This year’s César awards

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 Fowey Hall

family friendly Fowey Hall

Named after César Ritz , ten awards are handed out each year by the authors of the Good Hotel Guide 2015: Great Britain and Ireland and those winners have just been announced.

Firstly, how are these ten chosen? Reports are painstakingly scrutinised, unbiased, impartial, with visits paid for and re-written each year to ensure they are current.  Hotels are visited anonymously by a team of inspectors and editors who have notched up thousands of bed nights and are therefore never swayed by fads, favours or freebies.  Careful monitoring also filters out both collusive praise and malicious complaints so the sort of complaints levied at TripAdvisor and the like cannot be made.

Family Hotel of the Year: Fowey Hall, Fowey, Cornwall – The inspiration for Toad’s stately home in The Wind in the Willows, the guide claims that “ it manages to balance the tricky quest of being an indulgent treat for parents and a hit with the kids.  In the Four Bears Den, kids cook and make music; in the drawing room, parents read the papers. There’s an indoor pool, two trampolines and a zip wire. Adults dress for dinner, leaving children to play Wii and watch a movie (there’s baby listening for little ones).”

Dog-friendly Hotel of the Year: Overwater Hall, Ireby, Cumbria – A third generation family-owned Georgian mansion, Overwater Hall is set in the Lake District.  Dogs are treated like people – they’re allowed in the bedrooms and in one of the hotel’s lounges and bars (but not on the chairs) and bed down free of charge with their owner.  Dog-sitting is available and they have the run of the 18-acre grounds.

Small Hotel of the Year: Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton, Dorset –  Just two miles from Dorchester, Yalbury Cottage consists of a pretty row of 350-year-old thatched cottages with just eight bedrooms.  Chef Jamie Jones serves a “superb” dinner in the oak-beamed restaurant and a top-notch full-English breakfast includes black and white pudding and free-range eggs cooked any way you wish.

Lord of the Manor Hotel

Lords of the Manor Hotel in Gloucestershire

Country House Hotel of the Year: Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire – Unstuffy and impeccable, Lords of the Manor is a former rectory and now a luxury Cotswolds haven.  Service is slick and friendly and the interiors are spacious yet cosy. Traditional British dishes and locally-sourced ingredients guide the menu and head chef Richard Edwards rightfully deserves his Michelin star.

Pub-With-Rooms of the Year: The Talbot Inn, Mells, Somerset – Close to Frome and Bath, The Talbot Inn is a traditional yet stylish former coaching inn run with cheerful informality and has proved a hit since it opened.  Bedrooms are highly praised and the food always hits the spot, with the Coach House Grill Room serving fish and meat grilled on an open fire at weekends.

Country Hotel of the Year: The Pear Tree at Purton, Purton, Wiltshire – Set in gardens with its own wildflower meadow and managed by a dynamic mother-and-daughter duo, The Pear Tree at Purton is a well-run establishment serving superb cuisine in its spacious conservatory.  Head Chef Alan Postill specialises in modern English cooking with much local produce on the menu, including honey from resident bees and wine from the hotel’s vineyard.

Newcomer of the Year: Moor of Rannoch Hotel, Rannoch Station, Perth and Kinross – Blissfully isolated, the Moor of Rannoch Hotel has no TV, no radio, no Wi-Fi and patchy mobile reception, making up for it with board games, books and wood burning stoves.  The helpful new owners, Scott Meikle and Stephanie Graham, provide plenty of information on local activities – from walking routes to local Munros (much-“collected” mountains) – and dinner is a treat, with views across the moor.

the Green park

The Green Park, Pitlochry

Scottish Hotel of the Year: The Green Park, Pitlochry, Scotland – Chosen for its  attention to detail and an impressive level of personal service, the McMenemie family’s traditional hotel on the banks of the River Tummel is faultless.  Chef Chris Tamblin’s daily-changing menu includes plenty of fresh seafood and a complimentary buffet of tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes is laid out on the dining room sideboard daily from 11am – 5pm.

Welsh Hotel of the Year: Milebrook House, Knighton, Powys, Wales – Milebrook House in the Teme Valley is a family affair: grandmother Beryl Marsden is ably assisted by her daughter Joanne and her granddaughter, chef Katie. Located just two miles from Knighton,  the restaurant’s seasonal menu is “well-varied”, including dishes such as slow-roast pork belly and coarse duck and pistachio terrine.

Irish Guest House of the Year: Newforge House, Magheralin, Craigavon, County Armagh – Owned by the Mathers family for six generations, this Georgian gem is peppered with fresh flowers, antique furniture and fine paintings.  Well placed for touring Northern Ireland or further south, guests are greeted with tea and cake; a daily-changing menu of simple Irish country house dishes may include roast saddle of venison or butternut squash risotto.

Hotels do not pay to be included but are asked to make “a modest payment” for a website listing. All comments made about the hotels are those made by the authors of the Guide.


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