When you travel, how much do you think about your impact on the planet? Is sustainable travel something that’s always at the front of your mind? Being kind to the earth is something we should all consider when we’re on the road, whether that’s by choosing trains over flights, saving energy and water or respecting the local culture and customs. But did you know you can take it one step further by staying in on of these eco-friendly hostels? Yep, if you want to shrink your carbon footprint even more, there are gloriously green options all over the globe to choose from.
To avoid getting green-fished (yep, that’s a thing), there are a few ways you can check that your hostel is truly sustainable. Firstly, do they use renewable, natural, sustainable energy? What about eco-friendly materials in their furniture, sheets and bath products? Their day to day actions are a hugely important factor, such as whether they recycle, compost or avoid single-use plastics. And don’t forget food – locally sourced options are always a winner, with bonus points for being veggie or vegan. Sustainability is a way of life and the best eco-friendly hostels practice what they preach. Look out for fun, healthy activities that don’t harm the environment, such as ecological hiking, bike rides, book exchanges, yoga and guided cultural tours.
If your hostel does these things, then they’re doing their bit and working towards the goal of sustainability – and so should we! If you like the sound of these hostels, then we’ve got great news: there are loads to choose from all over the world! Here are our 21 of our favourite eco-friendly hostels.
Eco-friendly hostels in Europe:
1. Jetpak Eco Lodge – Berlin, Germany
In addition to being sustainable, this Berlin hideaway enjoys a peaceful, natural setting surrounded by forest, and offers its guests the chance to enjoy activities and sports on its outdoor tracks. A green oasis in the middle of the busy city, who knew?!
- 100% of the energy this hostel uses comes from renewable sources. It’s heated by a modern wood heating system that produces zero CO2 emissions. Eco-friendly doesn’t equal cold showers, as all water is heated through solar panels!
- All waste is divided, bottles are returned to the manufacturer for reuse, the food is composted on site (at a safe distance from the hostel) and many other items are recycled
- They also offer bicycle rental and are well connected to the city centre by buses.
2. Hostel Trastevere – Rome, Italy
You’ll find this colourful hostel in Trastevere, Rome’s most stylish neighbourhood. You just have to stroll across the river to visit the most iconic parts of the city. It also has a gorgeous garden and terrace, a luxury in the Italian capital – especially at these prices!
- All electricity is generated by solar panels, so the air conditioning and heating are 100% green
- Toilet paper and cleaning products are completely biodegradable
- Separate waste disposable for recycling
- All windows have double glazing to save energy
- All walls are fireproof with double plasterboard and have an air chamber inside to keep the temperature constant – which means energy waste is minimal
3. Reykjavik City HI Hostel & Downtown HI Hostel – Reykjavik, Iceland
In these Icelandic HI hostels, all equipment is chosen based on durability, as well as water and energy saving factors. They save resources by never buying unnecessary or single-use items and choosing eco-friendly products whenever possible. With Scandi-stylish interiors, impeccable cleanliness, killer locations and superb prices in this eye-wateringly expensive city, what’s not to like?!
- Facilities for recycling including different disposal containers and information available to guests
- Organic ingredients. They prefer Icelandic and organic foods, which are produced without harmful pesticides and are labelled as fair trade products
- They minimise food waste and strive to compost organic waste
- Reuse corner, where guests can leave what they no longer need and take whatever they do
4. City Backpackers Hostel – Stockholm, Sweden
This quirky Swedish hostel offers all sorts of freebies, like free pasta, free ice skate rental, free evening sauna and free movie nights – no wonder it’s won the best in Sweden HOSCAR 9 years in a row! They have an ecological approach and a global environmental policy, defining themselves as passionate travellers who love our planet and want to help save it. Do you accept the challenge?
- Bicycle rental
- Waste recycling
- Electricity from renewable sources
- Use of ceramic dishes (no single-use anything!)
- Use of energy saving light bulbs
Book your stay at City Backpackers Hostel now
5. Alter Hostel – Lyon, France
Apart from its commitment to a green lifestyle, what we like most about Alter Hostel are its events where you can meet local people and join in loads of fun of activities – DIY workshops and volunteer work in local organisations are just a couple of examples. It’s also within walking distance of the most Instagrammable area in ??Lyon!
- Thermal insulation = energy saving!
