Top eco-friendly places for a green getaway in 2022
Our guide to eco-friendly breaks in England
If your New Year's resolution for 2022 is to fly less and do your bit to be more eco-friendly, why not test the waters closer to home?
With plenty of environmentally friendly attractions, sustainable places to stay and zero-waste restaurants on our doorstep, England has everything you need for a getaway without the guilt.
Fancy a vineyard bike tour or maybe off-grid glamping under the stars? Us too! Here are just a few ideas to get you into the swing of responsible travel.
Sustainable hotels and places to stay
The Zetter Hotel
Located in Clerkenwell, this oh-so-cool boutique London hotel gets top grades for its eco-attitude. Formerly a 19th-century Victorian warehouse, The Zetter houses a 1,500-foot borehole shaft which enables the hotel’s water supply to be self-sustaining, meaning plastic bottles are banished. The rooms themselves are simple yet elegant with vintage accents and environmentally-friendly toiletries, and the penthouse bedrooms have views across London through floor-to-ceiling windows.
If you forego housekeeping, you not only save energy but receive credit to spend on food and drink in the hotel (almost all of which is delivered by bike) and if you want to get out and about to explore London, the hotel has free Brompton Bikes on hand for you to use.Stay here on your eco-friendly holiday
The Victoria Inn
Built back in 1837, this grand flint inn close to Holkham Beach in Norfolk has had one heck of a journey, but one of its greatest achievements is being the proud owner of a Green Tourism Gold Award. The Victoria Inn’s 20 bedrooms – each individually decorated with a mix of contemporary and antique furniture – are heated by a biomass boiler using wood from the estate forestry team. Guests are encouraged to offset carbon emissions from their journey to and from the hotel by donating through the World Land Trust and are asked to keep an eye out and track all of the wildlife they see during their stay.
The hotel restaurant serves local organic food, with its game items and vegetables coming straight from the estate and walled garden. And if you’re looking for souvenirs, check out the onsite shop which sells a range of locally crafted products made from natural materials.Sleep tight at this sustainable hotel in Norfolk
Tucked away in the village of Wark in Northumberland, award-winning Battlesteads Hotel is a boutique retreat with a real flair for homegrown food. They grow 95% of the herbs, salad and green vegetables used in the restaurants in their polytunnels and have recently opened a sustainable mushroom farm. Housed in a converted shipping container in the hotel’s garden, the temperature and humidity-controlled space creates great conditions for growing the likes of shitake, yellow, pink and grey oysters all year round. Mushroom soup, anyone?
On top of that, Battlesteads is one of only two hotels in Northumberland to hold a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. Onsite, they have a carbon-neutral heating and hot water system, only buy local organic toiletries, use their empty toilet roll cylinders for potting seedlings and compost all of their food waste. Through their efforts, they’ve managed to reduce their carbon footprint to just one-fifth of the industry average – impressive or what?Stay in an eco-friendly hotel in Northumberland
Tune into the natural sounds of the countryside at this lovely little cottage complete with flower-filled meadow for a front garden. Behind the duck-egg-blue front door, you’ll find quirky antique furniture, brick floors strewn with sheepskin rugs, a rolltop bath and canopied bed, and, most importantly, no electricity at all. Instead, this stripped-back chalet has an open fire to keep you warm, a wood burner for your hot water and candles to give you light when night falls.
This fairytale cottage is found at the heart of Wilderness Reserve, a 5,000-acre estate in Suffolk. You can spend your stay exploring the Reserve – which has planted 600,000 trees and sewn acres of wildflowers onsite – on a traditional Pashley bike (included in your stay) and take to the waters on a stand-up paddleboard, all the while soaking up some of the cleanest air in England. Bliss.Enjoy a green getaway in Suffolk
If you prefer your holidays al fresco, we have just the thing. Kudhva, meaning ‘hideout’ in Cornish, is a totally off-grid campsite set in a 45-acre disused quarry overlooking the sea. Embracing the simple way of life, the campsite is home to a handful of Tentsile tree tents nestled below the tree canopy, as well as Shanti Tipis, an innovatively designed ‘Danish Cabin’ and four Kudhvas – sci-fi-esque structures raised above the ground on wooden legs. and floor-to-ceiling views of the coastline. Whatever one you choose, you’ll have your own fire pit to cook your meals on.
