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Finding a sustainable accommodation option in a traditional city like Salzburg isn’t easy – which is why I was thrilled to hear about the new eco alternative accommodation at the Keep Eco Residence.
I’ll be honest here, being a slow traveller, trying to make sustainable choices for my travels isn’t always straightforward.
Most websites for booking accommodation don’t even have a filter to search by sustainable or environmentally friendly options (which is why I use these super-useful websites when looking for sustainable accommodation).
I have to constantly remind myself that the goal isn’t for everyone to travel in a ‘perfectly sustainable’ way. It’s to get more people, travelling slow and sustainably, even if it’s ‘imperfectly’.
That said, if you are looking for a near-perfect eco accommodation alternative when visiting Salzburg, the Keep is going to tick all the right boxes.
What’s it all about?
The Keep Eco Residence is a bit different to your typical accommodation.
The concept is a hybrid of the easy-breezy AirBnB style, with self check-in and shared common areas, combined with a truly committed sustainable approach to design, food and philosophy.
I’ll be straight up and say – this isn’t the accommodation for everyone.
It’s for travellers who appreciate upcycled, natural design, with elements sourced from local rivers and woods.
It’s for foodies and experienced travellers who value locally sourced, home made vegan & vegetarian food options.
It’s for travellers who are looking to support the kind of accommodation that has truly thought through the impact of their business at an environmental, economic and social level.
It’s especially good for travellers who appreciate the small, well thought out ideas (*cough* Stefan is this person *cough*). If attention to detail and care is your jam, then the Keep Residence is a great accommodation option.
I loved my time here because all of those things appeal to me.
I’m always looking to support local businesses rather than chain hotels that often don’t feed income back to the local economy. Ideally I try to avoid AirBnB apartments that take housing options away from local residents and turn local communities into ghost towns.
So basically, if you’re looking for a luxury hotel stay with room service, a rooftop swimming pool and all inclusive resort style, this is NOT the place for you.
But, if you want affordable, boutiquey rustic style, with an eye for detail and small clever touches that support sustainable travel, then I think the Keep Eco Residence might be for you.
Here’s the full review of the Keep Eco Residence, after they invited me to spend a lovely weekend in Salzburg to try out the accommodation.
There is a wide selection of rooms available, with the largest a roomy suite style with double bed, private shower, tiny balcony and a bunk bed, so ideal for families or particularly cosy groups of friends.
Most rooms however, are twin share, with shared bathrooms, although you get a sink in your private room. The Keep Residence falls somewhere between a glamorous boutiquey hostel, and an AirBnB where you have your own private room but common areas are shared.
The entire place is built in a former hotel and apartment building, so the winding hallways, wooden stairways and renovated shared bathrooms all combine to make it feel like a big, homely share house.
Never once in my 2-night stay did I bump into another person in the showers and bathrooms that were shared on our floor, so there are enough facilities to cater for all guests and not feel crowded.
The Keep also embraces a ‘cradle to cradle’ philosophy for sourcing all of their furniture, design elements, wood materials and shelves. You can see their full explanation here but basically, every single element of the Rooms has been mindfully sourced and curated for minimal impact.
What I liked is that the design didn’t feel forced – it was in keeping (all puns intended) with the natural feel of Salzburg and not too over the top.
The beds are firm but comfortable, pillows a little on the low side but nothing that stopped us having a good nights sleep. In our room with shower there was plenty of space to sprawl our bags, laptops and perch on an upcycled chair in the corner to look across to the mountains (with a little bit of train station view in between).
The little shelves in each room are made from wooden fruit boxes, and were handy for stashing all the bits and pieces that drag along with you when you travel – chargers, headphones, notebooks and other faffy things. Having them elevated but hidden away was very cool and handy.
The rooms were surprisingly quiet too, even with wooden floorboards we didn’t have too much clomping about from other floors, and the thick curtains on the windows meant we slept through sunrise peacefully.
Our big share room was spacious, and even when we peeped into the double rooms, there were thoughtful touches for you to store your stuff, a little nook beside your bed for charging and keeping valuables and space enough to sprawl. Utilising bunk beds means there is enough breathing room for two people to share comfortably.
The Vibes & Location
The vibe here is very relaxed, friendly, and rustic but not too over the top hippy dippy. I liked the casual atmosphere, the trust and ease they give guests to self-checkin, and the ‘pay what you feel’ policy they have for breakfast buffet (more on that soon!)
During our stay there was a mix of backpackers, German hikers, groups of friends and one or two couples staying. Most were in the age range from 25 – 60 so the communal lounge and cafe bar area was a very chill, calm zone.
The decor in the communal area was one of my favourite features actually – they’ve upcycled all sorts of bits and bobs from Austrian kitchens, so there are lots of retro toast makers, mixers, bowls and gorgeous pieces that have been salvaged.
Somehow it all comes together into a unique wall sized shelving unit, where you can borrow a water bottle for the day or purchase a reusable coffee cup.
I also loved the communal lounge area which is where they have brunch in the mornings, but you can also grab a coffee during the day, or a local craft beer or drink in the evening.
We set up camp here on the Friday morning and it was lovely to sit in the soft morning sunlight, get some reading and a bit of work done in a really cosy, calm atmosphere. We met some other guests downstairs here too so during the evenings it could be great for chatting and socialising.
