Positive-impact properties for an enriching, eco-friendly escape
Looking ahead to 2022, it’s time to be forward-thinking about your next holiday – and we don’t just mean booking well in advance. If the countless climate collapse headlines have taught us anything, it’s that we need to take more care of the environment and the communities we are planning to visit. To start the new year as we mean to go on, we’ve added seven hotels to our Considerate Collection which are all doing something special when it comes to sustainability – from a cluster of Arctic Circle cabins standing watch over Sámi traditions, to a down-to-earth Dutch gastrofarm taking hyper-local to new levels.
1. Arctic Bath, Harads – Sweden
All-natural adventures in Northern Europe’s last remaining wilderness
Drawing inspiration from the surrounding forest, Arctic Bath is home to twelve sustainably constructed, glass-fronted lodges which hover above land and water beneath the Northern Lights and midnight sun. Running on 100% renewable energy, natural fireplaces filled with recycled pellets can be found in the cosily kitted out cabins and saunas, while locally made kicksleds, snow-shoes and hiking sticks are available in-room for guests to explore the Swedish Lapland surrounds in a more eco-friendly way.
The centre point of this floating wellness retreat is the Viking-style spa, designed to replicate a log jam on the Lule River which not only works aesthetic wonders, but also serves as a reminder of the importance of forests for Sweden’s development through timber transportation on these very tributaries. After a dip in the cold bath, which is supplied directly by natural river water, indulge in a series of spa rituals which make use of all-natural ingredients by native Swede Kerstin Florian – set to a soothing soundtrack of traditional jojk music.
When the wilderness calls, the resort’s extensive list of activities run by local guides immerses guests in the elements and in the Sámi community at nearby Jokkmokk. Local reindeer herder Anna Kuhumen opens her home for up-close animal encounters and Sámi songs around the fireplace, while Mikael “Micke” Suorra, known as the resident moose whisperer, takes wildlife enthusiasts on safari and ice-fishing tours – with the chance to eat your freshly-caught Arctic Char for dinner at the Arctic Bath restaurant. Here, sustainably sourced ingredients include wild reindeer meat, fish and foraged berries from neighbouring Norrbotten, while honey and hand-picked herbs hail from Vuollerim, washed down with personally selected wines or locally crafted beers from Piteå and Luleå.
2. Grand Forest Metsovo, Metsovo – Greece
Metsovian soul in the heart of the Pindus Mountains
Birdsong rings across the mountains. A fresh breeze plays through the black pine forest. At Grand Forest Metsovo, getting back to nature comes easily. Perched on the slopes of the Pindus Mountain range in the foothills of the Pindus National Park – considered one of the most important protected areas for the maintenance of alpine biodiversity, every element of this chalet-style retreat has been designed with its surrounding peaks in mind. Amphitheatrically built to follow and complement the rugged terrain, Grand Forest Metsovo borrows traditional architectural elements mainly found in mountainous mainland Greece and boasts its own supply of natural spring water.
The Barmpagiannis family who own this high-altitude hideaway originally hail from Metsovo, an historic village rooted in livestock farming and artisan crafts, known for its wine and smoked cheese with a number of bakeries that still run on wood-fired ovens. Sharing this traditional corner of the Epirus region is close to the hotel’s heart, with behind-the-scenes tours of the Folklore Museum and UNESCO-listed Meteora monasteries available to culturally curious guests, alongside organised trips to the weekend market hosted near the main square, and the silversmith shops of Loannina.
Whatever the season, there’s reason to visit this often overlooked part of Greece. In summer, the hotel’s team of local experts guide guests along mountain trails by bicycle, on foot, or horse-back, while the winter months transform the Pindus peaks into a snowsports playground for cross-country skiing led by former Olympians. In between, there’s wild truffle hunting, which guests can gather until they have enough for an alfresco lunch cooked by the river with Greek naturalist Katerina and her friendly dogs. While the menu at Metsovo 1350m changes from season to season, the sky-high restaurant serves up farm-fresh produce all year round.
