Ready for a sustainable staycation? So many restaurants and places to stay are responding to the climate crisis with eco initiatives, such as sourcing local ingredients, using solar panels and wind power to generate electricity – even providing compost loos. What’s more, an increasing number now have on-site chargepoints for Electric Vehicles (EVs) – so it’s never been easier to go green on holiday. Read on to discover some of the UK’s best eco-friendly restaurants and places to stay.
For the definitive guide for any green holiday in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, buy The Rough Guide to Green Britain and Northern Ireland.
Transported all the way from Amsterdam to the London Docklands by boat, the floating Good Hotel is a social business where profits are channelled back into the local community. Design is industrial minimalist and rooms are comfy and cosy.
Chargepoint: O2 Arena car park 1 (3 miles)
Cool, cheerful and in the heart of East London, Qbic will lend you a bike so you can explore on two wheels. Rooms are all uniquely decorated and have eco-friendly showers and filtered water to drink.
Around five miles west of Hythe in Kent, England, is Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve, which, in conjunction with the Aspinall Foundation, runs a conservation and breeding programme for wild and endangered species. Overnight stays on the reserve are phenomenally popular, and there’s a luxury hotel and a range of lodges, cottages and glamping pods. All guests are treated to a ranger-guided hour-long safari (keep your eyes on the glistening watering holes and you might even spot a hippo poking its nostrils above the surface), plus dinner in the Laapa Restaurant cooked over an open fire pit.
Chargepoint: Folkestone Services (3.4 miles)
Whether you’re glamping in a shepherd’s hut, yurt or treehouse, or pitching a tent in the beautiful campsite, you’re in the heart of the Knepp rewilding project, which is transforming and regenerating 3500 acres of land.
Brockenhurst’s – and the New Forest’s – best sustainable hotel and restaurant is in a fabulous country house set in stunning gardens. Ingredients for the innovative menu are sourced from the kitchen garden and within a 25-mile radius.
Nestled in a side street in North London, The Duke of Cambridge is gastro-pub fare at its best. Independent, ethical and organic, this is Britain’s first farm-owned pub.
Chargepoint: Chantry St (0.1 miles) and Bevan St (0.3 miles)
An ethically sourced, sustainable seafood restaurant in Margate’s old town. The menu changes daily and wine is locally sourced from Kent’s vineyards. If you can’t get a table at Angela's try sister restaurant Dory’s – it’s just around the corner and is walk-in only.
Chargepoint: Mill Lane Multi-Storey car park (0.5 miles) or Westwood Cross Shopping Centre (2.5 miles)
Brighton’s original vegetarian restaurant, Food for Friends has come a long way since its original cheap-and-cheerful hippie roots. Today it pulls in the crowds for its sophisticated seasonal veggie and vegan cooking.
Chargepoint: The Lanes car park (0.1 miles) and Bartholomews Square (0.1 miles)
A sleek, award-winning hotel on the quayside of Bristol’s floating harbour. Energy conservation, waste reduction, conversion to environmentally friendly cleaning materials and the reduction of water consumption are key sustainability targets at The Bristol.
Chargepoint: Prince St NCP car park (0.1 miles) and The Grove car park (0.1 miles)
Boutique-style, eco-friendly hotel in an attractive Grade-II Victorian villa well placed for both the beaches and the town centre. The Green House Hotel has been sensitively renovated, with stylish rooms that come with incredibly comfortable beds and organic linen and duvets, plus an excellent restaurant. Environmental issues are taken very seriously, while not compromising on luxury or comfort.
This swish clifftop eco hotel with luxury spa in Cornwall leads the way for sustainability in high-end hospitality. The Scarlet Restaurant uses only the freshest Cornish ingredients and even the leaves for afternoon tea come from the local Tregothnan estate. No under-16s.
A wonderful traditional thatched pub, The Wheatsheaf uses organic, seasonal and local produce for its menus (plus home-grown herbs from their garden). They add a voluntary £1 to every bill which goes directly to the charity Carbon Footprint and electricity is 100 percent renewably sourced.
Chargepoint: Hungerford (2.4 miles)
The leading light in Bournemouth’s ethical food scene, Arbor is the wonderful restaurant at The Green House Hotel. Environmental standards are incredibly high and the head chef sources from only the best local artisan suppliers.
The city’s favourite veggie and wholefood restaurant has fast and friendly service, an eclectic and creative menu, and organic ales and wines to boot.
Chargepoint: Mary Arches Multi-Storey car park (0.1 miles)
Cotswold stone cottages with names like The Apple Store and The Potting Shed, on the site of one of the most sustainable organic farms in the UK. The estate also has The White Rabbit, a lovingly restored working building with 13 rooms of exposed stone and reused oak beams – and handmade horsehair mattresses.
