Going green has shed its hippy image. When it comes to holiday accommodation, making sustainable choices no longer means sleeping in a yurt or dining only on mung beans. Today’s sustainable hotels reduce, reuse and recycle without compromising on style and often with the help of cutting-edge technology. Check out our roundup of Italy’s best eco-friendly hotels and find out where you could be staying next.
Just a few steps from Milano Centrale station, the Starhotels E.c.ho boasts both cutting-edge style and ethical substance. The 143 rooms are decked out in the best of taste regardless of any eco-credentials – which are extensive. Materials have been chosen with careful attention to their production process and come from certified sources. Thermo-insulation and intelligently designed heating and lighting systems mean minimal energy use while ensuring the room is comfortable and cosy. The restaurant – in partnership with Italian marketplace chain, Eataly – serves seasonal organic food, sourced from Milan and the surrounding countryside.
Relais del Maro is an albergo diffuso, a concept that sees the hotel dispersed across three historic buildings in the town of Borgomaro in the northwest region of Liguria. Aside from protecting the identity of the local area, this style of hotel development has a low environmental impact as it promotes the sustainable restoration and renovation of existing buildings instead of new construction. The swimming pool – always a big source of energy and water consumption – is heated using solar-thermal panels.
Josephus - Alpine Lodge & Apartments, Madonna di Senales BZ
Resort, Eco Hotel
Characterised by textured stone walls, tactile wood paneling and simple yet rustic design, Josephus is an elegant modern alpine lodge. This stunning hotel was refurbished by local craftsmen using natural plaster and regional larch and pine woods. A geothermal system helps provide energy while the gorgeous surrounding meadows are maintained as minimally as possible – it’s often left to hungry sheep to shorten the grass naturally.
Seemingly situated in a picture-postcard, the Bio Vitalhotel is run by the Theiner family from Gargazzone in the alpine region of South Tyrol. The family oversaw construction of the entire complex, choosing local timber that was pieced together without chemical glues or cements. Upon opening in 2009, the hotel was awarded ‘Climate Hotel’ status in recognition of its holistic approach to sustainable holidays.
Despite its bucolic appearance, eco-hotel Eremito is a modern build carried out using contemporary materials – organic where possible – and traditional construction methods. Located on the site of a 14th-century monastery, the hotel generates its own electricity and is furnished with natural materials like hemp sheets and stone washbasins. Dinner is vegetarian and prepared using organic fruits and vegetables from the garden…and is taken in silence. That’s because Eremito offers digital detox breaks that promote solitude and contemplation. There’s no TV, phone or wifi but there are nature walks, horse riding and Gregorian chant workshops.
Villa Crespi was built in 1879 by Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, a pioneer of the Italian cotton industry. Following a business trip to the Middle East, Crespi created his very own Moorish-style hideaway on the romantic shores of Lake Orta. Today, the gorgeous parquet flooring and period furniture are enjoyed by guests looking for a luxury stay in a hotel which keeps an eye on its environmental commitments. Energy usage is carefully monitored to help avoid waste, rooms are cleaned by steam only and the restaurant – whose patron chef is TV’s Antonino Cannavacciuolo – uses organic, local produce where possible.
The EcoHotel Roma is located within the little-explored Valle dei Casali nature reserve in western Rome. A supporter of sustainable tourism, the 3-star hotel offers comfortable modern rooms with picturesque natural panoramas just a short way from the historical centre – and at reasonable prices too. The building features solar and photovoltaic systems for renewable energy and recycles rainwater.
With an arresting location on the banks of the river Arno, Ville sull’Arno is a hotel already deeply connected to nature so it’s no surprise their policies are geared towards safeguarding the environment. The building itself is well insulated while waste is collected separately for recycling and the kitchen uses produce from the local area. Guests are also offered free bicycles to explore Florence ecologically.
Full of character and charm, the Agriturismo l’Adagio is an old olive mill built around the turn of the century. Built from Ligurian stone, the mill is now comprised of five suites, four rooms and a luxurious beauty spa where guests can enjoy extra virgin olive oil-based treatments that highlight the hotel’s connection with the local area. Olive stones are used in the hotel’s heating system and olive leaves help fertilise the grounds – taking care of the waste products from producing their own brand oil.
Not just a luxurious wellness retreat, Lefay Resort & Spa employs the motto ‘personal wellness should never overlook environmental wellness’ and their green commitments prove it’s not just a marketing ploy. Lefay Resorts is the first Italian tourism company to sign an agreement with the Ministry of the Environment aimed towards neutalising CO2 emissions. The complex has been awarded a number of environmental certifications including the Green Globe and the Being Organic and Ecological Spa award. In 2017, they topped things off with the crown of Best Luxury Eco-Spa.
Hotel Cristina is an A-rated energy efficiency building – a rarity in Italy where historic palazzi are regularly awarded the lowest grade of G. This modern build was constructed with reduced energy consumption and environmental sustainability in mind and a host of simple but effective policies help it to achieve its goal. The hotel uses 100% green energy, energy saving lightbulbs and the air conditioning automatically switches off when the windows are opened. Situated in the western suburbs of Naples, it’s a little way out from the main sights but easily accessible by metro.
The Bella Rosina is an 18th-century farmhouse turned four-star hotel set in the verdant grounds of La Mandria Regional Park in Turin, northern Italy. From the comfortable and refined rooms to the organic restaurant, the hotel follows a number of ecological policies. Heating is partially solar powered, cleaning products chosen for their reduced impact on aquatic life and biodegradable pens and paper are used throughout the hotel.
A former Venetian Palace, Palazzo Barocci is set right on the Grand Canal and offers guests stunning views of one of the world’s most romantic cities. This chain of hotels has a comprehensive sustainability strategy that includes choosing low impact amenities and materials, the reduction and reuse of water and reducing the carbon footprint of guests. Since 2007, NH Hotels has reduced its water consumption by 31% and energy consumption by 29%. Their hotels, including Palazzo Barocci, go green by avoiding plastic bottles, opting for Fairtrade and local produce, and choosing biodegradable materials such as pens and paper. Palazzo Barocci in particular also takes part in a number of events throughout the year aimed at promoting sustainability, such as M’Illumino di Meno, when the hotel facade is plunged into darkness to highlight the importance of saving energy.
The first zero-emission hotel in Milan is conveniently located in the Brera district of the city, with the main sights either within easy walking distance or a short public transport ride away. The super sleek furnishings of the Hotel Milano Scala might not immediately conjure up thoughts of sustainability and eco-friendliness but this swanky spot isn’t short on green credentials. Water-to-water heat-pumps power the heating and air conditioning, complimentary toiletries are 99% biodegradable and the sixth floor features an organic garden that supplies the restaurant with seasonal produce – all without releasing any CO2 into the atmosphere.
The Mortola Tower sits 150 metres above sea level on the most eastern stretch of Italy, just a few miles from the border with France. Surrounded by 20,000 square metres of lush botanical gardens, this historic tower is now a luxury eco-resort. Getaway to this secluded spot and enjoy an incredible view of the Ligurian Sea, beauty treatments, nature walks and fine organic food and wines. The solar panels, energy saving initiatives, recycling of water and electric vehicle charging station ensure consumption is minimal.