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Interested in joining the Scottish Hotel Awards Scheme?


The Scottish Hotel Awards were established in 2003 as a membership scheme to encourage, recognise and reward hospitality excellence. Whether a hotel, serviced apartment or guest house / B&B, privately-owned or part of a group, you receive the same care and attention. We allow generous time to get to know you and your priorities in detail; our research visits and judging, which include mystery peer review visits, are unique in the industry.

Now in its 14th season, Scotland’s most comprehensive accommodation industry awards programme has actively and accurately encouraged and supported not only many aspiring, dynamic businesses, but also hundreds of talented people of excellence.

In May 2014, the scheme was brought into the portfolio of Paragraph Publishing a media business which specialises in the promotion of excellence in the drinks and Scottish tourism industries via Whisky Magazine, The World Drinks Awards and Scotland Magazine respectively. Having supported the scheme for some years as the award's official media partner, the addition of the Scottish Hotel Awards to the Paragraph Publishing family has allowed for an expansion of the scope of the scheme, a redevelopment of its structure and the appointment of a larger team. While this has heralded significant change, the team is committed to holding true to the award's founding principles.

Our Objectives

  • Inspiring your team

  • Promoting your business
  • Boosting your bookings

What We Do

We understand that each and every participant is different and we are flexible in working with you in the ways that suit your business best: no other organisation will spend as much time getting to know you and your operation.

We provide each member with year-round promotion online and in print, tools to help you engage your customers and motivate your team, in addition to thorough assessment of your customer experience; all the while encouraging, recognising and rewarding excellence in your operation.

Once a Member, we are here to assist any way we can, with all visits arranged on a friendly, hotel-by-hotel basis. Every member establishment receives the SHA Membership Pack, immediate promotion online at www.scottishhotelawards.com and in print via Scotland Magazine; this is followed by a Research Judging Visit (carried out May-November at your convenience) and later a mystery Judging Visit (Jan-March).

This year round process culminates with the annual Awards Night event which takes place each year in April – an occasion of unrivalled glamour and excitement for over 500 hoteliers attending from every corner of the country.

For more information on specific membership benefits, please download our brochure here.

Research & Judging Process

Our research & judging process is unmatched in its scope. All members are visited throughout the year and will receive a detailed research report from their dedicated research judge. Full details of the process can be found here.

Research Visits

Research visits are our opportunity to get to know you and your business, understand your priorities and assess your customer experience. These visits also allow us to meet your key team members and provide feedback via a research report which will be sent to you within 14 days of your visit. Your research visit also generates an editorial review, which will be uploaded to your profile on scottishhotelawards.com.

Research is conducted in a qualitative manner, never using a ‘tick-box’ approach and will focus on four key themes:

  • Areas of Excellence – Your establishment’s key strengths and unique offerings.
  • Areas for Development – Aspects of the experience / establishment which you feel could be strengthened.
  • People of Excellence – Key team members and how they contribute to the success of the business.
  • Plans for the future – Developments which the management plan to implement; such as renovations, menu changes, training schemes, provision of activities etc.

Importantly, research visits serve to provide a full briefing for judges in advance of their visit, and provide a benchmark from which we can judge.



Judging takes place each year between January - March on a un-announced visit basis. Assignment of visiting judges to properties are chosen carefully on a case-by-case basis to coordinate with each establishment's needs, in order to provide maximum insight and expertise. Judges are fully briefed in advance of their stay, utilising the research visit report, People of Excellence nomination forms and Establishment Awards entry forms. Judges will focus on the same core areas highlighted  during the research phase and will be looking for evidence of development.

Where applicable, judging will also include mystery calls/enquiries to assess reception / events / spa & wedding teams. The morning after their stay, judges will announce themselves upon check-out.

Our judging team is split into specialist panels consisting of individuals with specific skills sets and experience. These panels are presided over by Vivien Devlin, our Chair of Judges.

Judging decisions are made during round-table panel meetings, which serve to generate our initial shortlist, presented at regional awards lunches in January. This will outline the 'regional winners' of each main category (e.g. South West Country House Hotel of the Year or Edinburgh & Lothians Spa Hotel of the Year) forming a shortlist with a maximum of 9 hotels per category.

On the night, we will welcome national category winners to the stage in celebration of their success, with one exceptional venue being named 'Scottish Hotel of the Year'.


Research & Judging Guidelines

We have appointed a new research and judging team who will adhere to our strict visiting guidelines. These will be sent to you in advance of any visit, but are summarised below.

  • Overnight visits are conducted in the usual ‘press familiarisation’ manner and Dinner, Bed & Breakfast is provided on a complimentary basis by the hotel plus (if relevant) parking, & internet access.
  • Researchers arrive during the afternoon, and will spend the afternoon or the following morning meeting owners, managers, key personnel and seeing as many rooms and public areas as possible. Please ensure key team members will be present on the day of your visit.
  • Leisure / spa treatments or activities such as golf are not obligatory, and are to be offered by the establishment only if so desired by the management. (e.g. If you wish to be considered for ‘Spa Hotel of the Year’ / ‘Golf Hotel of the Year’ etc.) Please agree any special activities with the SHA Operations Manager in advance when scheduling your visit.
  • Limited alcohol is included: Researchers may have one aperitif and one glass of house wine with dinner, unless the manager of the establishment specifically wishes to alter this arrangement in order to showcase a particular offering such as wine/whisky tasting flights or a specialist cocktail menu. Any additional drinks not approved by the hotel management/team will be paid for on departure by the Researcher.

For more information on the Scottish Hotel Awards please contact Membership Manager Moira Gilchrist  (moira.gilchrist@chelseamagazines.com or phone 07908 893 956)