Location wise, you are walking distance to everything you need in Salzburg. I took the train from Vienna and from the station to the doorstep is about a ten minute walk – allowing for the inevitable questioning of myself and my sense of direction that always happens when following Google maps!
The place is actually located very close to the riverside so you can simply cross the road from the accommodation and wander a lovely path all the way into the city centre. You get a fab view of the riverbanks, looking up into the old town and can spot some local life and students going about their day on the walk in.
From doorstep to the bridge that enters the heart of the city is 15 minutes maximum, probably less if you don’t get distracted like I did and keep taking photos!
Even closer is the Schloss Mirabell, which in the daytime is very busy with tourists, but if you’re up early you can pop down there by 8am and have the place almost entirely to yourself. The Keep Eco residence is a 7 minute walk from here and a bunch of coffee shops, restaurants and one very excellent wine bar are nearby too.
The balance between close to city centre, but placed a little away from the hubub of the old town is ideal for exploring the city by foot and having somewhere to retreat to at the end of the day. For the price of the rooms its a very affordable, central and cosy option.
The Food & Drink
So first things first, the buffet breakfast here is divine.
Mostly homemade, organic and all entirely vegan or vegetarian, it’s a wide selection of locally sourced high quality ingredients, cakes, spreads, foccacia breads, eggs, cheeses and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.
What’s special about the breakfast buffet here, is they have a ‘pay what you feel’ approach to charging for the breakfast. It’s not included in the price of your room, which gives you flexibility to decide if you’ll eat in the accommodation or try some nearby local brunch spots.
But with options that taste as good as they look, you might find it hard to resist. I was obsessed with the cashew pesto spread onto toast for the duration of our stay.
The ‘Pay What You Feel’ philosophy is meant to encourage guests to consider the source and true value of their food, which, when you consider that most of it is homemade, meant we felt that paying a daily amount of between €7-€10 was well worth it, as we grazed on cakes and fruit throughout the day too.
What’s interesting is, if you were a total tightass paying only a few dollars is an option, but we found ourselves inspired to pay standard Austrian breakfast prices because the food and service was so delicious and thoughtfully made. You can also get coffee (locally owned and 100% organic, natch) with alternative milks for a gold coin from the machine directly in the lounge area.
It reminded me a lot of the restaurant back home in Melbourne, ‘Lentil as Anything‘, where there is no pricing at all on meals, but everyone ends up paying equal, if not more than normal price for food that they know goes towards positive social initiatives. We visited it a lot as student’s in the mid-2000’s, so its great to see the a similar idea expanding here in Austria.
The concept feeds into the entire energy of the Keep for guests to be mindful and think sustainably with their choices and what their money is going towards supporting.
They have also got lots of helpful signs and indicators to help explain the process and why they do it throughout the accommodation. They are literally getting you to put your money where your mouth is in terms of mindful purchasing decisions and consumption!
I really enjoyed staying in an accommodation that aligned with my values. As a slow traveller, and someone who has stayed in an extremely diverse range of accommodation options over my ten years in the travel industry, from yurts, to luxury apartments, I found the Keep Eco Residence Salzburg a really comfortable, cosy, thoughtful place to stay.
The owners here have clearly got a really strong vision for the kind of environment they want to create, and which travellers will enjoy it most.
More than that, are committed to their pledge to ‘keep the necessary and let go of the unecessary’ by opting for sustainable alternatives at every level of design and execution.
Its really rare to see hotels and hostels do more than just refrain from cleaning towels in an effort to be ‘eco’ – most places whack plastic wrappers over everything, offer generic meals that are disconnected with local culture and don’t give guests any information or choice about where the materials used to build and decorate the accommodation are sourced from.
At the Keep, everything is transparent, everything has been thought through to the most minute details, and they are really moving forward the industry by committing to and following through with action on their sustainable and eco-accommodation.
The place has only been open a few months, so there were a few teeny niggly things when we stayed – hooks for towels in the bedrooms, or a small table beside the chairs in the rooms, but honestly, those kinds of things are so minor, it didn’t effect how much we enjoyed our stay.
I would recommend the Keep Eco Residence to anyone who cares about responsible, sustainable accommodation and is looking for a unique experience.
I would love to see more hotels adopt such a radical approach to eco accommodation – because in reality, it shouldn’t be that radical to care about the local environment, culture and economy when staying at a hotel, should it?
The Keep also manages to have affordable pricing, which in an expensive city like Salzburg is really helpful to manage your budgets for a quick weekend away.
So an eco-alternative accommodation with affordable pricing AND a delicious buffet brunch. Is it any wonder I loved my time here?! I was such a fan, I worked out with the Keep to get you guys an additional discount on booking your stay here, just so you can have a taste of what it’s really like.
If you apply promo code CARLYTHEKEEP12 at time of booking when you book directly through their website here, you’ll receive an additional 12% off the price of your stay.
That’s how much I enjoyed my time here – I want all you guys to try it for yourself and see what conscious accommodation looks like. Let me know in the comments how you enjoy it!
The newly opened Keep Residence invited me to experience their accommodation and write a review for you guys. *Spoiler alert* I absolutely adored the place and their ethical philosophies. As always though, all opinions are my own and I only ever promote brands and places I would use and purchase for myself. Thanks for reading!
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