October 13, 2016 | Good Hotel Guide
The Good Hotel Guide 2017: 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 a total of 20 designated categories. This year’s 2017 Guide features 16 Editor’s Choice categories in print (with an additional four categories online), 414 main entries plus 411 hotels in the Shortlist section.
The Guide’s Editor’s Choice section highlights the top 10 hotels in 16 designated categories – 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 four online-only Editor’s Choice hotel categories are Fishing, Golf, Green and Historic.
Gracing this year’s cover, Hambleton Hall is one of ten hotels commended within the Editor’s Choice Country House category. The immaculate former Victorian hunting lodge has views of Rutland Water and Michelin-starred dining. Other hotels include the expertly-run Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Windermere – an Edwardian country house with top-notch cooking from chef Hrishikesh Desai, plus five new cedar-clad spa lodges – and Devon’s Lewtrenchard Manor, an atmospheric family-owned Jacobean manor house. Judges in Yarm, North Yorkshire, sits in a 36-acre garden with goldfish, sherry and teddy bears to greet guests in their rooms and Hilton Park in Clones, Ireland, is a Georgian ancestral home where guests gather for dinner around a large communal table.
The Discoveries category includes New England-style restaurant with rooms The Gallivant in Camber Sands, East Sussex; its larder serves popcorn and Champagne, and spa treatments take place in a wood-clad beach hut. In the Lake District, Forest Side in Grasmere is a stylish Victorian retreat with original working fireplaces, foraging walks for guests and impressive menus with many options for vegetarians. For the perfect country pub with rooms, The Plough in Kelmscott, Oxfordshire, is hard to beat, with its genial atmosphere and flavoursome food.
Spanning the UK, Romantic hotels include the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel, perched on its own tidal island, where guests arrive by sea tractor and dress for dinner. In Somerset, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath has a secret walled garden and luxurious spa (the hotel is also an Editor’s Choice for Spas) with far-reaching views of the Georgian city. In the Brecon Beacons, Wales, family-owned Gliffaes, in Crickhowell, is an Italianate mansion set beside the River Usk, complete with pheasants strutting on the lawn.
This year’s Seaside category has a southern bias, with four out of ten properties in Cornwall; The Old Coastguard in Mousehole, Idle Rocks in St Mawes, Driftwood Hotel in Portscatho and The Nare in Veryan-in-Roseland. There are two properties in Devon – The Cary Arms in Babbacombe and Soar Mill Cove Hotel near Salcombe, plus The Pig on the Beach in Dorset’s Studland Bay.
The Editor’s Choice for Gardens includes Austwick Hall in the Yorkshire Dales, with its sculpture trail and 50 varieties of snowdrop in the grounds. In Ireland, Ballyvolane House in Castlelyons, County Cork, has a sublime setting with walled and woodland gardens and tiered lawns lined with magnolias. In Gloucestershire, Barnsley House – once home to the renowned garden designer, Rosemary Verey – has beautifully-maintained gardens including a knot garden, laburnum walk, clipped yews and a potager.
This year’s Dog-friendly category includes The Peacock at Rowsley, with a myriad of walking trails nearby in the surrounding Peak District, and Prince Hall in Two Bridges, Devon, where the extensive dog-friendly options include visits from a dog healer. In Scotland, Trigony House in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway, is surrounded by rolling hills and farmland for walking, and pampered pooches are served sausages at breakfast. In the Lake District, Holbeck Ghyll’s dog-friendly welcome extends to a Very Important Canine package with a cosy bed, matching collar and lead, blanket, bowl, toy and organic treats.
This year’s Spas section includes firm favourites such as Lime Wood and Chewton Glen in Hampshire; Calcot Manor in Gloucestershire; The Scarlet in Cornwall and Seaham Hall in County Durham. The Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island in Scotland is also commended, alongside Bodysgallen Hall and Spa in Llandudno, North Wales, and Cliveden House – the sole Berkshire hotel featured in this year’s Guide, and home to Britain’s only listed swimming pool.
The Editor’s Choice Gourmet section highlights some real foodie strongholds. There are three Welsh properties – Tyddyn Llan in Denbighshire, Llys Meddyg in Pembrokeshire and The Whitebrook in Monmouthshire – all serving inventive, locally-sourced dishes. In Norfolk, Morston Hall has a Michelin-starred restaurant and runs half-day cookery demonstrations and The Neptune in Old Hunstanton is an elegant 18th century creeper-covered coaching inn. In Yorkshire, The Yorke Arms in Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale boasts Frances Atkins – one of only six female Michelin-starred chefs in the country – at the helm.
With British B&Bs going from strength to strength, this year’s Editor’s Choice B&Bs include the rose-clad Timberstone in Clee Stanton, Shropshire; the elegant Georgian townhouse 2 Blackburne Terrace in Liverpool; 18th century Dalshian House in Pitlochry, Scotland and The Quay House in Clifden, County Galway, Ireland. There are also three Sussex properties: Old Whyly in East Hoathly, Swan House in Hastings and Jeake’s House in Rye.
Properties are chosen solely on merit, and all entries are rewritten each year. Readers’ reports are painstakingly scrutinised, and reports from inspectors are based on anonymous visits, the cost of which are borne by the Guide; reviews are never swayed by special treatment. Hotels are asked to make a modest payment for a website listing.
The Guide’s new look website www.goodhotelguide.com has better imagery, a more relevant and useful search ability (including proximity searching which takes distance into consideration) and is fully device-responsive.
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