The Greener Guide to Seeing London More Sustainably

Treehouse Hotel exemplifies the eco-friendly delights of modern London
Treehouse Hotel exemplifies the eco-friendly delights of modern London | Courtesy of Treehouse Hotel / Expedia
Photo of Emma Sparks
3 September 2021

In the capital of William Blake’s ‘green and pleasant land’, it’s easy to make light-touch decisions, thanks to zero-waste restaurants and plastic-free places to stay.

With London’s excellent public transport system, lush royal parks, and an ever-expanding collection of ecohotels and zero-waste restaurants, it’s never been easier to have a green getaway in England’s capital. You might be trying to travel carbon-light on this sustainable city break, but tough decisions are made easy as these low-impact spots are some of the trendiest places in town.

Richmond Park

Richmond Park. daniel-buckle-DpinkgB4lB0-unsplash
Richmond Park | Photo by Daniel Buckle on Unsplash / Expedia
Squint and you could be in the New Forest, or even the Hebrides. Richmond Park is distinctively “un-London”, thanks to its grassy open spaces, shady groves and glittering lakes. Oh, and did we mention its resident 630-strong herd of wild red and fallow deer, who’ve roamed free since 1637? The biodiverse reserve is also home to 1,200 ancient trees, hundreds of bird species and thriving populations of bats, beetles and soil-friendly fungi. Pack a picnic and frisbee, and get exploring.

Treehouse Hotel

Reception area at Treehouse London, Marylebone featuring a large wooden desk and red patterned rug
Courtesy of Treehouse London / Expedia
Is this the ultimate upcycle? Treehouse Hotel has transformed the top floors of a drab ’60s office block into a quirky, nature-inspired retreat near Regent Street in the heart of the capital. Rooms are decked out with vintage furniture, reclaimed wood features and refillable bathroom amenities. Single-use plastics are kept to a minimum, thanks to the triple-filtered water on tap in the corridor fill stations. Don’t miss drinks or dinner at Nest, one of the best roof terraces in town and home to the hotel’s eco-friendly living wall.

The Spread Eagle

Pub, Vegan, Vegetarian, Mexican, $$$
'Fish' burger
'Fish' burger | © The Spread Eagle
You won’t find pork scratchings at London’s first 100% vegan pub. Instead, they’ve reimagined British classics, serving up a mean plant-based pie and mash, and a decent meat-free Sunday roast from their sustainable, low-waste kitchen. With upcycled furnishings and a plant-filled beer garden, it’s the right side of Hackney hipster, too.

The London Edition

The London Edition
Courtesy of London Edition / Expedia
The London Edition is a plastic-free paradise, located in a renovated Georgian building just off Oxford Street. While the dimly lit Punch Room cocktail bar and ornate-walled Berners Tavern restaurant – manned ​​by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton – are as gilded and glam as their clientele, simplicity reigns in the guest rooms. Standard doubles are compact and minimal, with plenty of modern wood panelling and Scandi-style faux-fur throws.

Beckenham Place Park Swimming Lake

Natural Feature
London, Beckenham, United Kingdom - June 23, 2021: Beckenham Place Park swimming lake, a popular place for wild swimming and SUP yoga classes
2G761WM London, Beckenham, United Kingdom - June 23, 2021: Beckenham Place Park swimming lake, a popular place for wild swimming and SUP yoga classes
The capital’s most under-the-radar open-water swimming spot sits within South East London’s Beckenham Place Park, re-establishing a Georgian lake that was filled in during the 20th century. It’s open year-round, so bring a wetsuit in winter, or borrow kit from the on-site rental kiosk. Lifeguards are always on hand and the family-led team also offer introductory paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking classes. Don’t fancy a dip? Wander the woodland, check out the park’s centrepiece mansion or feast on pizza at the Courtyard Cafe.

Good Hotel London

Good Hotel London_b062f443
Good Hotel London | Courtesy of Good Hotel London / Expedia
This social enterprise hotel trains up long-term unemployed members of the local community and puts its profits towards educating children in Guatemala. Once a Dutch detention centre, the whole thing was revamped and floated over to Royal Victoria Dock from Amsterdam by barge. The sustainable kitchen serves up a veg-skewed menu – try the Egyptian-style fava bean stew.

Silo London

Restaurant, British

The chefs at this zero-waste restaurant in East London, which launched in ecofriendly Brighton before moving to the capital, churn their own butter, mill their own flour and do everything they can to reduce food miles and pointless packaging. Any food scraps that can’t be repurposed in stocks or sauces are composted, helping to grow the next batch of veggies, and the team trade directly with local farmers to help close the loop. A well-meaning concept that serious sustainable foodies will love.

Arcola Theatre

The Arcola Theatre on Ashwin Strete in trendy Dalston, in east London, England, UK
MTW0P5 The Arcola Theatre on Ashwin Strete in trendy Dalston, in east London, England, UK | © Monica Wells / Alamy
This Dalston arts centre aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre – and it’s well on its way. Solar panels are used for electricity and water heating, while it also opts for LED lighting and upcycled seating made from reclaimed wood. Most of the beers served at the bar are brewed within four miles (6.4km) of the theatre, so even your intermission tipple could help reduce the space’s carbon footprint. Every little helps…

Keen to make your London stay a green one? Head for its leafiest parks and open spaces, read about the organisations making its urban areas eco-friendly, and for a night’s rest with the ultimate peace of mind, book one of its best sustainable hotels with Culture Trip.

These recommendations were updated on September 3, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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