Size does matter – but not necessarily in the way you expect
Busy urban areas are the most difficult to expand and improve on when it comes to sustainable accommodation. The disparity in wealth and, often, overtourism leads to well-established foreign-owned hotel chains being opened to meet the increasing demand. With a large numbers of rooms, comes the inevitable force of unregulated energy use and water use, massive buffets resulting in large amounts of food waste, single-use plastics circulating for convenience and all-inclusive options that stop expenditure reaching the surrounding communities. As a general tip, avoiding these types of accommodation – regardless of sustainability promises – is likely to be better for the community and environment.
Some smaller city hotel owners, however, are embracing the challenge to build energy-efficient stays that also benefit the surrounding community. The room2 collection, run by brothers Stuart and Robert Godwin, is just one such urban model that does this well. Each of the company’s four ‘hometels’ run on 100% solar, wind and hydro power – and enjoys a zero-waste-to-landfill policy, ensuring all non-recyclable products are transformed into something useful.
At room2’s recently-opened Belfast branch, upcycled fishing nets have been used to make the carpet and unused soap bottles form an elegant reception desk. Meanwhile, room2 Hammersmith teams up with local charity, SPEAR, to provide 25,000 nights of accommodation and festive meals to people facing or experiencing homelessness. “Being a part of a community, we wanted to make sure that we work with local businesses and our guests know this,” explains room2 co-founder, Robert. “We are all a big family – this is what we want our visitors to feel when they book a room with us.”
room2 provides a detailed breakdown of its sustainability projects online, ensuring guests understand the positive impact projects towards which their hard-earned money is going. By contrast, if a hotel doesn’t offer any firm examples about impactful change, it’s most likely to be because there isn’t much news to share. Even worse, displaying ‘green hotel’ or ‘eco-hotel’ labels, without the evidence to back them up, shouldn’t ever be taken at face value.
Ultimately, genuinely good practice speaks for itself. It oozes out of a hotel’s ethos – both online and in person – and that positive impact requires no greenwashing at all.