- Energy is supplied by Enercoop, a French company that works with small producers of renewable energy
- Dry toilets
- Accumulation of communal compost
- Rainwater collection
- Delivery of organic bread by bicycle – does it get any more French?
- Leftover exchange corner
- Bicycle and kayak rental, plus secure parking for guests who bring their own bikes
- Ecological awareness events
- Monitoring of their carbon footprint
6. Sleep Well Youth Hostel – Brussels, Belgium
After a sustainable hostel that also has a buzzing bar, ping-pong and foosball tables, huge free breakfasts and a city centre location? Then look no further than Sleep Well. The eco-friendly technology this hostel has invested in in the last few years has allowed a 20% reduction in waste – downright incredible!
- Experts in waste management
- Energy and water saving: all bathrooms are equipped with medium discharge tanks and the showers are water efficient. Halogen patio lamps in common spaces have been replaced by LED.
- Use of sustainable supplies. Electricity is 100% green!
- All used paper is recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified
- Annual participation in European Waste Reduction Week
7. Ecomama – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ecomama stands for green and conscious hospitality, concepts that are reflected in the different ways in which the hostel is built and operates. It shows in all the details, down to the quirky indoor tipi, eco-friendly reminders dotted around and the cosy community vibes!
- They use cradle-to-cradle (C2C) furniture. a production system that minimises waste
- Use of fair-trade materials
- Natural stone heater
- Ecological water system
- Commitment to recycling waste
- They inform and invite their guests to join their mission to participate in a green and conscious way of life
- 1 euro is donated each night for every guest that stays with them to Niños de Guatemala, an organisation based in Guatemala that provides quality education to disadvantaged children
8. Eco Hostel Republik – Uzice, Serbia
Eco Hostel Republik has set out to achieve complete environmental independence. They plan to incorporate solar-powered LED lighting on the roof and install battery-saving devices to regulate time in showers, as well as buy a dishwasher to save water consumption. It also has a project to start treating its wastewater. Base yourself in this rustic gem, and you’ll also be located smack bang in the middle of some of Serbia’s most beautiful natural wonders!
- The hostel’s interiors are made of recycled and reused materials. The bedding and other textiles are of the highest cotton and the bathroom is built with natural materials collected in the local community
- They pay close attention to waste, recycling and reselling
- They promote sustainability among their guests, helping them find ecological means of transport like biking, walking and using local buses and trains. The posters in the hostel help guests save energy and point out interesting facts about the human impact on the environment.
- They have a garden where they grow vegetables and fruit
- They use renewable energy, plus special shower heads to reduce water consumption and energy saving light bulbs to reduce energy usage
Book your stay at Eco Hostel Republik
9. Urban Garden Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal
Urban Garden Hostel offers a relaxed atmosphere that invites you to socialise with other guests in its common room and nature-inspired patio. It’s located right in the heart of Lisbon, within walking distance of the city’s main attractions. Guests can also enjoy a beautiful boutique design, extra-large beds, free pancake breakfasts and a free communal dinner!
- Extensive recycling program
- Half discharge toilets
- Energy efficient light bulbs and appliances
- Use of recycled materials in construction projects
- Washable and reusable hand towels
- Recycled paper products
10. Twentytu Hi-Tech Hostel – Barcelona, Spain
This eco-friendly hostel is the first traveller’s accommodation building in the city that has obtained the highest rating in energy efficiency. It’s been awarded several prizes for responsible and sustainable tourism, including Best Green Hostel 2014 from Hostelworld! With a sunny roof terrace that hosts yoga, dance classes, parties and communal dinners, fun-loving eco-warriors better start planning their trip to BCN pronto!
- Lighting on each floor has presence and timing detectors to save energy
- A water recovery system is in place to treat and reuse water from showers and toilets
- All taps have timer mechanisms, saving between 40% and 60% more water
- System that activates all room facilities at check in and deactivates them at the time of check-out
- They were awarded a Sustainable Tourism in Catalunya prize!
Eco-friendly hostels in Asia:
11. The Yard Hostel – Bangkok, Thailand
At The Yard Hostel, you can munch on homemade yogurt and jam to save on plastic and wash it down with locally sourced milk to support Thai farmers. They also serve coffee from organic farms in northern Thailand, but the best part is that you can drink it in their huge, leafy green space (not the norm in chaotic Bangkok), which is also home to birds, squirrels and other animals! It’s also in Bangkok’s current coolest neighbourhood, Ari, that you can discover before most of the tourists.
