To celebrate the launch of its first ever collection of the world’s best hotels, travel experts Lonely Planet have revealed its 10 best eco-friendly places to stay.
The list features a diverse selection of eco accommodation, as chosen by a panel of travel experts, from Lapa Rios in Costa Rica and Maison Anglaise in Morocco, to Bunlungula Backpackers in South Africa and Earthship Rentals in New Mexico, USA. All 10 of the outstanding eco-friendly places to stay have made impressive strides to minimise their impact on the environment and have made positive contributions to their local communities.
Lonely Planet’s collection of the world’s best hotels, also includes a top 10 ‘Extraordinary’ places to stay, and a top 10 ‘Best Value’ places to stay list.
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LonelyPlanet.com editor Tom Hall was part of the expert panel who selected the finalists. He said, “We’re delighted with our first ever list of top hotels. This collection is one of a kind we believe, as it is put together by the most well-travelled people on earth. At Lonely Planet we’ve been giving recommendations to travellers about where to stay for 40 years. Our guidebook authors provide their honest opinion and never take freebies in exchange for positive coverage, so you can trust our reviews.”
The Lonely Planet ‘Eco’ list in full:
1. Lapa Rios, Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica – This lodge lies in a private nature reserve that serves as a buffer for Costa Rica’s remote Parque Nacional Corcovado. It consists of 16 gorgeous bungalows with four poster beds, garden showers and private decks. Simply put, this is the promised land for nature lovers. (Read our Lapa Rios review here).
2. Bulungula Backpackers, South Africa – Feel like one of the family at this community-driven lodge. Bulungula Lodge is nothing more than a group of traditionally designed rondavels owned in partnerhsip with the adjoining community, but a stay here is an immersive experience. This is a place to unwind and disconnect, completely solar and wind-powered, and where a menagerie of animals wander the unfenced property.
3. Chole Mjini, Chole Island, Mafia Archipelago, Tanzania – Get back to nature with a treetop stay at Chole Mjini. This lodge is like nowhere else along the Tanzanian coast. Accommodation is in imaginatively designed tree houses – simple, chic and nestled amid the vegetation for maximum privacy. A short walk away are vine-covered 19th-century ruins, and beyond that, a lively village.
4. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Aguas Calientes, Peru – In the heart of a patch of restored Andean cloud forest, is this hotel in the form of whitewashed cottages, scattered through a 12-acre site. The rooms are full of Peruvian fabrics, ceramics and art, but the real enchantment is the forest itself, a stupefying ecosystem of butterflies and birds, not to mention the world’s largest collection of native orchids.
5. EcoLodge Chepu Adventures, Chiloe, Chile – Perched on an overlook peering out onto three rivers and 140 sq km of sunken forest, is EcoLodge Chepu Adventures. The owners have designed everything at this eco-fierce property with the end goal of complete self-sufficiency, from infrared solar showers, to wind-generated electricity. Green-conscious travellers cannot get enough of the mystical kayak trips at dawn, the views and the barbeques.
6. Maison Anglaise, Taroudant, Morocco – Watch the sunset from the roof terrace of this tall medina house in the walled market town of Taroudant. Maison Anglaise is an excellent place to learn about Berber culture – the English-speaking staff organise visits to rural villages and schemes the guesthouse supports, including soap-making and beekeeping. It has been awarded the Green Key eco-label for its sustainable practices, such as using solar panels to heat water and serving locally grown produce.
7. Earthship Rentals, Taos, New Mexico, USA – If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live completely off the grid, then this is your chance. In the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Taos, lies a small collection of buildings that seems equal parts Gaudi masterpiece and Dr Seuss whimsy. These are the so-called Earthships, radically designed buildings made from recycled materials (think old tyres and glass bottles) and boasting impeccable green credentials.
8. Dana Guest House, King’s Highway, Jordan – Jordan’s top bolthole is also home to one of the Middle East’s most amazing views. Dana Guesthouse blends into the sandstone cliff face sitting on the 1,200m-high tip of Dana Nature Reserve. The guesthouse is run by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and the staff are highly knowledgeable about the reserve’s natural wonders. The simple stone-clad rooms are designed to invite you to watch the sunrise light up the gorge below.
9. Nuli Sapi, Papua New Guinea – Nuli Sapi is located in a pristine area of mountainous rainforest-covered islands, tiny traditional villages and teeming aquatic life. The bungalows themselves are simple but comfortable and made entirely of bush materials, with a veranda perched over the water. Aside from admiring the tropical beauty, there’s much to do here. Nuli Sapi is deeply committed to the surrounding communities – locals can take you out bushwalking, snorkelling with manta rays, fishing, canoeing or simply for a village visit where you can learn about traditional cooking techniques.
10. Baikaler Eco-Hostel, Listvyanka, Russia – Siberian log cabin-style dorms, yoga and chill-out decks await you at this hostel. Russia isn’t exactly celebrated for its eco-friendliness, but the country’s only purpose-built hostel on the shores of Eastern Siberia’s Lake Baikal bucks the trend, big time. The enlightened owner has crafted a green sanctuary complete with solar-heated water, triple insulation, an electricity supply generated partially from solar panels, and energy-saving lighting and electrical devices throughout.
For more on the Lonely Planet’s top eco stays for 2014 click here
Have you stayed at any of the Lonely Planet’s favourite eco-friendly hotels and hostels? Tell us what you think…