Many hotel brands are becoming more conscious of their role in environmental preservation -- think solar panels, bathroom missives urging you to reuse your towel, and furnishings made from recycled materials -- but leave it up to progressive Amsterdam to create a small and affordable hotel chain entirely focused on sustainability.
The Conscious Hotels chain currently counts two Amsterdam properties: one in Vondelpark and the other in Museum Square, close to the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum. We stayed at the Vondelpark property, which places you steps away from the leafy park for which it is named and directly in front of the Overtoomsesluis tram stop on the No. 1 line. Both are within walking distance, or a short tram ride, from major attractions, but if you want to really get the Amsterdam experience, rent a bicycle from reception (€15 or about $18.65 for 24 hours) and zip around town the way the locals do.
The bright guestrooms are designed with decorated murals on back walls and chic furnishings. While the aesthetic may seem typical of sleek boutique hotels, that assumption belies some innovative eco-friendly touches -- Coco-Mat brand beds are made from from all-natural materials, desktops from recycled coffee cups, and the bathroom countertops from pressed paper. Hans Grohe showers use 35 percent less water by pumping air through the showerhead, and organic toiletries come in large dispensers (no wasteful small bottles).
The green theme extends throughout the hotel: There's a living plant wall, staff uniforms are made from organic cotton, and the roof is covered in plants that keep the hotel warm in winter and cool in summer. Stationary, menus, and signs are all FSC-certified -- meaning the paper comes from responsibly managed forests. Lobby lounges offer a generous daily buffet breakfast with all organic produce for €12 ($14.92), but if you miss it, there are drinks and snacks available all day. The Vondelpark property also offers day passes for the fitness center next door.
December rates in Vondelpark begin at €59 ($74) a night and in Museum Square at €69 ($86) a night. WiFi is included, and there are always specials online. There's a 15 percent off promo for December rates, for example, if you book before the end of November and enter the code WELOVEYOU.