If you’re looking to explore Britain, sustainable accommodations and experiences can help you not only enjoy your travels, but feel good about them too. Whether it’s eating at a zero-waste restaurant or shopping at a center made out of recycled materials, London has no shortage of sustainable options to incorporate in your next trip. A hot tip before you go: make sure to download the Refill app so you can find free water bottle refilling stations throughout the city!
The Cookery School, which banned single-use plastics years ago, focuses on teaching all sorts of food courses while ensuring the lowest environmental impact. They use 100% certified renewable energy and manage to keep food waste to the bare minimum by sending any leftover food to be used for energy production and fertilizer. On top of reaching budding chefs how to make jam, pastries, or sourdough bread, the school runs a class on how to reduce food waste, and there are gluten-free options too.
Just two miles north of Marylebone in Camden you’ll find Buck Street Market - London’s first sustainability-focused shopping center that was built out of 88 recycled shipping containers. Retailers sell a variety of commodities including environmentally sound produce and ethically-sourced coffee. The market prides itself on being zero-plastic and has its own compost system for food waste. If you’re in the mood for a bite to eat, there’s many vegan and vegetarian restaurants to pick from.
Native at Browns - This ethical restaurant’s latest location in Mayfair may be new, but they’re still serving up seasonal produce and foraged ingredients all while sticking to their ethos of zero-waste. Feel good as you enjoy a locally sourced meal, then finish off the night with an espresso martini made from leftover coffee grounds and their homemade coffee liqueur!
At the Old Spitalfields Market, you’ll find local producers and creatives along with independent retailers selling handcrafted and high-quality items. The market features several plastic-free, zero-waste brands and has an on-site yoga studio for visitors to de-stress.
A short walk away from the market is the lovely Culpeper Rooftop Garden. Not only does the rooftop garden provide stunning views of London, it also grows produce that is used in the restaurant and bar, while the restaurant works with local and ethical suppliers for the food that it doesn’t grow itself. The second floor also has five beautiful bedrooms if you’re looking to stay in the area.
Try your hand at bartending with a cocktail making class at TT Liquor in Shoreditch. They use eco-friendly vodka bags and boxes in their sessions, reducing their carbon emissions since it takes less energy to produce this packaging over a glass bottle. All of which means you can learn how to make (and later drink) four different cocktails while doing your bit for the environment.
At Go Boat Canary Wharf, you can hop on a self-drive boat that is not only electric but also sustainably produced, with parts of it made from recycled plastic and sustainably sourced wood. Even better, no boating experience is required! In addition to Canary Wharf, boats can be rented from other locations including Kingston and Paddington, each providing a different type of journey with a variety of sights to see along the way.
There are few tours as unique as one with Unseen Tours. With a number of options led by vulnerably housed people, you’re provided with a guided walk with insight and knowledge you wouldn’t get from just any guide. 60% of ticket sales go directly to the guide and the company’s goal is to change public perception around homelessness and to give a platform to the people who have experienced it. Located a few miles from Canary Wharf, the London Bridge tour will take you to hidden areas and lesser-known streets where you will learn about the area’s history of poverty and social exclusion, see one of the few remaining gothic churches in London and end the tour at one of the oldest pubs in the city.
What better way to travel sustainably than by bicycle? You can see London’s iconic landmarks, learn the history, and soak up all of the sights and side streets - and you’ll keep fit in the process! The Original Bike Tour by London Bicycle starting near Waterloo Station will take you past the Tate Modern, the Globe, Borough Market, across the Tower Bridge, and finally to St. Paul’s Cathedral all in three and a half hours. If traveling with a group, please keep in mind that the tour is for guests age 10 and up.
After working up an appetite on your bike tour, head over to nearby Holyrood Street for a stop at Nine Lives, a zero-waste bar and restaurant. With a drink menu made of surplus ingredients from other beverages and their own urban herb garden for their food and drink, this is the perfect sustainable spot to re-fuel.
There is a slew of hotels in London that have sustainability at their hearts. Be sure to book one on your next visit.
The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone opened in 2015 with a mission to provide for the planet in addition to its guests. To encourage lower power and water consumption, they offer free food and drinks to guests who opt out of housekeeping if they’re staying for more than two nights. Every room has reusable coffee cups and the hotel provides complimentary coffee to any guest who purchases the cup.
The Good Hotel isn’t your average hotel. You’ll find this floating property located at the Royal Victoria Dock that originated in Amsterdam. Each bedroom has been decorated with natural and re-purposed materials. The entire top of the hotel is a rooftop bar where you can sip locally brewed beers while taking in views of the famous London skyline. Its sustainable restaurant has a vegan and vegetarian menu, and the best part is that 100% of the hotel’s profits go towards helping others in need. The hotel is next to the Emirates Cable Car, so you can enjoy a quick ride over to Greenwich for a day full of activities.
In East London, make sure to book a stay at The Corner London City, a mid-tier property steps away from bustling restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and nightlife, that is also arguably one of the greenest hotels in the city. Powered largely by the solar panels on the roof, it ensures an eco-friendly stay without comprising on quality, with perks like drinks vouchers for foregoing housekeeping, electric charging stations on site, and sustainably-sourced design in every unique room.
The luxury, five star One Aldwych recently went through an impressive renovation with sustainability at its core. It now has innovative energy saving features, including heat reclaim and water efficiency, and famously had the EVAC drainage system installed throughout the hotel. Expect to find eco-friendly touches throughout your stay. These include rooftop beehives and a bee-friendly garden to support the health of urban bees and farm-to-table dining with produce from a Kent farm that uses the hotel’s own compost. There’s also a comprehensive recycling policy with a focus on ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ at all times, an ethos displayed by their upcycling scheme, which turns cooking oil to bio diesel.