Alastair Sawday’s latest guide book covers eco-lodges round the world. If his previous books are any judge, each listing will be of superior quality and well worth a visit, but remember they do pay to be included, and standards can go down as well as up.
(Just out and highly recommended – Organic Places to Stay in the UK — buy it from Amazon UK
Trericket Mill Vegetarian Guesthouse, Powys
Part guesthouse, part bunk house, part campsite – all Grade II* listed. The dining room has been created amid a jumble of corn-milling machinery: B&B guests, campers and bunkers pile in together for delicious and plentiful veggie food – fair-trade, wholefood and free-range – from a chalkboard menu. Stoves throw out the heat in the flagstoned living rooms; the bedrooms are simple pine affairs, well insulated and efficiently lit. On an SSSI – Skithwen brook runs through the property – the mill hosts a breeding colony of bats in the roof each summer, quite a sight at dusk.
56. Singles 38. trericket.co.uk, 01982 560312.
Cornwall without the crush. Deep in woodland, a mile from any road, 13 eco-cottages sit in a Celtic land of coves and sun-dappled creeks. Paints are organic and high-spec showers and baths are fed with reclaimed rainwater.
From 425 per week for 2. trelowarren.com, 01326 221224.
It looks like a vast garden shed. Within, splashes of colour (bright red sofas and armchairs, chunky blue checks on the bedcovers) set off white lime-plastered walls and ash floors. Tiles are hand-made, fabrics are natural and organic, toiletries biodegradable, the cooker “slow”. It is light, earthy, fun and refreshing. There is even an “honesty” store for your shopping.
90-105. 420-575pw ecocabin.co.uk, 01547 530183.
Hagal Healing Farm, Co. Cork, Ireland
Hagal is different. It always was: the farmhouse was built 150 years ago by one man in 40 days. You can take lemon-balm tea under the huge old vine in the conservatory among candles and Buddha chimes, retreat from the pressures of modern life into a secluded corner of the beautiful wild garden, eat subtly spiced organic vegetarian food – or learn to cook it yourself. Seating is low and ethnic; the yoga room at the top has views of Bantry Bay, as does the chill-out room with its white sofas and angel cards.
60. Singles 55. Full-board 130. Singles 90. hagalhealingfarm.com, 00353 27 66179.
L’Ayalga Posada Ecologica, Asturias, Spain
Abandon the car and take a train on the narrow-gauge railway to Infiesto. Or come by bus. The farmhouse has been restored using only healthy, non-contaminating materials, and solar panels ensure that the showers have constant hot water. Even the cleaning products are home made from borax and essential oils. The rooms are attractively simple, with white walls, golden wood and warm rust colours.
45-50. Singles 39. Plus 7% tax. terrae.net/layalga, 0034 616 897 638.
Wake up to one of the world’s most awesome sights: the deep blue waters of Geiranger fjord, surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks and green vegetation. The working farm has been in the Wester’s family since 1603. The new generation is diversifying into tourism and have built the cabins in keeping with the landscape. After a day’s exploration, enjoy delicious jam scones and cream tea (and dinner) on the restaurant terrace overlooking the fjord.
Cabins NKr500-NKr750 (around 41-62). Flats NKr450-NKr750. geiranger.no/westeras, 0047 70 26 32 14.
Milia Traditional Settlement, Crete
This tiny settlement in a fold of the White mountains was abandoned after a cholera outbreak, briefly sheltered guerrillas in the second world war, before being resurrected by two local lads in the 1980s. Stone houses were reroofed, spring water piped in, terraces replanted, livestock introduced, a generator installed. Fourteen cottages now dot the plane-shaded valley. All are pure rusticity: iron beds, woodburning stoves (logs supplied), flagged floors, tiny windows in crude walls. Bathrooms are basic, but the greatest luxuries – fine air, food and company – are in endless supply.
� �60-�65. Singles �55. Triples/suites �80. Family rooms �90. milia.gr, 0030 28220 51569/46774.
Locanda della Valle Nuova, Italy
In gentle hills surrounded by ancient oaks and within sight of Urbino, this 185-acre farm produces fine organic meat, vegetables and wine, and schools horses. An unexpectedly modern conversion has given La Locanda the feel of a discreet modern hotel, where perfectly turned sheets lie on perfectly crisp and clean beds. Breads, pastas and jams are home made; water is purified; heating is solar or from wood stoves, supplied by the prunings from the farm woods where truffles are gathered in autumn. And there is a lovely pool.
