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5 of the most beautiful eco-friendly design hotels in the world

Eco-friendly travel might be coming more popular by the day, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on looks. From responsible design practices to green initiatives, these five eco-friendly hotels are stepping into the future with both care and style.

Svart, Norway

Known for its passion for wellness, community and eco-friendly, sustainable design, the Six Senses group has never been one to shy away from a challenge. And while it already operates 21 hotels and resorts in 17 different countries, its new Norway location is set to stand out from the crowd in an impressive way.

While still in its early stages – with the opening slated for 2024 – Six Senses Svart will not only be the world’s first energy-positive hotel, but the 94-room wonder will combine futuristic design and technology with earthy, organic materials that use the least embedded energy to create a system that is a pioneer in carbon positivity.

“The design aesthetic does not seek to mimic or filter the magnificence of the Norwegian landscape, but to be a humble backdrop to it,” explain Peter Bundgaard Rützou and Signe Bindslev Henriksen, founders of Space Copenhagen, the studio tasked with masterminding the complete interiors for the eco-resort. “The building itself – an unbroken, seamless circle – will become a portal dedicated to enhancing human connection to nature, the seasons, and to time itself.”

READ: How the interior design industry is searching for a more sustainable future

Located on the crystalline waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord, standing weightlessly at the foot of the Svartisen glacier, the design team is committed to leaving Svart’s fragile surroundings uncompromised. As such, the hotel will be constructed on poles, while the design team will look to the four elements – earth, water, fire and air – for inspiration. As such, expect plenty of tactile materials such as stone and wood, with a strong focus on local suppliers. Watch this space.

The eco-friendly Svart Hotel in Holandsfjorden (Effect Magazine)
A future icon: the Svart Hotel in its incredible Holandsfjorden setting

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, USA

While New York has long been an inspiration for the most stylish of the world, it’s not always been known for its sustainable credentials. Luckily, that’s where 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge comes in. Not only set apart thanks to its spectacular skyline views, it also happens to be one of the world’s first luxury sustainable hotels which feels a world away from the high-shine glamour of Fifth Avenue. Crafted from reclaimed materials and naturally-sourced furnishings, interiors are spruced up with plenty of indoor greenery and an abundance of natural light, while the hotel also operates entirely on wind power and uses a cool rain-water reclamation system to irrigate the neighbouring Brooklyn Park.

New York City makes a dramatic backdrop to this bathroom in 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, an eco-friendly hotel with reclaimed materials operating on wind power

“Bringing this property to life involved working intimately with its natural surroundings,” Christopher Alvarado, senior vice president of design at SH Hotels & Resorts tells Effect. “Our aim was to make the property a natural extension of its surroundings, with an open pass-through that welcomes community members and visitors alike, ecology-oriented landscapes, architectural designs, and art installations that boast the area’s rich history.”

Biophilic design notes are abundant througout 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Curating a team of Brooklyn-based artists, artisans, and designers, the design team sought responsible and meaningful materials, utilising nature as art: “From the spiral staircase that greets arriving guests to the rooftop chimney that serves as a reminder of Brooklyn’s industrial history, you’ll find countless unique elements that enhance the influence of nature and remind us that old materials can always be transformed and ascribed new meaning,” adds Alvarado. Water glasses made of recycled green-glass bottles, reclaimed furniture and five-minute sand-timers in the shower also remind guests of its eco-conscious claims.

READ: How Simone Suss melds beautiful interior design with sustainability

Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge, Zimbabwe

What do you get when you combine the talents of two of Africa’s leading interior design companies? A luxurious eco-friendly getaway inspired by the natural landscape and vibrant culture of local communities that is a sight for sore eyes.

Opened just this month, and complete with 10 tented suites that offer all the luxuries while retaining the simplicity of a safari camp under the stars, Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge, nestled on the banks of the majestic Zambezi River, is the brainchild of The Private House Company and Creative Space Studio, who set about infusing the lodge with organic touches that bring authenticity to the suites and amenities.

Keen to ensure the décor matched the landscape, traditional design schemes were communicated through organic textures, an earthy colour palette and the use of natural materials including wood, leather and stone. Suites also boast Zimbabwean granite countertops and stone walls – all created from authentic Zimbabwean stone – as well as locally handwoven matepe canapes and tables carved from African tree trunks.

