The Good Hotel Guide 2016: Great Britain and Ireland celebrates the best independently-owned hotels of their kind in the UK and Ireland. Its Editor’s Choice awards highlight the top ten hotels in 21 designated categories.
The 16 Editor’s Choice categories in the printed Guide are Discoveries, Value, Family-friendly, Seaside, Country House, Boutique, Gourmet, Gastropubs, Dog-friendly, Walking, Weddings, Gardens, Spas, Romantic, Bed & Breakfast and Rooms with a View. The five online-only categories are Golf, Fishing, Historic, Green and Honeymoon. Here are a few of this year’s highlights:
Covering hotels that have come to the editor’s attention recently, the Discoveries category includes properties in many parts of the UK. Just an hour from London, The Barn at Roundhurst, near Haslemere, is a 17th-century barn with six bedrooms set around a pretty courtyard. On the south coast, The Seaside Boarding House in Burton Bradstock is a laid-back restaurant-with-rooms on a cliff overlooking Dorset’s Chesil Bay. In Northumberland, St Mary’s Inn, Morpeth, is a beautifully-designed country pub and B&B in a renovated Victorian hospital just 20 minutes’ drive from Newcastle.
This year’s Spas section includes Seaham Hall overlooking Durham’s Heritage coastline. Its Serenity Spa, which covers 44,000 square feet, has a 20-metre swimming pool, 17 therapy rooms, a hammam with walk-in snail showers, ice fountain, sanarium, black granite steam room with amethyst crystal and outdoor hot tubs. At Dormy House in the Cotswolds, the House Spa has a spectacular candlelit indoor pool, an outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a Lavender Infusion Sauna, Hot Juniper Finnish cabin and Veuve Clicquot Champagne Nail Parlour.
The Editor’s Choice Country House section includes some of the finest hotels in the country, from Chewton Glen and Lime Wood in Hampshire to Gravetye Manor in West Sussex and Hambleton Hall in Rutland. Judges in Yarm, North Yorkshire, is a Victorian hotel with exemplary service, whose spacious bedrooms feature a resident goldfish, complimentary sherry, chocolates, fruit and home-made biscuits. The13th- century Grade I listed Askham Hall, in Cumbria, is liked for its mix of antiques and contemporary furnishings, its Bohemian atmosphere, and the charming kitchen garden café in a converted barn.
Chosen for their proximity to wonderful countryside, Walking hotels include Glenfinnan House Hotel near Fort William, which has lawns stretching down to Loch Sheil, and distant views of Ben Nevis. Several Harry Potter film scenes have been filmed at the nearby Glenfinnan Railway viaduct, which can be accessed on foot via the Glenfinnan estate where red deer graze. In Cornwall, guests can admire the views of Carbis Bay from Boskerris Hotel, and stroll to nearby St Ives via the Coastal Path.
This year’s Wedding category includes the Bingham, on a beautiful stretch of the River Thames, in Richmond, Surrey. It has a glamorous Art Deco-inspired interior, a private entertaining space which seats 90 for a civil ceremony, and idyllic gardens that lead down to the towpath. In Devon’s Taw Valley, Northcote Manor can accommodate exclusive weekend wedding parties, and has several spaces that are licensed for intimate wedding ceremonies. At Longueville Manor in St Saviour, Jersey, black swans swim on an ornamental lake, and Chef Andrew Baird’s impressive French menus are based on local and home-grown produce.
The Guide’s 2016 Family category includes Congham Hall in King’s Lynn, an ivy-clad Georgian house in pretty gardens close to the Queen’s estate at Sandringham. Child-friendly activities include kite-flying, private tennis lessons and much else. Its Secret Garden Spa houses a 12-metre indoor swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling windows and daily swim times for families. Other family favourites include Fowey Hall in Cornwall, Cotswolds-based Calcot Manor in Tetbury, and family-owned Porth Tocyn Hotel in Abersoch, overlooking Cardigan Bay in Wales.
Online only, this year’s Green hotels are praised for the environmental steps that they are taking. Award-winners include The Scarlet in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, which has a natural ventilation system, a chlorine-free indoor swimming pool and a reed-filtered outdoor pool. Even candle wax is recycled. In Dolfor, Mid-Wales, The Old Vicarage recycles and composts all food waste; it offers a discount for guests arriving via public transport or by bicycle, and has electric car-charging facilities.
The Good Hotel Guide 2016: Great Britain and Ireland has 419 main entries for hotels considered to be the best of their type in Great Britain and Ireland. Hotels do not pay to be included in the print edition. Entries are selected on merit alone, based on up-to-date visits by inspectors and reports from trustworthy readers, which are all monitored by the editorial team. Hotels are listed alphabetically under town name, with a full review, a photograph and contact details. A Shortlist section with an additional 429 establishments includes entries of a noteworthy standard, often in parts of the country where there is limited choice. The Good Hotel Guide 2016 is also available online; hotels are asked to make a modest payment for a website listing.
Discount vouchers worth a total of £150 are included in each copy of The Good Hotel Guide. They offer a 25 per cent saving off the normal B&B price at participating hotels. Good Hotel Guide gift vouchers are also available, in denominations from £50 to £500, and Good Hotel Guide apps for iPhones, Android and Windows can be downloaded free of charge.
For up-to-the-minute comment, visit the Good Hotel Guide’s Twitter feed @GoodHotelGuide and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/goodhotelguide). Alternatively, join the Good Hotel Guide Club which offers a monthly newsletter with prizes of a free hotel night, special deals at the best hotels, pre-publication discounts, and advice for consumers in dispute with a hotel.
For further details visit www.goodhotelguide.com. The Good Hotel Guide 2016: Great Britain & Ireland, published in October 2015 is priced £18 (including p&p) from The Good Hotel Guide, 50 Addison Avenue, London W11 4QP (Tel: 020 7602 4182) or priced at £20 from all good bookshops.