3. Op Oost, Oosterend – Netherlands
A converted farmhouse and seaweed barn with a heartfelt connection to nature
Free-range chickens roam the wildly beautiful grounds, ‘making’ the perfect breakfast eggs, while bees hum around the fruit trees and butterflies flit between the herbal and vegetable gardens which fill the coastal air with the aromas of lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and sage. Wake to the sounds of the sea and uninterrupted farmland views at Op Oost, a converted 18th century farm and barn once used to dry seaweed and trade oysters, which now gives guests a thoroughly back-to-nature experience in a windswept corner of the Wadden Islands. Whichever of the twelve spacious garden suites and lodges you choose, you can be sure every eco-conscious detail supports the hotel’s Green Key Gold certification – from the COCO MAT mattresses to the homemade in-room vegan cosmetics and dried reusable flower arrangements.
There is a strong ‘served by nature’ ethos in the Kook Atelier which strives to put nature’s finest on a plate, so diners can tuck into Wadden oysters and Schorren salt marsh sea kale safe in the knowledge that everything is foraged, farmed, and fermented within 150 metres of Op Oost. Guests can get a real taste for the farm-to-fork menu by joining the chef and local guides on private oyster picking tours and wild foraging sessions along the shoreline, or by visiting some of the hotel’s suppliers including local dairy and sheep farms, as well as the local farmers’ market and fishmongers to pick up some Texel produce.
From Op Oost it takes just minutes to get off the beaten track and into the tranquil wildlife-rich nature reserves. Along with suggesting the best walking and cycling routes, the hotel will happily share tips on the best bird watching spots and where to pick native plants in an environmentally responsible way.
4. Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort, Grindelwald – Switzerland
Glacier-inspired elegance within the UNESCO-protected Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
With the Swiss Alps as its backdrop, many of the Swiss wood-crafted suites at locally owned Bergwelt Grindelwald – Alpine Design Resort overlook the north face of the Eiger – best enjoyed from your balcony with bottled water drawn from the glacier to drink. The resort has been sympathetically designed in the chalet style using local materials such as wood and marble, and encourages guests to off-set their carbon footprint by paying a compensation fee to an environmental protection organisation chosen by the staff on an annual basis.
As an active member of Eigerness, a local association which champions locally made products and holds formative events on climate change and glacial recession, Bergwelt Grindelwald sells souvenirs in its boutique which have been hand-crafted by artisans from alpine villages, stocks its suites with books on the region’s history, folk stories, flora and fauna, and proudly displays works by local artists including paintings by the artist Max Hari from nearby Thun on its walls.
Beer from local breweries is on tap in the bar to wash down seasonal dishes at BG’s Grill, which come directly from the feature charcoal grill to your table on stone blocks – and behind-the-scenes chef tours give a richer flavour of the alpine-inspired restaurant. Meanwhile, Pinte puts you in the heart of the resort village, perfect for après-ski and swapping stories with the locals. Modern day mountaineers can tread the glacier lightly with local guides who are all about unearthing the unknown, whether it’s whizzing through the snow by ‘Velogemel’ (a traditional sledge) or learning to yodel on a summer hike. Foodies can enjoy sommelier-led wine and Rügen tastings or forage for mountain herbs, which are also incorporated into the renewably powered resort’s Mystic Atrium Garden in the Fire & Ice Spa. Here, you can drift away in tranquil treatment rooms named after local butterflies, or take a dip in the outdoor pool that’s inspired by the Grindelwald glaciers.
5. The George, Christchurch – New Zealand
An urban oasis with some of the greenest views in the city
And we don’t just mean its proximity to Hagley Park – Christchurch’s largest gardens. The George’s outlook – which champions the TIAKI promise – is as green as its setting. This Tourism New Zealand initiative involves educating guests about how to treat Aotearoa New Zealand with respect on their travels, and the TIAKI principles of caring for the land and sea, travelling with an open heart and mind, and keeping New Zealand as nature intended resonate with The George’s own ethos. The hotel’s Caring Luxury programme implements a range of initiatives designed to reduce its environmental impact, help charitable organisations including native bird rewilding, and support the local supply chain. From complimentary bicycles and refillable ‘low suds’ amenities made from local products such as ‘harakeke’ and lemon grass, to recycling soap from guest rooms which is then milled into new bars and distributed to low sanitation areas around the world in partnership with Beyond Skin Deep, this EnviroGold-rated property is continually thinking outside of the eco-box.
