Finding affordable, yet clean and comfortable accommodation in Auckland, the City of Sails can be a bit of a challenge during peak travel periods or major events. One place that – according to its online reviews – consistently gets it right is the City Lodge, a “five-star” backpacker and budget accommodation right in the city center.
Owned and run by non-profit organization YMCA, City Lodge has made itself a name as the place to stay when visiting Auckland because of its central location, high standard rooms and facilities, and down to earth prices.
City Lodge: Auckland’s eco-friendly backpackers
It must be around 11pm when we reach City Lodge backpacker and budget accommodation. This being a Friday evening, people around us are all dressed up, ready for action. Our late arrival doesn’t bother the night receptionist, who gives us a warm greeting, a key and some useful instructions – just about all we need.
Both at the reception and on our way to the room (taking the lift to 8th floor), we notice that everything is spotlessly clean. The room comes with a queen bed, flat screen TV, fridge, tea and coffee, and en suite bathroom. The mattress turns out surprisingly comfortable.
Here and there we notice small signs, encouraging us to save water, switch off lights when leaving the room. Common sense, perhaps, but useful reminders all the same. Showers have flow restrictions installed, and of course we are encouraged to reuse our towels for another day, just as we would at home.
Next morning we meet Krishna, City Lodge’s duty manager, who takes us on a quick tour around the building. Stops include: the courtyard (worm farm, garden covered with bark for water retention, planting of bee-friendly shrubs) to kitchen (organic waste bin, clothes donation initiative, eco-friendly dish washing liquid), right into the basement (heating system, light bulb recycling) and laundry (two of the guest washing machines operating on cold water only, complimentary laundry detergent bought in bulk to reduce waste, motion sensor lighting).
Hotel sustainability: one initiative at a time
Like most of the hotel managers pressing for environmental and social best practice whom we have met so far, Krishna strikes us as not just committed to the green cause, but also humble and honest about the fact that, operating on a budget hotel’s tight margin, there’s only that much he can do in terms of sustainability improvement at any given time.
Sometimes, he tells us, things just don’t work out well, despite best intentions. For instance, the hostel’s rented courtyard bees left at first opportunity, probably due to lack of fodder, despite City Lodge’s eager planting of bee friendly shrubs.
Time is another constraint, as everyone is busy with their professional and personal lives. Despite this, Krishna and his colleagues make sure every new member of staff participates in City Lodge’s induction programme, which covers anything from water conservation, waste management, energy efficiency conservation and community initiatives.
What we have learned from Krishna and City Lodge during our two night stay there is that dedication to environmental and social best practice does not necessarily depend on the budget available, nor does it compromise a hotel’s ability to deliver high-standard accommodation.
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