5. Eastern Europe: Krumlov House (Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic)
© Krumlov House. Stay in a historic stone home.
"We want to change the world, one bed at a time," say the Krumlov House's owners, an American-Canadian couple who met in Cesky Krumlov, a medieval riverfront town about 100 miles south of Prague. To do so, they've installed solar panels and radiator reflectors on their 400-year-old stone house and decked it out with Energy Star-certified appliances, reclaimed wood, and organic cotton sheets. They air-dry all the laundry, support other locally owned businesses, and have even contracted with a wind-powered Internet provider to host their Web site. Guests can enjoy cycling, boating, and horseback riding nearby.
6. Reykjavik City Hostel (Reykjavik, Iceland)
© Reykjavik City Hostel. Scenes from Icelandic hostel life.
The modern Reykjavik City Hostel is the star of the Hostelling International Iceland network, an organization that has its own environmental policy covering purchasing, waste, energy use, landscaping, and outreach to guests. Certified with the Nordic countries' official Swan eco-label, Reykjavik City is located in Laugardalur Park, a popular recreation area close to the city center. Guests can buy bus passes or rent bikes at the front desk, or peruse the "small but growing" environmental library. The hostel hosts environmental volunteers, works with green NGOs, and has been recognized by the city for its environmental contributions.
Honorable Mentions: The Berunes Hostel in Djúpivogur serves up local fish and meat, grows its own potatoes, and offers hiking maps to guests. The Seyðisfjörður Hostel in the town of the same name has a clothes-swapping corner, while the Hvoll Hostel donates its waste to a nearby town where it is used to produce energy.
7. Scandinavia: Kulturgården Guest House (Bråtadal, Sweden)
© Kulturgården Guest House. A rural retreat.
Idyllically located near the Björkekullen nature reserve in southern Sweden, the lakeside Kulturgården Guest House offers easy access to scenic nature paths and beaches. The certified organic kitchen uses fresh vegetables, berries, fruit, and grains from the on-site "culture farm," a self-sufficient operation run like farms were in the 1940s that is sure to delight families with kids. Showers and toilets are located in an earthen building and the owners aim to renovate more structures using eco-friendly methods. Kulturgården recycles household waste, minimizes its use of disposable packaging, and uses renewable sources of energy whenever possible.
Honorable Mentions: Recycling doesn't get much more creative than turning a junked Boeing 747 into Stockholm's Jumbo Hostel. In Denmark, the Sleep-in Green in central Copenhagen is decked out with second-hand furniture, offers an organic breakfast, gets part of its power from solar panels, and flushes its toilets with rainwater. Hikers, horseback riders, fishers, and skiers will enjoy the rustic Mjolfjell Youth Hostel near Voss, Norway, which runs its own mini-hydroelectric plant to power the ski lift and heat the pool.
8. Southern Europe: Centre Ecologic Ilemena Hostel (Girona, Spain)
© Centre Ecologic Ilemena Hostel. The peaceful Pyrennes.
Known by the acronym CEL, the Catalan word for "heaven," the Centre Ecologic Ilemena Hostel is located in the foothills of the Pyrennes, about an hour and a half north of Barcelona. Whether they stay in the 12th-century country house or camp out on part of the hostel's 165 hectares of land, guests can enjoy the natural, stream-fed swimming pool, vegetarian meals sourced from the organic garden, and an abundance of nearby hiking and biking trails. Mattresses in the main house are made from 100 percent natural latex and an on-site store sells organic wine, personal-care products, and other goods. The hostel welcomes yoga groups and is working on permaculture-based agriculture and water-purification systems. Says one guest: "You really feel like you are a part of the history and environment."
Honorable Mention: The centrally located Shiado Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal, has energy-efficient reading lights, refurbished furniture, and a yoga center and macrobiotic institute as next-door neighbors.
Find hip green hostels in the Asia-Pacific region and in Central America on page 3.