Elsewhere on the site, you’ll find a glorious wood-fired hot tub (ideal for sunset sessions) and a wild swimming lake that’s more than refreshing during the summer months. While there’s no electricity in the accommodations (we recommend bringing a torch), the communal kitchen is powered by solar panels, and the toilet and shower block is also fed by a natural water supply. Big (green) ticks galore.Stay at this eco-friendly campsite in Cornwall
Brook House Woods
Another one to add to your sustainable holiday shortlist is Brook House Woods, a gorgeous glamping site in the wilds of Herefordshire. It’s home to six glamping retreats, including a handmade yurt, a cute hobbit hut adorned with fairy lights, a tree tent suspended in a bluebell wood and three treehouses made from locally grown wood. When you’re not chillaxing in your luxury hideaways, you can get stuck into chocolate workshops, foraging courses, yoga classes and private outdoor cinema screenings, right in the middle of the woods. You can even try your hand at woodwork, with classes led by the campsite’s owner.
As well as being an indulgent place for a getaway, the glampsite is hot on protecting the environment and has compost loos with recycled toilet paper, solar panels to power the treehouses and water is sourced from a borehole on the farm. Even everything down to the shower gel is harmless to nature.Go glamping in Herefordshire
Grab the grandparents, kids and the dog and head down to Loveland Farm in Devon to stay in one of their quirky pods. With views out to sea, the spacious Hartland Pod, which sleeps up to seven people, is perfect for a family get-together with its mezzanine level and very own indoor Tipi. It even has a film projector for cosy movie nights.
Priding itself on sustainability, Loveland Farm uses only electricity supplied by solar panels in all of its pods. They also have compostable loos and the water heating is powered via a recycled woodchip biomass system. If that wasn’t enough, the campsite grows most of its vegetables, supports local farmers on how to live self-sufficient lifestyles, curates local farmers markets and takes part in seed swaps. Oh, and did we mention the Farm is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? A green dream indeed.Book a sustainable family break
Sustainable and zero-waste restaurants
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High atop Chester’s city walls, you’ll find hypha, an innovative zero-waste restaurant with an ever-changing, vegan tasting menu. Just one of 23 restaurants in the UK to be awarded the Michelin Green Star, hypha works with eco-conscious local suppliers, growers and foragers to source seasonal ingredients that create delicious, experimental dishes, such as mushroom bonbons, fermented barley risotto and tiger-nut ice cream. (We had to google that last one too – turns out they aren’t nuts at all!)
As well as aiming to use every last stalk and stem of its ingredients, hypha also has its own fermentation lab and trains its staff to help forage for native ingredients from local forests and the banks of the River Dee. If you want to take your experience up a notch, you can book The Sommelier Counter, an intimate dining experience that’s only offered to four guests a week.Tuck into Cheshire’s top vegan restaurant
Heralded as the first zero-waste restaurant in the UK, Silo relocated from its birthplace in Brighton to Hackney back in 2019. With cooking methods based on respect for the environment and the produce, Silo uses suppliers with a sustainable ethos, and everything is delivered in reusable vessels. The ingredients used in the kitchen are either foraged, produced in the restaurant’s in-house flower mill and butter churn or form part of the eatery’s ‘nose to tail’ ideology, ensuring all parts of an animal are used. There’s even an on-site brewery that creates fermented drinks.
The dishes, which can be anything from smoked bavette steak to pumpkin seed ice cream, are served on ceramic tableware made from the restaurant’s waste glass (and crafted by the local potter) while diners sit on upcycled and repurposed chairs. Any leftovers from the day are fed to Silo’s aerobic digester which generates up to 60 kilograms of compost in 24 hours, much of which is donated to the restaurant’s neighbours. If that’s not impressive, we don’t know what is.Book a table at this zero-waste restaurant
Angela’s of Margate
Committed to careful sourcing, cutting food waste and reducing plastic use, this tiny, stylish seafood restaurant on the Kent coast is a real trailblazer when it comes to sustainability. Whether it's rock oysters or meaty ray with burnt butter, Angela’s seafood is ethically sourced, with ingredients changing daily based on what’s fresh off the boats that morning. Its wine list is comprised of mostly English bottles, too, meaning a hefty number of food miles are cut out. Hungry customers eat on tabletops made from recycled carrier bags and the restaurant even has a partnership with a local community garden that turns scraps into compost which enables them to produce more organic ingredients.
