CERVO Mountain Resort, Zermatt.
Photograph: © Switzerland Tourism / Andre Meier

5 sustainable hotels for a weekend break

Written by
Time Out editors

Taking a weekend break should be just that – a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, and the chance to relax. But just because you’re switching off for a few days doesn’t mean you have to switch off from doing your bit for the environment.

Thankfully, when the natural world is treasured as much as it is in Switzerland, it’s never hard to find a hotel that values sustainability as highly as you do. In fact, the country houses a huge number of venues that operate with a thoroughly eco-conscious approach, while still offering superb amenities and the chance for guests to kick back and enjoy themselves.

Here are a few environmentally aware favourites from around Switzerland that make for a perfect weekend break.

Schloss Wartegg, Rorschacherberg.
Photograph: © Switzerland Tourism/Giglio Pasqua

Schloss Wartegg, Rorschacherberg
Being surrounded by acres of green land and thick forests doesn’t just give this 16th-century hotel a premium setting for guests to appreciate, it also provides the ideal location for the hotel kitchen to grow its own ingredients. Schloss Wartegg’s castle garden is where these ingredients are nurtured, and you can taste the results for yourself in the hotel’s meticulously run restaurant – grab an outdoor table on the terrace during warmer months. Elsewhere, measures include natural building materials, a small hydro power station that produces some of the venue’s energy, 100% green electricity throughout, and a minimal waste policy that ensures composting of kitchen and garden waste.  

Zermatt, CERVO Mountain Resort
Photograph: © Switzerland Tourism / Andre Meier

CERVO Mountain Resort, Zermatt
Staying in CERVO’s luxurious ‘lifestyle lodges’ is as cosy as it gets, but it isn’t just the modern Alpine décor that makes them feel good. It’s also the fact that you’re staying with a founding member of the Responsible Hotels of Switzerland initiative, meaning that you can be sure sustainability is a big focus. For starters, 99% of the hotel’s energy comes from geothermal sources and a heat recovery system, and then there’s the use of regional supply chains to keep things local and eliminate excessive transport emissions. The CERVO team also recognises that guests are a vital part of any hotel’s sustainability strategy, hence offering a range of tips to help guests become as eco-conscious as possible during their stay. It’s nice to know you’ll be doing your bit as you enjoy the mountain views, revitalising spa treatments, cocktail evenings and outdoor yoga sessions.

Valsana Hotel, Arosa
Ever heard of an ice battery? Neither had we, but the brains behind this four-star hotel certainly have, as it’s one of the core elements helping Valsana to operate completely without fossil fuels. The battery works as a temperature convertor to aid heat recovery, meaning no need for oil or electric heating. It’s clever stuff and it’s just one of the measures in place at Valsana. Considering the focus on looking after the natural world, it’s no surprise that much of the hotel is geared around nature and the outdoors. Guests get to experience this for themselves in the Moving Mountains programme, a series of activities to encourage reconnecting with nature, featuring everything from mountain biking to ice bathing. After all that activity, retreat to one of Valsana’s supremely comfortable rooms to recharge. 

The Alpina Gstaad
Indulgence doesn’t have to mean irresponsible, as this five-star hotel proves. Recycled materials were used in the building’s eye-catching design, and there’s a deeply thought-out zero waste philosophy, masterminded by celebrated chef Martin Göschel. Where some kitchens might throw wilting lettuce into the compost, Göschel uses it for pesto. Uneaten rye bread goes into casarecce pasta or pizza dough, making it all taste that bit better in The Alpina’s three restaurants, each its own sophisticated gastronomic adventure. The hotel also hosts events, installations and exhibitions examining various environmental issues.

Saas-Fee Wellness Hostel 4000, Valais
There are youth hostels and then there’s the Wellness Hostel 4000. With a wellness pool (including whirlpool), indoor swimming pool, fitness centre offering beauty treatments and restaurant serving “regional tapas”, this is a venue that acts, looks and feels far more like a luxurious hotel than a traditional youth hostel. When it comes to sustainability, similarly high standards have also been implemented. The building itself is constructed from timber, while solar panels provide solar heating and 100% renewable energy. These factors have helped the venue to achieve the Minergie ECO label, which recognises eco-aware measures such as low-impact construction materials and the utilisation of a high percentage of daylight in place of electricity.

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