Battersea is not well-known for its hotels, and certainly not eco-hotels. In fact, you’re much more likely to associate it with power stations. So opening an ‘environmentally conscious’ luxury hotel here is a rather brave move.
Hotel Rafayel is not an eco-hotel in the log-cabin/treehouse sense of the word. It’s a five star hotel with all the trappings – a spa, a gym, a steam room. Even its own patisserie, MyChelle’s Baketique, with a tantalising display of freshly-frosted cupcakes.
But the hotel does have at its heart a commitment to minimising its carbon footprint and the amount of waste it produces. High-tech heating and ventilation means heat generated in one part of the hotel is transferred to other parts that need heating. The hotel collects rainwater on the rooftop to water all the plants and flush the toilets. And, according to the hotel, its advanced LED lighting system uses up to 80% less energy than standard energy-efficient halogen bulbs.
Though a little dark (a consequence of the lighting), I really liked the bedrooms: plenty of space, stylish artwork and floor-to-ceiling windows, though my view of Halfords was not as inspiring as that from rooms on the other side of the building. The super-comfy beds are made by a company with a zero-carbon footprint and, instead of disposable miniature toiletries in the bathrooms there are large, refilled bottles of organic, vegan, products. The hotel intends for no waste to come out of guest bedrooms at all.
Lots of eco-positives, then, but also a few negatives. Dinner at the restaurant, Banyan On the Thames, was fantastic but I was disappointed not to see a commitment to locally-sourced produce. My Cromer crab was delicious but the mango with which it was served had no doubt jetted half-way round the world to join it. Ditto the fresh fruits at breakfast in the morning. An on-site florist, which flies in fresh flowers from Holland once a week, also sits uneasily with an environmentally-conscious ethos. Neither can you escape the fact that Hotel Rafayel is right next door to London Heliport, and the hotel is openly expecting guests to arrive by helicopter. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from Clapham Junction train station but there was little to persuade guests to walk instead of using the free car transfer available.
There are several ways in which this hotel could boost its eco-credentials further, and its mirrored bathrooms and 32-inch TVs won’t satisfy every green traveller. But if you’re looking for a hotel in London where energy consumption and waste are really taken seriously – and where the cupcakes are to die for – then Hotel Rafayel is a pretty good bet.
See the hotel’s website for prices.