Inside the UK’s First Vegan Hotel

BY BALANCE EDITORIAL TEAM | TEGAN HEDLEY
Jun 19, 2019
Inside the UK’s First Vegan Hotel
Not so long ago it would have been difficult to imagine Jack McLaren-Stewart as the co-founder of the UK's first vegan hotel. Although now following a plant-based diet himself, he was once - by his own admission - “the biggest meat eater” and says that his friends were initially gobsmacked by his decision to ditch animal-based products. Yet this weekend, alongside businesses partner and mother Sandra, he opened Saorsa 1875, where everything from the restaurant menu to the electricity supplier is certifiably vegan.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for some time now, you’ll no doubt have noticed that the market for plant-based products has boomed in recent times. In fact, in the past five years, the number of people in the UK classifying their diet as vegan quadrupled to 600,000, according to the Vegan Society. Now, travel habits are changing too, as consumers turn their minds towards more sustainable living in a broader sense.





Located in Pitlochry, Perthshire, the hotel’s Highland location has, in many ways, proved an inspiration: “Scotland is so stunning, but it's also quite limited in terms of vegan options outside of Glasgow or Edinburgh. We wanted to give people the opportunity to explore this beautiful landscape without compromising on their ethics,” Jack McLaren-Stewart told the Balance Journal.

So, what does it take to make a vegan hotel? Well, let’s start with the obvious: the restaurant. Headed up by Italian chef Luca Sordi, it features a five-course plant-based menu inspired both by the owners’ own travels and by the ingredients available locally. Served in a communal dining area, as part of a nightly supper club, dishes include a Pea and Mint Risotto and even a Saorsa Haggis - served with neeps and tatties, of course. In future, the hotel also hopes to partner with high calibre vegan chefs from all over the country to provide its guests with one-off dining experiences.





As you’d expect, the cocktail bar and in-room minibars are also stocked exclusively with plant-based products - but the commitment to living ethically doesn't stop there. The toiletries on offer are cruelty-free and vegan, the housekeeping products are non-toxic and not tested on animals, and the hotel’s chosen electricity supplier, Ecotricity, is considered the greenest in the UK. To cut back on its environmental impact, the hotel's Victorian building was renovated to make it more energy-efficient and fitted with electric heating.

And the icing on the (obviously vegan) cake is the fact that its furniture has been sourced from antiques markets and upcycled, creating boutique hotel that's both undeniably chic and luxurious. It's a far cry from the 'hippie' stereotype of a vegan lifestyle: “The innovation that we’ve seen across food and fashion in recent years has been hugely inspiring and we’re excited to be part of it."





As for the future of vegan travel, McLaren-Stewart believes that this is just the beginning: “People are definitely becoming more aware of the ethical and environmental implications of their decisions. I think – and hope – that businesses will do the same and adapt. Other countries have been doing this far better than we have for a long time, now it’s our turn.”


To find out more, visit the hotel website here.
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