The Islesburgh House Youth Hostel in Lerwick has been named as the “Best Hostel in the World 2011” by Hostelling International (HI).
The announcement was made last night at a ceremony in Vienna, where Islesburgh manager Dale Smith was present to accept the prestigious award.
The award is given to the hostel with the highest overall customer rating on the Hostelling International website, www.hihostels.com. The site has 4,000 hostels affiliated to it, from 90 different countries, from Shetland to Sudan, Shanghai to Sweden.
Mr Smith was thrilled to accept the honour, which he dedicated to all the staff at Islesburgh. He said: “You can have a great building, but if you don’t have great staff, you are not going to achieve anything.
“This award is recognition of the hard work and exceptional customer care our staff deliver day in day out, as well as the excellent facilities we have at the hostel. This is certainly a welcome Christmas present for everyone at Islesburgh.”
This is not the first accolade for the five-star hostel, which topped the 2010 Hostelling International poll in Europe for customer satisfaction, coming second worldwide by a mere one per cent.
The 64-bed hostel attracts more than 4,000 visitors a year from around the world and is described by HI as a “beautiful grand mansion house with fabulous views” with “friendly and efficient staff” and “excellent facilities”.
Overall, Islesburgh House Hostel scored 98 per cent for the friendliness of its staff, 96 per cent for efficiency of service, 97 per cent for cleanliness, 97 per cent for security and 96 per cent for location.
On the customer review section of the HI site, Stephen from England said of the Islesburgh hostel: “Probably one of, if not the best hostel I have stayed in, great experience, and superb staff, thank you very much for a great stay.”
Lyn from Australia said: “We loved staying in this hostel. It was perfect for our needs and the building is beautiful. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. We had a fantastic stay on the shetlands, the weather was superb. Would definitely stay here again.”
Neil Watt, Shetland Islands Council’s executive manager for sport and leisure, welcomed the award and the potential visitors it will bring to Shetland.
He said: “This is an amazing achievement for all the staff at Islesburgh House Hostel and just goes to show the consistently excellent service they provide to all their guests.
“It is wonderful to know that travellers from all over the world have such a positive experience when they stay in Shetland and this award will no doubt encourage more people to visit.
“Everyone at Islesburgh should be immensely proud of what they have achieved. You couldn’t ask for better.”