What a night in Africa's greenest hotel is really like
You don't think of an airport hotel stay as a generally pleasant experience. Noisy. Bad food. In a rush. And questionable standards of hygiene as business and leisure travellers are passing through hotel doors in bulk.
But Hotel Verde is different. Way different.
The first hotel in Africa to offer high-end, carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing with minimal environmental impact, there is no better place to stay before or after a flight to neutralise your carbon footprint. Just one example of its sustainability practices: the lifts use regenerative braking on 'light' travel cycles, saving 30% of the energy it would normally use. Not only that, but guests can generate power for the building by taking the stairs up and taking the lift down.
From my hotel room, I see Cape Town International Airport clear as day. Planes take off and land. But the hotel feels like an oasis. It's quiet because of the double-glazed windows and the surrounding wetlands drown out the traffic sounds and grey that hangs over Airport Industria.
Situated just 5 minutes from the terminal and 15 minutes from the Cape Town CBD, this green hotel offers 145 spacious and tastefully decorated rooms with extremely comfortable beds as well as unique indoor and outdoor facilities. Outside your window, you see the wetlands which are home to 100 types of indigenous and endemic, water-wise vegetation, and two beehives housing over 60 000 Cape honey bees. I stayed away as I'm allergic!
There is a jogging trail, an outdoor gym, an indoor gym, and an eco-pool. The pool is icy cold, and the best way to refresh before or after a long-haul flight.
Then, we must speak about food. Nuovo Restaurant's is where you'll enjoy all your meals. And you will enjoy each and every one. I never expect much from the food at an airport hotel as airplane food and airport hotel food fall into the same category for me.
But aside from the scrumptious cheesy omelette, I had at breakfast, the lunch and dinner à la carte menu features tasty meals made from ingredients that are locally produced, responsibly sourced and seasonal.
One of the best things of this hotel is that it constantly offers you as the guest incentives to lower your carbon footprint. You almost can't avoid it!
You can earn and trade with an in-house currency called 'Verdinos'. That means you can choose not to use the air-conditioning, or to use power-generating gym equipment, to reuse your towels, to take the stairs instead of the lift, go for a jog or walk around the wetlands, choose not to use the additional set of pillows in your room, and separate your waste correctly into the split bins available in your room - all to earn this green 'currency'. Then use it towards your bill at the bar.
Thing is, you're probably not going to stay at an airport hotel on your way into a city like Cape Town with its vibrant neighbourhoods and city hotels. But when you have an early morning or late evening flight, settling in at Hotel Verde will undoubtedly be the smartest choice you'll make, not only for yourself but also for the environment.
See all their eco-initiatives here.
*Marisa Crous was hosted by Hotel Verde for a one night stay.