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How to be eco-friendly
with a holiday rental

27 March 2019 | Gattaldo

Giving your guests the best possible service while being socially responsible

Does this sound like an oxymoron? When we speak of eco-friendly accommodation, what usually comes to mind is a timber cabin nestled in the middle of nowhere with an open fire, lots of rustic charm and a septic tank. So is it possible to run a boutique accommodation in a 450 year old townhouse to a high standard while still loving the planet?

This was the question we asked ourselves as Guardian-reading, tree-hugging Londoners when we first bought the house. It's all about being responsible. We had to make the right choices when it came to the restoration of the house. Sourcing things locally on an island the size of a stamp proved rather difficult so wherever possible we tried to re-use building materials from the house and elsewhere. We also looked into ways of insulating the roofs and some walls while installing double glazed windows. Summer's the killer on a Mediterranean island so introducing airflow sorts out hot nights and also gets rid of  excess humidity.
Furniture wise, aside from the kitchen, we went for antique, which is another word for recycled,

or commissioned local craftspeople to make bespoke pieces for us.

The 'novelty vs used' dilemma

At home we try and use things for as long as we can, recycling them into other things when they're past their date (oh, ugly phrase - past their date!) but we somehow expect things in hotels and rentals to be brand new. This is because the very idea that these things were used by many before us seems to offend us. This can be a dilemma for the owner, so we tend to buy good quality stuff for the accommodation and when they're past-their-date (ouch!), we adopt them in our London home. We're proud that our sheets are hand me downs from the best boutique notel (by the way, that's another name for a non-hotel accommodation). The great thing is that quality stuff ages well. For example, a beautifully crafted wooden object actually looks better once it has been lived-in. Same with a marble or brass surface for example - age ripens them.

Addressing single use plastic

Plastic is an amazing and practical material... until you come to dispose of it so, rightly so, we're becoming more conscious of the need to reduce single-use plastic. There's no shame in constantly rethinking your strategy. We've recently introduced re-usable light coffee cups for our guests to carry with them if they fancy a coffee on the run. We have opted to replace the small free toiletries you get

in hotels with wall hanging dispensers in the shower. At home we're experimenting with options to replace the sponge (non-biodegradable). We've been testing a wooden brush to see if it does the job before we inflict it on our guests.


Provision was made to harvest and re-use rainwater. The great thing about most of the old Maltese houses is that they are built on top of  a cistern which collects rain water from the roof. We had a second tank installed on the roof to which the cistern water is pumped. This water is in turn used to water plants and for the toilet.

Informing our guests

Well, I thought educating would sound patronising so I went for informing. It isn't patronising of course because we learn as much from our guests if not more. It’s a great idea to get guests involved in loving the planet. In the green box below we have a few tips we encourage our guests to follow.

Try your best

The thing is there's always more to do and, unless we're ready to leave everything and live off the land (tempting I know), we're always a work in progress and there will always be other things we can do to save the planet. We all need to do our best. Do tell us what else we could do with Indulgence Divine.

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Our Green Tips

We love our home and our local community and we hope during your stay you'll come to love it too. We have here some simple tips, to help us respect the local environment.

1.Keep shower time to a maximum of five minutes. Turn the tap off while soaping.

2. Likewise turn the tap off while brushing your teeth or shaving.

3. Open the windows for fresh air at least for a few minutes every day, including in winter. It helps have a more comfortable stay.

4. Close all windows when AC is switched on.

5. Turn all lights off when not in the room/house.

6. Carry our multi-use coffee cups with you, should you want to have a coffee on the run.

7. Always remember to carry our bag-for-life with you when you go out, just in case you buy something.

8. Please follow the recycling instructions (appropriate bin in kitchen) and recycle whatever is recyclable (paper, plastic, tin and glass)

9. Wherever possible please support our local shops and restaurants. They're what make the area what it is.

10. Besides the normal set of towels on the bed, we provide extra towels. We seal these so as to encourage you to pause before using more towels than are necessary.

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