New guide rates top country hotels

01 December 2005
New guide rates top country hotels

A new, no-holds-barred guidebook to country house hotels will be available on the internet this week.

The new guide, Mr Particular - Telling the Truth about English Country House Hotels, is written by Jams O'Donnell, a pseudonym for the real writer, who is described as a novelist and regular guest at top luxury hotels.

Mr Particular's identity remains a closely guarded secret, although he is depicted as a typical "bon viveur" who enjoys spending time in luxury hotels.

He visited, and paid for, stays at 20 top country house hotels, including Hambleton Hall, Lords of the Manor, the Vineyard and Whatley Manor.

The secret reviewer told Caterer: "Over the years I've stayed in lots of hotels and haven't always been satisfied they lived up to their promises. As a freelance journalist, I wrote puff pieces for hotels and was aware I was compromising the truth.

"The book came from a desire to investigate and tell the truth about what you actually get for your money. If they are deserving of praise, then they certainly get it; but if things are wrong, then the book points it out."

Danesfield House was the worst-ranked hotel, according to Mr Particular. "From the outset it was clear that Danesfield House was going to be a wrong ‘un… As a hotel it has sold its soul to the corporate - and spa - market."

To judge each property, Mr Particular had a gin and tonic, dinner with wine, an overnight stay and breakfast. Marks were awarded for location, hotel, room, service, dinner, breakfast and cost. The book will be available in bookshops from the New Year.

The next Mr Particular guides will focus on Scotland, Ireland and London's finest hotels.

For a copy visit

Top fiveRatingCost of stay
Gidleigh Park, Devon 88% £378.50
Lucknam Park, Wiltshire 87.5% £333
Chewton Glen, Hampshire 84% £381.50
Cliveden, Berkshire 81.5% £307
Sharrow Bay, Cumbria 78.5% £244.95
Bottom five
Gravetye Manor, West Sussex 63%£315.50
Seaham Hall, County Durham 63% £239
Mallory Court , Warkwickshire 57.5% £259.75
Ston Easton Park, Somerset 52% £217
Danesfield House, Buckinghamshire 47.5% £262.94

By Emily Manson

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