Skip the airmiles and instead take to the trains, buses and ferries to discover what the UK’s best cities have to offer in terms of eco-friendly eats, low-carbon stays and zero-waste sips. Whether you’re keen for a beach staycation in the bright lights of Brighton, are looking for a cultural hit in the buzzing city of Dublin or are keen to seek a slower pace in Bath - our guide is filling you in on all you need to know when it comes to sustainable minibreaks in the UK. Metal straws at the ready...
Stay at: Good Hotel - Climb aboard Good Hotel for a London staycation quite like no other. Located in Royal Victoria Dock, this once derelict floating platform has been repurposed to become an eco-friendly sleep. Partnering with The Good Global Foundation, all profits from the hotel go toward supporting social causes around the world - with local initiatives also raising up those back home too.
Eat at: LINO - Championing low-waste plates and an eco-friendly ethos, LINO is one of the most sustainable restaurants in London. House in a former carpet warehouse, the eatery prides itself on using recycled and salvaged materials throughout the venue, while food and drink is made using hyper-seasonal ingredients across fruit, veg, herbs and shrubs.
Drink at: Nine Lives - Another London Bridge haunt (and the perfect post-Native watering hole), Nine Lives is a stunning basement bar. With a zero-waste focus, everything here has had a previous life - from the staff's vintage uniforms to the mouthwatering menu of 'loops' (drinks that are made from surplus ingredients).
Brighton (Coach 2.5 hrs from London)
Stay at: Brighton House - Keen for a taste of luxury but want to do good for the planet at the same time? Cue Brighton House - the picture-perfect hotel that comes complete with four-poster beds and an environmental policy to rival any. From using renewable energy to disposing of waste via their very own wormery, these guys are going green every step of the way.
Eat at: The Coal Shed - With venues both in London and Brighton, The Coal Shed is blazing the trail for sustainably sourced carnivorous feasts. Provided by local suppliers, the beef on offer here is just about as fresh as it comes. And for all the bones and fat that can’t be eaten? They’ve teamed up with Paper Round, an organisation that believes in complete waste turnaround - meaning your meaty offcuts could be turned into bio fertiliser or renewable energy.
Drink at: GungHo - Follow the neon green lights and you should eventually end up at GungHo - one of Brighton’s most vibrant bars. This award-winning spot is serving up libations jam-packed with seasonal produce, freshly squeezed juices, and homegrown shrubs. Split into three concepts, the menu is made up of ‘disco drinks’, ‘seasonal cocktails’ and ‘the apothecary’ - with special themed events popping up every six weeks.
Edinburgh (Train 4.5 hrs from London)
Stay at: Straven Guesthouse - Located just a short walk from Portobello beach (and a 20-minute bus journey from Waverly Station), Straven Guesthouse hits the gold-standard when it comes to sustainable holidays in the UK. A member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme, this family-run bed and breakfast engages in ethical banking, recycling, water-efficient strategies and local charity work. And the rooms aren't too shabby either, packed with original features and boasting stunning views.
Eat at: The Lookout by Gardener's Cottage - One of the most sustainable restaurants in Edinburgh, The Lookout is a must-visit spot. Specialising in carefully-sourced and entirely seasonal menus, the Calton Hill eatery maintains close ties with community producers and local farmers to ensure nothing but Scottish ingredients goes into its food.
Drink at: Spry - Lovers of natural wines and delicious snacks need to be heading down to Spry ASAP. The Haddington Place bar is providing eco-friendly punters with a carefully-curated menu of biodynamic bottles, which change regularly, and seasonal plates made to pair with their drinks list.
Newcastle (Train 3 hrs from London)
Stay at: Jesmond Dene House - A gorgeous, eco-friendly hotel in the UK, Newcastle's Jesmond Dean House offers an impressive environmental policy. From motion sensor extractor fans and rain butts for watering their stunning gardens to carefully chosen suppliers for their bars and restaurant and donating unwanted furniture to charity shops, this charming spot is really doing its bit.
Eat at: Trakol - With a Michelin nod and a shipping container setting, Trakol is a fantastic sustainable restaurant on Newcastle's Quayside. A focus on seasonal and ethical cooking sees this award-winning venue serving up Lindisfarne oysters, hispi cabbage sauerkraut and crispy pigs tails, alongside their signature feasting spreads.
Drink at: Horticulture - A chilled spot for brunches and cocktails in Newcastle city centre, Horticulture is dedicated to providing a fully sustainable service. Their signature drinks are designed to be as low-waste as possible, utilising everything from fruit skins to chickpea water to create some sensational sips that you can enjoy with a clear conscience.
Dublin (Train to Holyhead 3.5 hrs, ferry to Dublin 3 hrs)
Stay at: The Morgan Hotel - After a hefty 7-hour journey from London, you’ll be more than ready to sink into one of The Morgan Hotel’s luxurious king-sized beds. Dripping with luxury, this four-star hotel is also taking steps to limit its environmental impact. From subtle touches like daylight dimming controls and LED lighting, to bigger practices such as mass recycling and only using chemical-free cleaning products, these guys are proving that sustainability can go hand in hand with opulence.
Eat at: Sova Vegan Butcher - Located in the trendy Portobello area of Dublin, Sova Vegan Butcher may sound a bit like an oxymoron, but trust us when we say the dishes here are unmissable. From pulled 'pork' baps to black bean burgers, what this place lacks in meat, it more than makes up for with flavour. Not keen on wastage, even the plates here are edible.
Drink at: L Mulligan Grocer - Despite what the name might suggest, you’re more likely to find mouthwatering libations at L Mulligan Grocer than fruit and veg. Trying to limit their carbon footprint wherever possible, this bar only sources its fare locally, subbing traditional ingredients such as Angostura Bitters and citrus fruits, for alternatives grown from their very own allotment.
Looking for more eco-friendly content? Check out our guide to all things sustainable in London here.