100. Half-board 75pp vallenuova.it, 0039 0722 330303
Cerro da Fontinha, Sao Teotonio, Portugal
These self-catering cottages are made from locally sourced, natural materials. Showers have stone bases and terracotta surrounds, pebbles embedded in walls create coat and towel hooks, thick cuts of wood become mantelpieces, stone sofas are cosily cushioned. You have countryside on the doorstep, a eucalyptus wood for shade, good restaurants and Carvalhal beach nearby – hire mountain bikes to get there. There’s also a little lake for swimming and fishing.
90-160 for 2 nights; 280-560 per week. cerrodafontinha.com, 00351 282 949083.
Ionian Eco Villages, Greece
In green Zante, under pine-scented hills, a short stroll from miles of sand, this collection of brightly coloured villas, apartments and stone cottages splashes over ancient olive groves in gardens of citrus and bougainvillea. Comfortable homes, many solar-powered, have sea views, timbered ceilings, tiled floors, simple kitchens, and open showers. The Gerakas peninsula, now part of the marine park, is one of the last nesting sites of the loggerhead sea turtle.
363-480 per week for 2. relaxing-holidays.com, 0871 7115065.
Barefoot at Havelock, Andaman Islands
Listen to a forest-bird ballad in eight acres of gardens and mahua trees minutes from a long, white beach. These beautifully designed, conical thatched cottages are locally made from bamboo, wood and palm leaves, and draw their water from the camp’s own spring. The slightly more luxurious hardwood villas have floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides and shady balconies. Relax by candlelight and listen to cool jazz in the oriental living area before dinner; the fusion food is local, organic, delicious and they cook your own catch.
$75-$145. Singles deduct $10. barefootindia.com, 0091 3192 236008.
Lapa Rios, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Perched 350ft above sea level, the teak and palm lodges capture cooling breezes – no air-con required – and you peer from your terrace over trees and ocean. Your simple, elegant home slips seamlessly into the rainforest. Floors are wooden, walls wide open, furniture bamboo, showers in the garden. Tropical flowers provide colour, sunshine heats the water. It’s 10 minutes to the beach or the 1,000-acre nature reserve with river and waterfalls. The main lodge, with its 50ft-high platform, has sensational views.
Full-board $198-$319pp sharing. Singles $308-$463. Children up to 10 half price. laparios.com, 00506 735 5130.
Hotel Eco Paraiso Xixim, Mexico
Fauna, dune flora and creepy crawlies at every turn – insects are “relocated” not exterminated. Flat sands, warm sea, huge skies and organic meals (catch your own fish). On three miles of white sands, the 15 cabanas built of hi-tech adobe are simple, circular, light and cool. Ceiling fans hang from open-thatch roofs where geckos perch. No need to fight over the hammocks, each porch has two.
$144-$178. Singles $125-$152. Half-board $176-$210, singles $141-$168. ecoparaiso.com, 0052 988 916 2100/2060.
Pousada Vida Sol e Mar, Santa Caterina, Brazil
Surfers create a buzz at weekends in season. Otherwise Rose Beach is a wild, natural place – a couple of beach shack bars on a crescent of soft sands, with dunes behind. Below the hotel are seven rustic villas – river stones, Brazilian woods, colour-washed tables, natural linen – rented whole or in part. Some have their own pool, others a close-up view of the sea. Hire a cook, dine in the laid-back hotel restaurant or hotfoot it to one of the village restaurants over the hill. Yesterday’s whale hunters are today’s guides, and the whale-watching tours are the best in the area.
$72-$180. Villas $140-$180 for 2. vidasolemar.com.br, 0055 48 3355 6111.
Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
In the shimmering heat, white gers rise from the wild heart of the Gobi desert in the lee of a red volcanic outcrop. Here, the traditional meets the sophisticated – with community support. The nomads’ tents are hand-made from latticed Siberian larch covered with felt and contain beautifully painted beds and colourful artefacts. Sun and wind provide evening light and constant hot water; animal dung fuels stoves. Friendly staff hail largely from the local Bulgan village. Camel trek in vast dunes and sup like a Khan under a dome of stars.
