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Veganuary Weekend at Achray House Hotel, Perthshire


Veganism has grown so much in the past few years and the Veganuary campaign (where people pledge to go vegan for one month) has been one of the major drivers behind the movement. For better or worse, some of the world's biggest food retailers announce new vegan products every January (this year we've had the vegan KFC burger, the steak bake from Greggs, and the meatball sub from Subway) making veganism more accessible than ever before.

But it's not just the big chains in the cities that cater to veganism. For many years veganism has been easier if you live in a city, especially a major one. That, however, is changing as well.

Achray House Hotel on the banks of Loch Earn is one rurally-based establishment looking to make veganism more accessible for people who prefer the mountains and country roads to bustling city streets. The owners, Laura and Panu, kindly invited me to visit free of charge for their Veganuary weekend - and I fell in love with the food, the hotel itself, and the surrounding areas.

If you're not familiar with Perthshire, it's in Central Scotland and covers a massive amount of ground (2528 sq. miles to be exact). It's part of the Highlands geographical area and is home to beautiful mountains, glens, and lochs - it is very much the Scotland you see on postcards.

Achray House Hotel is located in the southern parts of Perthshire and is not far from the tourist-favourite of Stirling. As mentioned already it overlooks Loch Earn, but it also looks out onto Ben Vorlich! The wider village is called St Fillans, which is home to a handful of houses and businesses (but most people go to the nearby Comrie for day-to-day stuff). If you're looking for a calming escape amongst nature then you won't get much better than this. 

The owners operate a pick-up service if you don't own a car. They need three days notice and can meet you anywhere within 7 miles (Panu picked me up at Stirling Railway Station). If you have a car, the hotel is just over an hour from Glasgow or Edinburgh. 

The Hotel


The hotel itself is a charming white building with a restaurant, bar, front lounge and an outdoor patio. One of my favourite moments was eating my breakfast while watching the sunrise behind Ben Vorlich and over Loch Earn! 

I was staying in the Economy Room which has a double bed, en-suite, Sky TV, an ironing board, iron, a small tea and coffee station, and an Alexa! What makes it an Economy Room is that I didn't get a view of Loch Earn (which I was perfectly okay with as I could just wander through to the bar). The room would normally cost £86 per night Sunday to Thursday and then £96 per night for Friday to Saturday (for single occupancy). 

One of my favourite features of the hotel were the two dog-friendly rooms. These two rooms are downstairs and have an extra door that allows you to take your dog straight outside for a walk without having to walk through the hotel!

The owners also have their own dog, whose company I very much enjoyed on the hill walk. 

Food

I'm a massive foodie so for me the main draw of any trip will be the chance to try some new food. One thing that made this Veganuary Weekend special was that their new chef (who will officially join them in mid-February) made his way there on Saturday night to host a special five-course vegan tasting menu. The vegan menu consisted of: 
  • Konbu and miso broth, pickled mushrooms, paysanne vegetables
  • Sweet potato falafel, apricot puree
  • Salt baked butternut squash, toasted pine nut and spinach strudel, kale pesto and crispy kale
  • Raspberry Eaton Mess
  • Pineapple and coconut arancini
The salt-baked butternut squash was one of the best vegan dishes I've ever eaten (and the two girls I met while on this trip agreed). The restaurant definitely leans towards fine-dining and is geared towards people who want high-quality cuisine. The 3-course tasting menu was £29 and the 5-course tasting menu was £35. 

The chef came out to speak to us all after dinner and told us that he'll be taking on the restaurant side of the business (allowing the owners to concentrate on the hotel side). There were two dining rooms and they have plans to turn one of them into a formal restaurant and the other into casual dining. The restaurant is also open to people not staying at the hotel, so if you live nearby or would prefer to stay in one of Perthshire's other hotels, then you can still pop by to sample some of the delicious food. 

On Friday night I chose something off of their regular menu. I went for carrot pancakes, tagine, and chocolate mousse. Two courses were £29 and three courses were £35. They also have a breakfast bar and a hot food menu. I'm a breakfast gal so I helped myself to a bowl of cereal and freshly squeezed orange juice - and then treated myself to a cooked vegan breakfast because I'm worth it! 


Drinks

My favourite wine of the night
My drinks (along with the yoga class, more on that in a second) was the only part of the weekend I paid for, so I decided to treat myself a bit. I had orange juice on Friday night with my dinner (living life on the edge) and the waitress came back with freshly squeezed orange juice!

The owners of Achray House Hotel kindly marked out their vegan-friendly wines. The waitress also allowed me to sample the wines before I purchased. I was also allowed to have a glass from a wine that was officially sold by the bottle because it was already opened. One of the owners, Panu, was very knowledgable on wine, which is very helpful for people like me who are a bit wine-snobby. 

If wine is not your tipple of choice, their bar is well stocked with spirits (many of them made in Scotland). I'm a rum girl at heart, so I tried the rum from Aberdeen-based Brewery, Fierce Spirits. Officially it is coffee and vanilla-infused, but I personally think it had a caramel taste (still lovely though!). 

I can't remember the price of each drink, but my drinks bill was £19 when I left (one rum, one orange juice, and two glasses of wine).  

Activities


As part of their Veganuary weekend, there was the option to take part in a yoga class and an escorted hill walk. The yoga class was hosted by Pamela from Buddha Bodies, a local yoga class that takes place just next door. Pamela specialises in Hatha Yoga, which was absolutely fine for me despite having not touched yoga for seven years (I used to be a dancer so did yoga as part of my training). I'm still a swimmer and that came in handy for the balance poses!  

Now, hillwalking. I know this is very un-Scottish of me but I don't hill walk...ever. I haven't climbed a hill since I was probably 19. I wasn't originally going to sign-up until I happened to be in the foyer at the same time as two girls who were going on it, who talked me into it. 

It was okay in the end, as we did stick to a gentle incline with a well-marked out path. The views of Loch Earn made it worth it. Then we went on an off-path adventure where my trainers became covered in mud (the mud washed off though, but take proper hillwalking shoes). For any keen hillwalkers, there are about 50 Munros (mountains over 1000m) within an hour’s drive of St Fillans.  

Who would you say Loch Earn House Hotel is for? 

Anyone looking for a vegan-friendly, high-end hotel amongst calming Scottish scenery. Especially if they require somewhere dog-friendly. 

You can visit the Achray House Hotel website here. I've also added a Story Highlight to my Instagram so that you can re-visit my stay at the hotel. 

P.S. Full disclosure: the owners paid for my food, transport from Stirling and accommodation in return for promotion. I paid for my drinks and yoga class. This is not a paid promotion. 


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