What Can You Expect to Find in An Eco Cottage?
From humble, earthy beginnings to luxury chic, in terms of living standards and comfort, eco cottages have come a long way in recent years. Staying in an environmentally-friendly holiday cottage these days is as much a pleasure as it is gratifyingly satisfying to be kinder to the planet than most kinds of tourism. Try one – it’s a pleasure and an education!
My Favourite Holiday Cottages invited Chris Burton, the owner of two enviously beautiful and award-winning Cotswold eco-cottages to write about what makes them such a light touch on the environment without compromising on luxury.
Over to you Chris…
How to Have an amazing holiday and tread lightly upon the earth.
When we opened The Chestnuts holiday cottage just over ten years ago, Eco Holidays had a touch of the worthy about them. ‘Eco cottages’ as they become known, were often dimly lit - using as few lights as possible, swaddled in thick dark curtains to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Extra layers were often de rigueur just to keep your core temperature up. I remember one eco-holiday where I barely took off my bobble hat - inside! But we knew the ethos was right, we just needed to do it differently.
Holidays are special time – time to relax and indulge yourself, they shouldn’t be about giving things up (such as comfort) or having to wear extra layers.
The Chestnuts and its sister cottage Culls deliver just that and the majority of our guests don’t start off looking for an Eco property. As far as we are concerned all properties should do what it can and when it can to tread lightly on the planet.
We don’t have any high tech ground source heat pumps or even solar panels. Both of our properties are heritage listed and Culls dates from 1670 - so structural changes such as double glazing are not an option. But we work with what we have got and by the ‘Small Steps approach’ you can holiday in Luxury whilst helping the planet.
Blessed with naturally thick stone walls, most Cotswolds cottages are naturally insulating. But we have added to that great start with curtains that are thermally lined and floors and ceilings are packed with added insulation. Our underfloor heating heats the buildings slowly and softly and padding around in bare feet on warm flagstone floors is one of life’s small but eminently memorable pleasures.
From the start it was important to us to be accredited and we have been a member of Green Tourism for over ten years - holding their prestigious Gold award, as well as running as a Carbon Neutral Business. We are audited and we like that it keeps us on our toes and chatting to the auditor is always a great source of information. To use a cliché ‘being green is a journey not a destination’.
We are big on natural fabrics – crisp linen sheets, sumptuous woollen throws and sheepskin rugs. Bamboo chopping boards and bowls in the kitchen and reusable shopping bags. We buy only Eco-friendly toiletries and cleaning products, that are kind to the environment but also you the guest – there are no parabens in our shampoos or conditioners that we leave you to enjoy.
Living the Holiday Life Your Way
Holiday cottages are all about living life your way - in a super new space that for the weekend or the week is your very own, and although we don’t supply you with food, we have a number of staples left for you to enjoy – Tea, Coffee, sugar etc…but you can be assured even these are all either locally sourced, Fairtrade or organic.
Where possible we buy in bulk, lessening the need for unnecessary packing. But we all end up with some paper and glass waste and so we have made recycling at our cottages super easy – no rummaging frantically in a shed down the bottom of the garden on the night before you leave. We don’t like chores as much as the nest person!
Our cottages may be hundreds of years old but our attitude to technology isn’t. Arrive in your electric car at The Chestnuts and you can plug it in to the PodPoint charger. With the help of the Nest learning thermostat and Smart electrical meter we can keep our cottages humming along at the most economic but comfortable temperatures. Plus we have the very latest in electrical appliances - Smart TVs, sound systems and A+ rated kitchen equipment.
We would love solar panels but until we can get a solution that isn’t at odds with our beautiful Cotswold stone roofs we buy 100% green generated electricity we can sleep easy knowing we aren’t depleting the fossil fuel bank.
With A Little Help For Our Friends
Giving back is part of our ethos and with our guests help we support a number of charities that help our wider environment including The Barn Owl trust and Caring for the Cotswolds. Our Bit Bob soft owl toys, purchased by guests, help raise awareness of the plight of endangered species and we support Three Barn owls at the Barn Owl Trust. You may actually be lucky enough to see one of these majestic birds in the wild in The Cotswolds (especially near Culls Cottage).
Eco friendly living is now the epitome of cool and enjoying a holiday in an Eco Property is a real alternative for everyone - You don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort to take care of the environment. We truly believe our cottages where Luxury and Sustainability meet.
One thing Chris doesn’t mention is how an eco-holiday experience changes your life when you return home. From installing Smart technology, green energy or simply seeking out paraben-free products (I had to look up the name – they ain’t nice!), you may find yourself making a few life changes back at home!.
Useful Eco links:
- Culls Cottage, Lechlade-on-Thames
- The Chestnuts, Burford
- More UK Eco Cottages To View
- Green Tourism20 years of caring for People, Places and our Planet.
- Carbon Offset your travel miles:
- Earth Hour
- The Barn Owl Trust
- Green Motion (for sustainable energy car & van hire)
- Caring for The Cotswolds