As an eco-friendly traveler, sometimes you have to work backward when you make your travel plans. Rather than the stereotypical trip planning model where you brainstorm your destination, then look into accommodation options, you’ll often have to do the reverse. The truth is, the world isn’t bustling with sustainable travel options yet. So it’s often best to start by finding places where you can live sustainably for the duration of your trip first, then narrow down your options from there. Luckily for your adventurous side, more and more sustainable hotels are being built around the world each year.

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Photo Credit: Proximity Hotel

Proximity Hotel, USA

In the good old US of A, the Proximity Hotel, located in Greensboro, North Carolina, is an excellent option for sustainable hotels. This hotel has achieved a platinum LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System) from the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the highest possible rating in the US. The building is equipped with 100 solar panels on the roof, which helps to power the hotel and heat water.

Its design allows the hotel to use 40% less energy and 30% less water than similar hotels. Many of the building materials used to create the hotel are sustainable (including reinforced steel with 90% post-consumer recycled content) and 89% of construction materials were recycled. A bistro bar in the hotel was created using salvaged walnut trees that fell due to natural causes (sickness, storms, etc.) and geothermal energy is used to power their refrigerator equipment. They have roughly 70 green initiatives either currently in place or planned at the Proximity Hotel.

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Photo Credit: Voco Hotel

Voco Hotel, Dubai

At the Voco Hotel in Dubai, they continue to find new and innovative ways to add sustainability initiatives. In addition to growing their own food on-site, they also grow ingredients that they use to make different hotel amenities such as soaps. They’ve also found that, through buying small amenities in bulk, they are able to save over 200,000 plastic bottles per year.

In addition to saving on plastic bottles, they’ve found a unique way to convert bottles they do use into luxury duvets and pillows for the hotel guests. This is accomplished by working with an eco-factory, which runs on 100% renewable energy, to recycle the plastic into pillows. Any leftover food waste is converted into compost for the hotel garden and they even work with local organizations to help train surrounding villagers on safe fishing practices.

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Photo Credit: URBN Hotel

URBN Hotel, Shanghai

Built in a renovated factory warehouse and made entirely out of recycled materials and local materials, the URBN Hotel has a unique construction. Old suitcases and recycled floorboards have been used to create the interior of the structure, while bricks (recycled from other construction projects) were used to create the exterior wall. The hotel also employs a water cooling air conditioning system, which allows the hotel to use 50% of the electricity needed for standard air conditioning systems.

The lobby also contains a bamboo forest and as a result, the hotel doesn’t need air conditioning in order to remain at a stable, comfortable temperature. URBN also includes an electronic waste recycling system and they collect clothes to donate to the local community.

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Photo Credit: Whitepod

Whitepod, Switzerland

The Whitepod Hotel, located in the Swiss Alps, allows guests to stay in luxury pods that are made from a self-supporting framework that minimizes the use of building materials. These pods have a minimal environmental impact due to their design and amenities. The ambient airflow inside the dome is continuous (with no stagnant corners) and requires less energy to circulate air and maintain temperatures.

Locally sourced wood and a wood stove are used to heat the pod, water for guests comes from local springs, and LED bulbs are used for lighting (which is limited at night). Timers and other water-saving devices are installed on the boilers, water taps, and showerheads. They’re even uniquely designed to visually blend into the natural landscape, changing from white in the winter to green in the summer.

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Photo Credit: Hi Hotel

Hi Hotel, France

Positioned in Nice, on the south coast of France, the Hi Hotel is Green Globe Certified. Their sustainability practices include eco-friendly cleaning products, organic food, and recycled paper. They provide bicycles to guests as an environmentally friendly travel option and Vegetal shampoo and shower gels without packaging. There are even unique and creative room details, including a room that changes color depending on the time of day.