Just around the corner, you’ll find Angela’s sister restaurant, Dory’s, which has a shop and hosts a seafood bar serving raw, pickled, cured and baked sharing plates.Discover this sustainable seafood restaurant
Where the Light Gets In
Stockport, Greater Manchester
On the first floor of an old coffee warehouse in Stockport Old Town is a dinky dining room seating only 30 guests. This open-plan restaurant and kitchen is another on our list that proudly owns a Michelin Green Star. If you want to get a table for this intimate 17-course extravaganza (yes, you read that right), you have to book in advance – and not only because it’s popular, but because it helps cut food waste.
The ever-changing menu is regulated by the seasons, is driven by the day’s catch and harvest, and uses produce from its very own farm. The restaurant also runs an urban growing space called ‘The Landing’. As well as growing its herbs here, the rooftop garden helps to increase biodiversity and community engagement around food sovereignty. Kudos all round!Dive into sustainable dining
Carters of Moseley
Birmingham, West Midlands
Located in the leafy suburb of Moseley, just outside of Birmingham City Centre, Carters of Moseley is a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for its low carbon footprint. Owned by self-taught chef, Brad Carter, this innovative restaurant replaces ingredients from abroad with native alternatives based on the natural turn of the seasons. Working closely with farmers and food producers across the UK, Brad aims to preserve the heritage of Britain’s fruits, vegetables and livestock and uses ancestral cooking techniques like fire and fermentation.
To try and limit any food waste, you have to buy a ticket in advance for Brad’s multi-course tasting experience. Lasting up to four delicious hours, you’ll get to savour the likes of red deer with kabocha squash, monkfish liver topped with Exmoor caviar and satisfy your sweet tooth with grand fir mousse. Sounds to us like one to add to the list!Cherish the best of British produce
Eco-friendly and sustainable attractions
The Living Rainforest
Learn about why rainforests are vital for life on Earth at The Living Rainforest. Set inside three glasshouses, you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of a lush tropical rainforest environment, complete with feathery, furry and scaly critters from across the world (think two-toed sloths, snakes and armadillos). Keeper experiences are also available and include feeding animals like blue frogs, making enrichment treats for toucans and handling creepy crawlies like cockroaches.
As well as educating visitors, The Living Rainforest’s sustainability credentials are evident everywhere you look, from the recycled bricks to the solar cells covering the glass roof canopy.Experience Brazil in Berkshire
The Eden Project
Covering around 30 acres (the equivalent of eight football pitches), this ground-breaking garden – and host of 2021’s G7 Summit – is set on the slopes of a former slate mine. As well as vast outdoor gardens, the Eden Project is famous for its two vast biomes that celebrate the importance of the natural world. Explore the largest indoor rainforest in the world – home to species from the humid tropics of Asia, Africa and South America before taking in the sights, scents and stories of the Mediterranean Biome, with colourful flora from Europe, California and Australia.
On top of all that, the Eden Project turns lots of its waste into compost and energy, uses electric vehicles, is partnering on a ground-breaking geothermal energy project and is working tirelessly to bring wildflowers back to the UK’s living culture.Visit this game-changing eco-friendly attraction
Pensthorpe Natural Park
Previously home to BBC’s Springwatch, this 700-acre nature reserve – which works closely with The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust – aims to showcase the importance of species and habitat conservation. Spot sculptures from renowned artists throughout its woods, wetlands and wildflower meadows or keep an eye out for water voles and otters in the River Wensum that runs through the heart of the reserve. And with seven bird hides, it’s an ideal location for bird watching too, with sightings of warblers, cuckoos and skylarks throughout the year.
If you’re visiting as a family, be sure to stop by Wildrootz, nestled into the trees and hills. As well as 30 pieces of play equipment, like the giant 100-metre-high slide tower, little and big kids can kick off their shoes and paddle barefoot through the Wildrootz stream. If the weather isn’t playing ball, you can always head inside Hootz House to let off some steam in a huge indoor adventure play area.See a wealth of wildlife at this conservation park
Discover over 50,000 plants that call Kew Gardens their home and learn why the vast diversity of flora and fauna are important to our ecosystem with a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. See Alpine wildflowers in the Rock Garden – said to be one of the oldest and largest in the world – smell fresh fragrances and feathery grasses of the Great Broad Walk Borders, and let the little ones explore all the things plants need to grow (earth, air, sun and water) in the Children’s Garden.
