Hostels For The Sustainable Traveler In Europe
A timeless tradition, backpacking Europe is an affordable and adventurous way to experience multiple countries with only a few weeks vacation. Staying in hostels, while not as popular an option in the United States, is widely accepted and encouraged for budget-travelers abroad. New friends, complimentary breakfast, wireless internet, bike rentals, and laundry facilities are only some of the many perks of bunking up. Don’t want to sleep in a dormitory? Many hostels offer private rooms for half the cost of a hotel. With so many hostels scattered across Europe, travelers can find almost any type of accommodation to meet their preferences, including hostels with a sustainability model.
All of the hostels on this list recognize that tourism leaves behind a carbon footprint - the goal is to reduce this footprint as much as possible. Through environmentally-friendly initiatives, sustainable practices, and community involvement, here are seven hostels offering conscious backpackers sustainable and affordable accommodations in Western Europe.
Location | Valencia, Spain
Eco | LED lights, solar panels, biofuel for hot water, fair trade products & local foods
Features | Complimentary towels & linens, rooms with terrace, gluten free, vegan & vegetarian breakfast options
Room Options | Privates, group rooms, twin rooms for friends traveling together
Nightly Rate | $45+ for single room, $60+ for twin room, $80+ for double ensuite
Purposefully and sustainably designed, Zalamera combines art deco with old Spanish flare. Hand-picked antiques decorate the airy rooms of this B&B; hand-crafted cabinets and shelves, made locally by woodworkers down the street, hang from the walls of each room. Guests can expect a friendly, local vibe, and maybe even a homemade beer with city tips from the staff.
Onsite bikes allow for exploring old town Valencia and the surrounding neighborhood, la Roqueta. For more restful days, travelers can enjoy Valencia’s Mediterranean climate, reading on the outdoor terrace or napping in the hammock. Environmentally-friendly bathing products, fair trade coffee, and local food are all of the utmost importance at Zalamera.
Hotel Die Fabrik
Location | Berlin, Germany
Eco | Renovated & repurposed factory building, solar power system for water & heat
Features | Cafe, complimentary towels & blankets, lockers, TV/phone-free rooms for tranquility, garden patio
Room Options | Dormitories, privates, family-rooms, wheelchair-friendly rooms
Nightly Rate | $20+ for dorm bed, $50+ for private
In a city so rich with history, it seems only fitting for travelers to stay in an equally timeless accommodation. “Die Fabrik,” meaning “The Factory,” is an old turn of the century telephone factory - beds now sit where operators at one time made connections. Renovated and restored in 1995, the building is now a quaint hostel in Kreuzberg, one of Berlin’s trendiest districts, and original German propaganda posters decorate the brick walls.
Die Fabrik is not only industrial, quintessential, and inviting, but it boasts sustainability practices. Initiatives include solar energy for heat and hot water, participation in the model project "Development of energy savings measures in Berlin Hotels,” and daily energy-conscious practices.
Ecolodge des Chartrons
Location | Bordeaux, France
Eco | European EcoLabel Award, solar panels, energy efficient light bulbs
Features | Private rooms & bathrooms, gluten & vegan breakfast options available, intimate patio, small library, wireless internet
Room Options | Private rooms catering 2 - 4 guests with private bathrooms
Nightly Rate | $135+ (discounts for multiple guests and/or multiple nights)
Looking to escape the hustle of Paris? Ecolodge des Chartrons invites conscious travelers to venture south to sip on wine in one of France’s most beautiful port cities: Bordeaux. An 18th century building, the ecolodge was fully restored using eco-materials including wood fiber, hemp, cork, and sheep’s wool; antique Vosges pine makes up the floors of the home. The most luxurious accommodation option on our list, this ecolodge shouldn’t be overlooked due to its price. With private rooms catering to multiple guests, groups of friends or small families can split the cost to save money.
Guests can expect to rest well on high-end natural latex mattresses in one of the four cozy bedrooms, and organic soaps and towels are provided in the private bathrooms with water saving faucets. A local, organic breakfast is served daily on the patio.
