Deciding where to stay when traveling is an essential part of trip planning. There are so many options to choose from and your accommodation needs to fit your budget, location, and amenities. But what about sustainability? If you’re trying to travel more sustainably, then prioritizing eco accommodations is an easy way to do so.
Below, we’ve put together a list of our favorite sustainable accommodations throughout the United States to make planning your next trip a breeze.
What Are Eco-friendly Accommodations?
There are several ways accommodations can be sustainable. This can look like renewable energy use, reducing or recycling water usage, providing recycling and composting, and using eco-friendly products.
Eco accommodations may design or furnish their building using sustainable materials and they may support the local community or recommend ecologically and socially responsible activities.
While there are different ways accommodations can be eco-friendly, it should be clear what measures they are taking to lessen their impact on the environment and community.
Why is Sustainable Accommodation Important?
The hotel industry has long operated in a way that isn’t sustainable. Hotels consume and waste a large number of resources and even campsites or cabins in natural environments don’t necessarily properly dispose of their waste or take their surroundings into account.
Accommodations don’t just have an environmental impact on their locations, but a social and economic one as well. Hotels provide jobs to local people, but if they don’t pay a fair wage, that’s not sustainable.
In addition to offering a place to stay, accommodations play a vital role for tourists because they refer guests to tour companies, restaurants, spas, and shops, and offer guests local tips. Large corporate chain hotels and resorts usually partner with other corporations that don’t support the local economy. They may also recommend unsustainable activities.
Sustainable accommodations can help combat this by recommending eco-friendly activities and supporting local businesses.
Are Airbnbs Eco Accommodations?
In short, it depends. Airbnb has long been a popular accommodation option when traveling. Unfortunately, many Airbnbs aren’t locally owned and are run by large property management companies. They often contribute to gentrification and rising rent in desirable neighborhoods, similar to large hotels and resorts.
Choosing to stay in eco accommodations that are run by locals can prevent this.
What to Look for When Booking Eco Accommodation:
It can be tricky to figure out if your accommodation is sustainable. Many places do sustainable things but may not use the term eco-friendly or have recognizable certifications. Alternatively, accommodations might make sustainability claims while not living up to them.
The following questions can help you determine if your accommodation is eco-friendly before booking:
- Where do they get their electricity from? How do they minimize electricity use?
- Do they take measures to lower water waste and usage?
- Do they recycle or compost? Is it easy for guests to?
- Do they limit washing towels or bedsheets during your stay?
- If your accommodation is in a natural environment, how do they safely dispose of waste? What measures do they take to lessen their negative impact on the surroundings?
- Do they hire local staff? Do they provide fair-wage employment?
- Do they partner with any environmental or local organizations?
- Do they offset their emissions?
- Do they use sustainable toiletries or cleaning products?
- Do they promote eco-friendly activities and local businesses?
- If they are a larger hotel, do they have any third-party certifications to back up sustainability claims?
Where to Find Sustainable Accommodations:
(Note that this guide may include affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to book an accommodation through one of these links.)
Thanks to an increased demand for eco-friendly accommodation, finding sustainable places to stay is easier than ever. Large platforms like Booking.com now allow you to filter sustainable properties.
These platforms can help you find eco accommodations:
To get you started, we’ve featured our favorite eco accommodations in the US below.
Getaway – 20+ Locations
Conscious Life & Style Partner
Sustainable Highlights: Sustainable Amenities, Gives Back, Promotes Eco-Friendly Activities
Average Nightly Rate: Depends on Location (take $25 off with code CONSCIOUSLIFE)
Pack Discounts: 3-Night Pack for $450, 6-Night Pack for $850 (available across locations)
Getaway has over 20 outposts throughout the United States within two hours of most large cities. Getaway makes it possible to disconnect from our busy lives and enjoy nature thanks to their tiny cabins and campgrounds.
Getaway provides the best of both worlds: eco camping or enjoying a tiny cabin. Their eco-cabins make it possible to disconnect in nature with all the amenities and comfort of a hotel. Their campgrounds make it easy to camp sustainably with or without your own equipment.
I’ve personally stayed at the Getaway House in Catskill, New York. As an avid camper and glamper, I was so impressed with their facilities.
What Does Getaway Include:
Each Getaway house has a fully equipped kitchen, 1-2 very comfy Queen-sized beds, a private bathroom, picnic table, fire pit, and chairs. The cabins also offer a gorgeous window wall so you can wake up looking out into the woods.
Each outpost has limited cell service and no wifi to help you relax (in addition to a phone lockbox). Plus, they provide activities such as crayons, a radio, and a thoughtful selection of books.
With their well-stocked kitchen, you can cook throughout your stay to limit food and packaging waste. You can also purchase some of their natural provisions, like their fantastic ethically sourced coffee and tea. I would highly recommend enjoying the s’mores kit over the campfire!
Getaway provides drinkable/potable water and stocks the shower with biodegradable toiletries from Pharmacopia. This ensures that the natural environment is protected.
