In an era where ethical tourism is shaping the future of travel, we invite you to discover a world where luxury meets sustainability, where every step you take contributes to a better tomorrow. Here’s a list of 11 sustainable hotels in India that will empower you to travel responsibly and make a positive impact on the planet.
TL Conscious List (Part 1)
11 Sustainable Hotels in India
Atmantan Wellness Centre, Maharashtra
Synonymous with wellness, Atmantan Wellness Centre near Pune offers a transformative and educational experience. The wellness programmes here are thus custom made with prescribed nutrition, healing therapies, and functional fitness programmes. Their commitment to sustainability includes green buildings and nature preservation through the use of passive architectural techniques, renewable energy, and solar insulation. The property has also earned the recognition of a Gold LEED Certified Project (LEED is a green building certification programme that recognises bestin-class building strategies and practices). Atmantan also follows the practice of vermiculture, where all the wet kitchen garbage is being used to create vermicompost; plants soil and climate-appropriate flora; and has one of the largest solar hot water installations for a resort in the country; as well as a Solid Immobilized Bio-Filter (SIBF) system that uses treated chemical free water for all landscaping requirements.
Lchang Nang Retreat, Ladakh
Lchang Nang Retreat translates to ‘the house of trees’. Located in Ladakh’s beautiful Nubra Valley, this eco-conscious luxury hotel offers 17 individual cottages built in the local architectural style using mud, stone, and poplar wood. Being the first traditionally built hotel in the region, it revived old techniques of housing, and gave immense confidence and pride to the locals in that a luxury project can be undertaken using completely local techniques and skills. Villagers are routinely given a tour of the property to showcase the environment-friendly initiatives undertaken, and even encouraged to adopt sustainable practices. The resort channelises melting glacier water to irrigate their lands, supports local artisans by promoting their paintings and organising exhibitions, and provides local culinary experiences through their menu. Since Lchang Nang Retreat is operational for only six months in a year—this means that all the staff also had only seasonal employment—the management of this sustainable space has tied up with hotels in other parts of India to share resources.
Raffles Udaipur, Rajasthan
Raffles Udaipur is a serene sanctuary on the banks of Udai Sagar Lake, whose sustainable practices are a part of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For starters, the boats that ferry guests to and from Raffles Lakeshore use zero carbon emission batteries. The hotel’s food and beverage programme also incorporates responsible and sustainable practices, like having a closed loop that generates as little waste as possible, using a large quantity of local and seasonal produce, and abstaining from offering buffets to avoid food wastage. Additionally, the hotel’s organic waste converter supports responsible consumption and production by converting recyclable waste to manure that is then used in the hotel’s lawns. The in-house water bottling plant further reduces use of plastic bottles and produces sustainable, high-quality bottled water on-site.
The Malabar House, Kerala
The Malabar House, a Relais & Chateaux property in Kerala’s Fort Kochi, offers a luxurious stay, a holistic Ayurvedic centre for mind-body wellness, and an opportunity to explore Kerala’s backwaters on the hotel’s own eco-friendly house boat. Following their ethos to incorporate local architectural and design elements, the 16 rooms are done in a traditional style with stone floors and no rugs, and some of the rooms have double-poster beds made from reclaimed pillars. It also boasts a carefully curated collection of art. Art and heritage preservation is the main focus here as well as the effort to preserve and promote regional culinary culture. To this effect, The Malabar House supports farms to grow pokkali, a hyperlocal variety of rice.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Rajasthan
Designed as a traditional Indian palace by the banks of Lake Pichola, The Oberoi Udaivilas recreates the romance of the past with its reflecting pools, verdant gardens, and sprawling courtyards. And at the heart of all this lies a genuine commitment to sustainability. All the boats that are used to ferry guests across Lake Pichola are solar operated, the one megawatt solar plant covers 60 per cent load of the property on an average, motion sensors are installed in areas to save energy, waste water is treated by STP and further used for irrigation of landscaped area, and an OWC machine is used for recycling wet waste. Additionally, incandescent and CFL lighting has been converted to LED, flow restrictor has been fixed in guest rooms for water saving, and there is a bottling plant on site as well, making this hotel a perfect choice for exploring the city while ensuring sustainability.
