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EXPERT REVIEW A boutique getaway on Britain's southern coast is making huge strides in its efforts to be green and stylish

Eco


Overall eco rating


Claiming to be "the greenest hotel in the UK", as The Green House Hotel does on its website, is a pretty bold statement, and while it doesn't quite live up to this claim, it's definitely in the top 5 UK EcoLuxHotels.

The Green House hotel has achieved a lot in its first year of operation and strives to deliver the highest standard in sustainable design and build principles, while dealing with the challenges of its Listed Building status, awarded to buildings of historical interest. In many ways it's still early days, so it's difficult to assess whether some of the environmental objectives are being met, but the hotel's systems mean they will stay on top of their performance.

  • Use of efficient CHP system on site
  • Close to achieving BREEAM excellent rating
  • Careful and tested sourcing of all hotel supplies from furnishings to cleaning products.
  • Comprehensive environmental policy with Key Performance Indicators to stay on top of operations
  • Environmental induction and ongoing training and development for staff

  • Landscaping within the grounds does not maximise nature conservation benefits although work is planned in this area
  • Monitoring of waste outputs and composition has only just started
  • Information relating to provenence of menus was lacking for guests and drinks menu could have had more green options

People

The hotel really does try to use local suppliers and businesses wherever possible, from the provision of food in the kitchen to the supplier of carpet in the bar. The hotel has a commitment to be involved in community projects, support local initiatives and work with other businesses to share the experiences of the hotel.

  • Statement of intent is that the hotel's Environmental Policy includes commitment to be involved in community projects and support local initiatives that will be monitored annually with KPIs.
  • The hotel works closely with their local suppliers to help improve environmental performance.
  • Staff are encouraged to engage with local suppliers and visit their premises.

  • Current community involvement and initiatives are yet to be realised (the hotel has only been operational for a year)

Animals & nature

The hotel has plans for new landscaping proposals in 2012 that will improve the hotel grounds for nature conservation and local wildlife following an ecological survey of the site. The hotel policy on in-room products and cleaning products have been carefully selected to ensure that they are cruelty free.

  • Retention of native and mature trees and shrubs within the grounds.
  • Installation of bird and bat boxes within the hotel grounds
  • Proposals for new nectar rich and wildlife friendly planting within the grounds for 2012
  • Proposals for a roof top honey beehive to be installed in 2012, working with a local beekeeper with the honey produced to be used within the hotel.
  • Cruelty free credentials of cleaning products and toiletries (note that PETA will be looking at this in detail for us shortly - some products claims to be curelty free are difficult to verify)

  • New planting within the grounds has not maximised opportunities to use native species, nectar-rich or berry bearing plant species
  • Existing external lighting specification discourages nocturnal animals from using the hotel grounds e.g. bats. (due to be changed in 2012 to meet with BREEAM requirements)
  • Limited menu options for vegetarians and vegans

Environment & buildings

The hotel has gone for it and included several innovative technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. The hotel generates its own electricity through its Combined Heat and Power unit and solar panels and reduces energy use through the installation of energy efficient devices. Water-reducing measures have been adopted throughout the hotel and rainwater is harvested for external uses. The life cycle of products and materials used within the hotel is given careful consideration when making purchasing choices to ensure that they are environmentally sound, local where possible and delivered even considers delivery method.

  • Around 90% of the hotels electricity is generated on site (CHP = between 50 and 60%, Solar = 30%)
  • Use of low energy technology throughout the hotel including LED/CFL lighting and dimmers, low wattage TVs, low energy hair dryers, sensored lighting within the public areas of the hotel and timers and sensors on external lighting.
  • Adoption of a number of technologies to reduce water usage including aerated showers and sink taps, automated sensors on public use taps and low/dual flush toilets.
  • An in-house water filtration and bottling unit is used to reduce waste and environmental impacts from transportation.
  • Kitchen cleaning procedures include mre efficient hot fill dishwashers and glass washers and use of ozone to help reduce water temperatures.
  • Rainwater is harvested and used to irrigate the landscaped areas within the hotel grounds.
  • Recycled materials are used throughout the hotel and include the restaurant tablewear, chairs for meeting rooms (made from recycled playstations!) and floor tiles used within the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Organic and free-range food is purchased wherever possible and all fish served within the restaurant is from sustainable sources. Biodynamic wines are served in the restaurant and bar.
  • Floral decorative arrangements provided throughout the year are seasonal and locally sourced (including rented Christmas trees that are re-planted and re-used year on year from a local supplier!)
  • All laundry cleaning is undertaken in-house to reduce environmental impacts from transportation.
  • Staff and guests incentivised to utilise public transport or bicyles.

