Eco hotels meet luxury in Asia

Eco hotels are fascinating. Haver you ever stopped to think what might be going on atop the roof of your hotel?

Or indeed, way down in the sea below it?

As these 5 luxury eco hotels in Asia demonstrate, it’s probably a lot more than you realise.

From rooftop greenhouses to deep-sea coral regrowth programmes, the sustainable practices these eco hotels are employing land them firmly on our list of places to stay in Asia this year.


Eco hotels in Asia

Gili Lankanfushi does barefoot luxury like no other. Their 1,700 square meter, two-storey Private Reserve is the largest water villa in the world. The Mr/Ms Friday personal butlers are mind-reading angels, and the tailor-made food is a triumph. But beyond the gorgeous location and top-notch service, Gili Lankanfushi is concerned about its environment. This has lead the hotel to construct its villas using sustainable materials. It also maintain’s an eco-friendly philosophy, launch an outright ban on plastic, and put forward their best marine conservation efforts.

The villas at Gili are all built using eco-friendly materials with thatched roofs. Open plan spaces to allow for maximum airflow, so minimum use of air conditioners. The hotel has its own organic garden, so you know your Ayurvedic meal has ultra fresh ingredients. Waste management is also stringent in the kitchen; where they remove excess water to make compost.

Gili Lankanfushi are also big on sustainable marine practices. Visit their marine biology learning and research centre to learn about their efforts to regrow coral. You can even adopt a coral line and receive updates on it after your trip.

Complimentary yoga and meditation is on offer daily, and the spa has a glass bottom so you can watch the reef sharks glide by while getting a treatment.

– Words by Mar Pages / Once in a Lifetime Journey


Eco hotels in Asia

Introducing Akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok, Asia’s first single-use plastic free hotel. This groundbreaking hotel is part of the AKARYN Hotel Group, with pioneering founder Anchalika Kijkanakorn at the helm. It’s Kijkanakorn’s penchant for luxury, respect for community and passion for the globe ensuring that neither quality or sustainability are overlooked.

Positioned in the heart of Bangkok’s up and coming Sukhumvit district, guests can expect to see forward thinking sustainable practices. The hotel encourages and enables guests to live an eco-friendly stay. They’re provided with bio-degradable bags, reusable shopping totes and stainless steel water bottles to refill at the ample water fountains around the hotel. Bathroom products are locally-made from essential oils and are packaged in locally manufactured celadon containers. The hotel’s aesthetic focuses on natural wood accents with a minimalist black, grey and white colour palette throughout.

The AKARYN Hotel Group committed to eliminating single-use plastic across all of their Thai hotels and resort by 2020. They smashed this target 6 months early, in June 2019. The group collectively contribute to the Pure Blue Foundation whose conservation efforts include coral reef restoration and turtle conservation.


The Balé Phnom Penh was the first architecturally designed luxury resoprt in Cambodia’s capital city. They started welcoming guests in 2017.

Introducing the property is a pink Palimanan sandstone walkway, surrounded by ponds, with a single Buddha statue as its centrepiece. Lee Kuan Yew plants cascade down its walls and – at the front of the hotel – a set of towering palms separate a generous pool from the Tonle Sap river just beyond.

The rest of the hotel – a gym, a restaurant/bar and 18 suites – is woven together by open walkways. River rooms feature private courtyards, and massive en suites with full-size baths.

The Balé Phnom Penh has sustainability at its core. In the Theato Restaurant, the menu offers local produce such as buffalo fillet served with rice paddy herb broth. At the bar, cocktails are mixed with local spirits including rum from Cambodia’s first rum distillery. The hotel is plastic-free, and all guests receive a stainless steel water bottle at check-in which they can top-up at stations dotted around the property. Metal straws take the place of plastic, and paper bags are used for bin liners.

The Balé also makes an effort to provide employment opportunities to people from the local area. Most staff are hired from the small village where the hotel is located.

– Words by Emily Lush / The Wander Lush


The Mandarin Oriental Group have won 3 awards for their environmental efforts. The Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur offers glitz, glamour and luxury with an abundance environmentally friendly practices.

The hotel processes its food wastes into fertiliser, and they have a large rooftop greenhouse which guests can peruse. Eating in one of the hotel’s restaurants will allow you to sample the delicious greens fresh from the greenhouse.

You can enjoy any of their seafood dishes knowing they are sourced from sustainable fish farms. This is even certified on your bill by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

While there’s always room for improvement, the Mandarin Oriental are making waves to ensure they make a difference to the environment; one example is their pledge to eliminate all single-use plastics by the end of 2020.

Watch this space.

– Words by Fiona Berry / Passport and Piano

READ NEXT: Top 10 Kuala Lumpur attractions

Penang, Malaysia: Hotel Penaga

Eco hotels in Asia

This luxury eco-hotel, Hotel Penaga, is built in a heritage building located at the heart of Georgetown. The owners (an architect and an artist/environmentalist) re-modelled the hotel, keeping its original layout and decor but updating the facilities. It’s the first restored heritage building in Malaysia with a green rating, which is why we love it even more.

All the details come together beautifully in this luxury hotel. Walls are decorated with works of art from resident artists. Lights have been replaced by LEDs to be as efficient as possible. Roof tiles were salvaged from demolished buildings in Penang. Timber came from demolished colonial buildings throughout the peninsula. Anything new is mainly handmade, in turn supporting the local economy and artists.

– Words by Carine & Derek / We did it our way

– Find more eco hotels in our guide to responsible tourism

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