IN what is being seen as a major accolade for the Scottish hospitality and tourism industry, the Balbirnie House Hotel in Fife has been named as the world’s best wedding retreat.

The award was announced at a glittering ceremony in Dubai on Thursday night and the hotel celebrated by releasing Saltire blue smoke from the chimney of the Grade A listed building.

It is the first time a UK hotel has won a “world’s best” award at the Haute Grandeur global hotel awards, which took place at the Palazzo Versace.

The four-star hotel near Markinch was named the global Wedding Retreat of the Year after being named best in Europe in that category in 2016.

Last year Balbirnie House won the titles of Europe’s Best Romantic Hotel, Europe’s Best Function Venue Hotel and Europe’s Best Destination Wedding Hotel in the same award scheme.

Owners Nicholas and Gaynor Russell and members of their wedding planning team flew to Dubai to collect the award.

The hotel is set in 400 acres of parkland and has been named best wedding hotel in Scotland a total of 10 times.

The Haute Grandeur awards are recognised worldwide for the independence of their judges, who rate hotels for excellence in numerous categories.

Fifers took to social media to congratulate Balbirnie House. One local person wrote on Facebook: “That’s so amazing to see. Chuffed beyond belief for Markinch village and our local area. And sitting thinking of the people who have worked at Balbirnie over the 3 decades.”

Nicholas Russell said: “To see Balbirnie House go number one in the world, and achieve something

for Scotland that has never

ever been achieved before, is remarkable.”