A MAJOR hotel development in Edinburgh's Old Town has scooped a prestigious international tourism prize.
Hotel Missoni, on George IV Bridge, has been named the best new hotel in Europe at the World Travel Awards.
The hotel, the first in a global chain to be opened by the Italian fashion house Missoni, was competing with rivals in Italy, Turkey, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The awards are decided by a poll of thousands of international travel agents and other industry professionals.
General Manager Carina Svensen said: "To be recognised with an award that celebrates Europe's leading hotels is a real honour.
"Hotel Missoni Edinburgh is a hotel full of life, character and vibrancy and our aim from the start was to stand out from the crowd. We have a team of almost 100 at the hotel and this award is testament to the hard work, passion and dedication of our entire team who all play a key part in being recognised in awardes like this one."
Hotel Missoni, which opened last year, is the centrepiece of a 50 million development which took more than four years to complete after Edinburgh City Council granted permission to knock down an office building.
The Scottish capital was hand-picked as the first location ahead of future developments in Kuwait, Cape Town in South Africa, Oman and Brazil. The Missoni - famed for its zigzags, waves and stripes - counts Kylie Minogue, Demi Moore, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lopez among its biggest admirers.
The hotel has led a charmed existence since it opened its doors last year.
Just a month after it took in its first guests VisitScotland gave it was a five-star rating - the first for a major hotel in Scotland in for four years.
In April this year the hotel was named Glamour Hotel of the Year at this year's Scottish Hotel Awards as well as also scooping two gold medals in recognition of its restaurant Cucina and hotel design. Hotel Missoni's success comes hot on the heels of its coveted inclusion in the Cond Nast Hot List 2010, where it featured as one of the world's most glamorous and luxurious destinations.
However, the hotel design has attracted criticism from some quarters including architect Malcolm Fraser and the travel writer Peter Irvine, as well as heritage groups such as the Cockburn Association.
Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said: "It's a bit of a disappointment. It neither blends in with the other buildings in the area nor is bold enough to make a real impact.
"I know people say that it is an improvement on what was there before, but I just don't think that's good enough in Edinburgh."