- Use of recycled materials to build the rooms – they’re actually old containers!
- Rooms are insulated with recycled paper to reduce the energy consumption of air conditioning. These materials help to naturally cool rooms so that guests can sleep comfortably
- Toilets have a water saving system which can reduce consumption by 35%
- They use air conditioning inverter technology, which can reduce energy consumption by 40%
- Motion sensors and timers control the lighting
- Guests offered reusable bottles to borrow during their stay, reducing the use of plastic by 1000 bottles per month
- They offer a breakfast pack with the aim of reducing food waste (more can be ordered if you’re hungry)
12. Gili Meno Eco Hostel – Gili Meno, Indonesia
Motor traffic is not allowed on any of the Gili Islands, but in the case of Gili Meno, the smallest of the three islands that make up the archipelago, nature and tranquillity are multiplied by ten. In Gili Meno Eco Hostel you can enjoy paradise from the moment you wake up in its bamboo rooms overlooking the beach, before going down to have some pancakes for breakfast in the company of other guests and staff. Those who have stayed here felt like family!
- Ecological, compost bathrooms
- Bamboo showers with fresh and salt water
- Dry cleaning services on the property
- Rooms are made of bamboo – does it get any greener?
Eco-friendly hostels in Latin America
13. El Jardin de Frida – Tulum, Mexico
The hostel is inspired not only by Frida Kahlo’s amazing life, but also by the great culture, art and traditions of Mexico, all of which will be on display during your stay. The zen vibes of the garden will help you release any energy that you no longer want in yourself. The motto of this chilled-out spot is “here you sleep, learn and heal.” Where do we sign up?
- Solar panels generate 80% of electricity
- A modern system treats all organic waste
- They’re constantly raising awareness about the importance of sustainability, both to their guests and through their social networks
- They promote the development of activities that benefit the planet
14. Bambu Gran Palas and Cenote – Tulum, Mexico
This small but beautiful hostel is located in a cenote, just a few steps from the Mexican Caribbean coast, so you can enjoy warm, turquoise waters wherever you look! It’s nestled in the jungle, surrounded by lush green trees and a white sand beach. Have we died and gone to eco heaven?!
- The hostel respects its natural surroundings, integrating the environment into its structure
- The building is made with bamboo and coconut in a completely sustainable way
- It feeds on solar energy
- They offer bicycles and free electric transport from the hostel to their beach club
- It’s a pet-friendly place, so snuggles all round!
15. Utopia Tica Sustainable Lodge – Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica
Utopía Tica is a sustainable hostel project, located in the heart of Costa Rica’s tropical Corcovado National Park at the foot of the El Tigre River. Guests can enjoy the waterfalls, natural pools, jungle paths and all the other wonders that surround this place. You’ll feel the sense of tranquillity that comes with being 100% at one with the planet!
- Water reuse – water from the kitchen and showers flows directly to the garden, creating a sustainable cycle
- Food cooked with locally grown ingredients
- All organic waste is composted and used for the food garden. The city of Puerto Jiménez itself is hot on recycling
- The hostel works with local producers. Their products are all certified organic and many come without plastic packaging
16. Muendo Nuevo Minca – Minca, Colombia
In this rural farm hostel, guests and workers can enjoy nature while learning about environmental sustainability, organic agriculture and indigenous culture. The founders of Mundo Nuevo plan for it to become a museum of sustainability, a place where people from all over the world can learn, debate and contribute to this cause that concerns us all. The breathtaking panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range don’t hurt either!
- All furniture and structures are made of fallen trees from around the property
- They produce their own food
- Eco-friendly soap for guests and staff to use
- Septic composting tanks
- They aim to become fully self-sustainable in terms of food, water supply and energy
- They also act as an educational centre, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of a more sustainable life
- They work to protect the unique environment of the Sierra Nevada from further deforestation and to preserve and recover their natural ecosystems
17. El Rio Hostel – Santa Marta, Colombia
In addition to being super green, El Río Hostel also gives back to the local community. They’ve supplied recycling points to two schools in the area, they put work into sustainable waste collection, they’re leaders of an animal welfare program and they support reforestation days in the area. On top of all this, it’s an insane party hostel in the middle of the jungle where you can go tubing and paddle boarding?! Time to add this one to the bucket list!
