Skip to main content
Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 29/09/2023

And the winners are...

The West of Scotland Thistle Awards took place last night (Thursday 28 September) at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow. 

The Scottish Thistle Awards, with headline sponsors Johnstons of Elgin, celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, which is worth £11.5 billion to the Scottish economy.  

2023 saw more than 600 entries submitted, including almost 1200 nominations from members of the public. Entering the awards give hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals the opportunity to earn the recognition they deserve in the part they play in making Scotland such a fantastic place to visit. 

Best Eating Experience sponsored by Abbey UK

Lamalsh House, Newmilns

Lamlash House in Newmilns was named Best Eating Experience. The listed property in the Irvine Valley of East Ayrshire was restored by owners over a five-year period after it operated as a bank for 124 years.

It offers a range of dining experiences from eight-course tasting menus created by the award-winning chef to afternoon tea and private celebrations, all using local produce at the heart of Lamlash House’s ethos.

Lamlash House

Visit Lamlash House

Best Bar or Pub sponsored by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association

The Brae, Dreghorn, Ayrshire  

The Brae in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, was named Best Bar or Pub. The family-owned business opened six years ago to provide good quality local food and service.

It was praised by judges for striving to deliver the best possible guest experience and for its support for the local community.

The Brae exterior

Book a table at The Brae

Best Hotel Experience sponsored by Fishers 

Auchrannie Resort, Isle of Arran

Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran was named Best Hotel Experience, sponsored by Fishers. The resort, which is celebrating its 35th year, employs over 170 people and welcomes 46,000 of the islands’ visitors annually. 

It was the national winner of the Best Hotel Experience (over 20 rooms) at the Scottish Thistle Awards for 2022/23. Judges were impressed by Auchrannie’s investment in staff training and retention.


Find out more about Auchrannie Resort

Best Self Catering Accommodation Experience

Jack’s Alt-Stays, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae  

Jack’s Alt-Stays in Millport, the Isle of Cumbrae, received the Best Self Catering Accommodation Experience award.

The new accommodation offers an immersive in-cabin sensory experience, powered by solar energy and equipped with a wood-fired hot tub. Judges praised the ‘quirky and imaginative’ accommodation provider for its strong commitment to sustainability issues. 

Jack Alt Stays

Learn more about Jack Alt-Stays

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival 

Dandelion Festival, Glasgow  

Dandelion Festival in Glasgow won the Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival award. The event took place in 2022 with more than 589,000 people participating in events and activities during the course of the year.

The free and inclusive festival was praised by judges for supporting the creative and cultural sector as it recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dandelion Festival

Get involved in the Dandelion Festival

Celebrating Thriving Communities Award

West Dunbartonshire Council for Rediscovering the Antonine Wall Project

West Dunbartonshire Council has received recognition at Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards for its efforts to raise awareness and increase engagement with the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site. 

The project was led by West Dunbartonshire in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland and the five local authorities in which the wall passes through.

After securing funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland and LEADER funding, the partners delivered an extensive and varied capital works, education and community engagement programme. Roman-inspired play parks, distance stones, murals and a touring exhibition were all put in place to enhance the visitor experience, whilst contributing to placemaking for local communities living alongside the wall.  


The Antonine Wall

Inclusive Tourism Award sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland

Glasgow Science Centre

Glasgow Science Centre received the Inclusive Tourism Award, sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland, which recognises businesses that have developed an outstanding welcome for all their customers.

The educational charity inspires and motivates people to discover the world around them by creating engaging and meaningful experiences with science. It was praised by judges for offering activities to suit customers with both hidden and visible disabilities.  

Glasgow Science Centre

Visit Glasgow Science Centre's website

Climate Action Award sponsored by The Times Scotland

Glasgow Life

Glasgow Life won the inaugural Climate Action Award, sponsored by The Times Scotland. The award recognises businesses that have made demonstrable progress on their journey to net zero. The self-catering accommodation was described by judges as an “outstanding example” of how businesses can help look after the planet and offer a luxurious and memorable stay in Scotland.  

In 2016, Glasgow was the first city in the UK to join the Global Destination Sustainability Index of responsible tourism and events cities and every year since has ranked highest in the UK, launching its first sustainable tourism and conventions action plan in 2022. The entry was praised by judges as an “exemplary showcase” of how cities can provide an excellent visitor offering, at the same time as future proofing the planet.  

Glasgow Life

Learn about what Glasgow Life do

Best Visitor Attraction sponsored by the Scottish Sun

The Burrell Collection, Glasgow

The Burrell Collection received the Best Visitor Attraction award, sponsored by The Scottish Sun. The 9000-object collection of Sir William and Constance Burrell was gift to the city in 1944. The museum building was originally opened in 1983, and following a major five-year refurbishment and radical redisplay, reopened to the public in March 2022, welcoming 600,000 visitors in its first year.  

Judges described the entry as a “very thorough and comprehensive approach to providing a world class visitor experience.” Judges also praised The Burrell Collection for its sustainability credentials, particularly in its carbon footprint. 

The Burrell Collection

Visit the Burrell Collection website

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience

Pinkston Watersports, Glasgow

Pinkston Watersports was named Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience. As Scotland’s only artificial river, the community facility specialises in white water experiences, including camps, taster sessions and paddle sports lessons.

The venue hosts national events and e-competitions every year, bringing thousands of participants and spectators to Glasgow every year. 

Pinkston watersports

See what Pinkston Watersports offer

Innovation in Tourism Award

Mharsanta, Glasgow

Mharsanta's immersive taste of Scotland dining experience received the inaugural Innovation in Tourism award. The award recognises businesses driving forward positive change in innovative ways.   

The "Immersive taste of Scotland dining experience" was designed to create a unique experience that would bring the tastes, smells, sights and sounds of Scotland together in one room to immerse guests in some of what Scotland has to offer. 

A purpose made video with the restaurant's suppliers was developed that helped transport guests around Scotland while they enjoyed different tasting sessions with ambassadors of these brands, accompanied with a five-course menu that would showcase Scotland's excellent natural larder. 

Described by judges as a “unique and memorable experience,” they commended Mharsanta on their commitment to sustainability and the environment.  


Book an experience at Mharsanta

Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year

Sea Life Loch Lomond

Sea Life Loch Lomond has received recognition at Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards.

The award aims to highlight and celebrate employers who are showcasing tourism, hospitality and events as an exciting career path and inspiring the next generation. 

Judges described the attraction as an excellent example of an inclusive and supportive employer, with a whole range of initiatives and partnerships in place to encourage positive staff development and investment in its current and future workforce.  

Sea Life Loch Lomond

Read on for more information

Tourism Individual of the Year

Alan McDougall, IHG Hotels, Glasgow

Alan McDougall, Head Concierge at the Crown Plaza in Glasgow was named Tourism Individual of the Year. The category recognises individuals who go above and beyond to deliver exceptional customer service, and who prioritise inclusivity, sustainability, community and responsible practices.

Alan has more than 30 years experience in hospitality, working his way up the ladder at some of the best hotels in Glasgow and the west of Scotland to his current role. He is also an ambassador for Springboard and a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality. Alan was praised by judges for his warm and hospitable approach to his front of house role.

He was also commended for his commitment to supporting individuals to become involved in the tourism sector.  

Thistle Winner

Follow Alan McDougall on LinkedIn

Related links