How to find sustainable accommodation when you travel

Choosing the right accommodation is so much more than finding a place to sleep, especially when it comes to sustainable stays. Making the right choice means looking at the bigger picture, wider than you and your travels. Accommodation can positively or negatively impact communities – from bringing income to local businesses, to harming housing markets. And not to mention the effect on the climate. The trick is to find the right hostel; a place that suits your needs mixed with positive impact on the planet. But how do you find these gems? And how do you know they’re really sustainable? Here we break it down for travellers and explain how Hostelworld can help!


First off, what do we mean by sustainable stays?  

When we say sustainable stays or accommodation, we’re talking about accommodation providers, like hostels, that are working to reduce or have low climate impact – think switching to LED lights, using solar panels and reducing water use. But this also encompasses the accommodation’s impact on their local area; is it run by local people? Do they give back to their community? Do they respect and protect cultural heritage?  

For example, some hostels might focus on community giveback schemes like Rio Hostel Buritaca, while others provide a safe space for marginalised groups like Modal Hostel, or prioritise recycling like St Christopher’s Inn

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How to find sustainable stays 

1. Stay in a hostel 

In a recent Hostelworld survey, 52% of hostel travellers said they consider how eco-friendly a stay is before they book, and 88% believe hostels are more sustainable than hotels or home rentals. And they’re right! A report from leading sustainability and compliance specialist, Bureau Veritas, in partnership with Hostelworld, found that hostels produce 82% less carbon emissions than hotels! So, even by staying in a hostel in the first place, you’re a sustainable and savvy traveller. Give yourself a pat on the back. 

Hostels…helping you make lifelong friends, check. Helping you support the planet, check. What more could you want?! 


2. Search and filter for sustainable hostels on Hostelworld!  

Introducing Hostelworld’s new sustainability framework, Staircase to Sustainability. Finding environmentally friendly hostels just got easier!  

Now, when you search for hostels, you can filter, and book based on their sustainability rating. Hostels must reach our sustainability criteria, and based on the information they provide, will be placed into four levels; level 1, 2, 3 and 3+. After the launch on 29th January 2024, hostels will begin onboarding, and work their way through the levels, soon showcasing just how sustainable they are. Long story short, we’re working with our hostel partners do the leg work for you, so you can snooze in your dorm bed at night knowing you’re supporting the greater good!  

This framework helps you find climate conscious accommodation wherever you roam and gives hostels a place to explain what planet friendly practices they’ve put in place. Look out for the leaf symbol when you’re booking your next trip to try it out yourself.  


3. Peruse the reviews  

After you’ve searched using our sustainable badges, hear from the people who’ve already been. Do travellers rave about the local food and free water refills, or does sustainability seem to fall by the wayside? Take a look at the reviews to help you choose. 


4. Have a nosey at their events  

A quick glance at a hostel’s Linkups and social media pages could tell you all you need to know. Are they running hiking Linkups and encouraging cycling, or are guests zooming around on jet skis all day? For hostels that are active on social, if their eco-efforts are top of mind, they’ll be top of the grid.  


5.  Want to do more for the environment when you travel? Offset your stay 

You’ve found your perfect sustainable hostel, but you want to do more. Offset the impact of your Hostelworld stay after you book it. By contributing to environmental projects that positively impact the planet, you can counterbalance the emissions you can’t control from your accommodation.  

Sustainability is important to us at Hostelworld as we aim to build a better world, and we’re always working on ways to help travellers do their bit too. To find out more about climate commitment, visit our sustainability page.   


Download the Hostelworld app to start meeting people from the moment you book


You might also like… 🤩

💚 A traveller’s guide to carbon offsetting

💚 Eco-friendly hostels perfect for the sustainable traveller

💚 Best sustainable activities to spice up your next trip


About The Author

Michaella Fenton

Michaella is a freelance Content and Social Media Consultant specialising in helping travel, lifestyle and sustainability brands build communities through quality content. When she's not backpacking to new places, she's living the beach life Cornwall, hiking around the UK and skiing in the alps.

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