green holidays made easier
For magnificent views of London’s skyline Lancaster London is hard to beat. Particularly if your room is on one of the upper floors of its 18 story tower overlooking Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, together at 610 acres the largest of London’s “green lungs”. It is conveniently located for the West End with Oxford Street’s shops just ten minutes’ walk. Fashionable Knightsbridge is slightly further, across the park. There are excellent public transport links. Lancaster Gate tube station is in the same block and Paddington railway station nearby.
Built in 1967 it has been undergoing extensive updating. Décor in public spaces remains traditional: the large marble lobby blends European and Asian; crystal chandeliers and Regency-style furnishings abound.
The 416 rooms and suites, many comfortably furnished in American oak, have double glazing and climate control plus satellite television, direct-dial telephones with voicemail in a choice of nine languages and high-speed Internet access. The en suite marble bathrooms have power showers.
There are two restaurants. The award winning Nipa serves Thai cuisine (reflecting the hotel’s Bangkok based ownership) in an atmospheric teak panelled setting. Island Restaurant & Bar (Modern British), taking its name from the hotel’s island site, is a stylish contemporary split-level space with floor-to-ceiling windows. Traditional afternoon tea, light snacks and drinks are available in the Lounge and Lounge Bar.
The hotel has a business centre, conference facilities for up to 3,000 delegates and also attracts a growing leisure trade.
Previously this hotel was known as the Royal Lancaster.
The eco-friendly measures that hotels can take vary enormously according to their age and design, and expectations must vary too explains Michael Wilton, one of the Lancaster’s Green Team. “It can’t be done overnight.”
Progress has, nonetheless, been swift. The hotel embarked on new action plans in late 2005 and little over a year later had won two awards from the Considerate Hotelier’s Association, a respected trade body. It was named Considerate Hotel of the Year 2006 and, in recognition of its substantial reduction of landfill waste (over 50% per guest per night), also won its “WRAP Waste Management Challenge”.
From a standing start recycling went from nothing to 12 bales of cardboard per week; glass from 10% to almost 100%. “Now recycling is part of our culture.” Moreover the hotel insists on knowing how its contractor disposes of the waste.
The aim is an annual 5% decrease in energy consumption. Duty Managers check that lights, equipment and leaky taps are turned off as each shift starts and ends. Most lights have been replaced with low energy fittings. There are hopes for further savings from “intelligent bedrooms” whereby power is automatically switched off when vacant.
Purchasing Manager Clare Wright visits the main food suppliers to check their eco credentials and buys Fairtrade and local produce where possible.
Several good causes are supported including a local charity for homeless adults, the Anthony Nolan Trust, nearby St Mary’s Hospital and, naturally, the Friends of Hyde Park.
ecofriendlytourist.com visited Lancaster London in April 2007