With travelling, it’s easy to just land somewhere, hit the tourist hot spots and leave without getting a true, authentic sense of the place. But if you know the insider tricks, there’s some great ways to support local businesses, and truly immerse yourself in the businesses that make that area run. Plus – it’s a great way to be part of the sustainable tourism movement and take a look at how to play your part.
Today, we’re sharing five notable small businesses to support in Scotland.
1: Darroch Learg Hotel – the 135-year-old Darroch Learg Hotel set up high in the mountains of Ballater remains one of our personal favourites. Although it may look idyllic now, the hotel actually suffered from a devastating fire in 2015; with much of the building being destroyed in the blaze. However, the hotel team, headed by our good friends ‘The Franks’, have worked incredibly hard over the last 5 years to restore the Darroch Learg to its former glory; and you can tell! The 10 bedrooms and bathrooms are very stylishly decorated, but the hotel is perhaps more renowned for its delicious menu and 50-strong whisky selection.
2: Joanna Thomson Jewellery – this creator of unique jewellery has an unmistakable style described as Celtic Nouveau. Joanna offers a bespoke service where she will turn your brief and simple sketches into gorgeous, one-of-a-kind premium jewellery. Each of her pieces is designed from her workspace in Peeblesshire and comes with a small tag showing its authentic Scottish roots.
3: William Scott Sporran Maker – the sporran (Scottish Gaelic for “purse”) is a traditional part of male Scottish Highland dress that performs the same function as pockets on the pocketless kilt. You don’t have to be Scottish to appreciate the care and attention that goes into making this essential part of Highland wear! Help keep this fine tradition alive with a visit to the workshop and have your own created.
4: Knockando Woolmill – everyone knows how Scotland is world famous for its whisky production, but did you know we’re equally as famous for our production of wool and cashmere? The buildings and machinery all date back from 1784 at Knockando Woolmill, which has preserved the ancient techniques still in use at the mill today. The mill operates on a seasonal basis, but its doors are always open for guided tours which offer an invaluable insight into 200 years’ worth of Scottish wool production. And if you’d like to take a piece of history home with you, there’s also a shop selling the finest examples of Strathspey Tweed around!
5: 21st Century Kilts – what’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word “Scotland”? Chances are, it’s kilts. Our great friends at 21st Century Kilts are based in Edinburgh and craft gorgeous bespoke kilts – including our own! Anybody searching for a high quality, locally crafted kilt should definitely give Howie Nicholsby a visit on Edinburgh’s Thistle Street.
This list is far from complete of course, as Scotland is absolutely chalked full of incredible restaurants, hotels, distilleries, and so much more! Stay tuned for a second edition of this blog, where we feature 5 more favourites of ours.