Taking a more sustainable approach to our travels has never been easier – or more important. In recent years, Wales has emerged as one of the world’s most eco-friendly destinations. In fact, there's a sustainable Wales for all types of traveller, with rewarding sustainable trips for every season.
To coincide with the launch of our brilliant new ebook, The Rough Guide to Responsible Wales, we’ve found 10 fantastic accommodation options located around Wales for anyone keen to explore its landscapes in a way which minimises impact, and supports the organisations going all out to protect this beautiful part of the UK.
If you're keen to truly embrace responsible travel, discover practical ways to travel better in Wales, and find out where to go green off-the-beaten-track in Wales. In the meantime, enjoy exploring these 10 places to stay.
Searching for a sustainable base for eco-friendly explorations off the Pembrokeshire coast? It doesn’t get greener than this – a low-carbon rural retreat which has Green Key certification and which has embraced the Outdoor Charter, created for tour operators taking a sustainable approach to their activities.
The lodge also works closely with the Marine Conservation Society, and guests can join regular beach clean-up days.
Accommodation options include geodesic domes and hostel rooms, and there’s a large campsite, too. The huge range of activities available includes coasteering and surfing, although we recommend a sea kayaking session – it’s one of the best ways to explore the Pembrokeshire coastline, and the easiest (and safest) way to peek inside its cathedral-like sea caves.
Prefer sticking to dry land? Consider signing up for one of the fitness retreats, led by professional fitness instructors with a passion for outdoor exercise.
This ridiculously cute guest house – which looks like the kind of cosy home a hobbit might build - has been powered entirely by renewable energy since 2013. There are charging points for guests with electric cars, and the cosiness is cranked up through the use of turf, used on the roofs for its insulating qualities.
With five bedrooms, the property sleeps up to 11 people, and there’s plenty of room for extra kit, too – lockable storage units are big enough to take items such as kayaks, bikes and paddleboards.
The lodge’s location, in the heart of Snowdonia, means there are plenty of opportunities for adrenaline fixes, whether it’s with hikes through the Cwmorthin Valley, mountain biking adventures at Antur Stiniog or pedals along the Coed y Brenin bike routes.
Make sure you squeeze in a visit to Llechwedd Slate Caverns, where you’ll find an underground trampoline park, Bounce Below, Llechwedd Deep Mine Tour – inviting you to discover the story of slate mining in Wales, as well as Titan 2, Europe's first four person zip line. All this is located within two miles of the guest house.
Treberfedd Farm is a brilliant option for families keen to explore Wales in a responsible way. Book a holiday at this dog-friendly farm stay and you can sleep in self-catering cottages, in a wooden Edwardian caravan (picture a beautiful shepherd’s hut) or on the campsite.
However, it’s the eco-cabins which attract the most bookings. These four octagonal cabins have large oak dining tables, sheep’s wool insulation, timber beams (held together not with metal nails but oak pegs) and underfloor heating powered by a wind turbine.
The colourful harbour town of Aberaeron is just a 15-minute drive away, as are some of Wales’ most beautiful beaches. The nearby Ceredigion Coast Path is well worth exploring. It offers great opportunities to spot bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay – one of only two places along the UK coastline where this is possible.
Also nearby is the National Trust property Llanerchaeron, an elegant Georgian villa with walled gardens, a farmyard and a lake to explore.
Although don’t feel afraid to stay put – guests are welcome to explore the organic farm, and amenities include a ping pong shed. Don’t miss the farm’s regular pizza nights – we recommend the one topped with organic Hereford chilli beef. At the organic farm, you’ll find organic produce to purchase, and Hereford cows to pet.
Partial to a bit of star-spotting? Pack your telescope and head for the hills – more specifically, the Brecon Beacons’ Huts in the Hills, where you’ll find four beautiful shepherd’s huts in the heart of the Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve.
It’s a seriously sustainable stay - the power is provided by solar panels and wind, and a compost toilet and sand filter allow grey water to be reused. It’s also incredibly homely, and every hut contains stacks of books and a wood-burning stove, along with a double bed and handmade furniture to sink into after a day exploring the local landscape.
The site is also a true labour of love - the huts were hand-built on site, using techniques employed by the shepherds who once farmed this beautiful region. Nearby attractions include Offa’s Dyke and Hay Bluff, while bookworms will love the independent bookstores in the pretty town of Hay-on-Wye, just a short drive from the site.
Hostels haven’t always been the most sustainable of places but this one – a dog-friendly five-star hostel near Betws-y-Coed - is going all out to break the mould. You’ll find it in a beautiful country house which dates back to 1905 and which enjoyed a brief stint as a YHA hostel, but which now feels more like a family home, with airy, light-filled communal areas, a small shop stocked with local produce, a cosy living room warmed by a log-burning fire, and exposed stone walls covered with artwork depicting local landscapes.
