The sun is shining and we’re daydreaming about holidays, but we’re still thinking about sustainable architecture. Not in the office or the home this time, but on holiday and, more specifically, in hotels. Many of the luxuries that are enjoyable part of a hotel stay are, by their nature, wasteful, so hotels have to address the sustainability question in alternative ways. Just look at these five very different ‘green’ London hotels, and see how they compare.

green london hotel sustainable architecture

Double-Tree by Hilton Tower of London

7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF

This 583-bedroom hotel opened in 2010, as the Mint Hotel, on a site formerly occupied by a 1960s building. Sustainability was an important part of the building’s design brief and the combination of energy-efficient design and use of renewable energy within the building meant it was awarded a BREEAM rating (an environmental assessment for buildings, standing for ‘Building Research Environmental Assessment Methodology) rating of ‘very good’, while the architects, Bennetts Associates, won the Future Design Award for Sustainability. But it’s almost impossible to overlook the most obvious green feature of the hotel – the living wall, one of the largest in Europe. It offers 1025 square metres of greenery and, as well as attracting birds and bees and increasing plant diversity in this very built-up area of the city, the living wall also helps to insulate the building and reduce the urban heat island effect. One very important bonus for the Hilton is that it also looks spectacular.


hotel london architecture tour

Starwood Aloft Hotel

1 Eastern Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1FR

The Aloft Hotel trumps the Hilton, well, on BREEAM rating at least: it was awarded an ‘excellent’. Among the measures that helped it achieve this rating are its deep bore holes, allowing the natural heat generated within the ground to be used as a source of power for the hotel. Situated within the Docklands – where space is less tightly packed than in Central London – the building’s wave-life shape helps increase the amount of natural light within the hotel, hopefully cutting down on the need for artificial lighting. The curved glazed walls also help control solar gain, cutting down on the need for heating during the winter, and cooling in the warmer months. But, interestingly, the Starwood brand obviously has further designs on London’s green hotel market. In 2017, they are due to open one of their eco-orientated ‘Element’ branded hotels in Tobacco dock, a brand that emphasises a commitment to sustainability as much as style.

 sustainable London hotels

The Draycott

22–26 Cadogan Gardens, SW3 2RP

The Draycott was adapted from three Edwardian houses, so faces a different set of challenges to a new build in its attempt to become London’s most sustainable boutique hotel. Many of its credentials come from the way the hotel is operated, from installing energy saving lighting to upping levels of recycling and reuse. However, it was its ‘Keen to be Green’ initiative that won it the ‘Considerate Marketing Initiative’ gong at the Considerate Hotel of the Year awards which took place earlier this week, an event intended to celebrate the ‘best in environmental, sustainable and socially responsible performances within the UK’. ‘Keen to be Green’ encourages their guests to reduce their carbon footprint by sharing walking, biking and public transport routes around the city. These initiatives are particularly welcome given that that the borough of Kensington and Chelsea – where The Draycott is located – was, earlier this year, reported to be over 100% the European legal limit for nitrogen dioxide levels.

 sustainable architecture London walking tour

One Aldwych

1 Aldwych, WC2B 4BZ

One Aldwych was another winner at the Considerate Hotel of the Year awards, for its ‘green champion of the year’, employee Gary Lohan, who has helped drive social and environmental projects within the hotel. Situated within an historic area of London, the hotel is subject to tight planning laws but has worked within these restrictions to introduce a number of green initiatives. Particularly notable is their use of the Evac water system – which is normally more associated with cruise ships than hotels – and has led to an estimated 80% reduction in the amount of water used by the hotel. They also collect rainwater to irrigate the plants on its rooftop garden. To inspire further action, each guest is supplied with a copy of ‘Change the World for a Fiver’. Alas for us, a fiver won’t get us a room there, but it’s a good way to start.

 the savoy green london architecture tour

The Savoy

Strand, WC2R 0EU

The Savoy is one of the most famous historic hotels in London. It’s also managed to become one of the greenest. As part of the ambitious refit prior to the hotel’s reopening in 2010, over £2.4 million was spent on introducing high efficiency sustainable technologies. For example, in the hotel’s combined heat and power plant, rejected heat from the engine is used as the hotel’s primary heat source, while heat from kitchen appliances is used to pre-heat hot water and used cooking oil is turned into biodiesel. For guests, the ‘Green Butler’ advises on ways to have a greener stay, from walking and cycling routes around the city, to recommending eco-friendly restaurants. Oh, and you can go on a walking tour of sustainable London with Insider London too…

But you don’t have to be a guest at the Savoy to enjoy one of those: check out our sustainable London walking tour to find out more.