Are we all sufficiently over the misconception that sustainability and luxury are mutually exclusive polar opposites by now? Yes? Good. That saves me the job of having to bang my slightly haughty eco-drum, because you already know you can stay in some of the chicest – and most awe-inspiring – properties in the world while simultaneously being kind to the planet, don’t you? Yes, you do. Phew.
Luxury notwithstanding, it’s still very much worth mentioning that eco-hotels are like feminists. The more there are, the better it is for everyone. But regardless, there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest, with US-based boutique chain, 1 Hotels leading that pretty honourable charge.
Its stable comprises four ridiculously good-looking hotels in four equally attractive locations – one in Hollywood, one in South Beach and two in New York; Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge, the latter which I’d spotted on Instagram and bookmarked for my upcoming Stateside soujourn, having no idea that it was actually a temple of conscious travel. At the point of screenshotting, I was far more concerned with the incredible skyline-backed #content I’d be able to smugly stockpile thanks to its unparalleled waterfront location on the East River. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the warehouse and cobblestone-filled DUMBO, one of my favourite New York spots and – NYC Fact #1 – stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Every day’s a school day, right?
For once, my superficiality actually paid off. Discovering 1 Hotels’ cause-driven DNA was like going on a date with someone purely because you thought they were hot, only to discover they happen to be the wokest and most-enlightened catch in New York. I came for the picture, fell for the mission. Something that CEO and Chairman, Barry Sternlicht explains as, “[Wanting to] capture the beauty of nature in a hotel and commit to safeguarding it as best I can; a responsibility we all share. It’s 1 world.” Er, swoon.
Sternlicht is doing it with serious amounts of flair, too. Walking into the lobby of the 10-storey building, the whole place is one big hygge fever dream. Sheepskin rugs are thrown over deep, cracked-leather sofas. A farmstand lives by the elevators, offering a different daily selection of goods from local purveyors. It all smells of Le Labo Santal 33. And it’s presided over by a floor-to-ceiling green wall on one side and graphic, tall panes of glass on the other; the work of interior designers Inc Architecture and Design, who have brilliantly brought the outside in using reclaimed woods, bricks, marble and locally sourced glass, not to mention a small forest worth of native greenery.
Most hotel lobbies are effectively puffed-up waiting rooms, but this one encourages you to stay, curl up and hang out for a while with a hot chocolate and a good book. Which, obviously, I did.
Off the lobby, the cafe, Neighbours, serves grab’n’go picnic-ready fare, and also sells goods from local farmers, cheesemongers and woodworkers. Honestly, you couldn’t get more wholesome if you tried… apart from perhaps on the dedicated nights the hotel puts on “to celebrate nature and its art and ingredients.” For example, Dark Sky, a monthly event where the lights in the hotel’s public spaces are dimmed for a candlelit evening and specially crafted mocktails and activities allow guests to unplug for a few hours. Not that the lights are particularly damaging the rest of the time anyway. As you would imagine, 1 Hotels’ dedication to conservation extends to low-energy lightbulbs, a rainwater reclamation system and even access to a Tesla (an electric car, if you didn’t know) for complimentary rides within a three-mile radius.
They also offer something aptly called Do-Gooder, where local non-profit partners give volunteer experiences to both guests and employees who’d like to contribute to sustaining the local environment. Think planting a tree or cleaning up a park – just in case merely staying in the hotel didn’t make you feel quite virtuous enough.
Even the room keys are embossed discs that come in five different types of recycled wood. The clothes hangers are made from post-consumer recycled materials – something that the hotel sweetly spins into saying that it means they’re “full of stories”. One hanger used to be someone’s homework, for instance. One began life as wrapping paper. It’s cute and it’s clever.
I’d say it’s these details that make it – the egg timer in the shower was a great reminder to be more mindful of your water consumption, and there was a box left out in case you felt like donating an old item of clothing from an overstuffed suitcase (“1 Less Thing in your bag is one more thing for someone in need”) – but that would do a disservice to the epic views from the rooms.
Waking up (on a custom hemp blend-filled mattress and 100 per cent organic cotton sheets, no less) to the unobstructed Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge skyline is truly the stuff of dreams. Throw in the Statue of Liberty too and Instagram basically explodes.
To fully appreciate it, however, you have to make your way upstairs to either the rooftop bar and lounge which – aside from the view – boasts a heated plunge pool and fire pits, or Brooklyn Heights Social Club; the dimly lit, very well-stocked 10th-floor lounge. Insta-fodder aside, if you’re heading to New York, this really is the way to do it.
• 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, 60 Furman Street, Brooklyn, New York. To book or for more information, visit 1hotels.com/brooklyn-bridge
Photos: Supplied and Instagram @1hotels