When the opportunity to stay at “London’s Greenest Hotel” comes along, it’s not something to be passed up easily.
On my travels around the UK, Europe and Asia I’ve had the chance to stay at a number of eco lodges, accommodations working hard towards sustainability, and at many small, locally owned, and family run guest houses and hotels (which are a great way of supporting local communities through tourism). How would London’s Greenest Hotel measure up?
When it comes to London hotels, there are a couple of big-names who are making serious inroads into sustainability. There are not, however, many options that offer both environmental sustainability and sustainability for one’s wallet.
Enter the Qbic hotel London.
QBIC London Hotel Review
Staying at the QBIC Hotel London was a chance for me to not only discover the hotel and what they are doing, but it was also a chance for me to rediscover a new part of my hometown.
I spent my early years living in London, but it has been 7 years since I last called London home. In the meantime, many areas of London have changed. Perhaps no part of London has changed more than Shoreditch, Whitechapel and other patches of East London – where the QBIC hotel is located. Once one of the poorest areas of London with working class families jammed in almost on top of one another, central East London has transformed into one of London’s most culturally diverse, artistic, and some might say hipster (and therefore expensive) neighbourhoods.
Environmental Sustainability at the QBIC Hotel
It would be hard to stay at the QBIC hotel and not notice at least some of the things they are doing to minimise their environmental impact on the world. Named “Greenest Hotel in London” as winners of the TripAdvisor Greenleaders program, I’m definitely not the only one to have noticed.
Walking into the bathroom I couldn’t help but smile at the organic toiletries in the shower – conveniently called ‘Stop the Water Whlle You Use Me’. And honestly, it worked. I did turn off the shower while I shampooed my hair. Staying in the bathroom, the hotel has also fitted rain showers that mixes air into the water – therefore making it one of the most water efficient rain shower heads around.
Beyond the bathroom there are incentives to avoid room cleaning for multi night stays unless absolutely necessary. And for the sceptics out there – this is not just about saving money for QBIC. A cute teddy bear hanging on the wall invites you to hang him on the door to advise housekeepers that their services will not be needed. In exchange? A free drink for you at the bar! I don’t know about you, but a free cocktail sounds like a good enough incentive to do my bit for the planet to me…
You’ll also find them doing all the extremely important but far less sexy stuff to reduce the hotel’s footprint – from keycard operated lighting and energy savers, to solar power, to chemical free cleaning products. A couple of my personal favourites:
- The hotel provides filtered drinking water in glass bottles in each room – no need for plastic!
- The amazingly comfy and very large beds which are handmade using only organic and natural fibres such as lambswool and cotton, by a company called Natural Mat.
QBIC hotel has also been built in a manner that is more sustainable than most. Rather than putting up a new building, QBIC hotels took over a disused office building, and renovated it.
The renovation process isn’t typical either. As the name implies, QBIC hotels are essentially built of cubes – “the Qbi room”. Each ‘Cube’ contains the bed, lights, light switches, electricity sockets and everything that is needed inside the bedroom. On the backside of the bed-wall are all of the bathroom fittings are attached – therefore making them material efficient, quick and easy to install. As well great to use – none of that having to charge your phone on the opposite side of the room nonsense.
Art & Community at the QBIC Hotel
Being in trendy, arty East London, art forms an important part of the hotel and its relationship with the community. The walls are decorated with pieces from local artists, and the hotel supports Cafe Art. Cafe Art is an initiative that reconnects those affected by homelessness through art, and the studio is located in the basement of Hotel QBIC – space that has been donated by the hotel by the cause.
The hotel regularly hosts exhibitions and events that local residents of the area, hotel guests, writers, bloggers and anyone interested in the local art scene can attend.
The hotel is also a great base for exploring street art in the local area. I got up early and took a wander up Brick Lane (just 5 minutes from the hotel) and enjoyed snapping some of the spectacular street art murals there. I’m not at all knowledgeable about street art, but for those curious to know more, I recommend taking a street art tour such as this one run by Unseen Tours (who employ those affected by homelessness as tour guides.)
Food & Atmosphere at QBIC
The bar area / lobby / restaurant area (it’s all open plan) is comfortable, cosy, informal and decorated with works from Art Cafe, and in short is the sort of place you could happily stay all day! I didn’t have the chance to sample their dinner menu – I was too busy stuffing myself with yummy curry at nearby Tayyab‘s.
A tip for those visiting London – avoid Brick Lane curries which have become overrated and under-delicious. Just tucked away around the corner, Tayyab’s was recommended to me by the hotel and didn’t disappoint! The Punjabi food was so good that I ate it all before remembering to take a photo :-).
Breakfast was a huge buffet full of delicious and healthy options, with small plates that can be ordered a la carte. The pancakes I had were delish. It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of healthy, vegetarian and vegan options on the hotel menu for breakfast / lunch / dinner, and the hotel uses locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.
My Overall Impression
What I liked most about QBIC was that they are big on sustainability, but in a way that makes you feel good. It’s not heavy on the guilt factor about taking a long shower etc, but rather focuses on making changes in a positive way.
I loved this place for the value it provides as well – with very competitive rates for London, this hotel provides great quality. And the bed is one of the best I’ve slept in!
About QBIC hotels. QBIC are a Dutch company and own two hotels – this one in London and one in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Both take environmental sustainability very seriously, and their Amsterdam hotel has been certified by Green Globe. QBIC are also a certified B Corp. Find out more on their website.
More: Looking for eco-friendly places to stay? Read my guide on How to Find Sustainable Accommodation here.
Pin this Post!
A Londoner by birth Ellie has lived in the UK, Netherlands, India and now Canada. Prior to blogging, she worked for 12 years in hospitality and online travel. Ellie started this blog during a sabbatical trip in 2015 around South Asia, to help conscious travellers find the best inspiration for their next sustainable trip. When not travelling, she is happiest with wine, pasta and a good (travel) book. Ellie is also Founder of Soul Travel Consulting which helps travel brands communicate their sustainability initiatives.