Five-star review for revamped Usher Hall

The Usher Hall
The Usher Hall
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The Capital’s flagship arts venue has become the first concert hall in Scotland to be awarded a five-star grading by the national tourism agency.

The Usher Hall, which has undergone a £37.5 million refurbishment that was completed five years late and nearly £20m over budget, has been awarded the top award for excellence by VisitScotland.

It joins the elite list of Edinburgh attractions or venues to have been awarded the country’s top tourism accolade, including Hotel Missoni, the Balmoral Hotel, the Royal Yacht Britannia and Edinburgh Castle.

The award comes after a successful period since the refurbishment, with the venue bringing in £3.2m during 2010-11 – well above the figures it earned before the work was completed.

Karl Chapman, general manager of the Usher Hall, said: “We have the world’s greatest artists gracing our stage and we’ve been working to ensure that our customer service is also of the highest standard.

“Winning this award proves that we’re giving our audiences both five-star music and a five-star experience. I am very proud of the hard work put in by our dedicated staff. This recognition of their efforts is truly a big pat on the back for everyone.”

The Usher Hall, which has been a key venue of the Edinburgh International Festival since its opening concert in August 1947, has never previously had a star rating from VisitScotland before. The five-star rating indicates that the tourism agency judges the venue to be “exceptional”,

An initial formal inspection was carried out in March that indicated that the venue could get a five-star rating. A further two anonymous inspections over the course of the summer judged staff attitude and efficiency, cleanliness and overall visitor experience.

The hall was praised for its facilities and acoustics, as well as its “excellent cleanliness”, while its customer service was said to provide “the extra touch we look for at higher-grading venues”.

Manuela Calchini, Visit- Scotland’s regional director said: “A five-star award is only given to places of an exceptional standard, and the Usher Hall is a magnificent example of how to combine a unique venue with excellent customer service. Edinburgh is blessed with some wonderful venues and this award makes sure that the Usher Hall is recognised as one of the very best.”

A series of sell-out concerts are planned for the autumn months, including chart sensation Adele, R&B star Jessie J and the only Scottish tour date of Noel Gallagher’s new band High Flying Birds.

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city’s culture and leisure leader, said: “This is an amazing achievement and very well deserved. Since it underwent its major refurbishment, the Usher Hall has reclaimed its rightful position as a major international concert hall and this new rating helps cement its already sterling reputation.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com