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: Native - Championing all things foraged, Native is our go-to London Bridge spot for all things sustainably sourced. Combining innovative cooking and country thrift, the menu here is entirely made up of wild food native to the UK. Dishes include wood pigeon kebab and squirrel ragu - which tastes far better than it sounds.
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 hop and skip away from the stunning Portobello beach (and a 20-minute bus journey from Waverly Station), Straven Guesthouse is a gold-standard sleeping spot. 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 - jam-packed with original features and boasting stunning views.
Eat at: Hendersons - One of Edinburgh's oldest and best-loved vegetarian restaurants, Hendersons is a must-visit spot. Opening in 1962, this cosy Hanover Street eatery is part of Edinburgh's cultural fabric. Working closely with local suppliers, the team here are renowned for producing vibrant dishes that are fresh, organic and damn tasty.
Drink at: Pilgrim - Lover of all things up-cycled? You’ll want to head to Pilgrim in the heart of Old Town. Touting some of the city’s most innovative interiors, 90% of the furniture here has already lived another life. From 1930s cinema seats to denim jean sofas and a bar built entirely from suitcases, a few drinks here will leave you bursting with home decor inspo.
Bath (Coach 2.5 hrs from London)
Stay at: Bloomfield House - Describing its aesthetic as ‘classical eco-elegance’, Bloomfield House in Bath is ahead of its time when it comes to sustainable staycations. The perfect spot for a romantic mini-break, the rooms here are decked out in deep colours, antique furniture and giant beds. Choosing their suppliers with the utmost care and attention, the food on offer is locally sourced and organic, with free electric charging points for cars too.
Eat at: Acorn - With a mission to ‘make great food and do no harm’, Acorn is one of the UK’s best-known sustainable restaurants. Serving up an exclusively plant-based menu, the chefs only work with suppliers that engage in positive working practices. They also minimise their carbon footprint by buying locally and composting as much of their waste as possible. Oh, and did we mention? The dishes are delicious.
Drink at: All Bar One - While All Bar One might not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to eco-friendly boozing, they've just launched a new menu dedicated entirely to sustainable wine. Choose from 7 hand-picked bottles, from an organic Italian merlot to a French rosé created in a vineyard that focusses on energy and water conservation.
Dublin (Train to Holyhead 3.5 hrs, ferry to Dublin 3hrs)
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 porc 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.