For eco friendly hotels in Nottingham, stay at the stylish Orchard, which uses state-of-the-art technology to reduce carbon emissions. There's a green roof system, solar photovoltaic panels and ground-source heat pumps. It's situated 4 miles from the city centre on the landscaped grounds of the University of Nottingham.
This Peak District farm offers pretty glamping pods, log cabins and gypsy caravans. They’re fitted out with cutting-edge infrared technology heating and LED lighting, all run from the farm’s own ground-source heat pumps, solar and wind power. There’s a chemical-free Swedish hot tub on-site.
On the grand Holkham Hall estate and minutes from beautiful Holkham beach. A gold-award member of Green Tourism, The Victoria has a biomass boiler fuelled by estate woodchip and a restaurant that serves produce from the estate farms.
Chargepoint: The Crown Hotel (2.4 miles)
“Walkers, cyclists and muddy boots are welcome” at this Ludlow café-restaurant. The owners are passionate about the growers and producers they work with, and the menu changes daily depending on what’s available.
Chargepoint: Galdeford car park (0.6 miles)
Organic health-food shop and café, perfect for a hearty lunch before you set off into the Malvern Hills. Filling soups with locally baked sourdough bread, plus sweet pastries and mouth-watering cakes.
Chargepoint: Priory Rd car park (0.3 miles)
This handsome pub on the vast Chatsworth Estate prioritises environmental practices. Food waste is minimized and any created is sent to anaerobic digestion to create power. 50 percent of produce is from within 30 miles and Peak Ales from the Chatsworth-based brewery are on sale.
This vast warehouse was converted into a designer zero-waste-to-landfill hotel and spa at the redeveloped docks in Liverpool. Titanic Hotel makes a great base for exploring the vibrant city.
Gleaming glass-and-steel five-star waterfront hotel in rejuvenated Salford Quays (a 20-minute walk to central Manchester). The hotel’s River Restaurant uses local produce and they have their own Lancashire Lowry honey. Half-used soaps are recycled through social enterprise Clean the World.
Recycling, LED lights, composting and rainwater collection are part of the fabric of Jesmond Dene House, a hotel in a valley just outside Newcastle.
A green and award-winning B&B in a beautifully converted 200-year-old chapel a mile inland from Seahouses harbour.
Chargepoint: Seahouses Station Yard car park (1.1 miles)
Head chef Anthony Fieldon heads up this buzzing Northern Quarter joint that showcases the finest British seasonal ingredients, including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
Chargepoint: Church St car park level 3 (0.2 miles)
A restaurant in stacked shipping containers overlooking a bypass might not sound ideal, but the Nordic-inspired dishes at Jöro, made with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, are a delight.
Chargepoint: Q-Park Rockingham St (0.8 miles)
Locally sourced produce cooked from scratch at this delightful veggie/vegan café, along with Fairtrade teas, locally roasted coffee and vegan beer. Try the roasted red pepper, aubergine and cashew nut curry.
Chargepoint: Low Fold car park (0.5 miles)
The handmade wooden cabins on this green site near Aberaeron in Wales are insulated with turf roofs, and the site is chemical-free and mostly single-use-plastic free. From your little cabin, you can stroll along a footpath to the beach and local town.
Chargepoint: Llanerchaeron National Trust (2.1 miles)
Nestled among the branches, 30 feet in the air on a 200-acre organic sheep farm deep in the Welsh valleys, are six beautiful off-grid and eco-friendly treehouses. A wood-burning stove heats the alfresco shower.
Chargepoint: The Old Coach House (4.2 miles) and Centre for Alternative Technology (10.6 miles)
Luxury eco-friendly holiday cottages on a farm at a beautiful site on the Llŷn Peninsula – with their own mountain spring. Traditional, local materials, sheep’s-wool insulation and toxic-free paints were used to renovate the farm buildings into cosy self-catering retreats.
Chargepoint: Porthdynllaean car park National Trust (7.5 miles)
A former cowshed at this “bug farm” a mile northeast of St Davids houses a quirky restaurant serving dishes such as cricket-flour cookies, bug burgers and bug falafels, as well as more standard offerings – vegetarian, vegan and sustainable local meat.
Chargepoint: Oriel Y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre (1.4 miles)
The Griffin offers some of the finest Modern Welsh cuisine anywhere in the region, with sustainable sourcing at the heart of its short, seasonal menus. Beyond the restaurant is the pubby bit, a tiny bar fronting a couple of farmhouse tables laden with newspapers, crumpled leather sofas and a crackling log fire.
