By Rhonda Carrier
Brits have fully embraced the idea and principles of green holidays and breaks, and there are now masses of eco-friendly family holiday options, including environmentally pioneering youth hostels, country house hotels, boutique hotels, and yurts, tipis and huts. We’ve rounded up our favourite sustainable and environmentally friendly family holidays and breaks around the UK.
One of 11 Forest Holidays sites around the UK, this woodland site is part owned by the Forestry Commission and shares a responsibility for sustaining and conserving our forests. Go for the forest walks and trails, ranger-led activities, kayaking sessions and rock-climbing; cabins themselves are luxurious retreats, most with a private hot tub. Read our feature on a family break at the Forest of Dean Cabins.
One of the original Feather Down Farm glamping sites – eco holidays at their best – Hollings Hill Farm offers safari-style tents and log cabins with outdoor hot tubs. Tents also have outdoor showers and hammocks. With gorgeous views of the Malvern Hills and plenty of scope for walking and biking, they occupy a friendly family-run dairy farm where kids can watch cows being milked and collect eggs from the coop. Read our review of a family break at Hollings Hill Farm.
This is a wonderful, family-friendly dairy farm with a choice of camping and glamping, self-catering in an old apple loft sleeping five, and B&B accommodation in the delightful 14th-century farmhouse. On-site courses range from sausage-making to bee-keeping.
Yarde Orchard, East Yarde
Handy for the Tarka Trail family-friendly cycle route, this site offers yurts, a bell tent and tent pitches along with an organic café hosting music and movie nights and other events.
On a car-free island accessible only by boat, this 17th-century farmhouse couldn’t be farther removed from hectic modern life. Much of the produce used in its restaurant comes from its own farm and gardens, rooms are cosy, and children are very welcome. You’re just a two-minute walk from the Adonis Pool wild swimming spot.
Holder of a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme, this family-friendly country house hotel in the New Forest is a great retreat from the world – especially if you bag one of the stilted treehouse suites in a wooded valley in the grounds, with forest views through floor-to-ceiling windows, plus kitchenettes useful for families. There’s also a spa and indoor and outdoor heated pools.
This boutique hotel with funky, family-friendly rooms (one with self-catering facilities and a cinema screen) has resident chickens from whom children can collect their own breakfast ingredients plus a fruit orchard providing much of the produce for the restaurant. It’s the holder of a Gold Green Tourism Business Scheme award.
Deepdale Farm, Burnham Deepdale
This award-winning backpackers’ hostel includes ensuite family rooms, and also offers various kinds of camping and glamping, among them shepherds’ huts. Set on the north Norfolk coast, it’s perfectly sited for biking, watersports and kiting.
Milden Hall, Lavenham
This ancient estate and working arable farm offers B&B accommodation (including family rooms) in a Tudor farmhouse, plus self-catering group accommodation (for up to 22) in a beautiful 16th-century barn. There are bikes to borrow, pond-dipping and self-guided family farm activities.
The Eco-lodge, near Boston
This wind and solar powered holiday home built from local wood, sleeping four, is handy for the Skegness Natureland Seal Sanctuary and the Sibsey Trader Windmill selling organic flour and local produce, and for local walking and cycling trails. Shiatsu and Seiki treatments are available on site.
These eco-friendly but luxurious residences sleeping up to six, set in private woodland and ancient meadow just north of the Yorkshire Dales, meld sustainable principles with cutting-edge design and technology, for a modern way to get close to nature.
La Rosa Campsite, near Whitby
This quirky site in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park is constructed from recycled, reclaimed and found objects, with accommodation in vintage caravans, showers in a converted byre, a compost loo in an old shepherd’s hut, and an open-air rolltop bath in the orchard.
YHA Langdon Beck, Upper Teesdale
Holder of a TripAdvisor 'greenleaders' label, this intimate country hostel in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is just a 3km walk from High Force waterfall and less than 1km from the Pennine Way. Some rooms are ensuite, and one child eats free with every adult main meal.
The Hytte, Bingfield
This Norwegian-inspired timber hytte or mountain lodge with its grass roof, summerhouse with sauna, hot-tub, log-burner, playing field with games and trampolines and bug hotel for watching wildlife sleeps eight in four bedrooms. Nearby attractions range from farmers’ markets to Hadrian’s Wall and Alnwick Castle.
Funky, colourful and modern, this sleek option is sustainably designed and has been recognised for its environmental practices. Family rooms with Edinburgh Castle views comprise two queen beds, and there’s a swimming pool plus free meals for under-12s.
Loch Ossian Hostel, Rannoch Moor
Perched on the edge of a remote wilderness, this is a superb place for walkers and nature-loving families. At the cutting edge of sustainability, it has wind and solar power, grey water, dry toilet systems and even bat-friendly paint! It’s also a lovely, warm, comfortable place with spectacular scenery that will you all feeling refreshed. Families can book dorms for exclusive use.
This ecologically sound stately home in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park has been a labour of love for its owners, who have planted trees and an organic garden and created a comfy but also beautiful and inspiring place. Guests can rush around doing wholesome outdoor pursuits on the vast estate or just relax. Tent camping (plus river swimming and fishing) is offered in the Old Rose Garden, or the house can sleep up to 17 so is great for house parties or joint family holidays.
Trellyn Woodland Campsite, Pembrokeshire
This eco-friendly campsite with yurts, a dragon-embellished tipi, geo-domes and five tent pitches is only open for a short season to protect the environment and is hence a fabulous place to see wildlife including bats, dragonflies, newts and birds of prey.
Cabin Cariad, Carmarthenshire
This groovy, award-winning log cabin sleeping four is ideal for discovering the beaches of Cardigan Bay and the waterfalls of Cenarth village. Park of a Swedish-inspired holiday park, it has access to a summer swimming pool and kids’ play area.
Holder of numerous green awards and labels, one of our favourite luxury London hotels combines boutique chic with child-friendly amenities including a chlorine-free swimming pool, family rooms and suites, and wonderful kids’ menus in Indigo restaurant and with room service. Read our review of a family break at One Aldwych.
This upscale property handy for the Tower of London is rated one of the greenest hotels in the British capital. Families appreciate its sleek rooms with two queen-size beds, its swimming pool and its babysitting service.
See also our features on Amazing Glamping Sites Around the UK and Best UK Farmstay Holidays with Kids.