Scottish island hotel named among best in the country in hospitality awards

A small hotel ‘in the middle of the Atlantic’ has beaten some of Scotland’s top establishments to become one of the big winners of the country’s premier hospitality awards.

The 10-bedroom Coll Hotel on the eponymous island, a three-hour ferry trip from Oban, was named joint winner in the Independent Hotel category in the Catering Scotland (CIS) Awards alongside the five-star Glenapp Castle in South Ayrshire.

Runner-up was the five-star Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa, which is located next to one of the world’s most famous golf courses in St Andrews.

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“We are absolutely over the moon,” said Coll Hotel owner Julie Oliphant who runs the hotel at Arinagour with her daughter Laura and husband Kevin. “It’s an amazing honour for a relatively tiny hotel in the middle of nowhere, seemingly in the middle of the Atlantic.”

The Coll Hotel was named joint winner in the Independent Hotel category in the Catering Scotland (CIS) Awards alongside the five-star Glenapp Castle in South Ayrshire.

Three years ago, the Oliphant family doubled the hotel’s number of bedrooms and added an extension which includes a new restaurant, kitchen and bar. Almost all the seafood on the menu is caught off the island or Mull.

Glenapp Castle won the category title outright in 2019. Transformed from a Victorian ruin by the Stranraer-based McMillan family, the 21-bedroom hotel at Ballantrae overlooks Ailsa Craig, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre, and is owned by London financier Paul Szkiler and his wife Poppy.

The Group Hotel of the Year Award was also shared this year between the Radisson Red next to Glasgow’s Hydro and SEC venues, and Fairmont St Andrews.

The Coronavirus crisis meant that for the 2020 awards entrants were judged on performance before or soon after the onset of the crisis, and how they coped during it. The pandemic also prevented an in-person ceremony so organisers and sponsors formulated an alternative plan to travel all over Scotland to present awards as part of a series of elaborate surprise appearances.

Chair of the CIS Advisory Board, Andrea Nicholas, commented: “The shared awards show not only how difficult it was to pick a winner from a high class field but also what a magnificent wide range of top class hospitality we have in Scotland.”

Edinburgh Food Social, a charity which runs school projects and community meals in areas of multiple deprivation, became the only CIS triple winner since 2007 after scooping the Collaboration Award in conjunction with Edinburgh School of Food and Wine, the Social and Community Award and the Andrew Fairlie Excellence Award.

Restaurants and chefs were also named in the awards, which included Chef of the Year going to Edinburgh’s Stuart Ralston who runs Aizle at the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, and Noto on Thistle Street.

Young Chef of the Year went to Fraser Cameron, sous chef at The Globe Inn in Dumfries.

The Stranraer Oyster Festival was awarded the Food Tourism Award, despite having been cancelled in 2020 and 2021. When last held in 2019 it attracted a crowd of 17,000 and raised more than £1.5m for the local economy.

The Restaurant of the Year title went to Number One at The Balmoral in Edinburgh, and the Lifetime Excellence Award was presented to Willie Pike MBE, founder of the annual Scottish Chefs’ Conference which he set up in 2006, the year he won CIS Chef of the Year.