Kew’s sustainability campaign, Our Future is Botanic, is committed to protecting and sharing the wonders of plants and fungi. Their manifesto aims to deliver knowledge and solutions to aid biodiversity, inspire people to protect the natural world and train the next generation of experts, all alongside working to be net-zero by 2030.Explore one of London’s best gardens
The Green Dragon eco farm
Passionate about conserving the countryside, the Green Dragon eco-farm does a top-notch job at being super sustainable. As well as responsible farming, this family-friendly attraction has indoor and outdoor play areas, nature trails and lots and lots of animals, from alpacas to owls, chinchillas to highland cows. The messy play barn even has huge sandpits for kids to try fossil digging – an activity that’ll keep them busy for hours.
When you’re ready for some fresh air, take a stroll around the paddocks and the walled garden to learn where your food comes from before tucking into a farm-to-fork meal at the Barn Café. The seasonal menus make the most of homegrown fruit and vegetables and any surplus produce goes on sale in the farm shop. Any garden waste gets composted (which is then used for growing more vegetables) and rainwater is harvested by the solar-powered water pump for irrigating the greenhouse and watering the gardens.Enjoy a fun-packed day out at the farm
Eco-friendly activities and things to do
Foraging with Totally Wild
Totally Wild, made up of a unique team of professional foragers, was created to highlight the vast amount of amazing flavours found in the wild – whether hidden around cities, throughout the countryside or along our coastlines. Accompanied by your foraging guide, you’ll discover a number of wild ingredients in your chosen destination. Your guide will give you tips on how to identify and harvest produce, as well as lots of recipe ideas, before whipping up a delicious three-course meal using the foraged ingredients – expect the likes of wild mushroom risotto, elderflower cheesecake and dandelion-root pancakes.
Courses run throughout the year, too, meaning you get to experience the habitats, plants and flavours with the changing of the seasons.Discover England’s abundance of flavours
Paddleboarding with Active360
London’s rivers, streams and canals are great places to relax and get in touch with nature. But in recent years, their majesty has been spoiled by masses of litter – particularly plastic. So, to help raise awareness of the issue and create a cleaner, more pleasant environment for Londoners and the local wildlife, Active360 hosts SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) eco tours along the River Thames.
Once you’ve got your balance, learn about how the Thames was once biologically dead due to industrial pollution but is now thriving again. Now home to over 125 species of fish, alongside invertebrates, birds and even mammals like seals and porpoises, there’s a good chance you’ll spot an animal or two. You’ll also have the chance to pick up litter along the route and listen to the sound of the river using an underwater hydrophone.
For an even more relaxing experience, why not book Active360’s SUP yoga and pilates classes? Just try not to fall in!est your balance on this unusual activity in London
Kayaking in Devon
If you fancy something slightly more challenging than catching a tan on the beach, head to Dartmouth in South Devon to paddle along the coastline. Headed up by an expert guide, you’ll explore secluded beaches, sheltered estuaries and spectacular sea caves, discover ancient castles and smugglers coves and even get up close to underwater creatures like dolphins, sharks and seals. Whether you pick a half-day or full-day course, you’ll get to see a side to the coast bigger boats can’t access – and all without polluting the environment.
Seal selfies, sun (fingers crossed) and fresh sea air. What could be better?Experience one of the best things to do in Devon
Walk Yorkshire Dales’ Three Peaks
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Forget cars and trains, buses and planes; the best, and least, carbon-intensive way to explore England’s beauty is on foot. The Three Peaks, made up of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, is one of the most formidable climbs in the Yorkshire Dales. Forming a triangle that encloses parts of the valley of the River Ribble, these peaks have views across the Dales and beyond that more than make up for the challenging ascent. On your way to the top you’ll get to appreciate nature at its finest, from the Hull Pot, a collapsed cavern that becomes a dramatic waterfall after heavy rain, to the limestone ravine of Ling Gill.