Location | Barcelona, Spain
Eco | European Ecolabel recipient, 100% energy from renewable resources, LED light bulbs
Features | Central location, free wireless internet & lockers, rooms with balconies, fully equipped kitchen, 24-hour security & reception
Room Options | 4, 5, or 6 bed co-ed dormitories with shared bathroom
Nightly Rate | $25+ (low season), $50+ (high season)
The first certified environmentally-friendly youth hostel in Catalonia, Sleep Green boasts an unbeatable location and is within walking distance to Barcelona’s most beloved attractions, as well as the coast. The youth hostel prioritizes staff knowledge, conducting regular training on up-to-date environmental practices, and encourages guests to participate in achieving sustainability goals.
Guests can expect to experience push tap shower heads for water conservation, daily cleaning service with biodegradable products, recycling, and on-site energy efficient laundry services. The hostel also offers green travel tips so guests can participate in socially and environmentally responsible tourism.
Reykjavík City Hostel
Location | Reykjavík, Iceland
Eco | HI Iceland sustainability participant, Nordic Ecolabel
Features | Self-catering kitchen, night security, onsite laundry, onsite cafe/bar, bicycles for rent, garden, yoga classes, wireless internet
Room Options | Dormitories & private rooms, private & share bathroom options
Nightly Rate | $40+ (low season), $60+ (high season)
A small country, Iceland is known for its waterfalls, lagoons, Northern Lights, and adventure tours - all of which can be experienced while staying at Reykjavík City Hostel, an eco-certified hostel since 2004.
Located in the heart of Laugardalur Park, the hostel is within walking distance to the city center and a 10-minute bike ride to the coast. As a participant of the HI Iceland Sustainability Policy, this hostel's eco-friendly and sustainable practices include: composting, fair wages and working conditions for staff, collaboration with like-minded organizations, fundraising for Iceland’s carbon restoration programs, and water and energy conservation initiatives. Guests can also expect a daily local, organic breakfast, as well as fair trade cafe drinks during their stay.
Location | Saas-Fee, Switzerland
Eco | Meets the Minergie-ECO standard, European Ecolabel recipient, solar thermal panels for hot water, energy saving lights, green building
Features | Extensive wellness center with sauna, freshwater pool, hot tub, etc., catering options with buffet breakfast included, wireless internet, phone/tablet free areas, family-friendly
Room Options | Dormitories, family, & private rooms, private & shared bathroom options
Nightly Rate | $40+ for dorm bed, $120+ for private
Contemporary architecture, modern facilities, and a laid-back youth hostel ambiance make up the Saas-Fee WellnessHostel4000, situated at 13,000 feet elevation in the Swiss Alps. This hostel is specifically designed for adventure travelers: ski or hike by day and soak in the herbal steam baths at night. Switzerland’s first five-floor hostel built using timber construction, guests can expect an eco & budget-friendly wellness experience complete with an indoor fresh-water swimming pool, sauna, hydromassage facilities, local & organic food, indoor open fireplace, tea station, and multiple terraces to admire the Alps.
Location | Brussels, Belgium
Eco | Two-star Ecodynamic Enterprise label, CO2 Neutral label, 100% green electricity, low-energy lighting
Features | Private showers in every room, onsite laundry, lifts, bike rental, 24-hour reception, bar, wheelchair friendly, free lockers
Room Options | Dormitories, privates, family rooms, wheelchair-friendly rooms
Nightly Rate | $28+
In between bikes, beer tours, and waffles, conscious travelers can stay at the first eco-labeled youth hostel in Brussels, Sleep Well. A participant in the annual European Waste Reduction Week and a recipient of the CO2 Neutral Label, the hostel is actively calculating, reducing and compensating their local and global climate impact.
Also notable, Sleep Well donates a proportion of its profits to charitable projects and is passionate about culture, Belgium’s artists, and the social economy - the property acts as a free premise for musical theatre rehearsals, sociocultural events, and sustainable tourism efforts. Guests can discover all Brussels has to offer while supporting one of Belgium’s most involved eco-friendly accommodations.