$70-120. Singles $50-$90. threecamels.com, 00976 11 313 396
Among the sands of one of the largest nature conservation areas in Africa lies “Where the Wolves Dance”, 80 miles from the nearest petrol station. The decks of the rustic-luxurious chalets are perfect for dune or star gazing. Down duvets, hot showers, solar lights, canvas blinds. The double tents, sitting on wooden platforms, are equally appealing. The main lodge has sepia photographs, wooden furnishings, sundowner decks.
Full-board Dunes Lodge from NA$2,650pp (around 203). Singles $3,710. Camps from $1,750pp. Includes activities. Park fees $135pp per day. wolwedans.com, 00264 61 230 616.
Apani Dhani Eco-Lodge, Rajasthan, India
The rooms are a cluster of traditional huts with mud-rubbed walls and thatched roofs. Wooden furniture and intriguing objets in russet-toned alcoves. Solar panels give light and hot water – and the coffee is superb – though luxuries are few. Seasonal food is dished out on leaf plates under the bougainvillea in the circular courtyard.
Rs750-Rs950 (around 9-11). apanidhani.com, 0091 1594 222 239.
Crescent Moon Cabins, Dominica
Almost everything in this fabulous rainforest retreat is made from recycled parts, apart from the wind and hydro generators. Even the coffee roaster is made from an old car windscreen motor. All utility water is spring-fed through a ram pump. Jean and Ron grow fresh ingredients in their enormous greenhouse for dishes such as pumpkin and breadnut ravioli . The cosy cabins, built from local wood, have a hammock strung out on the balcony with panoramic views of the rainforest and the distant sea. Walk to the coastal village of Massacre then return for a soak in the stone plunge pool among the mango, pawpaw and almond trees.
$115. crescentmooncabins.com, 001 767 449 3449.
Chiminos Island Lodge, Guatemala
This Maya-built “island” is thick with jungle and jungle noise: howler monkeys, toucans, parrots, eagles and the odd snake. But you couldn’t be safer or snugger in your reclaimed mahogany and thatch bungalow on stilts; it is open sided, deeply romantic and mosquito-protected. Solar-lit walkways weave through the jungle floor as you pick you way across raised tree roots to the lodge itself where food, drink, hammocks and floating dock await – and friendly (mostly Spanish-speaking) staff. The bungalows, all secluded with lagoon views, are warmly rustic inside: tree trunks for tables; weavings for colour; swing doors that open to big hot showers; balconies for sunsets and views.
Full-board $170. Singles $85. chiminosisland.com, 00502 2471 0855.
Chalalon Ecolodge, Bolivia
Managed entirely by the indigenous Quechua-Tacana community, Chalaln is buried in the vast swathe of the wildlife-rich Madidi national park. Knowledgeable guides and themed nature trails encourage you to learn about wildlife behaviour and the medicinal qualities of the plants. The low-impact, wood and palm cabins are simple and rustic, but perfectly comfortable. Wash away the day’s expedition, then soak up the sunset over Lake Chalaln from a hammock outside your cabin. Traditional dishes are served in a central dining hall (with a flourish of handcrafted table decorations) and include dunucuavy – catfish cooked in leaves, washed down with a drop of Bolivian red.
Full-board (4-days, 3 nights) $325pp Twin/triple $295pp. Singles $345. Includes transfers & activities. chalalan.com, 00591 3 892 2419.
Amazon Yarapa River Lodge, Peru
Local management, local materials, local ideas, deep in the Peruvian rainforest. The focus is on research and education, and when you hold a pygmy marmoset monkey in your hand you’ll know in an instant what environmental responsibility is all about. The only road is the Amazon tributary flowing alongside; the only disturbance is the occasional sound of a paddle slicing through the water, or the blast of air from a breaching pink dolphin. The roofs and walkways are thatched and provide a natural cooling system from the tropical heat.
Full-board for 3 nights $700pp. Singles $800. Bungalows $760pp, singles $860. Includes transfers & guided tours. yarapariverlodge.com, 00011 5165 223320.
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Nepal
Framed at the centre of the doorway are the astonishing peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Machhapuchhare. Each of the rooms have been built from hand-cut stone, floors are wooden, furnishings are simple, and there’s handmade soap from Kathmandu in the bathrooms.
Full-board $200pp Singles $300. Plus taxes. tigermountain.com/pokhara, 00977 1 436 1500l.
Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand
A 6,000-acre eco-triumvirate of nature protection, sustainable merino-sheep farming and responsible tourism. Rooms keep a natural integrity of wool, lanolin and New Zealand art, even manuka shampoo. There are swathes of regenerating native forest – you may even be asked to help clear American pine seedlings or help shear sheep. The lodge works in close consultation with the local Maori tribe at the Kura Tawhiti reserve. The gourmet food provides trampers with the perfect preparation for the Southern Alps.
Half-board NZ$290-$490 (around 100-169). Singles from NZ$380. wildernesslodge.co.nz, 0064 3318 9246.
Patagonia EcoCamp, Chile
One of the world’s epic locations. Condors soar over the Andean mountains while herds of guanaco (wild relative of the llama) roam the foothills. The brightly painted tents are cosy inside, connected by wooden boardwalks to the friendly dining area where a huge picture window opens out to the mountains beyond.
Full-board from $823pp for 4 days. Includes activities & transfers. ecocamp.travel, 0056 2 232 9878.
Kanimbla View Clifftop Retreat, New South Wales, Australia
Eco lodges don’t have to sacrifice comfort or accessibility. This one is easy to get to but feels satisfyingly remote. It’s on a mountain escarpment surrounded by bush. The sunken living areas have wood-burning fires and plenty of books and information on the retreat’s ecological features; kitchens are well-equipped. There’s even a tennis court, while an old greenhouse has been turned into an outdoor spa.
Cottage for up to 4 A$210-$375 (around 85-154). Bungalow $175-$225. Studio $135-$175. Entire retreat $1,100-$1,500. kanimbla.com, 0061 2 4787 8985.
Djuma Bush Lodge, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Cool off in the pool while elephants do the same in a nearby watering hole. It’s hard to tell where the camp ends and the game reserve begins. Part of the Sabi Sand complex, this is classic game reserve country – big, wild, uncrowded – but with a social conscience. No TV, no radios, just bags of fresh air and dining under the Milky Way.
Full-board R1,950-R2,950pp (around 150-227). Includes two daily safaris, guided walks & tourism levy. Self-catering R6,500 for whole camp per night. djuma.com, 0027 13 7355118.
Aurum Lodge, Alberta, Canada
A true wilderness retreat in a natural clearing in the forest, overlooking the beautiful Abraham lake and with the Canadian Rockies looming in the distance. The emphasis is on low-impact living, no televisions or phones in the rooms, just wind whistling in the trees, water lapping at the shore and a natural adventure playground on your doorstep.
CAN$110-$220 (around 53-106). Self-catering units $130-$240. aurumlodge.com, 001 403 721 2117.
Il N’gwesi Lodge, Kenya
An eco lodge overlooking a vast forested plateau. The bandas on stilts are luxuriously simple; the pool is exquisite. Each of the 448 households of the Il N’gwesi tribe own an equal share of the lodge and make joint decisions. The lodge funds schools and mobile clinics and helps protect wildlife.
Full-board $240pp & $20 conservation fee. laikipia.org/hotel_ilngwesi.htm, 00254 64 31405.
Peuma Hue, Bariloche, Argentina
Gallop through forest then sit back with a cocktail as you watch the sun setting over Lake Gutierrez and the shadows creep up the mountain. Walls are hewn from huge tree trunks, tiles inspired by cave paintings, rugs hand-woven and glass ceilings open to the peak of Cerro Catedral. Indigenous species are being reintroduced, produce is organic from the kitchen garden or locally sourced, alternative energies are on their way.
Full-board for 1, 3 or 7 days. $375-$642. Singles $284-$375. Includes activities. B&B only $103-$133pp. peuma-hue.com, 0054 9 2944 501030/504856.
Can Marti Agroturismo, Ibiza
Only the tinkling of bells from the neighbour’s sheep, or the occasional bray from one of Can Marti’s two donkeys, breaks the silence in this wooded valley. Organic life has returned to the terraces, and the old stone farmhouse has been lime-washed and transformed into rustic but immaculate guest apartments.
110. Cottage 180-210. canmarti.com, 0034 971 333500
Unless otherwise stated, the prices are for one night for two sharing a room with breakfast. A price range incorporates room/seasonal differences. Alastair Sawday’s Green Places to Stay, edited by Richard Hammond is published on September 26 at 14.99. Alastair Sawday Publishing.
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