Designed to reflect local elements, the carpets and wallpaper throughout The George are inspired by the surrounding indigenous trees, while works by local and Pacific artists and photographers hang proudly on the walls. For an immersion in Christchurch culture, the hotel offers historic tram line tours and local art gallery visits, alongside supporting a variety of festivals, including National Ceramics, Aotearoa Regional Wine Competition, and NZ Opera. Those looking to walk on the wild side of New Zealand’s gateway to the South Island – known as the embarkation point for Antarctic explorers in the early 1900s – will be guided by local wildlife experts on off-the-beaten-track ocean kayaking and whale watching tours.
6. Ca’ di Dio, Venice – Italy
A meticulously restored palazzo keeping Venetian fine arts alive
Set in the heart of Venice, Ca’ di Dio makes full use of its Floating City setting by drawing water directly from the lagoon to power its heat exchanger and cooling system – with efficiency and elegance in spades. Modern technology meets 13th century architecture in this historic palazzo, as many of the original features were maintained during the painstaking renovations including the door frames, flooring, statues, and ground floor ceiling in addition to the ancient trees in the garden. Materials were sourced exclusively from Italy, such as the handcrafted Murano glass lamps, while local craftsmen and artisans specialising in Venetian fine arts followed traditional building methods which have been passed down the generations to bring this waterfront beauty back to life.
Some rooms overlook mimosa and magnolia trees in the hotel’s two peaceful courtyards – others, the lagoon and its fleets of passing gondolas which is best explored by rowing boat or on board the hotel’s hybrid electrical water taxis. After an afternoon spent visiting local Murano glass makers – the very same artisans who hand-crafted the bespoke lamps in the hotel’s bedrooms – and Dalla Lidia, a historic lace maker in the colourful, creative community of Burano, sit down to a seasonal meal at VERO Restaurant, with herbs plucked from the hotel’s vegetable garden, meat from Montello, and wine from Tri-Veneto. Be sure to save room in your suitcase for the stationery stocked in the Ca’ di Dio boutique, made using reclaimed materials from the hotel’s construction – including recycled wallpaper as notebook covers, and Malefatte accessories which have been made by female inmates of the Venice prison using recycled PVC in collaboration with the Rio Terà Social Cooperative of Venice.
7. Breidenbacher Hof, Düsseldorf – Germany
This historic hotel is bringing agricultural charm to the Altstadt
An intellectual melting pot of painters, sculptors, authors and great thinkers, Breidenbacher Hof has been at the heart of Düsseldorf society for over 200 years. Today, this historic hotel offers a wide range of immersive cultural tours and community-based experiences for guests to discover Düsseldorf like a local, including behind-the-scenes workshops at Carl’s Market with Josef Hinkel, the city’s beloved baker, craft beer tastings in the Old Town with a master brewer, and capturing the city’s vibrant street art with local photographer Melanie Zanin. Whether you’re off on sightseeing adventures or simply exploring the picturesque streets of the Altstadt (old town), The Duchy restaurant makes the perfect welcome when you return.
Here, chefs work closely with regional partners to source organic, seasonal produce, from the Schönfeld tea gardeners and Weingut Münzberg vineyard to the Gut Diepensiepen farm in nearby Ratingen, where the hotel grows its own fruit and vegetables, and produces honey with the help of a local beekeeper. The sustainably-grown asparagus, strawberries, wasabi and ginger used in The Duchy’s dishes all come from this family-run farm. You can buy the same beautiful produce from the Gut Diepensiepen farmer’s market, which is open daily. Start the day with a breakfast spread of eggs from the hotel’s shared hen house, and fresh milk from the Breidenbacher Hof dairy cows, and end the evening with a tipple of home-brewed gin.
Look out for the Considerate sage leaf on slh.com. This indicates that a hotel is part of the collection and embodies each of the three pillars.