Judith Fish, who runs the Applecross Inn, said she was “amazed” at being recognised by the Good Pub Guide, insisting that she felt lucky to live and work at the Wester Ross establishment.
A former school dinner lady from Yorkshire, she has been a key part of life on the Applecross peninsula for decades, having taken over the pub in 1989.
It has since gone on win a clutch of awards, including BBC Countryfile Magazine’s pub for the year for 2015-16.
But the latest and most personal award, Ms Fish said, is especially humbling. She said: “I’m amazed and absolutely delighted. The inn means so much to me and I’m very fortunate that is my home, my place of work, and my social life as well.
“I think when you treat it that way, you get out what you put in. In a remote peninsula where friendship is limited, I regard all my customers as true friends.”
The guide’s review of the inn is fulsome in its praise, noting: “If you wish to stay here, you’ll have to book months ahead as customers from all over the world will also be wanting a place. But it will be worth it for the extraordinary drive through miles of spectacularly wild, unpopulated scenery to get there.”
Describing it as a “no-nonsense” bar, it singles out features such as its woodburning stove and exposed stone walls, real ales and board games.
On the pub’s Facebook page, regulars and visitors from around the world congratulated Ms Fish.
Debbie Andrews wrote: “Love this place and the people, we don’t get there very often as live in Warwickshire but we try our best.”
Hilde Midtstue, added: “Well deserved – congratulations from Norway, Judith!”
Ms Fish said such comments had “blown her away”. She explained: “We’re not that big on social media or advertising at Applecross, it works for itself, but the comments people have left have been quite emotional.”
The latest edition of the guide, now in its 35th year, also shows that one of the issues that pub customers complain about most is overbearing music.
The guide’s editor, Fiona Stapley, said: “Piped music, canned music, muzak, lift music, airport music – call it what you will, it’s there and our readers loathe it in any shape or form.”