How Getaway Conserves Resources and Gives Back:
Guests are encouraged to conserve hot water, as well as limit their consumption as some cabins have limited supplies. The water pressure is fantastic, however.
Getaway uses energy-efficient lighting. The bathroom light and fan are timed while the provided portable lantern is chargeable instead of battery operated.
Getaway is passionate about providing this experience to all. They have accessible cabins and offer artist residencies. The company has also partnered with Rachel Cargle, The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and Mirr to give away “A Year of Rest” (365 nights) to change makers advocating for meaningful action.
Additionally, for each cabin booked, Getaway makes a donation to One Tree Planted.
Getaway recently launched two campgrounds in New York and Tennessee for the summer. You can choose between their All-Set or DIY campsites. Each All-Set site has a sustainable canvas tent already set up, while the DIY requires you to bring your own.
Each campsite has a private bathroom and a kitchenette and they provide disposal, recycling, and water refill stations.
So whether you choose one of their cabins or campgrounds, Getaway makes it easy to have a sustainable retreat in nature!
Book Your Getaway (use code CONSCIOUSLIFE for $25 off your booking!)
Shore Hotel – Los Angeles, California
Sustainable Highlights: Green Activities, Sustainable Furnishings, LEED Gold Certified
Average Nightly Rate: $199 USD
If you’re looking for eco-friendly hotels in Los Angeles, look no further than Shore Hotel. This sleek, ocean-view hotel combines sustainability and luxury.
Located in the heart of Santa Monica, Shore’s location is within walking distance of numerous attractions. You can rent bikes directly at the hotel, making green transportation easy.
They are LEED Gold Certified, which ensures they meet certain sustainability standards. Shore has a Green Concierge that will give you sustainable tours of the property if you want to learn more.
One unique thing about Shore Hotel is that its furnishings and building materials are made from recycled and natural materials. They get most of their electricity from solar panels, including their solar heated pool.
In your room, you can expect to find ample natural lighting and energy-efficient controls that shut off automatically when you leave. Plus, they provide organic food and biodegradable toiletries.
Hotel Felix – Chicago, Illinois
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Sustainable Highlights: LEED Silver Certified, Energy Efficient, Sustainable Decor
Average Nightly Rate: $148 USD
Hotel Felix is a fantastic boutique hotel located in the heart of Chicago. This makes it easy to explore the city by foot or bike while traveling. Here you’ll find all the comforts of your typical hotel, such as a business center and fitness center, without all the negative impact.
Hotel Felix is the first hotel in Chicago to be LEED Silver Certified. They took sustainability into account when designing the property. They renovated the building in a way that limited waste and upcycled it to create the sculptures out front.
Hotel Felix takes measures to conserve its resources by using low-impact lighting, motion sensor in-room controls, preventing water waste, and sorting recycling onsite.
They stock fair-trade goodies like organic locally roasted coffee, and chocolate. They use eco-friendly cleaners and the carpet is made from recycled materials.
Casa Gallina – Taos, New Mexico
Sustainable Highlights: Supports Local Artisans, Fair-Trade Amenities, Organic Local Garden
Average Nightly Rate: $225 USD
Located in idyllic Taos, Casa Gallina offers several artisan casitas. This locally run property is set outside the city center, so each adobe house provides a tranquil retreat in nature.
Casa Gallina focuses on supporting local artisans which shows throughout every inch of the property. Their houses are furnished with thrifted, upcycled, or artisan-made decor.
Each house has a fully equipped organic kitchen to help you cook sustainably. They provide Fair-Trade Certified coffee, chocolate, and soap. They even have their own organic garden on sight, so you can purchase local, farm-to-table food.
Casa Gallina will happily recommend eco-friendly activities throughout Taos like hiking, biking, and shopping. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking for proximity to the city but also to enjoy nature.
WildSpring Guest Habitat – Port Orford, Oregon
Sustainable Highlights: Eco-friendly Amenities, Sustainably Designed, Gives Back
Average Nightly Rate: $248 USD
If you’re looking for a beautiful coastal retreat, tucked away from the city, then WildSpring Guest Habitat is for you. Run by a local couple, this space was sustainably designed with the environment in mind.
Each cabin was constructed by “responsible contractors” in order to have the least negative impact on the surroundings. Everything is built from natural materials and their native vegetation is sustained by rainfall.
WildSpring has five different cabins, with a kitchenette and sustainable, local toiletries. They furnish the rooms with upcycled or vintage furniture. All appliances and lights are energy-efficient while the property was designed to provide optimal natural light.
WildSpring provides recycling and composting. They give used food waste to a local farm and donate unused food to the local community. They’ve partnered with the Clean Water Program and even donate $1 per stay to a local organization.
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About The Author:
Alicia Briggs is a writer & editor specializing in slow travel & sustainable living. She’s worked in journalism since 2016 and currently writes for a variety of publications such as Sustainably Chic and Hidden Lemur. She has been a full-time traveler since 2018 and runs her own blog, Learning the Local Way, where she covers responsible travel & living tips.