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Groats hotel competes for architecture accolade

Caithness Courier

It was once known as the biggest eyesore in Scotland but John O'Groats has been nominated as a finalist for one of the most important prizes in architecture.

The redeveloped site of the former John O'Groats House Hotel has been shortlisted in the finals of the Royal Incorporation of Architects Scotland Awards for 2014.

The new £2.5 million venture known as The Inn at John O'Groats is the only Highland entry among 27 buildings from across Scotland in line to win the sought-after title.

In 2010, the tourist hotspot infamously won the Carbuncle award handed out by architecture magazine Urban Realm for being Scotland's most dismal place.

The following year, Natural Retreats began its £6 million redevelopment of the village and completed its regeneration programme last August.

The building which overlooks the end-of-the-road stretch - the start and finish of countless charity marathons to and from Land's End - was restored over two years and given a new Norse-style extension which provided a splash of colour against the rugged landscape.

GLM were the architects behind the development and the judges praised the firm for bringing a rundown building back to life.

They said: "This symbolic, much visited, location was for too long down at heel.

"Brightly coloured pavilions extend the restored Victorian hotel to create a whole new attraction and a highly visible landmark."

Other project shortlisted for the award include the SSE Hydro and Commonwealth Games Athletes' Village in Glasgow, Waitrose supermarket in Helensburgh and the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre in Stirling.