they had always dreamed of a white Christmas.
And when the Johnstons came to Scotland three years ago on a five-month exchange they immediately fell in love with Edinburgh – so much so they never left.
Now, the family-of-five from Brisbane, Australia, have won an award from VisitScotland for their outstanding bed and breakfast accommodation they set up in Newington last year.
Paul and Susan Johnston, who own Barony House in Mayfield Gardens, managed to secure a house swap in 2014 when a family from Edinburgh went to stay in their Australian property while they came to Scotland.
Dad-of-three Paul said: “We mutually agreed on a time scale we’d swap houses for.
“We are so glad we did it because we immediately fell in love with Edinburgh. Everything from its history to architecture was just outstanding.
“We wanted to experience a cold Christmas, but Edinburgh ended up being nothing like we’d imagined. We thought it would be dark, cold and rainy, but it was beautiful.
“The atmosphere at Christmas is amazing.”
Paul, 40, and Susan, 33, who worked in consumer finance in Australia, had previously bought properties to rent out.
The couple considered doing the same in Edinburgh, but fell in love with Barony House and decided to upgrade its B&B rating.
Paul said: “By running a B&B we are able to share our passion for Edinburgh with international visitors.
“Moving to Edinburgh felt like going back in time, we just love everything about it.
“It’s so nice to be able to go out in the street and not be looking for a beach or an air conditioned shopping centre to keep cool like in Australia.”
After VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme visited the six-bedroom B&B, the couple were awarded the Four Star Gold award.
The award is in recognition of the extremely high standards of visitor accommodation and the continued attainment of outstanding customer service and hospitality.
Paul added: “On receipt of the VisitScotland Gold award after our last inspection, my wife and I were in tears.
“We take the responsibility of running a B&B very seriously and we put our hearts into ensuring every visitor has a genuine personal experience with us. To have our efforts recognised with an upgrade in our star rating was an emotional moment and we want to thank everyone for their support.
“We will always strive to be the best we can be and treat everyone we meet with love and respect.”
Manuela Calchini, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “Congratulations to Barony House for receiving a Four Star Gold award in the VisitScotland Quality Assurance Scheme. To receive a Gold standard in just two years of running their B&B is a fantastic achievement and a reflection of the high standards of experience they deliver to new and returning visitors.”