If you’re not much of a hiker, you can choose to tackle one peak at a time, or simply walk what you fancy – it’s your holiday after all.Take a walk on the wild side
E-bike through Sussex’s vineyards
East and West Sussex
With 139 vineyards across the county, Sussex is the most densely populated wine region in Britain – and if you’re after a taste of a few of their tipples, instead of driving between wineries, why not cycle instead? The Great Sussex Wine Cycle Route, designed by Visit Sussex, winds its way through flint-adorned towns nestled in the South Downs National Park, stopping at some of England’s best wine producers, from Tinwood Estate to Uppertons. You can tackle the self-cycle route using your own bike or hire some from a local operator like Southern eBike Rentals, whose very own Olly Evans helped create the tour.
As well as the carbon-neutral transport, this activity is made even more eco-friendly by the fact that seven of Sussex’s vineyards have WineGB’s Sustainable Wines of Great Britain accreditation (awarded to wineries who minimise pesticides, improve site design and promote biodiversity), while the rest of Britain has just 16. One of the vineyards on the route, Aisling Park, also serves dishes whose ingredients are sourced from a 15-mile radius. We’ll drink to that!Sip and savour English wine
Green festivals and eco events
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
Combining music, food, art, theatre and wellbeing with the great outdoors, Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire is a nature lover’s paradise. Every August you can spend your nights dancing to live acts and DJs and your days wild swimming, hiking in woodlands or simply soaking in a half-barrel hot tub.
In terms of sustainability, Wilderness Festival definitely have their priorities sorted. Want a carbon-neutral way of travelling to the festival? You can cycle there with Ride to Wilderness, passing through Thames-side towns in Berkshire and spending a night in a woodland retreat. To curb plastic use, there’s a cup deposit scheme and water refill stations, and to tackle food waste, any surplus produce from traders is sent to local charities. There are also a series of campsite deposit stations for leftover tents, tarpaulins and sleeping bags which are donated to Help Refugees.Celebrate summer in the wilderness
Henham Park, Suffolk
With a stellar lineup, dedicated arts stage, mouth-watering food stalls, kids’ entertainment and outdoor activities, Latitude Festival is a great all-rounder. Watch world-class headline acts and up-and-coming stars in the legendary Obelisk Arena, turn your hand to stand-up paddleboarding and feel the thrills on one of the many funfair rides.
Latitude offers festival-goers numerous eco-friendly ways to get to the festival, including a lift-share website, partnering with Big Green Coach to get people to use public transport or, like Wilderness, encouraging travel by bike with Red Fox Cycling. Onsite, there’s a volunteer-run Green Team who are on hand to help with recycling and campers are given a Campers Waste Kit on arrival to help sort their rubbish. The festival also offers a refundable deposit on plastic bottles and all food is served in compostable packaging.Get tickets to this family-friendly music festival in Suffolk
Location TBC, Northamptonshire
This family festival hosts an eclectic music line-up of international artists, as well as a jam-packed schedule of food and arts workshops for all ages, talks and debates and even classes when you can learn new skills like bread making.
Pioneering the sustainable festival experience, Shambala Festival has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 81% and has won a number of awards for its efforts, including being the first and only festival to receive a five-star Creative Green Certification. In addition, the festival uses 100% renewable energy onsite, is a meat and fish-free zone, has banned the sale of plastic water bottles and rewards festival-goers who bring their recyclables to one of the Recycling Exchanges at the end of the event. Even the beer is sustainably sourced, with 91% coming from within 70 miles of the festival. It’s a thumbs up from us!Add this eco-friendly event to your calendar
UK Green Film Festival
Bit of a film geek but also consider yourself an eco-warrior? This one’s for you. The annual UK Green Film Festival, which takes place each autumn, brings the best green documentaries and films to audiences and venues across the country, exploring some of the world’s biggest environmental issues.
The 2021 programme, which was held in venues like Warwick Arts Centre, the Exeter Phoenix, London’s Rio Cinema and Manchester’s HOME, included films like Wood, which delved into a billion-dollar timber mafia, Nuclear Forever, which investigated mankind’s dream of atomic energy, and Journey To Utopia – a story about a family who decided to take a leap of faith under the shadow of climate change. Keep an eye out for 2022’s line-up on their website.Watch critically acclaimed films about climate change