer to nature than in a cabin in the woods, designed with the environment in mind. The whole family will love exploring the picturesque woodland glades and run amongst the towering silver birches. And there’s space for the whole family - book one of the family cabins and bring the dog too. The complex of cabins are built to sit harmoniously with the forest, meeting the world’s leading sustainability BREEAM ratings. What’s more, the majority of cabins are heated by efficient air source heat pump technology or renewable sources such as wood pellet and Bio LPG.

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