How to Find Eco-Friendly Hotels

On my recent trip through Europe I wanted to find eco-friendly hotels to try out so that I can recommend them first hand. Trying to find a hotel in general when planning a trip can be a daunting task, but add eco-friendly to the mix and it can seem even more overwhelming. Ecotourism is on the rise and travelers are becoming more conscious about the way they travel. I have a few tips for finding the perfect place. These are the steps that I take for every trip that I plan, it does take more effort than looking for a regular hotel but it's getting easier.

Do a General Internet Search

Once I decide where I’m going the first thing I do is a general internet search for “eco-friendly hotel, hostel or resort in (insert city here).” This will depend on what your budget is and what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, there’s not one comprehensive website with listings for eco-friendly hotels. This step helps me to find places that aren’t necessarily on the websites I’ll mention below. I’ve found numerous unique, local places to stay this way, from eco-friendly hostels in Croatia to eco-friendly resorts in the Philippines, Kenya and list goes on. Make sure to go past the first couple of results pages because there can be some really great finds with companies who haven’t paid to be at the top of the search result.

Eco-friendly Hotel Websites

There are a couple of websites that do provide a way to search for hotels in the city you’re traveling to, but they’re not comprehensive by any means and you may want to use this in conjunction with the tip mentioned above. For example, the hotel that I chose to stay at on a recent trip Berkeley, CA wasn't listed. by Healthy Stays is one of the best sites to use if you don’t want to wade through Google search results, but again, it’s not comprehensive. You can search listings worldwide that are committed to sustainable development and it’s not just for hotels. They list B&Bs, hotels, inns, lodges, motels and resorts. So it’s a very good resource. They also list all of the eco-friendly actions and green attributes that each property has incorporated into their operations, using a “green leaf” rating system. The more leaves, the more environmentally friendly features the property has. 

It doesn’t just list features about the physical building, but also whether the food is organic, how they handle their waste, green education and any other “green” amenities. by EcoBNB is another great resource that I’ve recently used for the first time for my trip to Italy. This website lists some of the most incredibly unique accommodations available for travel. Personally, I love to stay in places that reflect the local culture and give me the opportunity to connect with the local community I’m traveling to. They feature biohotels, tree houses, B&Bs, organic farmhouses, castles and more.  I used it to find the B&B that I stayed at while I was in Matera, Italy and it was one of the best experiences in Italy.

The website not only has listings of environmentally friendly properties, but they’re committed to responsible tourism, green travel, organic food and authentic cultural experiences. by the Green Hotels Association is another website that offers listings for hotels in the U.S. and a few listings in Europe, Africa, The Caribbean, Canada, Brazil and Asia. The hotels join the association as members and in turn get a listing on the website. by Green Pearls is another good choice for finding all types of eco-properties. Resorts, green lifestyle hotels, camps and lodges for any type of holiday that you’re looking for. They feature properties all over the world and the website also has information about restaurants, destination guides, green projects and a blog.

Expedia, Hotwire, etc.

I tend to skip these websites because their results are a bit confusing (the properties they list don’t appear to all be eco-friendly) and let’s be honest, I don’t want to spend a ton of time calling each property listed on Travelocity or Expedia to see if they actually are eco-friendly or not. 

Things to Keep In Mind About Ecotourism and Eco-Friendly Travel

The overall purpose and goal of ecotourism is to reduce our footprint when we travel and impact on the environment and finite resources. That being said, you may not always be able to find an “eco-friendly” hotel when you travel. What’s the alternative? Stay at smaller, locally run/owned properties, use Airbnb or traditional B&Bs. For more tips on how to make any trip eco-friendly, read my earlier post here.

If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please leave a comment!