IT IS one of the most coveted awards in the culinary world and sought after by chefs across the globe.

But a hotel in the Highlands has said it is walking away from its Michelin star after diners turned their back on the fine dining experience and the restaurant began running at a loss. Boath House, which is near Nairn, is the latest top end establishment to abandon the hitherto globally recognised Michelin Guide.

The family behind the business, run by husband and wife team Don and Wendy Matheson, along with son Sam and head chef Charlie Lockey, said they had decided to overhaul the restaurant and menus and move Boath House in a new direction.  After 10 years with one Michelin star, they insist they do not yet know whether they have retained the accolade for the new guide, which will be issued on Monday.  But they “fully anticipate” being removed following the revamp and say Scottish diners – and visitors from overseas – no longer want the Michelin experience.  Mrs Matheson said: “While we are extremely proud of the Michelin star we gained 10 years ago and it undoubtedly enhanced our reputation, our restaurant has consistently made a loss and the market has spoken.

“Diners no longer want waiters with white gloves, linen tablecloths and food cooked with many different aspects and technical detail.

“They want good local Scottish food and no stuffiness in the restaurant. If you have to explain to customers what is in the food then you have lost them. Ten years ago, travel agents would be very pleased to hear you have a Michelin star but now many are telling us that’s not what their clients want. We have an international guest list in the summer and mainly local in the winter and they are telling us the same thing.

“We believe the expectations from Michelin are at odds with achievable profit margins and put an enormous stress on a small family-run business like ours.”

The family have already changed the menu and no longer serve six-course sampler menus.

They are also opening a cafe next year in the grounds of the Regency house which will be casual and rustic and offer a selection of food cooked in a wood fired oven.

The family’s move follows a French chef who has been awarded three Michelin stars asking to be stripped of the classification because of the pressure to cook perfect meals each day that may be inspected at any time.

Sebastien Bras, whose restaurant Le Suquet is in southern France, said he did not want to appear in the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide, which awards stars for excellence to restaurants around the world. Le Suquet was given its third star in 1999.

He added: “You’re inspected two or three times a year, you never know when. Every meal that goes out could be inspected. That means that, every day, one of the 500 meals that leaves the kitchen could be judged.”

Mrs Matheson, meanwhile, said: “The feedback we are hearing time and again from our customers is that they want an experience that is more informal and relaxed and this extends to the restaurant, the food and even how it is served.

“They do not want various sauces and purees that take hours to prepare. We have some of the finest ingredients on our doorstep and people just want to eat that and know that’s exactly what it is.”

Scotland retains 12 single Michelin starred restaurants, with Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire remaining the only one to have two stars. Glasgow has none for the 13th year in a row.

The Michelin Guide started more than 100 years ago in France. The restaurants which feature in the 2018 edition are due to be announced on Monday.