Places & Spaces: Hotel Rafayel, London

London’s greenest hotel has fabulous river views and cutting-edge energy-saving features.

In 2012, much international attention will be focused on London with the Olympic Games and all its attendant activities and events, including the cultural programme. If you want an eco-bed to lay your head on, the Rafayel may not be not central, but it won’t dent your wallet as dramatically as the hottest tickets to the athletics finals will.

Right on the south bank of the River Thames, this hotel offers a ringside seat for the historic 1,000-boat flotilla, which will go past as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary) celebrations in June – one of London’s other major events of 2012.

Among the hotel’s eco-features are a no-plastic policy, LED lighting, efficient air-conditioning and ventilation, and rainwater harvesting and recycling. It’s estimated that its carbon footprint is 20% less than other hotels of similar size; guests can check out their own consumption, thanks to the energy monitoring system (can you manage an A grade?). You are also offered digital versions of newspapers, thereby cutting down on waste paper.

Most of the 65 guest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the river in this modern steel, glass and timber building. Design is space-age contemporary, with some rooms offering jetlag recovery light treatment – handy if you’re fresh off a transatlantic flight and suffering. Wood is synthetic and leather recycled, while mini-bars have only organic and fair-trade goodies.

While views are premium, the hotel’s location is not ideal, so it helpfully provides a shuttle service to the closest underground station, which is well-connected with central London; if you’re more of a water-baby, then river taxis can speed you eastwards towards the Olympic action in Stratford.

In addition to the Spa, which offers Asian treatments; brasserie,  champagne bar, and a riverside roof terrace restaurant on the 17th floor; sweet hankerings will be satisfied by the bakery from New York’s “Princess of Patisserie” Michelle Husseri, with her colorful, creative cupcakes. There’s even a florist – everything you need to put together an impromptu birthday celebration should the need arise.

Rates from $169 including tax, fabulous river views and pre-Olympic and Jubilee buzz..


Places & Spaces is a travel guide that will inspire you to carve out a vacation on your calendar. All of the gorgeous locations and accommodations in our guide share our concern for the environment. From tent glamping to lavish built environments, fair warning, you’ll feel compelled to pack your suitcase.

Fiona Flores Watson

Fiona Flores Watson covers Places & Spaces for EcoSalon and currently resides in Seville, Spain.