The best of British hospitality has been revealed at the AA Hospitality Awards tonight. Now in its 20th year, the glittering awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel celebrates the UK’s top hotels, restaurants, and pubs and the people behind them. It also marks the release of the 2018 editions of the AA’s range of lifestyle guides; the AA Hotel Guide and the AA Best Restaurants Guide.
This award is the AA’s ultimate accolade for hotels in the UK. It is awarded to hotels that are recognised as being outstanding examples in their particular market. From the small family-run hotel to the most ambitious commercial ventures, hotels of every size and style are potential winners.
1. Hotel of the Year England
Andrew Jordan, Executive Vice President of YTL Hotels, said: “I would like to thank the AA for this award and we fully respect the trust that has been placed upon us. This prestigious award is the highest accolade that The Gainsborough has achieved. I am so proud of what the hotel stands for and the magnificent efforts of each and every member of the team.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said: “With its exclusive access to natural thermal waters, The Gainsborough Bath Spa provides both a sophisticated and luxurious experience.”
2. Hotel of the Year London
Jeremy Goring, CEO of The Goring, said: “We are really proud of every single member of our brilliant staff and this award is testament to their dedication and talent.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Goring: “An icon of British hospitality with exemplary customer care.”
3. Hotel of the Year N. Ireland
Paul Rice, Managing Director of The Old Inn, said: “When we heard the news of being The AA’s Northern Ireland Hotel of the Year for 2017 we were of course delighted. It recognises the individuals throughout the hotel for their warm personalities and the skill and execution of delivering top class food, drinks, accommodation and also great recognition for the sales and administration team for ensuring our brand and our company remain strong in a challenging market.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Old Inn: “Behind the quaint thatched exterior of The Old Inn lies an untold elegance and grandeur.”
4. Hotel of the Year Scotland
Marcel Wassen, General Manager of Douneside House, said: “We are absolutely delighted to win this award. It is a reflection of the hard work of the whole team; without their dedication, commitment and passion this would not have been possible.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Douneside House: “The Douneside House presents customers with warm, friendly and engaging staff as well as excellent standards throughout.”
5. Hotel of the Year Wales
Paula Ellis, Group General Manager of Twr Y Felin, said: “I am so proud of my Team and their outstanding achievement in such a short time since opening. This award will not only establish our reputation as Wales’ leading luxury boutique hotel, but hopefully will also lead with way for other luxury hotels to follow suit to help establish Wales as a truly international luxury destination.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Twr Y Felin: “Excellent design and presentation, with noteworthy attention to detail."
The AA independently inspects hundreds of restaurants across the British Isles. This award, recognises restaurants that provide cuisine of a truly excellent standard, as well as demonstrating innovation and ambience and providing a high standard of hospitality.
6. Restaurant of the Year England
Steven Smith, Chef Owner said: “I’m not going to go with the cliché, ‘we’re really pleased to have won’ because of course we are. It’s so much more than that. As a pub, we’re here for the long term and this award not only creates a legacy for The Freemasons, it’s a building block from which we plan to move onward and upwards. When I started out over a decade ago, I wanted to stake out a place for myself in this industry and become known for the quality of my dishes and menus. This is a very proud moment for me, Aga and the team really put The Freemasons on the map for foodies across the country, as well as our loyal customers and regular visitors.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Freemasons at Wiswell: “Exciting virtuoso cooking in a relaxed village inn”.
7. Restaurant of the Year London
Phil Howard, Head Chef of Elystan Street said: “It is always humbling to be acknowledged in such a competitive industry - but it is thrilling to feel that we might be at the start of an exciting journey that sees the making of another wonderful restaurant that can serve London for many years to come.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Elystan Street: “High flying cooking delivers brilliance at every turn in a relaxed atmosphere.”
8. Restaurant of the Year Scotland
Jan-Willem Damen, Operations Director of the Dining Room, said: “We are extremely proud to have been given this award. It is a recognition of 12 years of unwavering dedication by a kitchen team led throughout by Exec Chef James Freeman, to create stunning dishes with locally sourced Scottish ingredients…”
An AA Hotel Inspector said: "The Dining Room’s partnership with The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society offers a dining experience steeped in French classicism.”
9. Restaurant of the Year Wales
Neil Kedward, managing director of the Seren collection, said: “We are immensely proud of the team and all they have achieved this year at the Beach House Restaurant in their first year of operating. We are so excited about the future and what this venue can achieve under our Welsh Head Chef Hywel Griffith. We look forward to helping the team achieve all their goals in this stunning restaurant.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said: “The Beach House Restaurant offers a fresh contemporary cooking style to match the fresh sea air.”
The winners of this prestigious award, introduced in 2001, stand out as truly excellent all-round pubs or inns. They successfully combine the provision of enjoyable food, a great pub atmosphere and a warm welcome with a high standard of management.
10. Pub of the Year England
Matt Saxton, Manager of The Bell, said: "To receive the AA Award for the Best Pub in England is an amazing achievement. This is a trying time for the catering industry and I’m incredibly proud of how my team has shone through it all. I am also really thankful to all of our guests that have supported us, and our owners that have backed our ideas to make our estate greater. Watch this space there is lots more to come."
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Bell: “An inn with a lot to offer – including comfy rooms, a welcoming bar and a café.”
11. Pub of the Year Scotland
Mike Smith, Manager of The Bow Bar, said: “Managing an independent bar allows for a lot more creativity, so we put a lot of energy into making a simple formula a success. To be recognised for these efforts is a real honour, and we thank you for giving you ‘Best Pub in Scotland’.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Bow Bar: “For any whisky or beer connoisseur, the Bow Bar is an absolute delight”.
12. Pub of the Year Wales
Rachel Roberts, Marketing Director of Bryn Tyrch, said: “We are very proud and honored to get this award. This reflects a real team effort from all the team and we thank them for all their hard work and for our clients for believing and supporting us.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Bryn Tyrch: “Charming old inn with mountain views”
13. Chef of the Year
A popular and coveted title, this unique award, introduced in 1996, offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition of their performance over the past twelve months.
Andrew Oxley, Head of Hotel & Hospitality Services at The AA said: “John’s remarkable career is an example to anyone who wants to become the very best in the culinary world.”
14. Housekeeper of the Year
The Housekeeper of the Year award recognises outstanding commitment and performance, identifying a Housekeeper who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Tzveta Ivanova: “Ms Ivanova has clearly demonstrated her passion for the industry, achieving success for the Milestone Hotel and as an individual.”
15. Eco Hotel of the Year
This award recognises a clear commitment to sustainability, demonstrated through good practice and policy to make a positive contribution to reducing impact on the environment.
Andrew Oxley, Head of Hotel & Hospitality Services at The AA said: “Oakley Court sets a high standard of eco-conscious luxury which shows respect to its lovely scenic setting and for the environment in general.”
16. Wine Awards
Wales and overall – Ynyshir, Powys
England – The Five Fields, Chelsea
Scotland – Restaurant Andrew Fairlie
Introduced in 1998, this award recognises and outstanding contribution to promoting wine understanding and appreciation. Nominees are judged on the quality of their wine list and their ability to inspire customers to make wider and more adventurous choices in selecting wines.
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Ynyshir: “The dining room at Ynyshir offers the very best selection of wines to accompany their highly accomplished food.”
17. AA Customers' Choice
Andrew Oxley, Head of Hotel Services at The AA, said: “The Savoy continues to lead the way with over 125 years as a renowned, five-star establishment. The results of the Customer Choice award reflects the superb service and standard that the hotel’s team continues to deliver.”