The Leela Palace Bengaluru, Karnataka
While the Leela Hotels have always laid great emphasis on being sustainable, their efforts towards the same have accelerated post the pandemic. The Leela Palace Bengaluru, drawing inspiration from the Vijayanagara Empire, is a new age palace that operates on 86 per cent of renewable energy. The brand also offers assurance of safety with ‘Suraksha by The Leela’ and has launched a signature fragrance, Tishya by The Leela. Inspired by the national flower of India, kumud or lotus, and the wonder flower, neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years, the fragrance can be found in the complete range of bath amenities exclusively crafted for the brand. These amenities are 100 per cent vegan, paraben, and SLS-free, developed with natural formulations using pure essential oils and natural, floral fragrances. To top it all, there is also planet conscious and completely recyclable packaging. Since the launch of Aujasya, the in-house water bottling plant, the property has also done away with plastic water bottles.
Alila Diwa Goa takes great pride in minimising its environmental impact and supporting the local community. Notable efforts have been made to preserve indigenous ecosystems—the team has tried to maintain the natural landscape and spaces have been created to highlight centuries-old trees within the property. High-pitched roofs, wide verandahs, and tranquil courtyards are inspired by the local architecture of the region and created with local materials including red laterite stone and teak. Alila Diwa Goa was the first hotel in Goa that installed a water bottling plant, thus eliminating a whopping 3,50,000 single-use plastic bottles annually. In order to reduce food waste, the property launched a Zero Food Waste programme wherein all dry and wet food waste is collected and recycled to create fruit candy, poultry, and fish feed, or organic fertiliser that is used in the Sky Garden. The Alila Solo initiative also respects and preserves indigenous people’s way of life and traditions and aims to support the local community.
The Tamara Kodai, Tamil Nadu
The Tamara Kodai has a rich history that dates back to the 1840s. One of the first few houses to be built in the region, it was originally called Baynes Bungalow. Later, it was used as a rest house for the priests of Nagapattinam. All through the hotel’s renovation to its current luxurious avatar, existing materials such as wooden window frames and staircases were restored, reinforced, and reused to further enforce its committment to remain sustainable. Based on the tenets of responsible hospitality, the brand’s mission is to harmonise people and the planet while earning a profit. The Tamara Kodai’s sustainability goals are aligned with the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Of the eight acres of property land, one and a half acres are reserved for flora. Some of the eco conscious and people-focused initiatives include 51 per cent local recruitment, gender equality via pay parity, and extensive water conservation.
ITC Mughal, Uttar Pradesh
Being sustainable lies at the core of all operations at ITC Hotels, as the luxury hotel chain delivers its promise of providing ‘Responsible Luxury’. ITC Mughal, located at a stone’s throw from the Taj Mahal in Agra, recently became the first hotel globally to be awarded the LEED Zero Water Certification by USGBC meaning that a balance is maintained between total potable water consumption and total alternative or recycled water use. As part of its efforts to be self-sufficient, ITC Mughal has been following a sustainable process that ensures water requirements for its buildings and processes are met by capturing rainwater and treating it for appropriate consumption. The property also puts the planet first, and sustainable practices such as harnessing renewable energy, recycling and reusing water, recycling solid waste, and locally sourcing a sizeable proportion of ingredients are embedded in its daily operations.
Rann Riders by Kaafila, Gujarat
Located in the great salt desert in western India, Rann Riders by Kaafila offers unique safaris to explore the salt flats, vast landscape, and culture of the region through customised wilderness trips. Going beyond the scope of regular safaris, Rann Riders includes talks by trained experts on understanding the biodiversity, geology, dining experiences amid the flats of the Rann. While water management and a recycling system to minimise water wastage is important to Rann Riders, working with the community holds equal significance. The team is involved in initiatives that benefit the local communities with high artisanal skills like weavers, embroiderers, and potters. These initiatives have helped in encouraging craftsmen to continue their ancestral skills profitably.
Evolve Back, Karnataka
Based on the tenets of responsible tourism, Evolve Back Resorts was established in 1994 with a dedicated mission of providing experiential holidays while preserving and showcasing nature and the culture of the land. Coorg, in Karnataka, is naturally blessed with year-long pleasant weather, forested hills, and spice and coffee plantations. Opening up the heart of Coorg for their guests, Evolve Back offers luxury villas built in plantation style as well as traditional Kodava style.
For an immersive experience, guests can explore the quaint villages adjacent to the resort on an eco-friendly electric cycle accompanied by an in-house naturalist. A few of the responsible practices adopted by the resort include waste, water, and energy conservation initiatives, and educating guests while informing them of the measures that can be taken to reduce the human impact on the endangered environment. Additionally, local communities are also taken care of through direct employment at the resort.
This is part one of a four-part series —TL Conscious List (compiled by Team Travel+Leisure India & South Asia, along with contributor Shibani Bawa) — which lists 40 immersive experiences and extraordinary sustainable hotels.