A floating “boatel,” an Outlander tour guide, a new neighbourhood cafe and supper-club, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe have all been honoured at a leading tourism awards event.
An Orkney-themed boutique hotel and a French restaurant were also recognised along with Edinburgh Dungeon and Rosslyn Chapel in VisitScotland’s Oscars-style ceremony.
The Scottish Thistle Awards event, staged at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh, saw the Fringe named the best city’s cultural event ahead of the International Festival and Burns & Beyond, a new arts festival inspired by the Ayrshire poet..
Brigid Kennedy, marketing manager at the Fringe, said: “This award is a welcome recognition of all the hard work of thousands of talented people that goes into putting this brilliant festival together.”
The Edinburgh Dungeon won the best visitor attraction award ahead of the National Museum of Scotland, while Rosslyn Chapel, in Midlothian, was named “best heritage tourism experience.”
Anne Daly, one half of Mary’s Meanders, a tour company which takes Outlander fans to locations featured in the hit Scotland-set time-travel fantasy series, was named a tourism and hospitality hero.
She said: “Who wouldn’t want to go the extra mile to help realise people’s dreams? The past five years have been just the best, making new friends, showing off Scotland and indulging in the wonderful world of Outlander.”
A special "innovation in tourism" award went to Invisible Cities, a new social enterprise which trains up people who have been affected by homelessness to become tour guides in Edinburgh.
Founder Zakia Moulaoui said: “Being recognised by our peers in Tourism is one of the most important things. It makes our guides, and the whole team proud of what we do, day to day."
The Four Sisters Boatel, a luxury self-catering houseboat offering its guests pamper packages, which is moored in Edinburgh’s canal district in Fountainbridge, saw director Natalie McLachlan honoured as a regional rising star.
She said: "I am honoured to have my hard work recognised.. Offering unique four-star luxury accommodation, The Four Sisters Boatel is part of the dynamic and sustainable regeneration of the Edinburgh Union canal."
The Dunstane Houses, a five-star boutique hotel created by Orcadians Derek and Shirley Mowat in two Victorian town houses in the west end, was honoured as the city’s “best hotel experience.”27 Elliott’s, a cafe and supper-club opened by food writer Jess Elliott Dennison, a former member of Jamie Oliver’s marketing team, near Edinburgh’s Meadows, was named “best eating experience.”
Fred Berkmiller, chef and owner of L’Escargot Blanc, in Edinburgh’s West End, saw it named “best restaurant experience” 25 years after he first moved to the city from the Loire Valley.
He said: “Everything we do is centred around the customer experience from start to finish. The pride we take in sourcing the very best food with great provenance is equal to the pride we take in looking after our guests.”
Jess Elliot Dennison, owner of 27 Elliott’s, said: “Small Scottish producers are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s an absolute joy to celebrate their efforts and dedication to farming, growing and crafting the beautiful produce we get to cook and serve every day.”
The Prestonfield House ceremony also recognise leading tourism industry players in Central Scotland, Fife and Tayside.
The McManus, Dundee's historic art gallery and museum, was named the best visitor attraction in the region.
The Old Manse of Blair, at Blair Atholl, was recognised for offering the "best hotel experience," while the Monachyle Mhor Hotel, in Lochearnhead, in Stirlingshire, was named best restaurant.
Wildhood, a new festival staged in a 17th century castle for children aged 12 and under, was named the best cultural event in the area.
Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel, said: "The Scottish Thistle Awards give businesses and individuals working within tourism in Scotland the opportunity to earn the recognition and appreciation they deserve from their own industry peers.
"They celebrate those people and businesses throughout the country responsible for offering the warmest of welcomes that Scotland is famous for.
“Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it creates jobs and sustains communities. These awards let us recognise the unsung heroes of our industry who show real dedication and enthusiasm for Scotland’s tourism industry."
All the winners at the ceremony will go forward to the national Scottish Thistle Awards ceremony in March.