Travellers know that hostels are life-changing places, where you can surround yourself with free spirits while exploring our beautiful planet. These hostels are leading the charge in protecting the environment, doing their bit to ensure that backpackers can continue exploring for many years to come. The HOSCARs judges selected these hostels as the five Extraordinary Sustainable Hostels finalists and now it’s your turn to vote for the one most deserving of this award.
1. Cohort Hostel (England)
You’ll find Cohort Hostel in St. Ives Cornwall, with the Atlantic Ocean lapping at the town’s shores. Its proximity to the ocean, not only means it’s a great surf spot, but also provides a solid reminder of the impact we all have on our fragile ecosystem. Built in 1854, this Grade II listed building is historically significant but challenged the team who were determined to make their hostel as sustainable as can be. Nevertheless, they adapted absolutely everything and impressively this hostel runs entirely on renewable electricity. Pioneering in so many ways this hostel is plastic-free and is working towards the whole of St. Ives becoming ‘Plastic Free Accredited’. Working with carbon-offsetting organisations, they encourage travellers to offset their journey to the hostel with a ‘Plant-A-Tree’ programme, with the aim to plant 2,500 trees by 2025. They’re also proudly part of the ‘Toilet Twinning’ initiative, which basically means all 3 hostel shower blocks and toilets are twinned with and funded similar facilities in developing countries.
2. Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers (Kenya)
Immersed in nature, Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers is a travelling lover of the natural world’s paradise. The hostel overlooks the emerald waters of Kilifi Lagoon and has the clear waters on Bofa beach nearby. The team’s passion for preserving the planet is visible, perhaps boasting the world’s only ‘Dorm-A-Tree’, a dorm with a tree at its centre, piercing through the roof. Certified by Ecotourism Kenya, they stand by the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ philosophy. Their rooftop water tank collects rain, which is filtered and fills their swimming pool, powers showers, and is channelled into banana circles, where the banana trees soak up the water and retain it in their roots. Glass bottles are used both decoratively and functionally, and locally collected tyres were used to build their Bandas and Beach Volleyball Court. Their organic gardens are filled with fruit trees and their toilets are fully compostable supporting the plants’ growth and minimising water usage in this drought-affected region. There’s so much more this hostel does to protect the planet, and they’d be happy to teach you their ways as they’re global educators on the environment.
3. WELCOMMON HOSTEL (Greece)
Backpackers stay at Welcommon Hostel for that real money-can’t-buy experience. Moments from the jaw-dropping Acropolis, in the Exarcheia neighbourhood known as Athens’ historical centre for political and intellectual activism, this hostel is true to its roots. So much more than a place to sleep, the team here welcome everyone and that’s how it’s become a social hub for travellers, refugees, migrants, remote workers, locals and students. They live their sustainable values, but also educate and create change in the world, and have an impressive awards collection to prove it. They created a laboratory for eco-friendly projects, supporting people in reducing energy and poverty. This hostel has become a driving force in changing the way so many think about the environment and teaching them to act upon it, hosting seminars and training around 300 teachers, and thousands of young people too. It goes without saying that you’ll find this hostel’s own environmental practices outstanding, but it’s their mission to teach the world that wowed the judges.
4. Salty Jackal Backpackers & Surf Camp (Namibia)
Sustainable living and surfing are at the heart of the Salty Jackal lifestyle. Born way back in the 1960s this hostel’s origin story features the bartering of an upcycled surfboard, and true to their heritage they turn old things into new useful things or works of art. Based in the Namibian coastal town of Swakopmund, the vibe is laid back, but they’re well-versed in water conservation with The Namib Desert on it its doorstep. Their organic garden is filled with olives, vegetables and herbs, where nothing is wasted as everything not served up to hungry guests, gets sold in local markets. Salty Jackal is plastic-free, uses energy-efficient lighting, and all waste is composted. Plus, when you visit, you’ll be encouraged to explore on one of the hostel’s bikes or take a board to the ocean. Everything they do tries to lessen the impact they have on the environment.
5. The Black Sheep Hostel (Ireland)
Moments from Killarney National Park, this pink 19th-century townhouse, is home to a hostel with environmental goals (and chickens!). Ireland’s temperamental weather hasn’t stopped the green-fingered team from producing fresh fruit and vegetables all year round in their polytunnel, home to a few hammocks too. Absolutely everything is carefully recycled and the communal kitchen’s food scrap bin fuels the ducks and chickens, and the composting bin feeds the garden. You’ll find energy-efficient lighting throughout and they offset their carbon by planting trees on a local farm, supporting the rewilding of their island too. Thanks to the regular flow of travellers, with similar sustainable ethos’, Black Sheep are always adapting their methods with wisdom from their global community.
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: