Happy Monday and welcome to the seventh installment of "Home is where the office is," a special springtime series of posts celebrating the roughly 20 million members of the American workforce who shuffle to their dens, spare bedrooms, kitchen tables, mom caves or backyard office pods at least once a week to perform what would otherwise be performed in a soulless office block miles away.
Today, I'm spotlighting a few hotel brands — ranging from LEED-certified extended stay options to eco-design-y hotspots — where traveling, green-minded work-from-homers will feel right at home. Sure, a comfortable bed, business amenities, and a substantial continental breakfast may trump dual-flush toilets, discounted hybrid parking, and vintage furnishings when it comes to booking a place to crash during work-centric trips. But thanks to serious greening initiatives within the hospitality industry, eco-conscious business travelers looking to stay at a hotel that's just as green or greener than home, there are now plenty of options.
Below are my top five picks for mostly affordable, design-conscious hotel brands where going green is a lot more involved than a "leave your towels on the floor if you want them changed" placard in the bathroom. This work-from-homer has even spent the night at or dined in a couple of properties on the list. Do you have a favorite eco-friendly hotel that you stay at when traveling for work? Tell me about it in the comments section!
Element by Westin (Nine North American locations including New York City, Houston, Las Vegas, Omaha, Lexington, Mass.)
With locations primarily in suburban areas and near airports (a notable exception is the new Times Square West location which I recently had the pleasure of crashing at for the night), Element is a line of extended stay hotels with a twist: all locations are built "green from the ground up" to achieve LEED certification. No matter the duration of their stay, guests can expect to have a comfortable, eco-chic experience at Element — dubbed as parent company Starwood's "green lab" — and enjoy unique green amenities/features like electric vehicle charging stations, recycling bins galore, amenity kitchens fully stocked with real glassware and utensils, and "Do Not Disturb" signs made from eco-friendly magnets instead of paper. And then, of course, there's the presence of the oh-so-aptly named Westin Heavenly® Beds ...
Andaz Hotels by Hyatt (London — Liverpool Street, Los Angeles — West Hollywood, San Diego, New York — Wall Street, New York — 5th Ave)
Reflective of Hyatt's impressive, brand-wide sustainability initiatives, Andaz Hotels — the company's growing line of locale-celebrating boutique properties that are upscale but decidedly unpretentious — feature numerous eco-friendly perks. For starters, all Andaz guest rooms are of the Respire by Hyatt variety, meaning that they're hypo-allergenic and subject to an intensive six-step process to ensure top-notch indoor air quality. In addition to numerous sustainable design elements and water- and energy-saving bells and whistles, restaurants within Andaz properties embrace the brand's site-specific "kaleidoscope of culture" theme by offering organic, farm-fresh nibbles sourced from local purveyors.
Kimpton Hotels (Over 50 North American locations including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Chicago, and New York City)
Eco-conscious travelers can rest easy at any boutique-y (read: trendy) Kimpton properties. After all, the company was a frontrunner in bringing sustainability to the hospitality biz. It all started with a greening campaign at San Francisco's Hotel Triton (eco-friendliness aside, "busy" doesn't even begin to describe the aesthetics of this joint) that eventually spread brand-wide with the employee-run EarthCare Program. Considered by many to be the gold standard of hotel greening initiatives, the mission of EarthCare is "to support a sustainable world, and reflect the values of our employees, guests, and investors, by using non-intrusive, high quality, eco-friendly products and services." One of the many green perks of staying with Kimpton: At most properties, guests who pull up in a hybrid car will receive free or deeply discounted parking.
Home2 Suites by Hilton (Fayetteville, N.C., Salt Lake City/Layton UT; more than 75 locations planned including Baltimore and San Antonio)
Much like Element by Westin, Home2 Suites by Hilton is a green-minded mid-tier extended stay hotel concept ideal for business travelers looking to tread lightly on the planet. Guest bunking at Home2's two existing properties — many more are the on the way — will find dual-flush toilets, EnergyStar appliances, recycling stations, recycled content carpeting by InterfaceFLOR, water-wise landscaping, chlorine-free swimming pools, and other eco-friendly features. Additionally, "hip and humble" Home2 Suites places an emphasis on hangin' out (guests are encouraged to unwind in a comfy and communal ground-floor "Oasis" at each property) and workin' out (along with swimming pools and exercise rooms, most properties will feature outdoor walking/jogging trails).
Ace Hotels (New York City, Palm Springs, Seattle, Portland, Ore.)
Popular, parodied, and Portland-based, Ace Hotels is in the business of transforming old, sometimes down-and-out buildings (halfway houses, old Howard Johnson motels, etc.) into boutique properties where all of the cool kids want to stay/play/work. Just call them Holiday Inns for hipsters. Although Ace targets a decidedly younger demographic, guests of all ages will appreciate the mini-chain's focus on "bohemian, organic, and hip" design where recycled/eco-friendly materials and vintage/repurposed furnishings are incorporated into guest rooms and public spaces. Sadly, while guests can't actually rent a vintage typewriter at one one the Ace's four buzzy locations, they can borrow a turnable and a stack of thrift store vinyl. Or play bingo. And on a somewhat hyperbolic side note, the Ace Swim Club in Palm Springs is one of my favorite places that I've spent an afternoon at. Ever.
Other hotel chains with notable eco-initiatives: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts; InterContinental Hotels Group; Joi de Vivre Hotels; Marriott International; NYLO; Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
For more eco-friendly lodging options, check out iStayGreen.com.
Image credits: Element by Westin, Starwood Hotels & Resorts; Andaz, Hyatt Hotels; Hotel Triton, Kimpton Hotels; Home2 Suites, Hilton Worldwide; Ace Hotels.