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Tiny Scots B&B is named best in the world by travel website

A couple who three years ago didn’t know what to do with the house they were living in near Loch Ness are now running the best bed and breakfast establishment in the world.

The Old Manse, overlooking Invermoriston, received the accolade in the annual travellers’ choice hotel awards organised by online travel guide TripAdvisor.

UK establishments dominated the world’s top 10 B&B list, occupying six of the top eight places.

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In other categories, Hotel Missoni on Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge was voted the second trendiest hotel in Europe while travellers thought enough of Abbot’s Brae Hotel in Dunoon for it to make seventh place in the best service in Europe table. Seven of the UK’s top 25 hotels were in Devon.

But pride of place went to Julie, 52, and 58-year-old Martin Mitchell, who moved up to the Highlands from the south of England more than 11 years ago to get away from the rat race.

Martin had been running his own closed circuit installation business before heading north for what he thought would be semi-retirement, while Julie worked in sales for mobile phone giant O2.

She told The Herald: “I am originally from Edinburgh and my parents were from Bo’ness. Martin is a southerner from Sunbury-on-Thames. But we wanted to come up to Scotland to get away from the rat race.”

They now seem to have found their true vocation, judging by comments on the TripAdvisor website.

These include: “Martin and Julie are remarkable hosts, offering devoted personal attention along with sumptuous cuisine; and were prepared to go that extra mile ensuring our stay was memorable.”

Another said: “They treated us like royalty, nothing was too much trouble, our rooms were beautiful, the breakfast was wonderful – it was all fantastic. It really did feel like staying in a stately home – with the only downside being that we were there for just one night.”

Mrs Mitchell said she was astounded by the award: “We are only going into our third season. We are very new at bed and breakfast. The Old Manse was our family home and it came to a point where we had to do something with it to generate business or move.”

She said the house hadn’t been a manse for at least 25 years, but the size of it allowed them to offer something a little different from other B&Bs.

“We only have two suites – the Burns Rooms and the Wallace Rooms – so we only cater for four people at any one time. They have a bedroom and en suite bathroom, but they each have their own private lounge. One is downstairs and one is upstairs.

“So it really is like going home, because you have all the privacy you want.”

They had taken a conscious decision not to take passing trade, so bookings are online.

“ Apart from anything else it wouldn’t have been fair for somebody to climb all the way up here just to be told that there was no room.

“We are just starting a minimum of two nights which is £59 per person per night. But the majority of our guests are here for three nights and that is £55 per person per night. Although we are not cheap, we try to give good value for money.”

She said they did offer some specialities at the breakfast table: “The things that seem to go down well are the whisky and honey porridge, even with people who don’t like whisky; the Scottish smoked salmon and scrambled eggs; and of course the full breakfast with the haggis and black pudding.”

She said a lot of their success had to be due to their location. “People always admire where we live. So if you ever want to open a B&B, Loch Ness is a fantastic draw.You are also handy for Skye and the west coast.”

It certainly seems to put Tuscany in the shade, beating Casa Portagioia, in Castiglion Fiorentino into second place.

European travellers voted Rudding Park in Harrogate the best hotel in the UK, with The Old Rectory in Exmoor in second place and Boskerris Hotel in St Ives third.

For the second year running London failed to get any establishment in the top 25, and no UK property featured in the European top 10 bargain hotels category.

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