Going green doesn’t mean you have to forgo those little luxuries. These small, family run businesses are leading the way in sustainable tourism to offer the ultimate eco retreat. #SecretEssex

Hedingham Huts interior

Hedingham Huts

This bespoke shepherd hut was designed and built onsite by Andy, fourth generation farmer, who still works the small arable farm. The hut runs on solar powered electricity with multiple USB charging ports and compost toilet. Yet it is beautifully kitted out inside with all your home comforts. Walk 15 mins into Castle Hedingham, a quaint medieval village, home to a castle, pubs, a restaurant, and tearooms. £105pn. Discounted rate for 3 nights or more. 1hr from London by direct train, 20 min drive from Braintree station. 

The Fieldbarns at Bullocks Farm interior

The Fieldbarns at Bullocks Farm

Set at the edge of a working family farm, overlooking fields, hay bales and beautiful gardens, step inside one of three luxury boutique barns. Each sleeping 4, the self-catering barns are powered where possible by air source heat pumps and solar panels. Be welcomed to a homemade cake and if you are feeling lazy during your stay, prepared meals using home grown or locally sourced and organic produce are available to pre-order. From £150pn. 40 mins train from London, 25 min drive from Bishop’s Stortford train station.

The Royal Chamber at Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle

The Royal Chamber, new for this year, uses upcycled wood in the form of doors, flooring and furniture from Southend Pier! Upon visiting the castle, celebrity chef and Essex boy Jamie Oliver suggested the idea after he’d been filming on the world’s longest pleasure pier. And as they say, the rest is history. The castle also has solar panels on its roof, is heated by a wood chip boiler fed mainly from the trees in the surrounding woodlands, and all 500 lights are now LEDs. Next on the agenda is to start using water from the eighteenth century well… This may be a 900-year-old building, but its forward-thinking owners have ensured the keep has all the modern comforts without losing any of its historical charm whilst keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum. From £490pn, 1hr from London by direct train, 20 min drive from Braintree station.

Kingfisher's Nest

Chalkney Water Meadows 

The lodges at Chalkney Water Meadows will soon be sustainably powered solely by solar as the family business invests even more into their solar array. Welcome hampers including produce from the certified organic family farm and from nearby suppliers can be ordered in advance of your stay. All consumable items are eco-friendly including toilet roll, cleaning products and cups. And rest assured, the dedication to going green continues after you leave as all bed linen is hired from a leading local textile rental operator who have invested in solar energy and water recycling. From £220pn. 1hr from London by direct train, 10 min drive from Marks Tey station.

Talbooth Spa

Talbooth House & Spa

This luxury eco-stay boasts 2 EV chargers’ guests can use during their stay. And if you’re desperate to wear your latest pair of heels but also want to visit nearby sister restaurants, jump into their electric concierge vehicle guilt free! The outdoor pool is heated with biomass, a renewable energy source, where possible. Canoes and paddle boards are available to hire in the village to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside by riverway. From £250pn. 50 min direct train from London, 15 min drive from Colchester North station.

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