The Good Hotel Guide 2019 reveals its 10 César award winners in what has been a buoyant year for business.
Co-edited by Adam Raphael and Ian Belcher, the 2019 edition features 860 properties in total, the highest number ever, with 424 main entries chosen for their exceptional hospitality. A Shortlist section features an additional 436 properties. These include new entries of a notable standard and other properties that continue to receive positive feedback from visitors.
Co-editors Adam Raphael and Ian Belcher say: “This year’s 2019 César winners have demonstrated excellence at every turn, providing guests with delicious food and warm hospitality. They have also succeeded in getting the all-important basics right, from a comfortable mattress or very good ambient lighting to that vital but often overlooked welcoming atmosphere and smooth service.”
Recent research* by the Good Hotel Guide 2019 of its 860 hotels suggests that the approach of Brexit has helped the UK hospitality industry. Trading for most hotels has been good (69%) or fair (28%), with only 3% saying it had been poor. More than half (60%) said that they had seen an increase in foreign guests. Occupancy rates have increased, with 12% recording exceptionally high rates (above 90%) and half recording rates above 75% – helped by the decline in the pound’s value and this year’s good weather. Only 21% said occupancy rates were worse than last year. However, Brexit is by no means all good news: a third of hotels said that Brexit had affected staff recruitment and retention.
Ten César awards are presented to a selection of hotels which have demonstrated excellence in their field. Named after César Ritz, these are known as the Oscars of the hotel industry. Here are the Good Hotel Guide’s 10 César winners for 2019:
Newcomer of the year
Pentonbridge Inn, Penton, Cumbria
Transformed from a remote, run-down pub into an exciting gourmet destination, this Cumbrian inn offers an exquisite seasonal menu. The nine beautifully appointed bedrooms, spread between the main house and the connected barn, are named after an infamous clan of Border Reivers who raided the English-Scottish border for livestock during the late 17th century.
Luxury hotel of the year
Kinloch Lodge, Sleat, Isle of Skye
Lord and Lady Macdonald’s former hunting lodge on the Isle of Skye has glorious loch views from bedrooms filled with antiques and ancestral portraits. Chef Marcello Tully creates a delectable Michelin-starred menu, showcasing the best of local ingredients, and a ghillie (Scottish guide) organises fishing, foraging and wild walks.
Seaside hotel of the year
The Nare, Veryan-in-Roseland, Cornwall
Privately-owned by the same family for three decades, Toby Ashworth’s hotel provides the perfect mix of family-friendliness and luxury throughout its elegant rooms, two restaurants and sub-tropical gardens with outdoor pool, all in a tranquil setting overlooking Carne Beach. Guests enjoy a daily complimentary cream tea, fresh seafood and charming traditions such as silver service at dinner.
Country hotel of the year
Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell, Gloucestershire
Formerly a working farm, Hari and Colin Fell have lovingly crafted a chic retreat, designed to pay tribute to the buildings’ rich history. Head chef Rob Cox uses the kitchen garden to the full, creating a varied menu of produce sourced from within a twenty-mile radius, including the Forest of Dean. Bedrooms have luxurious pocket-sprung mattresses, roll-top baths, monsoon showers and super-fast WiFi.
B&B of the year
Stoberry House, Wells, Somerset
Overlooking the cathedral city of Wells, Tim and Frances Meeres Young’s 18th-century coach house is a true labour of love. From the exceptional breakfast menu to the tastefully-furnished bedrooms and lounges, the attention to detail is often praised by guests. The landscaped grounds enjoy views of the cathedral and Glastonbury Tor.
Romantic hotel of the year
The Salutation, Sandwich, Kent
In four acres of award-winning gardens behind high flint walls, John and Dorothy Fothergill have elegantly refurbished this photogenic Queen Anne-style Lutyens house, providing a welcome sense of escapism just moments from the medieval town of Sandwich. There are also a café, plant nursery and a shop on site.
Inn of the year
The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire
This chocolate-box-thatched-village inn on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors is infused with wit and curiously decorated with odds and ends (a billiards table stands at the foot of a bed). Chef/patron Andrew Pern’s Michelin-starred cooking offers a fine-dining upgrade on pub classics with a daily-changing menu.
Scottish hotel of the year
Knockendarroch Hotel, Pitlochry, Scotland
Providing warm and welcoming service is a top priority for Struan and Louise Lothian at their friendly hotel in Perthshire, between Edinburgh and Inverness. Get cosy on one of the velvet sofas in front of a roaring log fire and take in the panoramic loch views from the tranquil bedrooms.
Welsh restaurant-with-rooms of the year
Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth, Wales
Superb sea views, contemporary design and acclaimed Michelin-starred cooking characterise Louise and James Sommerin’s family-run enterprise on the Severn estuary near Cardiff. Dine on crab, lobster or smoked venison, and stay in one of the nine bedrooms, five of which have sea views.
Irish hotel of the year
Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Ireland
Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray’s Georgian country house has views across the Burren to Galway Bay. The elegant, antique-filled interior gleams with modern art and fresh flowers, and a friendly cat may be curled up on one of the armchairs. Head chef Robbie McCauley’s menus feature fresh Atlantic fish and shellfish, organic meat and game.
In addition to the ten César awards named above, the Guide’s Editor’s Choice section highlights the top ten hotels in 16 designated categories – This Year’s Discoveries, Romantic, Spas, Seaside, Restaurants-with-Rooms, Dog-friendly, Country House, Gardens, Rooms with a View, B&Bs, Value, Pubs-with-Rooms, Family, Walking, Quirky and Weddings.
The Good Hotel Guide 2019: Great Britain & Ireland, published on 8 October 2018, is priced at £16 (including p&p within the UK) from The Good Hotel Guide, 50 Addison Avenue, London W11 4QP (Tel: 020 7602 4182; www.goodhotelguide.com), or priced at £20 from all good bookshops.
Discount vouchers worth a total of £150 are included in each copy of the Guide. They enable a 25% saving off one night’s normal B&B price at participating hotels. Good Hotel Guide gift vouchers are also available, in denominations from £50 to £500.