Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cheap Green Travel: 14 Eco + Budget-Friendly Hostels

Cheap Green Travel: 14 Eco + Budget-Friendly Hostels: [ By Steph in Geography & Travel. ]

Somewhere between luxurious (and pricey) eco-resorts and the most basic of dirt-cheap beds-for-rent are eco-hostels: inexpensive lodgings that are also environmentally friendly and often offer a relaxing place to commune with nature, even in big cities like Berlin and Barcelona. These 14 green hostels around the world range from modern European bunk rooms to incredibly rustic nomad tents in Mongolia.

Jetpak Eco Lodge, Berlin

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Berlin is one of Europe’s most modern cities, but just minutes from all of the steel architecture and bustling nightlife is a hostel hidden in the woods, powered with 100% renewable energy. With its large outdoor recreation area and access to trails, Jetpak Eco Lodge is the perfect place for people who love a balance between the frenetic action of the city and the quiet calm of the country. It features a modern CO2-neutral heating system, solar hot water, composting and bike rentals.

Deepdale Backpacker’s Hostel, England

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The Deepdale Backpacker’s Hostel offers beautiful, eco-friendly lodgings on the Norfolk Coast – the perfect home base when exploring the region’s beaches and historic sites. Located on a farm, the award-winning hostel plants thousands of trees every year, provides havens for wildlife on the property and gets most of its power from the sun. The 17th century buildings have been restored back to traditional Norfolk style, but insulated to meet modern energy-efficiency standards. Groups of up to six can rent their own private multi-bed rooms.

Hedonisia Hawaii Eco Hostel, United States

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Who can say no to a sustainable rainforest retreat in Hawaii? Choose from rustic huts, tents or campers, with ocean views or in the woods, at the Hedonisia Hawaii Eco Hostel. 10 lodgings are spread out on 3.71 acres, and part of your room fee pays for all the produce you can pick from the gardens. There’s even a ‘pee garden’, which is exactly what it sounds like (an outdoor restroom). The land has been restored from past use as a junkyard and the owners go out of their way to reuse things as creatively as possible, like cutting up old tents and sewing them into new living structures.

Gyreum Eco-Lodge, Ireland

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In the wilds of Northwest Ireland, there’s a 100-foot green wooden structure rising out of a valley that the owners describe as ‘plum pudding-shaped’. Serving as a venue for music, workshops, weddings and art residencies, The Gyreum also offers eco-friendly accommodations in the form of dorms and capsule-like tents and boasts geothermal heat, wind turbines, greywater filtering and an organic garden.

Cabinas Tina’s Casitas, Costa Rica

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For many travelers, Costa Rica is already an incredibly affordable destination – but the hostel lodgings at Tina’s Casitas make it even easier on the pocket. A five minute walk from the center of Santa Elena in the Monteverde area, Tina’s offers four houses with 9 rustic lodgings in all including dorms and private rooms with your choice of shared or private bath. The wildlife-loving owners are in the midst of a reforestation project on the grounds of the hostel, hoping to give back as much habitat as possible after many acres were lost to deforestation.

Krumlov House, Czech Republic

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In a 17th-century building on the Vltava River, visitors to the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov find a charming artist’s haven with as much character as the town itself. Krumlov House has private lodgings for 25 (no dorms), is powered with solar energy and has a renovated interior partially built with reclaimed wood. Energy-saving appliances, air-dried laundry, compost bins and secondhand furnishings are just a few green features.

Reykjavik City Hostel, Iceland

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Right beside the geothermal swimming pools in Iceland’s capital city is the Reykjavik City Hostel, dorm-style lodgings just 10 minutes outside the downtown area. Fun and youthful with games, movie nights and special events, this hostel offers local and organic food and fair trade coffee and is also environmentally sensitive with energy monitoring and recycling programs.

Mellow Eco-Hostel Barcelona, Spain

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With stellar reviews across the board and beds starting at just 16 bucks a night, the Mellow Eco-Hostel is definitely an option to consider when staying in Barcelona, Spain. Fifteen minutes outside the city center, the Mellow Eco-Hostel lives up to its name, providing bright but relaxing rooms, colorful common areas, solar-heated water, natural ventilation and recycling facilities. The 24-hour front desk makes it easy to check in and out at odd hours for maximum convenience.

Kulturgarden Guest House, Sweden

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Stay in a former children’s camp overlooking Lake Björkasjö in Southern Sweden, with private bedrooms, a traditional earth house shower, a large self-catering kitchen and a breakfast buffet brimming with local and organic foods. The Kulturgården Björkekullen hostel in Bråtadal Svartrå avoids disposable products whenever possible, recycles waste, uses a variety of renewable energy sources and fosters closeness with the environment through activities like swimming.

Centre Ecologic Llemena Hostel, Spain

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“If it is only a bed you are looking for, don’t come,” say the owners of the CEL Hostel in the Girona area of Spain. Because what makes this hostel different from so many others is that it’s like a resort experience – at a serious discount. Whether you bunk or camp in the woods, you can enjoy “a calm place close to nature”, with organic products and a natural swimming pool, not to mention learning about sustainable permaculture projects.

Enigmata Treehouse Eco-Lodge, Philippines

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Artists, travelers, environmentalists and nature lovers flock to the Enigmata Treehouse Eco-Lodge in Camiguin Island, Philippines. A hostel, cafe, gallery and sculpture garden, Enigmata’s main treehouse structure is built around a 100-year-old Mother Acacia tree and is full of relaxing spaces open to the fresh air. Dorms start at under U.S. $10, quite a steal for a tropical getaway 600 miles from the nearest highway.

Grampians YHA Eco-Hostel, Australia

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Get a bed in a dorm or your own private room at this youth hostel in the heart of Australia’s Grampians National park. Standout green features include solar energy, solar hot water, rainwater collection, recycled greywater and waste recycling. Ogle kangaroos on the hostel lawn or venture further afield for some rock climbing, picnicking, bushwalking, bike riding or fishing.

Bigfoot Hostel, Nicaragua

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You’re in the middle of a lush tropical paradise, going on amazing adventures (volcano boarding!) and enjoying all that Nicaragua has to offer – and the $6 a night hostel you’re staying at will even do your laundry for you. Bigfoot Hostel has a pool, a bar, free internet, a guest kitchen and a hammock area in a renovated colonial home. The Pure Earth Cafe offers all-vegetarian organic and local foods, and the hostel donates $1 from every guest to the Pure Earth project, which works on conservation, reforestation and other local sustainability projects.

Anak Ranch, Mongolia

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Rustic? Check. Culturally rich? Double check. Unique? Absolutely no doubt about it. Anak Ranch is a working family ranch in the steppe-taiga country of north-central Mongolia, hosting ‘adventurous guests’ who want to ride horses on the Mongolian range and experience what it’s really like to live on the edge of Siberia. The owners will escort you in a horse cart to your lodgings in a multi-bedded ‘ger’, or traditional nomad’s tent. For about $40 a night, you can take part in Buddhist rituals, practice archery, relax in the sauna, hike up the mountains, make Mongolian cheese and take part in dozens of other activities that you might never be able to do anywhere else.

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