Hostels are magical places where you can surround yourself with free spirits while exploring the wonders of our beautiful planet. These hostels are leading the charge to protect the environment and promote sustainability, doing their bit to ensure that generations of backpackers can continue exploring for many years to come. The HOSCARs judges selected these hostels as the five Eco Warrior Hostel finalists and now it’s your turn to vote for the one most deserving of this award.
Madama Hostel & Bistrot – Milan, Italy
Fly to the fashion capital of the world to experience food, elegance and sustainability at its very best. Madama Hostel (& Bistro, of course) is ecologically minded without skimping on style. Their Art Nouveau furnishings are made by local craftsmen famous throughout Italy for their contemporary flair and use of recycled materials. Failing that, alternative décor is made from traceable raw materials from sustainably managed forests.
Single-use plastics are banished here, as are plastic water bottles. Instead, they turn to an innovative and environmentally friendly bioplastic derived from the transformation of sugars found in corn, beets and other natural renewable materials. Oh, and water is served and refilled for free. Every scrap of paper is recycled here, think placemats, napkins, print paper and yes, toilet paper. Committed to serving only eco-friendly products, they only use soap dispensers and detergents certified by EcoLabel. All this flourishes within the ‘Madama Goes Green’ project; the hostels promise to uphold the highest standard of environmental sustainability and ecological presence.
Sleep Well Hostel – Belgium
Sleep Well Hostel is an NPO that arose from a social project and works to put into practice the principles of a sustainable development policy. As the first eco-labelled hostel in Brussels, Sleep Well minimizes its impact on the environment in countless ways.
A master in waste management, the hostel actively sorts waste, saves paper and participates in the European Week for Waste Reduction. Their energy record is also impressive, using LED and energy-saving bulbs, energy class A+ appliances, a green energy supplier and compensation for CO2 emissions. Renovation of the hostel following a fire made it possible to invest in more efficient installations such as thermal solar panels. The insulation has also been optimised: including placement of triple glazing and an airlock equipped with automatic sliding doors. This project is a BATEX 2013 winner. By installing double push flushes and economical showers, they minimize water use to an impressive level. As for the food? Expect only the organic and fairtrade. Their Oxfam coffee served for breakfast is a big hit with the guests.
RisingSoul Retreat – Bulgaria
RisingSoul Retreat is a Bulgarian community & guest lodge with a strong eco-conscious & sustainable ethos at its very heart. They grow all their own food (plant-based of course), shop locally and partner with local producers to deliver gastronomic delight to all their guests. Any food waste is fed to the animals or composted. Masters of recycling, they’ve recently started an online eco-shop to sell upcycled waste products such as plant tins. They use log burners for heating and cooking, while sourcing firewood from local forests’ deadwood. All products used are as sustainable as possible, including garden fertilizer from ash waste, and cleaning products made with homemade cider vinegar.
As active campaigners for local sustainability initiatives, they have met with the local Mayor to discuss replacing plastic bags with reusable ones. RisingSoul is passionate about educating travellers. It communicates its ethos through conversations & fun community upcycled boards. By sharing their methods with guests through workshops, they’re doing their bit to pass on responsibility to the next generation of travellers.
Palmar Beach Lodge – Panama
An Eco-Lodge perched on the edge of Isla Bastimentos rainforest, Palmar Beach Lodge is a hostel with sustainability at its Caribbean core. Metres away from the famous Red Frog Beach, they keep their backyard clean with a biweekly beach clean-up. They even encourage guests to help in exchange for a free beer. Who could resist? Don’t worry though, the empty glass bottles are used to line the paths for some extra ecological ambience.
The hostel runs entirely on solar-powered electricity and 100% filtered rainwater. They use only biodegradable and zero waste toiletries and cleaning products throughout the hostel, made locally in Panama. Food and ingredients are sourced locally, including fresh fruit juices and coconut oil from the local indigenous community. They avoid packaged items, and any boxes received from the supermarket are returned to be reused. Their diligent work for mother nature ensures that generations to come can enjoy the wonders of the natural world.
Distant Relatives – Kilifi, Kenya
Distant Relatives was designed as “an experimental model of sustainable living”, each day learning how to minimize their footprint and better live in harmony with the natural environment. Since its humble beginnings in 2012, a green community has developed around Distant Relatives, many of whom now call Kilifi home. Kilifi is now known as the Green Heart of Kenya; an ever-growing community of passionate eco-warriors.
The hostel offers permaculture design courses and regularly sponsors members of the local community. Distant Relatives is also the parent of Beneath the Baobabs festival (aka Kilifi New Year), Africa’s first carbon-neutral festival! Watch out, interior designers! They upcycle wine and spirit bottles into lampshades and incorporate glass bottles into walls to reduce cement usage and increase light
The accommodation is built using a local mud-based technique combined with coconut leaf panels for the roofing. They have custom-made composting toilets and natural greywater filtration systems. Additional features include a salt-water swimming pool, many native fruit and medicinal trees growing around the hostel and even a tree coming through the middle of one of their dorms: the Dorm-A-Tree! They are always in the process of protecting the surrounding ecosystem for years to come.
Have you cast your vote? Once you’re done, head back to explore more EXTRAORDINARY HOSCARs finalists, or have a read through their entries in these posts: