As you can probably imagine, I am possessed with anything regarding being green. So, no matter where I go or what I do, I’m always on the lookout for new green ideas and opportunities—especially ideas to which hoteliers can relate.
In October I was fortunate enough to visit parts of Eastern Europe. We flew into Vienna, Austria, and then traveled (sort of following the Danube River) to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Belgrade, Slovakia and Bucharest, Romania.
We had a terrific time, enjoyed our love of history, learned a lot about other cultures and ways of life, had good weather, and were especially grateful for the incredible kindness and helpfulness of the people. Almost everyone speaks English—certainly the younger generations—so that always makes travel easier for us. Older cities can be difficult to navigate, but with help from locals, we always found what we were looking for.
In general, I’d consider all of Europe more green-minded than the US simply because they’ve been at it longer, but also because their cost of energy is much higher and the real estate, in general, is probably more expensive. So, here is info and photos of things I found to be interesting and green.
At the Vienna airport are these benches made of heavy-gauge wire holding large stones and topped with smooth boards. Attractive and very useful.
The hotel in Vienna had a heated bathroom floor with this control under the sink. It was really not cold enough to need the heated floor because of winter weather, but my tired feet enjoyed the warm floor very much.
This type of soap dispenser is common in Europe. It works well, is efficient, and, clearly, easy to refill.
Budapest is a very bright, very clean, very tourist-ready city. We saw individual street cleaners hard at work early, late and all day long everywhere we went.
You’ll see these large recycling collection containers all over Europe. They’re colorful, bright, clearly marked, generally clean and ready to accept recyclables.
I especially liked this 3-way bedside reading lamp. There was a choice of the larger, upper lampshade CFL or two small, more direct LED lights. Since I especially like to read in bed, this was great.
Bicycle paths are common in Budapest though not as heavily used as in some parts of Europe. They’re well marked and convenient for bikers. Here are two photos of attractive bike stands in public park areas.
The Budapest hotel was very large and very attractive. I loved it that they had these beautiful cabinets in the hallways for collection of recyclables. It is also a convenient way for guests to share with one another. For instance, people left unwanted snacks, fruit or partially drunk bottles of wine for others to consume.
Here a guest’s newspaper is conveniently hung on the doorknob with a cord attached to a fold of light cardboard beautifully imprinted with the hotel name. Obviously, it can be reused many times.
A planter made from a used tire adorned restaurant outdoor seating in Budapest, and held a beautiful blooming red-flowered plant.
Our hotel in Belgrade was quite new and had this glass shower wall in the guestroom. The shower area was large and roomy and the frosted glass wall brought daylight into the bathroom. An interesting change.
In Belgrade wherever we walked, we noticed these condensation collection bottles along the street. Clearly the water can be used in many ways. I thought it was really smart that so many people were collecting the water.
Our Belgrade windows overlooked the roof of another portion of the property that included meeting space. This rooftop was covered with artificial grass, and had a number of skylights to brighten the space below. The skylights also had electric lighting that can shine down through the skylight.
The hotel hallways in Belgrade were exceptionally dark as you can see in this photo. It was not a problem, but I’d guess that most US hoteliers would not be comfortable with such dim lighting.
Two of the hotels in which we stayed had what appeared to me to be an excessive number of things for sale. In fact, at one point I said, “I don’t know if we’re in a guestroom or a shop” there was so much for sale. In this room, I think I counted almost 50 items offered for sale in the refrigerator, on a tray, and on shelves.
Maybe you’ve wished for a shower plumbing fixture that would allow you to choose the same water temperature each time you shower. Me too. So, with this plumbing fixture in Bucharest, there is a knob that allows the choice of a certain temperature. It was super to instantly set the water temperature just as you wish!
Our Bucharest hotel was mostly a business property, and they printed several out-of-town online newspapers on large (11”x17”±) paper, bound them and left them on the news rack for guests to read. That was a special treat even though all hotels had computers available for guests’ use as well as wifi.
These monster recycling collection containers in Bucharest are almost covered with colorful posters mostly about upcoming events in the area. So, they’re useful in more ways than one.
On a Saturday morning we went to a street market that was beside a public park. This group of birdhouses was such a beautiful thing to see that the sight really brightened our day. Apparently they were about to be installed in the park.
This sight of a broken up, filthy recycling collection container at the Bucharest train station was gross, but this is a post-communist country and their infrastructure still suffers. I have to be glad they’re recycling.
A lovely Bucharest restaurant in an old building had these flat panel space heaters in the ceiling of an addition to the building. A staff member said they work very well, but heat only directly below the panel.
Back in Vienna at an airport hotel, I found that I really liked their use of glass. After entering the guestroom, the bathroom door on the right is heavy frosted glass with a few stripes and is very attractive. On the left is a 3-section suite of furnishings. First a narrow closet with a glass-faced door. The reason I particularly like this glass-doored closet is that one is not apt to forget and leave a clothing item in the closet (which, of course, I have done).
In the middle is a luggage rack area which means your things are very convenient to the bathroom.
Last is a glass door with shelving in the top half and a glass-faced refrigerator below. The fridge’s glass front made it handy for seeing at a glance what is in the fridge.
Again, it was a fabulous trip, and the people, in every way possible, could not have been nicer or more hospitable. I look forward to many future travels and green hotel stays.
I was so impressed with the people’s kindness that I decided I wanted to do something for others while there. I decided I’d be a camera person and offer to take photos of families of groups with their camera so they could all be in the photo. Sometimes we’re embarrassed to ask others to take photos for us. My offer to take photos startled some people, and perhaps some thought I might steal their camera, but it was actually a wonderful experience for me. Of course, if they spoke English, they immediately understood what I was offering. However, a lady alone with a squirmey 2-year old apparently thought at first that I wanted to get in the photo with her daughter, and that really made me laugh. A group of 6 young men were happy to have a photo in front of the main university building with all of them in it. A family of 4 enjoyed having a group photo taken in a castle setting. It was fun, and I know I’ll continue to offer when traveling.