Places & Spaces: Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco

The Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco is a wallet-friendly city-center green retreat.

When you’re travelling on business, how green are the places where you choose to stay? The Orchard Garden Hotel is slap-bang in the heart of Frisco, near Union Square, so you’ve got no excuse for not taking public transport to get there. They’ve even got bike stalls.

What the hotel lacks in interior-design zing, it more than makes up for with its eco-credentials. Made from recycled materials – glass and steel – it was one of the US’s first LEED-certified hotels. Its interior decór doesn’t have us singing, but the green agenda seals the deal: paper and carpets are made from recycled materials, the inks are soy-based, the paint is non-toxic and the cleaning products are citrus-based and chemical free.

The 86 guest rooms, spread over 10 floors, are decorated in the natural tones, and furniture is made from FSC-approved wood, with organic Aveda bath goodies for pampering (being good has its rewards). As in many hotels these days, you get a large-screen HD TV, DVD player, iPod dock and WIFI.

Now, listen up: when you leave your hotel room, do you remember to turn off all these electronic toys? Really? Honestly? (I don’t.) Doesn’t matter – your eco-conscience is safe, as this hotel has the genius keycard system, as used in Europe. When you enter your room, the (recycled plastic) card goes in the slot, all the lights come on and everything is ready to go. When you leave, you take it out, and – hey presto – all systems go off (bar one outlet for charging a device). All this saves a whopping 20% in energy costs. And potential second-guessing.

Staying downtown in a city, even if you’re here for work, it’s a crime to miss the view: suites have their own terraces, as well as a sofabed for tagalong buddies. If your budget doesn’t stretch to that – prices for interior rooms are impressively reasonable – you can always check out the skyline from the roof terrace.

Rates start at $125/night plus tax, city buzz and bike parking included, car parking definitely not.

Fiona Flores Watson

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