Eco-friendly Hotels in Russia
We won’t mislead you. Traveling green in Russia is not simple. You will hardly find eco-labeled products, sustainable tour operators, and certified hotels. Finding eco-friendly 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 guesthouses?
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).
Thus the Russian hotel chain Azimut, which is also the owner of the famous historical Russian hotel Metropol takes part in a variety of environmental initiatives. It is not fully an eco-hotel in Russia, but still many initiatives are being held. As one example the company joined the #SaveWaterMirror promotion. Every guest staying in a hotel of the chain could determine how rationally he consumes water thanks to a “smart” mirror. An unusual message was left in the hotel rooms on the mirrors in the bathrooms about the importance of water-consuming. Not all the guests were able to see the message – the “smart” mirror decided which of the guests wasted water, demonstrating a message gradually appearing on the surface of the mirror. For those who are curious about the “working mechanism” the mirror is not connected to water meters, the message on the glass appears as it fogs up. Such a creative solution.
One more chain that we work with is AccorHotels. As part of the global Planet 21 Acting Here campaign, AccorHotels launched a global program to reduce food waste and packaging in its restaurants in 2016.
So in Moscow at Novotel Moscow Kievskaya are equipped with LIVE N DREAM beds made from recycled plastic; Mercure Rosa Khutor created their own vegetable garden on-site; Meals are prepared on the basis of zero-waste recipes at ibis Yaroslavl Center, and flowers and herbs for seasoning are grown at the ibis Kazan Center in the hotel courtyard.
The program that deserves special attention is “Plant a tree for the planet,” which is also being implemented in Russia. Its principle is already familiar: guests use their towels several times, only those left on the floor will be changed by the new ones. Accor reinvests 50% of the money spent on laundry in the “Plant a tree for the planet” program, thanks to which one tree is planted every minute on the planet.
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 greenwashed.
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 surroundings, 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 be offered delicious home-made Russian food or a handicraft workshop.
Unfortunately, many of the private hotels do not have an online booking option, information in English or even a website. When you decide on 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.
One good example of a 100% sustainable guest house that can be called an eco-friendly hotel in Russia is the one that is situated in Maly Turysh. Usually, our tourists traveling the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway tour visit a local honey factory in Maly Turysh. It’s a tiny village, green in summer and snowy in winter, close to the Ural mountains. A local young entrepreneur Guzel Sanzhapova and her father launched there honey – making factory Cocco Bello help the villagers work where they live. They also constructed the guest house for the tourists and Guzel doesn’t stop at that, now she is building a community center to develop the village. This is a space where locals (mostly elderly people) can bake bread for the whole village in the morning, produce new products in the afternoon, meet tourists, and celebrate someone’s anniversary in the evening. ⠀
Thanks to the crowdfunding sponsors and several initiatives, the foundation of the center is ready. The next stage of the construction is the production of the timber frame of the building.
When looking for eco-friendly hotels in Russia, ask the right questions
You will probably not find relevant green information on the hotel’s website. In order to find the “greenest” offer, we suggest you 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 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, even if it is stated to be an eco-friendly hotel in Russia, ask a hotel manager if he considered adopting green practices and openly tell that such an 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 the Russian local communities!
At ExploRussia we work with several eco-friendly hotels in Russia, which already implemented sustainability practices or at least try to minimize their negative impact.
To explore Russia’s stunning pristine nature, check one of our nature-tours or ask us to tailor one especially for you!