The building that is now the Dolphin Inn was, in 2019, a derelict eyesore with Dunbar’s conservation area. The Dolphin Inn had for centuries operated as a hotel which eventually closed in the late 1980s although the bar remained open until 2013.

When the owners bought it over there was a desire to renovate the building in such a way as to future proof it for the next century. The ambition was to do whatever was reasonably possible during the build phase to ensure it would be as energy efficient as possible, which proved to be quite challenging given the building history and fabric.

The decision was taken early on to remove the centuries old lathe and plaster, much of which was damaged beyond repair due to extensive rot and damp that had spread throughout the building. The removal of this material also allowed scrutiny of the stonework and apply treatment where necessary. The walls were then lined with insulation in order to reduce heat loss, much of the original ash “deafening” under the floorboards was retained to ensure noise between floors is kept to a minimum.

Many of the rooms are south facing so the building also benefits from natural warmth from the sun, Dunbar is Scotland’s sunniest place so there is lots of it! Solar panels were also installed on the roof to take advantage of this sunny climate and the energy produced makes a great impact on our electricity use (and bills).

At the same time the renovations were underway (through Covid lockdowns so this was challenging in itself), decisions were being taken as to the interior decor. It was decided to retain the wooden floorboards and not instal carpets in order to present the building in its natural state. Some of the floorboards were to rotten to retain so recycled boards were sourced and used as replacements in a number of rooms. The floorboards are also more hygienic and easier to clean and their character adds to the historic feel of the building (half of which predates 1750).

The decision to decorate the interior in a retro vintage style was inspired by the Inn’s closure in the 80’s and it seemed fitting to decorate in a mid century style. It was also the owners’ ambition to source recycled furniture wherever possible and apart from the beds which were bought from a hostel bed manufacturer, this has been very successfully achieved. A local joiner also made simple shutters for all the rooms avoiding the need for blinds or curtains and which seemed more fitting with the building’s historic past.

In July 2021 the Dolphin Inn reopened as an independent hostel and as with the care taken over the building’s renovation the owners continue to try to make improvements that fit with their environmental ambitions. Recycling is actively encouraged and cleaning materials are almost all eco friendly (sometimes the odd splash of bleach is necessary). The hostel has a couple of free bicycles for guests use to encourage car free travel in the area and the travel information promotes public transport first.

Whilst the hostel does not provide breakfast we usually have a small number of free cereals alongside bread and tea/coffee so that guests do not need to additional items and this greatly assists with the reduction of food waste. We also encourage guests to leave any unwanted food for others to use rather than throwing this away.

We are members and keen supporters of Wild Scotland, an organisation whose vision is for Scotland to be globally recognised as a premium destination for sustainable wildlife, adventure and activity tourism.