Cool design and a laidback vibe put this luxe, all-vegan Pitlochry hotel ahead of the curve
Words Miriam Methuen-Jones
Wandering through Pitlochry always gives me a holiday feeling. Even today, in early February, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and the tables outside the many tearooms and bars are filling up. It seems gentle, like proper village life. So I am unprepared, as I climb the hill towards Saorsa 1875, for what I find at my destination.
Atop this incline, a grand Victorian house, its smart red trim visible through the trees, looms over the countryside. As I get closer, I spot a sign reading ‘doggie walks’ pointing into the woodland, a purple yurt at the side of the property, and pairs of wellies neatly lined up in the porch.
Once through the door, it is immediately clear that someone here has a great eye for interior design. A neon sign is lit up above the welcome desk, and all around is moody wooden panelling creating a warm, inviting space. There’s the evocative scent of wood smoke coming from the lounge fire, and guests are milling about in their socks. It feels like home.
Sandra, the owner of Saorsa 1875, greets us with a smile. “Saorsa is Gaelic, meaning freedom, and 1875 is the year the house was built, as a private holiday home for an Aberdeen industrialist.” These days, its three reception rooms and eleven bedrooms have been turned into a luxurious escape with a twist. Everything on the breakfast and evening menus is vegan, and all the bathroom supplies (such as the body wash, and even the toilet paper) are suitable for a sustainable, plant-based lifestyle.
Sandra and her son Jack run the place, together with a few staff. The ‘Dispensing Department’, a well-stocked bar in the relaxed lounge area, is Jack’s pride and joy. Two luxurious velvet sofas take centre stage, with smaller duets of seating dotted about near the windows that look out towards the mountains.
We gather here for pre-dinner drinks and the mood is laidback and intimate. Roxy and Lizzie, the resident pups, patter about making friends while we sip our expertly crafted cocktails. Guests help themselves to the board games stacked on the bookshelves. It feels like a family reunion, but one where privacy is ensured at the end of the evening.
Warm and already content, we’re invited through to the dining room, and everyone gathers around the large central table. Communal eating encourages conversation, and it’s not long before the whole table is chatting. Five intricate courses later, even the non-vegans among us have been well and truly won over. The arancini are particularly spectacular, and everyone is suitably astounded by the dairy-free mozzarella. After dessert, some of us stay at the table with coffees (from Perthshire’s very own Glen Lyon Coffee, an artisan roaster committed to zero waste) before drifting back into the cosy lounge or up to bed.
There are more plans in the works: “We know a carpenter who’s experimenting with mobile saunas,” says Sandra. “We’d also like to build covered platforms in the woods for people to take a bottle of wine down to and enjoy the outdoors.” Fundamentally, Saorsa 1875 isn’t just a place to rest your head. It is a welcoming and indulgent place to stay, with the added bonus of being kind to animals and the planet.