If a living wall of plants doesn’t scream “sustainability,” I don’t know what does.
The 1 Hotels describe themselves as being inspired by nature, and all the plants growing inside and outside the 1 Hotel a block from Central Park in NYC certainly attest to that. The hotel is one of a growing number of properties around the world that focus on sustainability in their design and delivery of your stay. 1 Hotel, for example, used reclaimed and recycled materials throughout the building, replaced plastic keys with wooden ones, and even added shower timers to remind you of your water usage.
Sustainability is about more than the environment, of course. Another important piece of the sustainability puzzle is preservation of culture and promotion of the local economy. You can find this kind of sustainability on display at The Line hotel in Washington, DC. They rehabbed an abandoned church, preserving and repurposing many of its elements, from its pipe organ to its pews. The design of the hotel is meant to evoke the “real” DC (not the government version), and the rooms are filled with art by Washington-area artists. More importantly, a majority of their employees are local DC residents, and there’s a free community center on site.
Both of these hotels are decidedly upscale, once again proving that “sustainable” doesn’t mean roughing it. If anything, we may be facing the opposite problem: the most sustainable hotels are often financially unattainable for most travelers. My hope is that as sustainability practices become more widespread, they’ll also become more affordable, and then make their way into more mid-price hotels. But in the meantime, it nevertheless pays to do some research (or pay a travel consultant to do some research for you!) into your hotel options – just beyond the big-name chain hotels may be a sustainable gem that offers a lot more than just a place to sleep.