A NORTH Ayrshire castle is celebrating after receiving its second 5-Star award in just six years.

Blair Estate, which sits within 250 acres of countryside near Dalry, was recently awarded a 5-star Quality Assurance award from VisitScotland for its new selfcatering accommodation within the East Wing of the historic mansion.

The castle, which dates back to the 12th century and is reputed to be the oldest continually inhabited mansion house in Scotland, also holds a 5-star QA award for its exclusive use offering, which it has held since 2012. The recently refurbished East Wing self-catering accommodation sleeps 10 and is offered in addition to the exclusive use of the house, which accommodates up to 34 guests in 17 bedrooms and is ideal for house parties and large group holidays.

Blair Estate has also joined the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme. Launched in May 2016, the VIP programme harnesses the local knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm of partners across the country to help visitors receive the warmest of welcomes and make the most of their trip to Scotland.

With its strong emphasis on promoting local produce, Blair Estate also has VisitScotland Taste Our Best accreditation - a joint initiative between VisitScotland and the Scottish Government to recognise businesses including and promoting local Scottish Produce on their menus.

Blair Estate owner Sallie Hendry said: “It is a great privilege to be recognised in this way, which reflects the dedication of our team and the work we have carried out over the past six years.

“We are committed to offering our guests the highest standards of comfort and cuisine, to ensure their experience of our accommodation and Ayrshire as a whole is the very best.”