  • Food waste is composted off site.
  • Waste outputs from the hotel are not quantitatively monitored e.g. weighing of each component part.

Reviewed by Emma Toovey


Luxury


Overall luxury rating*


A historic building on England's south coast has been given a boutique flair, making for a lovely weekend break in the classic seaside town of Bournemouth.

The scene

Ten minutes from Bournemouth Beach, a long, sandy stretch popular with surfers, paddleboarders and families, this Victorian building - given a boutique revamp - is set among leafy residential streets. The sea is the English Channel, brisk all year, but it has a blustery appeal in winter and can feel positively Mediterranean on the hottest and sunniest summer days. The recently revitalised Boscombe bay is a short drive away, along with the deceptively named New Forest (it's a thousand years old).

Since it opened in 2010, The Green House Hotel has drawn a mix of business travellers and couples looking for an intimate, stylish short break.

  • Within a short walk of Bournemouth beach and pier
  • Close (15 minute walk) to Bournemouth town centre, with its shops and restaurants
  • Near the fossil-filled Jurassic coastline and New Forest National Park
  • Good for business people looking for a more relaxed and intimate feel
  • Good for couples looking for a luxury romantic weekend

  • Although undergoing a regeneration, the attractions of Bournemouth town centre aren't really worth travelling for, but the beach is pretty and features those classic British seaside elements - pier, crazy golf, ice cream stands, etc - for old-fashioned fun. But bear in mind that many of the beach's attractions are closed during the winter period.
  • Not a good hotel option for young or teen families or youngsters looking for a wild night!

The style

The building might be Grade II-listed Victorian, but the interiors are 21st-century boutique hotel. Interiors are mostly whites, greys, soft purples and warm browns, but modern elements - like boldly patterned wallpapers or blue lighting strips - lift the neutral pallete and Victorian architecture. Soothing music and subtle lighting complement this to give a calm, soothing feel. Furnishings are soft, functional and comfortable, with simple and classic designs. The style works well within the Victorian setting of the listed building but brings the interior up to date. Natural materials are used throughout including 100% wool carpets and reclaimed oak flooring.

  • The style very much supports the calming vibe of the hotel.
  • The style is modern but classic.
  • Furniture is comfortable, functional and simple in design.

  • Safe and neutral with no particularly outstanding or unique features.

The facilities

This 32-room hotel has a good restaurant, relaxing bar and, in the warmer months, outdoor dining and drinking space, too.

  • Gourmet restaurant serving seasonal British fare with flair. Try the Purple Cauliflower & Cheese Espuma, Cauliflower Fritters, Flowers & Shoots.
  • The bar is relaxed, sleek and perfect for a pint of beer or G&T.

  • Spa facilities would be nice, especially a sauna or steam room after a winter's walk along the beach or in the New Forest.

We love

  • The reclaimed roll top baths in the Large Suite and Executive Suites - perfect for enjoying a romantic film as you unwind.
  • Great six-course tasting menu, including a vegetarian version, in the restaurant.
  • Stretching out on a comfy sofa in the bar, with a pre-dinner Kir Royale or G&T.
  • The home-baked shortbreads in a jar in the bedroom were decidedly moreish.
  • Impeccably trained, knowledgeable and friendly staff.

You might not love

  • Service in the restaurant was a bit too quick for a relaxing meal.
  • Bournemouth is a typical English seaside down, which will appeal to some and not to others.
  • The quality of the cooked food at breakfast didn't live up the standards set by the evening meal the night before.

Reviewed by Emma Toovey


The Green House Hotel

4 Grove Road, Bournemouth BH1 3AX

UK
+44(0)1202 498900

Standard room rates from 180

Eco

Luxury*

Interests

"The food is truly excellent, from hearty breakfasts (with mushrooms from Mrs T, one of the New Forest's more eccentric purveyors) to more refined dinners" The Independent

"Green by name, green by nature, Bournemouth's 32-room 'eco-boutique hotel' certainly wears its environmental consciousness on its - presumably fair-trade fabric - sleeve" Conde Nast Traveller

"It's very stylish, with mauve-and-cream rooms, flatscreen TVs and Bose sound docks, yet its eco credentials are impressive" The Guardian