31 OCTOBER 2016
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With exploring the UK, or staycationing, growing in popularity, it’s useful to know the best places to rest your head. A close study of the Good Hotel Guide 2017, just published, is one way to find out.
The book is an unbiased selection of the best hotels, inns and B&Bs with personality and character across the UK and Ireland. This year’s edition has 414 main entries, 16 Editor’s Choice categories, with an additional four online, plus 411 hotels in the Shortlist section.
The publishers of the guide say hotels are chosen solely on merit and entries rewritten each year. Readers’ reports are painstakingly scrutinised, and reports from inspectors are based on anonymous visits, the cost of which is borne by the guide.
The crème de la crème of the entries are the 10 César awards presented each year to top hoteliers who have demonstrated excellence in their field. Named after César Ritz, they are known as the Oscars of the hotel industry.
To whet your appetite, here are the César winners for 2017 – but don’t forget to check out the comprehensive listing of the other properties in the guide:
1: Country House Hotel of the Year: Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead. The guide says this Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house has 17 bedrooms and is set in “impeccable” gardens. Resident chef George Blogg’s Michelin-starred dishes draw inspiration from the vast kitchen garden.
2: City Hotel of the Year: Brocco on the Park, Sheffield. The guide praises the Scandi-chic interior and buzzy neighbourhood kitchen serving adventurous cuisine, in a handsome Edwardian villa that has eight bedrooms and welcomes guests with cupcakes.
3: Inn of the Year: The Nobody Inn, Doddiscombsleigh, Devon. Described by the guide as “an atmospheric and much-loved village pub”, this property is said to feature blackened beams, an inglenook fireplace and a varied menu complemented by an extensive range of wine, whisky and local cider.
4: Newcomer of the Year: The Royal Oak, Swallowcliffe, Wiltshire. Saved by villagers after closing for seven years, this 19th-century thatched pub in Wiltshire houses six bedrooms and a thriving restaurant and is well-located for Stonehenge, Salisbury and the National Trust’s Stourhead.
5: Seaside Hotel of the Year: Hell Bay Hotel, Bryher, Isles of Scilly. The guide praises this hotel’s many bedrooms boasting sweeping views of the Atlantic and its “much-deserved reputation” as a chic coastal retreat. The restaurant uses the “very best” fresh ingredients and the seasonal Crab Shack serves three seafood dishes daily.
6: Family Hotel of the Year: The Blakeney Hotel, Blakeney, Norfolk. Described by the guide as a picturesque quayside hotel on the North Norfolk coast, with views across the estuary to the seal colony at Blakeney Point. It is said to be popular with multi-generational families, with crabbing and mud-sliding on the quay for children, an indoor swimming pool and “top-notch” food.
7: Value Hotel of the Year: Battlesteads, Hexham, Northumberland. An eco-friendly 22-bedroom hotel with a “much-revered” restaurant using prime local ingredients in the village of Wark, near Hexham. Guests can combine stargazing with their stay, as the village boasts a dark-sky observatory.
8: Scottish Hotel of the Year: The Cross at Kingussie, Kingussie, Highlands. A former tweed mill set in the Cairngorms National Park, this hotel is set beside the River Gynack and boasts a “high-quality” restaurant with riverside terrace, eight cosy bedrooms and lounges with log fires and board games.
9: Restaurant-With-Rooms of the Year: The Hardwick, Abergavenny, Wales. The guide says provenance is everything at this friendly establishment, with local Wye Valley produce served “bang on season” and bedrooms equipped with cosy Welsh blankets.
10: Welsh Guest House of the Year: Ael y Bryn, Eglwyswrw, Pembrokeshire – Expect a genuinely warm welcome here, says the guide, with steaming pots of tea and tiered platters of home-baked cakes. The house is filled with paintings and sculptures and there is even a snug library. Breakfasts are “impressive”.
According to Good Hotel Guide co-editors Adam Raphael and M. Astella Saw: “This year’s César award winners reflect the rising standards of hotel-keeping across the country.
“All 10 properties have been chosen for their immaculate service, warm welcome, fine hospitality and memorable individuality.”
In addition to the Césars, the guide’s Editor’s Choice section highlights top 10 hotels in 16 designated categories, including Country House, Boutique, Gourmet and Gastropubs.
The guide costs £15 including p&p from The Good Hotel Guide, 50 Addison Avenue, London W11 4QP (Tel: 020 7602 4182) ; or £20 from bookshops and is also available online.
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