Announcing the winners of the European Sustainable Heritage Award

At a dedicated ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Airbnb and European Historic Houses (EHH) yesterday announced the winners of the European Sustainable Heritage Award. This prestigious award celebrates and rewards owners of heritage properties who undertook sustainable renovations in 2023. The initiative is part of Airbnb’s ongoing commitment to support and promote the preservation of Europe’s cultural, architectural, and natural heritage, as outlined in our pledge under the EU’s Tourism Transition Pathway.

Airbnb and European Historic Houses announced the winners at an event hosted by MEP Ibán García del Blanco in the company of fellow MEPs and staff, as well as members of the expert panel which selected the winners.

“Protecting and safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage and supporting creativity and cultural sectors is fundamental to tackling the challenges of our society. In these complex and uncertain times, we need to preserve our cultural heritage in order to preserve our identity.”

MEP Ibán García del Blanco

The winner and runners-up for the Award gave live presentations on their projects, underlining the innovative solutions they have developed to address the very specific sustainability challenges of heritage properties.

Sophie Emmanuel, from Greece, showed how the restoration of her property Kambones 1615  involved preserving its agricultural character, including an ancient olive mill and the use of renewable energy sources, enhancing the property’s sustainability without compromising its historical integrity. Sophie is also an Airbnb Host, meaning guests can experience the results of her project in person.

Alexander Baring from Ireland, the owner of Lambay Castle, described the refurbishment of Lambay Island, focusing on sustainable energy solutions, waste recycling systems, and efficient heating methods to revitalise the island while preserving its natural heritage. As runners-up, both Sophie and Alexander received a prize of €10,000. 

The winner Giles Keating from the UK, owner of the Athelhampton House, impressed the judging panel and attendees at the event with his innovative approach to achieving net-zero carbon emissions for his 540-year-old house, utilising solar power, heat pumps, and underfloor heating. Giles takes home the grand prize of €20,000. 

Sophie Emmanuel, Giles Keating and Alexander Baring.

“Travel plays a crucial role in preserving and celebrating Europe’s cultural heritage. It has been inspiring to see the many unique and innovative projects being undertaken across Europe, and we would like to thank all applicants for their efforts. Most of all, congratulations to the finalists, who have shown us that by undertaking thoughtful sustainability projects, the future of heritage tourism looks bright for generations to come.”

Georgina Browes, Head of EU Policy at Airbnb

“This award is innovative and pertinent as renovations and restorations in historic properties are difficult. The historicity and quality of their fine decorations have to be highly regarded. It is not an easy subject, neither for the owners nor for the public representatives that will have to enforce the rules.”

Stefania Pignatelli, member of European Historic Houses’ Executive Committee and President of the judging panel for the award

Airbnb continues to engage with partners across Europe on heritage travel, with a number of exciting projects on the horizon, including supporting the “Greek Historic Houses Visits 2024” with the Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage in Greece, contributing to the preservation of architectural cultural heritage through a continued partnership with Foundation Schlösser und Gärten e.V in Germany, and enhancing rural heritage visibility and restoration efforts in France through the local Heritage and Tourism program.