24 Feb How to Find Eco Hotels in Russia?
We won’t mislead you. Travelling green in Russia is not simple. You will hardly find eco-labelled products, sustainable tour operators and certified hotels. Finding eco hotels in Russia will be time-consuming, and in the end, it will probably not be 100% green. But still, it’s worth the effort!
International hotel chains or locally-owned guest houses?
Depending on your budget and your travel style, you will choose between international hotel chains or smaller, locally-owned hotels and guest-houses. The good thing about international hotel chains in Russia is that many have already introduced eco-practices, simply because they have to stick to the global strategy, plus it’s a good way to reduce costs.
Many of the well-known brands like Radisson, Accor or Intercontinental implemented water and energy saving solutions, and have at least a basic CSR policy (participation in charity events, cooperation with a local NGO). These activities might not be even mentioned on a hotel’s website, because it is not the type of information an average Russian would be looking for.
On the other hand, big hotels have a long and usually unsustainable supply chain, which results in purchasing non-eco products, importing food from abroad, lots of waste and sometimes unfair working conditions for the employees. The real sustainable tourism strategies are not in place in hotels in Russia, even the biggest ones, so when choosing a 4* or 5* hotel from an international chain, you might end up being green washed.
Private local hotels or guest houses
The other option is to choose a locally owned smaller hotels or guest houses. Their managers have probably never heard about sustainable tourism and green travel, but in this case you can at least be sure, that your money goes directly to the local community. Private owners very often care more about their surrounding, natural environment and will try to show you a bit of Russian culture.
They are not aware of eco-trends, but they may greener their properties just because they feel it’s a good thing to do. In some properties, you will offered delicious home-made Russian food or a handcrafts workshop.
Unfortunately, many of the private hotels do not have an online booking option, information in English or even a website. When you decide for this type of accommodation, we suggest you to contact a local tour operator, like us, or simply ask people who have been to Russia before for advice.
When looking for eco hotels in Russia, ask the right questions
As I already mentioned, you will probably not find relevant green information on hotel’s website. In order to find the “greenest” offer, we suggest you to contact a hotel’s stuff or directly the owner (if it’s a small property) and ask questions like:
If a hotel has a restaurant, ask what do they serve for breakfast or dinner, if they offer Russian cuisine, if they buy products locally or grow veggies in their own garden.
Ask where they are getting their energy from, if they use any renewable resources, if they have a solar panel on the roof, and what kind of bulbs do they use.
Waste management: Ask if they recycle and compost their waste (it’s not obvious and not easy in Russia, even in Moscow).
Cleaning supplies & laundry:
Ask about detergents they use, do they bleach laundry, how often they are changing the sheets and towels.
People and community:
Ask if they purchase products locally, if they work with a local NGOs or run charity events, if they (legally) hire people from the community and give them equal chances for promotion, or if they have a gender balance among employees on all levels.
Being a green role model
Being a green traveler in Russia is also a big responsibility. Russians’ approach towards travel and business in general will slowly change to a more sustainable one, but you need to show us how and what to do.
Ask the right questions, tell what is important to you, share the best practices from your country. During your stay, ask a hotel manager if he considered adopting green practices and openly tell that such approach is important to you as a customer.
If you are an experienced eco-traveler, you can also write a few green tips for hotels and leave them at the reception before departure. Lead by example and be the role model for Russian local communities!
At ExploRussia we work with several eco hotels in Russia, which already implemented sustainability practices or at least try to minimize their negative impact. At the moment we cooperate with Pushka-Inn, Friends Hostel (big community involvement) and Crowne Plaza Ligovsky in Saint Petersburg and “U Kremlya” Guest House in Suzdal, but we can recommend hotels in other cities upon request.
To explore Russia’s stunning pristine nature, check one of our nature-tours or ask us to tailor one specially for you!