Friday, 18 January, 2019
Disclaimer: The author of this article was invited to stay at Hilton Bankside free of charge, however, all views are that of the author.
If there’s one word that sums up 2019 so far, it surely has to be ‘vegan’. We floated into the new year on a wave of brand new vegan product launches and it feels as though there is not a day that passes without watching or reading about a new story on veganism.
Of course, the rising popularity of veganism has been bubbling away for some years now, but what is really exciting about 2019 is watching veganism enter completely new spaces, from high-street bakery chains to the luxury market. I’m sure you’ve heard enough about vegan-friendly sausage rolls by now, so let me introduce you to the other end of how to indulge as a vegan.
The Hilton Bankside hotel has recently launched a luxurious vegan suite catering for ethically-conscious travellers from around the globe.
We met with Hilton Bankside in early 2018, when they explained the concept behind the suite and sought our advice on how to cater for vegans. In that initial meeting, we discussed ways to make their vegan guests feel welcome and included freshly prepared vegan pancakes (they got off to a great start!). Over the past year, the team at Hilton Bankside have painstakingly identified vegan-friendly materials to feature in the suite, ensuring even the most minuscule details are as ethically-friendly as possible. It is in these details that make a stay at Hilton Bankside’s vegan suite a magical experience.
I was lucky enough to be invited to test out the new suite just before Christmas and it was a joy to see those early ideas and talks come to fruition. Guests staying in the vegan suite are checked-in in a special area of the stylish reception, which enables you to forego the leather chairs in favour of some comfy seating made from vegan-friendly pineapple leather. Once checked in, you are given a special room key with ‘vegan suite’ imprinted on it, this will let staff know not to offer you any non-vegan products.
The suite itself is spacious and trendy, with a welcoming theme of nature and the outdoors. While it’s clear that the furniture and décor are of the highest quality, the space feels subtle and stylish rather than garishly lavish.
It was a rare pleasure to open the mini-bar and know that I could eat everything in there, from savoury nuts to vegan energy balls. A seemingly minor point like this highlights how accustomed you become to going without as a vegan. Being especially catered for is a much-welcomed respite from the usual travel experience.
The team at Hilton Bankside ensure that everything you touch in the vegan suite is suitable for a vegan lifestyle, including the toiletries in the bathroom and the organic buckwheat pillows on the bed. The linen is even washed in eco-friendly detergent and the housekeepers use vegan-friendly products to clean the room.
We tried both the dinner and breakfast vegan menu at Hilton Bankside’s Oxbo restaurant. The chef has created an imaginative and varied dinner menu, featuring dishes like Kerela spiced cauliflower steak served with millet tabbouleh, or Capsicum, tomato, red onion and artichoke pizza with rocket pesto. They also have a vegan-friendly drinks menu to save you frantically scrolling through Barnivore before you order.
For breakfast, choose from hearty dishes like potato hash, or ask the chef to whip you up a batch of their vegan-friendly waffles with syrup. We found the chef was very happy to accommodate our requests.
Showing your room key as you enter the restaurant should alert the attentive staff to your requirements and stop them from serving you any products derived from animals, without the need to explain you are vegan – this in itself is a welcome luxury. Vegan guests are also seated in a designated section of the restaurant, so again you won’t have to sit on the leather seats used throughout the rest of the restaurant. When we visited, the vegan dining area wasn’t an isolated part of the restaurant, we didn’t necessarily mind this and preferred being integrated with the rest of the guests, but we are unaware of whether there are plans to make it a ‘vegan-only’ dining area.
While the Hilton Bankside caters perfectly for vegans, unfortunately, it’s not exactly an accessible option for all, with the suite costing £549 per night. But, while it’s not cheap (you do get what you pay for after all), it’s safe to say that Hilton Bankside has paved the way when it comes to catering for vegan guests. Hopefully, other hotel chains will soon follow suit.
The vegan suite is available for reservations now.