- Multiple recycling points
- Composting system
- They work with a recycling collection company in Santa Marta that employs workers who were previously homeless
- No chemicals are used to treat water. Instead they use a reverse osmosis and filtration system
- Ingredients from the garden are used for cooking
- Zero disposable plastic
- 80% of its bulbs and lighting are low consumption
Book your stay at El Rio Hostel
Eco-friendly hostels in Oceania
18. Apollo Bay Eco YHA – Apollo Bay, Australia
The Apollo Bay Eco YHA is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and being a responsible face on the Aussie backpacking scene through their conservation and sustainability efforts. If you stay here, you’ll get to enjoy some of the Great Ocean Road’s most incredible natural surroundings. We’re talking pristine, deserted beaches, vast national parks, rainforest and waterfalls. You might even spot a wild koala!
- Solar design with thermal storage throughout the hostel
- Solar heated water system
- Low energy lighting inside the hostel and activated lighting sensors in common areas
- Double flow toilets and urinals without water
- Low-cost electric heating
- Recycling stations for paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, aluminium and steel cans, batteries, clothing and printer cartridges in kitchens, common areas and office areas
- All organic waste from the kitchen is collected and composted
- Ecological cleaning products.
- Tank to collect rainwater, which is used to water the gardens
- They promote the use of public transport
19. Habitat HQ – Melbourne, Australia
Habitat HQ is committed to sustainability at many levels, including the local bee population! They help revitalize it by taking care of thousands of bees in their own hives. They even produce fresh honey that guests can enjoy for breakfast! Their awesome events, like live music sundays, trivia nights and BBQs are the perfect opportunity for solo travellers to meet new mates too.
- Efficient bathrooms to save water and signage to encourage guests to use as little as possible
- 40% of its energy use is green and renewable
- Efficient lighting system with energy saving light bulbs and common area lighting programmed according to the time of sunset
- Certified climate action leaders in Australia’s tourism industry, for their commitment to reducing carbon emissions
- They offer their guests the chance to join in with a local bay maintenance program
20. YHA Wellington City – Wellington, New Zealand
All YHA chain hostels, like this one in Wellington City, participate in local community projects. In the Green Footprint Project, guests are given the opportunity to buy a native bush or tree to help offset the impact of your trip on the environment. That’s just one of the reasons that our guests love this place so much – others are the social vibe, central location and on-site espresso bar!
- Use of solar panels
- Well-marked recycling facilities. They also recycle fluorescent tubes, batteries, collect used clothing, reuse messenger bags and all cards are made with recycled PVC
- Energy-saving light bulbs
- Insulated hot water cylinders, roof and wall insulation
- Motion sensor lighting
- Low energy heat pumps
- Double glazing of windows and replacement of appliances with more efficient models
- Clever Flush water saving devices in low flow toilets and showers
21. Eco Lodge Pakowhai – Hastings, New Zealand
Eco Lodge Pakowhai is a family run eco-hostel that grows fruit and veg on site to feed its guests, as well as housing a shelter for bees and birds. Guests can choose between a traditional dorm or private, or choose to stay in a cabin or caravan for ultimate hippy vibes. You can BYOB for a garden barbecue, or just hang out in a hammock under the shade of the trees. Bliss!
- They collect and recycle all glass, plastic and metal waste
- Rainwater is collected and stored in tanks, then used for toilets and watering the garden
- Electricity is obtained through a solar panel and stored
- Renewable heating sources, including the wood they grow on their plot and replant for the future
- Buildings are insulated with double glazing, minimising energy waste
- Composting of kitchen waste, paper, cardboard and garden waste allows the hostel to produce organic compost for their garden crops
- Bicycle, helmet and lock rental
Hands up who’s gonna stay in one of these eco-friendly hostels on their next trip? If you visit one of them, don’t forget to tell us what you think! We’d love to hear about any other eco-friendly hostels you’ve discovered on your travels too. The first step towards sustainability is getting the word out, so please share your eco experiences. Every little gesture counts!
About the author:
I’m Mariona Sanz (Barcelona, ??1989), a Mediterranean journalist and writer. I travel slowly and write about personal development, emotional education and feminism. On my table right now are two projects: the documentary Voices of Skjálfandi and MarionaSanz.com. Follow me on Instagram!
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