Scotland the Best has become something of a Scottish institution. Published every two years, its author Peter Irvine sets out to list the best of everything that Scotland has to offer. Looking for the best hotels in Edinburgh; or the best Mexican restaurants in Edinburgh; or the most unique Glasgow pubs; or the best less expensive Highland hotels; or the best fish and chip shops in Scotland; or the best distillery tours; or the best castles; or the best country parks; or the most interesting graveyards; or the most enchanting places; or the best of Shetland? Whatever it is you are looking for, within reason, Scotland the Best has a list setting out the best examples in Scotland, each with a paragraph of text, and many of the best of the best denoted by awards of ticks.
The result is a really useful work of reference anyone living in or visiting Scotland will find themselves coming back to time and again. Being a series of lists, this is not a book that could ever be described as great reading: but that's not the point. This is a book that can be used to improve your experience of Scotland. One of the things that set it apart from some other guides is that everything is reassessed for every edition to see if it is still worthy of inclusion, making it a true labour of love by its author.
It is inevitable that any process that involves making judgements about quality has a degree of subjectivity, and part of the fun of trawling through the latest edition is to work out where your own experience and views differ from those of the author: but feedback is actively sought and if you do disagree with anything in the book, simply let the author know. On the whole, though, anyone who knows Scotland has to end up acknowledging that the lists in Scotland the Best do add up to a pretty fine snapshot of the very best of what Scotland has to offer. This is equally true whether the book is talking about Prestonfield, a hotel in Edinburgh the author has given one of his hard-won three tick awards, or "Pete's Beach", a beach the author has named after himself and awarded two ticks on the far north coast of Sutherland. Maps call this Traigh Allt Chailgeag: but there seems a good chance most visitors to it will be there because of Scotland the Best, and we wonder just how long it will be before the maps also start calling it "Pete's Beach"!