It must take a lot of integrity and courage to open a completely vegan bed and breakfast. You would think that it would limit your market. Well, not if you are Penny and Trevor, the proud vegan owners of the BayTree House! The Baytree is an elegant, luxurious, Victorian, pet and child friendly bed and breakfast in Hastings that gets rave reviews from both veggies and carnivores!
Vegan bed and breakfasts are pretty rare here in the UK – and probably the rest of the world. Intrigued by the awesome reviews of this one, I was keen to know what all the fuss was about. I took a trip to Hastings to find out, one very sunny weekend in August, in the picturesque county of East Sussex.
The Baytree House is located in an up-market, peaceful area of the historic town of Hastings, overlooking Alexandra Park with the beach and town centre just a short and pleasant walk away.
It looks lovely on the website, but the photos really don’t do it justice. The exterior of The Baytree has been lovingly restored and is truly beautiful, and inside the house is bursting with a wealth of original features – including the fantastic fireplace in the guests lounge.
Penny and Trevor have put so much of themselves into the house with many thoughtful additions and charming details … it has clearly been a labour of love. Every room is beautiful – a real visual and homely treat!
In terms of the accommodation, all the rooms are tastefully decorated – I felt like a vegan princess in my lovely room! There was even a plate full of yummy vegan snacks waiting for me: two pieces of organic fruit, chocolate, nutty bars (three different ones), and a bottle of water.
All rooms are finished to very high standards with attention to detail paid to everything from fittings to bed linen and soft furnishings. The room I stayed in (number 12) has its own private landing, bathroom with a huge power shower, an additional separate toilet. The large private landing was perfect as a “yoga room” for my morning practice – enhanced by the large stained glass doors and windows.
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All pillows, duvets, bed linen, toiletries and cleaning products are vegan and not tested on animals. The beds are very high quality – I slept like a log, even though I don’t normally settle very well away from home.
The Baytree also boasts a lovely large communal room that would be a great venue to run vegan retreats.
Outside, the garden is huge, private and securely fenced – perfect for dogs and children. Guests are welcome to use the garden and there is a climbing frame for smaller guests.
Dog friendly through and through!
The dog friendly room was situated on the ground floor and finished to the same high standards as the other rooms – you don’t miss out on luxury because your dogs are with you. The whole place is spotlessly clean and doesn’t smell of dogs at all, even with the two resident vegan dogs Rummy and Bullah.
Both dogs are very friendly, but not in your face. They greet you if invited but would not pose a problem if you are in any way nervous of dogs; Penny and Trevor are very intuitive about this. They are obviously very well cared for and constantly wagging their tails. If, like me, you love dogs – canine cuddles are abundant and given with gusto!
Asked, not told, when you would like breakfast
Breakfast is healthy and delicious, and you can have it at a time to suit you! Penny and Trevor are both real foodies, and this shows through. In beautiful surroundings, you get to choose from four different kinds of “milk”; a large selection of cereals, seeds, yogurts, delicious organic artisan breads, gluten free corn cakes, rice cakes, homemade jams, and a tempting selection of berries and fruits … all presented in style. Fresh coffee and a wide range of teas are also provided. It was so lovely not having to ask “is this vegan?” about anything. How refreshing!
One vegan family who were staying with their two year old daughter told me what a relief it was to know their daughter would be catered for food-wise – a very important consideration for vegan parents. They said it was great actually seeing her eat the breakfast they had paid for instead of it going to waste and having to buy something later.
Making new vegan friends
All the other guests were from London (Hastings is only a 90 minute train journey from the capital) seeking peaceful respite and fresh sea air from the buzz of the city. Vegans love meeting other vegans and we were all very happy to chat and connect after being tactfully introduced to one another by our hosts. Penny and Trevor sat with us too – it made such a pleasant change to be in a completely vegan environment. This really made a difference when we met for breakfast the following morning – dining with lovely new vegan friends instead of strangers. But The Baytree is so much more than simply a B&B – it is a delight for all the senses and cultivates a real sense of vegan community and family warmth.
Penny and Trevor know all the vegan-friendly places to go and will be happy to help you explore the local area. You can get vegan fry-up breakfasts and vegan options in many cafes. They even told me where to find vegan pie and mash, which I did in the name of research of course. I found two cafes selling vegan cake, too. I think Penny has been round “educating” many establishments.
Hastings has a very friendly vibe and there are many beautiful and historical buildings and sites to explore nearby. The Baytree has handy maps for guests to use that explain where everything is.
Committed vegans of 18 years
Although Penny and Trevor are retirement age – they both look around 15 years younger, which they modestly attribute to their vegan diet. Originally turning vegan for health reasons, their motivation became an ethical choice as they learned about the truth: “… as the blinkers came off we were devastated by the cruelty of the animal product industries”. They were profoundly affected by the facts they discovered and their journey became much more about the conscious element of living in ways that “eliminate suffering and protect our precious earth”.
They decided to buy and restore The Baytree in 2004 after Trevor had been made redundant and Penny had successfully recovered from breast cancer. “Time became very precious – and we wanted to do something together with the objective of helping other people to embrace and enjoy the vegan lifestyle. We also wanted to provide vegans with the kind of hotel we would love to stay in that caters for both children and pets, in a peaceful, beautiful environment”. They certainly have done that, all guests were very happy vegans indeed!
The only catch
One negative thing about staying at The Baytree is something all the guests reluctantly discovered: you won’t want to leave! All the guests linger a long time on departure. Penny and Trevor are lovely, authentic people and make you feel so very welcome that you truly want to stay.
I have never wanted to hug the owners of any hotel or B&B before, but everyone one of us hugged our hosts (and each other) as we parted company. The Baytree is clearly a vocation for Penny and Trevor – they run it because they absolutely love it and they are passionate about sharing the vegan message in positive (and very luxurious!) ways.
To book a room at the BayTree House contact Penny and Trevor via phone or email; the tariff list appears on the website.
I am very happy to give The Baytree House The Vegan Woman recommendation label – well done on all accounts!