Checking into the world's first 'net-zero carbon hometel'

Updated on 29 September 2022 | 0 Comments

Room2 Chiswick in west London claims to be 89% more energy efficient than your average UK hotel, with an impressive list of eco-focused innovations, paired with a cosy and relaxed atmosphere. Abra Dunsby checks in.

Room2 – unassumingly tucked down a backstreet off well-to-do Chiswick high street – is a hotel that likes to do things differently.

No big, brash lobbies, wasteful breakfast buffets and giant bathtubs here – this laidback 86-room boutique, which claims to be the world's first "100% net-zero carbon hotel", has a home-away-from home feel (hence the 'hometel' epithet).

Here, you'll find a plant-filled communal living room instead of a lobby, where friendly staff check you in on iPads and ask to message you on WhatsApp; thoughtfully designed rooms fitted with kitchens and dining tables, so you can cook yourself an affordable dinner; and hallway carpets made from recycled fishing nets. 

Room2 Chiswick living room area

Room2 Chiswick's net-zero forecasts take into account the building's entire life cycle, from its construction and operation to its eventual deconstruction. It hopes to use 89% less energy than your average UK hotel thanks to clever features including pumps that delve 200 metres below ground to draw heat energy from the earth, solar panels on the roof, triple glazing throughout and power showers that use 40% less water.

Further impressive eco innovations include a bug hotel on the roof, home to 75,000 bees and covered in wildflowers to boost biodiversity; plus two lab rooms, which will help the hotel learn over time how guests use them to make further improvements.

Interactive screens near the check-in area encourage you to find out more about the hotel's achievements, which include winning a Gold award by Green Tourism. 

READ MORE: Check out more of the world's eco hotels

High hopes

Though it's hard not to feel sceptical about some elements, such as the property's offsetting of carbon via a reforestation partner in Nicaragua (offsetting remains a controversial concept), the sustainability efforts feel genuinely heartfelt here and the commitment certainly goes far beyond the symbolic gestures made by some hotels. 

Not only that, but the entire space has a warm, inviting and unpretentious atmosphere – from the living room-come-bar, café and co-working space, to the bedrooms, decorated with furniture by local designers and craftspeople, all sourced from within 10 miles of the hotel.

Room2 Chiswick bar

The decor throughout is inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, which was big in Chiswick in the 19th century, and everything feels playful and personality-packed, from the lifts, pepped up with bespoke, colourful marbled wallpaper and wobbly mirrors, to the mirror-lined bar.

Thoughtful touches

My courtyard-level lounge room is modern and cheerful, with dusty pink walls, a large blue and white-striped headboard and a handwoven geometric bed throw in shades of orange, blue and yellow. A sofa bench scattered with cushions is backed by large windows that look out onto a rainbow-hued mural dotted with ferns.

Mid-century-style kitchen units in dark wood and vintage lamps ramp up the cosy factor, while thoughtful touches include a couple of complimentary beers in the fridge, a full fruit bowl and oat milk for my vegan friend. There's even a handbuilt recycling bin that separates out food waste.

Room2 Chiswick snug room

In the bathroom, there's a large shower that's big enough for two, as well as sumptuous-smelling products from Doers of London (refillable, of course). The forest green tiles, contrasted with cheeky wallpaper featuring cartoon-like nudes, ensure there's plenty of fun in here too. 

Home away from home

Room2's facilties include a small gym with cork yoga mats and swish Peloton machines. While there's currently no restaurant (the hotel has partnerships with Deliveroo and frozen food providers Cook) there is a café/bar in the living room which serves breakfast sandwiches, coffee and pastries by day, and cocktails by night.

Room2 Chiswick gym

I love the multi-purpose feel of the sofa-studded living room, which is used by Chiswick locals as a relaxed space to work in, or hunker down in after dark with a boardgame. 

With check out at 2pm for all guests, it's a treat to wake up at leisure in the comfy bed and relax in the room without feeling rushed. 

Room2 Chiswick feels pioneering without being contrived and you get a sense that everyone – from the staff to the guests staying here – are proud of its ambitions. If this is what the hotel of the future looks like, it feels very hopeful indeed. 

Rooms at room2 Chiswick start from £189 per night for two people staying in a snug room. For more information, visit Room2 currently also has hotels in Hammersmith, London; and Southampton, with plans to open in Belfast in May 2023. 

All images courtesey of Room2, Chiswick

READ MORE: The best affordable eco destinations to visit this year


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