Chargepoint: Brecon Beacons Ffrwdgrech depot (8.5 miles)
Fine dining with seasonal menus using locally sourced ingredients, most gathered from the surrounding woodland. Treats at The Stonemill include Carmarthenshire goat’s cheese with toasted honey, walnuts and beetroot carpaccio, and seasonal game. The restaurant itself, in a sixteenth-century barn is gorgeous.
Chargepoint: Bridges community centre (2.9 miles)
A country house set in beautiful gardens, Trigony House Hotel has biomass boilers. so hot water and heating is carbon neutral. Produce is organic and local where possible and the the same goes for products used in the gloriously sited spa.
This modern waterside city-centre hotel was built using energy-considerate materials and techniques, including thermographic imaging to ensure the building is airtight. It uses only eco-friendly chemicals and they have an accessible-to-the-public water refill station. On-site Yu Spa was named first “green” spa of Scotland.
Chargepoint: Dock St (0.2 miles) and Gellatly St car park (0.3 miles)
The UK’s first vegan hotel opened right here in Highland Perthshire. A beautiful Victorian 11-bed stone house set in natural gardens, everything on site, from the bedsheets and the toiletries to the dining-room menu and cocktail list, is 100% ethical and vegan – and much of it is locally sourced. It’s a hotel with a conscience.
Chargepoint: Pitlochry train station (0.7 miles)
Continental contemporary sophistication prevails in the super basement restaurant, Gamba, where Scots-sourced fish is king: once you’ve devoured the signature fish soup – a delicious mix with Portland crabmeat and prawn dumplings – perhaps try some seared king scallops with creamed celeriac and black pudding.
Chargepoint: Blythswood Sq (0.1 miles)
Dedicated Old Town seafood restaurant from Edinburgh-born Roy Brett, once Rick Stein’s main chef in Padstow, turning out sublime dishes using native shellfish and seafood from sustainable sources and local family-owned businesses. Oysters are key to the menu at Ondine, and are considered one of the most sustainable sources of protein on the planet.
Chargepoint: High School Yards City Car Club (0.5 miles)
This cosy veggie/vegan restaurant on the Duirinish Peninsula on the west coast of Skye has a loyal fan base for its superb seasonal dinners of warming, spicy dishes, plus home-baking with a huge range of teas and infusions. Occasionally holds intimate live-music nights.
Chargepoint: Dunvegan car park (7 miles)
This redbrick pile, positioned on the beachfront and next to the Royal County Down golf course in Northern Ireland, is Newcastle’s premier hotel. It's a mega-luxurious establishment with grand rooms in all manner of category – most with a sea view – and its own spa. Water saving devices and LED lights throughout.
A 10min walk from Hillsborough on the A1 Lisburn road, this eco-friendly pebbledash guesthouse has six modern rooms in two buildings, all tidily furnished with marble tiling and walk-in showers. Woodchip heating and rainwater collection, plus local produce for breakfast.
Chargepoint: Lisburn St (0.9 miles)
This former coaching inn has a pleasantly rambling, cottage-style interior replete with inglenook turf fires, hayloft snugs and the like. Rooms at Bushmills Inn are impeccably turned out, while the smart restaurant, located in the old stables building, features traditional dishes and local produce. Better still is the atmospheric, gas-lit Gas Bar where, every Saturday night, they have live Irish music sessions.
Award-winning fish and chips in a cute licensed restaurant with extra pavement seating. All cod and haddock is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified and everything on the menus is responsibly sourced and from sustainable waters. Though the focus is seafood, they’ve got vegetarian options – plus, unheard of in most chippies – a side of sautéed market green vegetables.
Chargepoint: Adelaide St and DRD car park (0.6 miles)
With a manifesto that lists charity, seasonality, freedom farming, sustainability, community and locality, you know that Made in Belfast has ethics. It’s also fun, sassy and has plenty of excellent plant-based choices: the bar-restaurant has wooden tables, mismatched chairs and an industrial edge.
Chargepoint: Little Donegall St car park (0.4 miles)
With epic views across Portstewart Strand beach, Harry’s Shack is a north-coast favourite. Rough wood tables and produce from their own local farm adds up to laid-back, sustainable eating. Book ahead for the three-course evening set menu (Wed–Sat).
Chargepoint: Coleraine (5.7 miles) and Portrush (6 miles)
For more on green holidays and travel in the UK, read: UK’s top eco attractions and activities and Electric car travel: everything you need to know
Header image: Scarlet's Hotel hot tub © The Scarlet Hotel