Eco tourism usually brings up images of walking, camping and spending time in the great outdoors. Can a trip to London, sometimes known as “The Big Smoke” really be made eco friendly? Sometimes, all it takes is a few smart choices and even a trip to the busiest city can have a minimal environmental impact! Here are a few tips on where to visit on an eco city break in London.
Where to stay
Choosing the right hotel is important when planning your eco city break in London. Fortunately, the city is home to plenty of hotels and hostels who work hard to keep their emissions down.
The Apex City of London Hotel is one of the greenest options available whilst remaining budget-friendly. Each room’s lighting and heating are controlled by key card when not in use, and energy efficient light bulbs and windows contributing to lower carbon emissions.
Other eco friendly hotels in London include:
The Cavendish in Piccadilly
Crown Plaza in St James
The Lancaster next to Hyde Park
All of which boast fantastic green credentials and are guaranteed to give you a great night’s sleep!
London is home to one of the world’s most famous transport networks- the London Underground. This underground network of trains is able to keep London’s emissions lower by reducing the numbers of cars on the road, and with its iconic map design, is easy to navigate, even for newcomers. Most London attractions will provide directions to their location in terms of the local underground station, making navigation by tube one of the easiest in the city.
Buying individual tickets can build up and become expensive, so invest in an Oyster card in order to travel for the best value for money.
Driving to or around London isn’t recommended for a green city break. Not only does London have a superb public transport system, trains and coaches to and from the city are also good value and far more environmentally friendly. London has long had problems with congestion on its roads, making driving not only a bigger contributor to carbon emissions but also likely to be frustrating and inconvenient.
Aside from the traditional sights of London, there are plenty of attractions for the eco-minded traveller!
The Portobello Green market is an Aladdin’s cave for fans of vintage fashion. Every Friday to Sunday, Portobello Green becomes a hive of activity with vintage clothing and accessories, bric-a-brac and artwork at every turn. The popularity of Portobello market helps to breathe new life into old items, preventing wastage and proving that reusing and recycling is definitely in fashion.
Swap the open topped bus for your own feet and take a walking tour around the city. Try Insider London who show you the lesser known and quirkier side to the city, giving an insight into the city’s pop culture, architecture and even the best sustainable sights! Specialized tours also exist, showing you the best of the city’s street art or bizarre stories.
For those with an interest in unique art, try the Tate Modern, found inside the city’s old turbine hall. Since 2000, the Tate Modern has been home to a range of exciting art projects which make the most of the building’s vast area, including a giant sun made from lightbulbs to a cardboard arctic landscape to a tangle of slides! Each installation lasts for a year, so it’s always worth a visit to see what’s there.
Where to eat
The city of London is home to plenty of restaurants specializing in local, seasonal and organic food, meaning that you don’t have to sacrifice your eco friendly diet whilst away from home.
The Duke of Cambridge, Islington- an all organic gastropub, specializing in local, seasonal produce. Come here for hearty, traditional and filling food in what happens to be the only Soil Association-certified gastropub in the UK!
Acorn House, King’s Cross- a green restaurant which uses organic, seasonal produce to create delicious dishes. Even the smallest details have a green element, with vegetable-based ink used on the menus, and herbs grown in the garden’s rooftop terrace garden.
The Clerkenwell Kitchen, Islington- This restaurant works to build good relationships with local suppliers and produce high quality, organic and seasonal dishes. The Clerkenwell gains serious green points for its efficient recycling scheme, ensuring minimal waste of food or packaging takes place. A great place for quality sea food, the Clerkenwell also ensures only plentiful fish are used in its dishes.
Saf, Kensington- Saf is an entirely vegan restaurant sellng a range of plant-based, nutritious dishes, as well as a range of wholefoods which you can purchase to bring home with you. The restaurant also specializes in foods cooked below 48 degrees celsius, retaining all of the goodness of the ingredients which is often destroyed by cooking at high temperatures.