Getting there is easy, even if you don’t have a car – the local bus service, known as the Snowdon Sherpa, stops just outside the hostel. When you’re not hiking up the surrounding mountains, enjoy a potter around Betws-y-Coed – a pretty village filled with independent boutiques and a fourteenth-century church.
Visitors craving the ultimate eco-escape will be spoiled for choice at Florence Springs, where accommodation options include yurts, safari tents, a tree house and a gloriously cosy hobbit house – a cute wooden hideaway which sleeps six people and which is tucked into a secluded forest glade.
The Coast Path is just a short walk away, and the pretty seaside village of Saundersfoot and coastal town of Tenby are close by too.
The wealth of activities on-site includes fishing in Florence Springs’ fishing lakes (guests can borrow rods, and are welcome to cook their catch for dinner). Fancy teeing off? Florence Springs’ lake overlooks an 18-hole golf course which is free for guests to use. The site has been designed to make the most of Pembrokeshire’s dark skies, and the hobbit house, yurts and treehouses all have wood-fired hot tubs.
A stay at the Hide at St Donats is perfect for anyone in need of some chill-out time. Guests can choose from cosy woody cabins, a spacious four-person lodge or a shepherd’s hut, and there are yoga, pilates and mindfulness masterclasses on offer.
There are several fantastic pubs within walking distance of the site (our favourite is The Plough and Harrow, with its huge selection of real ales, which guests can sip beneath thick wooden beams), and countless places of interest nearby, including Nash Point Beach and Lighthouse, which is a great starting point for a cliff-top walk (with dramatic views) along The Glamorgan Heritage Coast Path.
There’s also Ogmore Castle, where visitors can hop across the river’s trail of stepping stones. We also suggest visiting the market town of Cowbridge, which is filled with independent shops.
This is one of the best places if you’re planning on exploring North Wales. There’s a huge focus on activities which provide a deeper understanding of the surrounding environment – you can learn how to forage and how to light fires with minimum equipment, and there are retreats dedicated to everything from bow-making to wild swimming.
One of the most popular ones focuses on how to avoid burnout through explorations of the great outdoors, providing a fantastic opportunity to de-stress and connect with the natural world.
The accommodation options are all incredibly varied, and range from yurts and bell tents to gypsy caravans. The Forge is run by Jamie and Sheena Corry, who are passionate about rewilding and have connections with various local schemes where guests can volunteer. These include projects relating to nearby wetland areas and the replanting of native tree species.
The Old Rectory Barn might not have yurts or wild swimming classes, but it’s one of the Brecon Beacons’ most sustainable places to stay – proof of which is its Green Business Tourism Scheme’s Gold Standard award. Rainwater harvesting is used to reduce water consumption, and energy consumption is reduced through the use of solar panels and insulation. Guests can stay in one of two cottages, or rent the entire property, which can sleep up to 10 people.
There’s plenty of wildlife to spot, whether it’s the birds of prey (red kites are regularly seen here), the tawny owls or the farm animals next door. Nearby attractions include Raglan Castle and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Blaenavon, and there are plenty of opportunities to pick up some local produce too, including wine at the Sugarloaf Vineyard and the nearby Silver Circle Distillery. Be sure to check out the annual Abergavenny Food Festival held in the town in September.
A family-run campsite and caravan park in the heart of Anglesey's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Tyddyn Isaf is a wildlife-spotters heaven – red squirrels are common here, as are some of Wales largest birds of prey. Stay here and pitch your own tent or rent a luxury holiday home (there’s also a self-catering cottage a mile from the main campsite). There are also great opportunities for hikes along the Anglesey Coast Path.
It’s one of Wales’ most family friendly campsites, with a dedicated kite-flying area (and just to be clear, we don’t mean the winged ones), a large playground and one of Anglesey’s best beaches just 200 metres from the campsite. The owners are passionate about conservation and have planted thousands of shrubs while also restoring hedgerows, both of which provide important sanctuaries for local wildlife.
Top image: Treberfedd Farm, near Lampeter, Ceredigion © Crown Copyright 2022 Visit Wales
Wondering how to increase the sustainability of your next Welsh escape? You’ll find plenty of inspiration by downloading our free e-book, The Rough Guide to Responsible Wales. You'll also find inspration in our overview of five eco-friendly holiday ideas in Wales.
Tamara is a former snowboard instructor who's been a freelance travel writer for 12 years. She loves snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking and scuba diving, and the regions she knows best are Asia, America and Africa. Europe-wise she knows Germany and France very well. In normal times she does two or three trips a month. Follow her on Twitter