Verandah at the eco-friendly Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge (Effect Magazine)
The deck of Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge on the Zambezi River

“We were urged to incorporate and uplift the local communities in the design process,” explains The Private House Company’s Yvonne O’Brien, who has designed and furnished luxury lodges at Londolozi, Lapalala and Simbithi, as well as high-end homes and residences in Steyn City, Hyde Park, Dainfern and Clifton in her home country of South Africa. “We worked closely with a Zimbabwean-based company, Collaborative Crafts, which aims to uplift artisans, craftsmen and talented people from surrounding villages. These communities supplied the lodge with beautiful handmade homeware, including grass mats, beaded cushions, and woven wall baskets.” Each standard room also boasts a plunge pool and spectacular views of the river, while upgrade to the two-bedroom suite and you’ll be treated to a lounge, dining room and deck, too.

Treehouse London, UK

Founded on the idea that a hotel escape should be filled with as much adventure, excitement and imagination as a child’s treehouse, Treehouse London was created with nostalgia in mind. Designed by SH Hotels and Resorts alongside Audrey Sterk, this Marylebone-based bolt-hole is as eco-friendly as London hotels go – retreat into its reclaimed wood walls and you’ll encounter a green paradise.

Reclaimed wood and biophilic design paired with great views and vintage furniture: Treehouse London, an eco-friendly design hotel in Marylebone

Pared-back guestrooms feature exposed-concrete walls and ceilings, while silver birch tree trunks piece through bathroom tiling and cushioned window nooks are perfect for sipping coffee and taking in the cinematic city landmarks. An ode to childhood, the design team were sure to include charming touches such as soft toys perched on organic bedding, vintage rocking chairs, cuckoo clocks and curated postcards which detail the room, while locally-sourced products are also dotted around the rooms.

This sustainable ethos continues throughout the rest of the hotel, beginning with street-level cafe The Backyard – a brief space with wood panelling and climbing branches as early thematic signifiers. Similarly, signature restaurant Madera is defined by forest-esque interiors – think plant life hanging from rafters and climbing panelled columns, wooden basket lanterns and wicker chairs cushioned with vibrantly-patterned fabrics – while at rooftop bar The Nest, a stone bar sits atop stacked wooden blocks, and an outdoor terrace is clad in another living wall.

Deplar Farm, Iceland

The ultimate off-grid experience fully immersed in the Scandinavian elements, Iceland’s Deplar Farm, which is managed by adventure specialists Eleven and sits on the breathtaking Troll Peninsula, is as remote as they come. With its traditional turf room, this former farmhouse blends seamlessly into the landscape thanks to the green grass which covers the top of each building plus black timber cladding, and the elegant guestrooms which come crowned by magnificent views of the ice-sloped mountains and sprawling valleys.

Eco-friendly hotel Deplar Farm in Iceland
Iceland eco-friendly hotel Deplar Farm merges with the setting like an optical illusion

“In researching Iceland’s design and architectural history, we became acquainted with the country’s well-established Nordic trade routes, thus inspiring our introduction of mid-century Scandinavian design to Deplar Farm,” Blake Pike, Principal of No. 12 Interiors, who spearheaded the interior design, tells Effect. “The minimalist and functional pieces from iconic designers such as Hans Wegner and Borge Mogensen compliment rather than upstage the property’s expansive views. Incorporating these vintage elements added a sense of character and history to the newly-built lodge, creating a serene yet cosy refuge for guests to relax.” Add to that the dark woods that flow throughout its 13 rooms and stylish hygge interiors, the property pervades a warmth that’s in stark contrast to the barren peaks, glacial rivers and snow-dusted peaks outside. Elsewhere, there’s a world-class spa comprising indoor-outdoor pool with a swim-up bar heated by thermal springs, a Viking sauna and cold plunge, while Deplar Farm’s sustainable approach is reflected in the farm-to-fork menus. Wild ingredients are foraged for enticing traditional dishes, with vegetables grown in a greenhouse powered by geothermal heat.

 The bar at Deplar Farm, Iceland (Effect Magazine)
Stylish hygge interiors: the bar at Deplar Farm, Iceland

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto