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Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100: Number 1 – 10

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Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100: Number 1 – 10

The Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100 list for 2017 was unveiled earlier this week by The Caterer and Sky. Here, Janet Harmer and Rosalind Mullen profile the full  collection, including the winning hotel, which has been the vision of its chef-proprietor Raymond Blanc for 33 years 

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, launched by chef Raymond Blanc in 1984,  has been named as the best in the country by the UK’s leading hoteliers. The  five-red-AA-star, 32-bedroom property in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, was voted number one on the Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100 list.

Compiled by the UK’s leading hoteliers and verified by some of the nation’s pre-eminent hotel experts, including reviewer Fiona Duncan, consultant Giovanna Grossi and senior editors at The Caterer, the list was revealed earlier this week at a glittering reception at the Ned, the newly launched hotel in the City of London from Soho House and Sydell Group. Voting for this year’s list took place before the Ned’s launch in early May.

In addition to the Top 100 list, six category winners were announced. Le Manoir  added to its overall Hoteliers’ Hotels title by also winning the Food Hotel of the  Year category. The 2016 overall winner, Chewton Glen – this year voted into second place overall – once again won the Countryside Hotel of the Year and the Spa Hotel of the Year titles. The award for City Centre Hotel of the Year went to Claridge’s (number four overall), knocking the Goring (number six) off the top spot. Meanwhile, Foxhill Manor (number 31) in Broadway, Worcestershire, and Calcot Manor (number 30) in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, retained their titles of Boutique Hotel of the Year and Family- Friendly Hotel of the Year respectively.

Contributors to the voting included past Hoteliers of the Year, and Catey and  Hotel Catey winners, as well as members of organisations such as Pride of Britain  Hotels, Relais & Châteaux and the Master Innholders. Hoteliers were not permitted to vote for their own hotel or for one within their group.

Amanda Afiya, editor of The Caterer, says: “We were delighted by the response to the launch of the list last year and are excited by the engagement this year’s list  will create in the industry and with guests. Hoteliers are the best judges of UK hotels, and the Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100 showcases a wide breadth of properties that celebrates our great British hotels.”

1 Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
● Food Hotel of the Year
Great Milton, Oxfordshire
Number of bedrooms 32
AA rating Five red stars
Owner and operator Belmond
Rooms start at £695
2016 ranking 2 ▲

The creation of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons over the past 33 years has been   nothing sort of inspirational, driven throughout by the vision of one man.  Originally, chef Raymond Blanc had wanted to expand what was an unassuming   Oxford restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons, beyond the city, perhaps into a country  cottage with a vegetable patch and a couple of guest bedrooms. He then stumbled on Great Milton Manor, a grand 15th-century house set within 27 acres of grounds, and he was hooked.

Blanc was determined to secure the property, which he loved because it was  primarily a house – albeit an impressive one – that he believed would be able to  complement his food and provide an oasis for guests. Self-belief and  determination ensured he became its owner, and in 1984 he launched it as a    restaurant with four bedrooms. Since then, Le Manoir has won and continuously  retained two Michelin stars, developing into a sprawling 32-bedroom hotel with a cookery school and one of the UK’s most impressive kitchen gardens.

While there have been many highlights along the way, there have also been a  number of dark moments. They include the break-up of Blanc’s marriage to  Jenny (the mother of his two sons), the expansion of the business just as the  country at large plunged into recession, and his own ill health – culminating in a  stroke that was brought on by stress.

In Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – The Story of a Modern Classic (published last year), Blanc describes the highs and lows of the business with searing honesty,  including his decision to offload his financial stake in Le Manoir, initially to Richard Branson and his Virgin empire, and later to Orient-Express (now  Belmond).

Throughout, however, he has remained at the forefront of the business, driving it forward with one creative idea after another. Blanc is equally enthusiastic in the kitchen, which has been headed by executive chef Gary Jones for 18 years, or in his renowned two-acre kitchen garden, featuring 70 traditional vegetables and 90 other types. There is also a mushroom garden sprouting 20 edible species and an orchard with over 100 varieties of apple and more than 20 kinds of pear.


Blanc champions an ethical approach to cooking, believing in sustainable luxury,  and constantly looks for ways to improve composting and recycling. He is also a full-on supporter of the Adopt a School programme, teaching young children the basis of nutrition and how to adopt a wholesome and seasonal diet. Over the years the four seasons have informed the design of Le Manoir, which has been transformed from the original outdated country house decor to what Blanc describes as “triumphant modernity”, created in conjunction with interior designer Emily Todhunter.

Never one to be satisfied with his achievements, Blanc is always looking for a new project. This summer it is the launch of the Raymond Blanc Gardening  School, overseen by head gardener Anne Marie Owens, who has been at Le  Manoir for more than 30 years. This autumn, the Raymond Blanc Festival of  Music will take place in the intimate setting of the neighbouring 12th-century St Mary’s Church, with former poet-turned-acoustic singer Jack Savoretti and the
Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra among the artists who will perform for guests  before dinner.

General manager Jan-Paul Kroese has headed the team of 200 staff at the hotel  since 2015. His role is “to enable others to excel by ensuring everything is in  place so that they can be the very best”. This, together with Blanc’s extraordinary vision, is what has propelled Le Manoir to the number one spot in the 2017 Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100 list.

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

2 Chewton Glen
● Countryside Hotel of the Year
● Spa Hotel of the Year
New Milton, Hampshire
Number of bedrooms 70
AA rating Five red stars
Owner L+R
Operator Iconic Luxury Hotels
Rooms start at £325
2016 ranking 1 ▼

Despite its ongoing success, Chewton Glen never stands still. The team, headed by managing director Andrew Stembridge and general manager Mark Bevan, are  always looking for the next new idea for improving the hotel, which was declared the inaugural winner of Hoteliers’ Hotels Top 100 list last year.

As well as consistently delivering a top-notch product with impeccable service,  the hotel has frequently led the way, with the launch of one of the UK’s first hotel spas in 1990 and the development of six treehouse lodges in 2012. The hotel’s latest project was the launch in March of the £2.6m Kitchen, a combined casual-dining restaurant and cookery school with celebrity chef James Martin as its  public face. With the two elements of the new business feeding off one another, the 40-seat new restaurant is already serving 60-70 covers during a busy service, with more guests now staying in-house to eat and locals using the hotel for the first time.

Next on the agenda is a seventh treehouse lodge. The original 12 treehouses have  been one of the hotel’s biggest successes, with the £7m development cost paid back after four years.

The new £1.5m two-suite treehouse is due to open in the autumn. There are also  plans to further expand the family experience. The existing children’s club, which operates at weekends and during school holidays, will be transformed in its new stableyard home to provide a range of activities for different age groups, from toddlers to teenagers. Chewton Glen, which provides a box in each bedroom giving the full Sky package in HD, has embraced a more relaxed and  exclusive vibe since its sale in 2006 by founders Martin and Brigette Skan to billionaire developer Ian Livingstone.

3 Lime Wood
Lyndhurst, Hampshire
Number of bedrooms 32
AA rating Five red stars
Owner and operator Lime Wood Group
Rooms start at £330
2016 ranking 6 ▲

This hotel is arguably leading the growing new breed pack of laid-back, uber-cool country house hotels. The fact that it has been created by Robin Hutson, a co-founder of boutique breakthrough brand Hotel du Vin, puts that claim into  context.

Hutson was brought in to work his magic in 2009 and is now chairman of Lime  Wood Group. The £30m project began 10 years earlier when Jim Ratcliffe, the  multibillionaire chairman of chemical company Ineos, bought the Georgian  manor house. Designed by architects Charles Morris and Ben Pentreath, the  interiors were created by David Collins, with more recent additions by Martin Brudnizki and Rob Angell.

The Herb House Spa has taken spas in the UK to a different level, and makes the most of being in the heart of the New Forest. Guests can do yoga on the roof in a herb garden and take in the forest views from the Massive Forest sauna. It also has a mintarium – a meditation area surrounded by 15 varieties of mint, ranging from chocolate and banana to spearmint and peppermint, plus a Raw & Cured  food bar.

The three-AA-rosette Hartnett Holder restaurant, along with the cookery school,  is a joint venture between chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder and offers some of the “highest quality, no-nonsense food in the country”. The Italian-British menu offers smaller plates served in a “deformalised” atmosphere. Hutson says: “This is fun dining, not fine dining.”

In May, Lime Wood opened its Victorian Greenhouse, providing produce for the  kitchens and a great space where guests can hang out. Another popular addition has been the Guest Pop Ups series, where visiting chefs such as Skye Gyngell come and cook for guests.

In 2016 the hotel made it into Tatler magazine’s Best of British slot with a quote that sums it up: “This place is so charmingly English it might as well be carrying a rolled up umbrella under its arm. It has the greenest New Forest setting, the chicest rooms, the most brilliant restaurant and cooking school, a stonking spa and rows of Smartie-coloured wellies by the door. Because it will rain, because  this is Britain.”


4 Claridge’s
● City Centre Hotel of the Year
London W1
Number of bedrooms 197
AA rating Five red stars
Owner Constellation Hotels, owned by Qatar Holding
Operator Maybourne Hotel Group
Rooms start at £525
2016 ranking 4 ◆

This Art Deco haven in Mayfair has been the hotel of choice for socialites since it  opened in 1812. In fact, the 1950s actor Spencer Tracy famously said he would  rather go to Claridge’s han heaven.

Having opened as Mivart’s hotel in a small terrace, it was taken over by the  Claridge family in 1854 and moved into its current building in 1898, when it was  taken over by the Savoy Group. Owners have come and gone over the years, with Constellation Hotels taking up the reins in 2015.

The hotel’s flagship restaurant is the Michelin-starred Fera, opened in 2014 by  chef Simon Rogan, who left in April. The kitchen is now headed by his protégé  Matt Starling.

Traditionalists might head to the Foyer & Reading Room restaurant, while the  David Collins-designed Claridge’s Bar is a lively hub. Planning permission has  been secured for 40 additional bedrooms in two new storeys, and extra restaurants, bars and function rooms, plus leisure and spa facilities in the  basement.

Claridge’s has always had star quality. Laura Fowler, writing for Condé Nast  Traveller, said:“Something magical happens when you whirl through the silvery  revolving doors at Claridge’s. A Cinderella moment, when, just for a short spell, the world becomes more fabulous than it really is: brighter, starrier, softer around the edges.”

5 The Connaught
London W1
Number of bedrooms 123
AA rating Five red stars
Owner Constellation Hotels, owned by Qatar Holding
Operator Maybourne Hotel Group
Rooms start at £570
2016 ranking 12 ▲
The Connaught is famed for blending contemporary style, classic English character and impeccable service. It opened as a hotel in 1897, although didn’t get its current name until 1917. It was brought up to date with a £70m refurbishment in 2007, featuring a Japanese garden and 33 bedrooms in a new wing.

Over the years, celebrated chefs have put the restaurant on the map, including a  26-year stint by Michel Bourdin, followed by Angela Hartnett in 2002. Today, it offers two-Michelin-starred cuisine from Hélène Darroze in her eponymously named restaurant, and this summer renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is to open Jean-Georges at the Connaught in the space previously occupied by  Espelette. The menu will reflect South-East Asian flavours in “a relaxed, informal-style neighbourhood” eatery, open from breakfast to dinner.

6 The Goring
London SW1
Number of bedrooms 69
AA rating Five red stars
Owner and operator Goring family
Rooms start at £442
2016 ranking 3 ▼

The Goring is London’s last family-owned luxury hotel. Built by the Gorings in  1910, it has been run by them ever since. Jeremy Goring is the current  incumbent. Longevity works. About 60% of guests have stayed at the hotel  before, with many having booked in over 100 times. In 2013 the Goring became the first hotel to be awarded a royal warrant for hospitality.

As the closest hotel to Buckingham Palace, it  has hosted VIP guests for many royal occasions, including in 2011 Catherine Middleton, who stayed in the newly  created Royal Suite before her marriage to Prince William.

The hotel’s Linley-designed restaurant, the Dining Room, was awarded its first  Michelin star in 2015. The Goring also has a lounge bar and has carved out a  name for serving quintessentially English afternoon tea.

Meanwhile, it is working in collaboration with Rick and Jack Stein to offer ‘A  Taste of Cornwall at the Goring’ during the summer. The Goring may be  traditional, but it never takes itself too seriously: the lobby features a bespoke wallpaper depicting family members within whimsical country settings.


7 The Dorchester, London
London W1
Number of bedrooms 250
AA rating Five red stars
Owner Brunei Investment Agency
Operator The Dorchester Collection
Rooms start at £570
2016 ranking 5 ▼

Since opening in 1931, this hotel has attracted royalty, rock stars, politicians and  Hollywood legends. Prince Philip held his stag party here in 1949 and members  of the Cabinet took refuge in the Second World War as it was seen as one of the  capital’s safest buildings.

The Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester restaurant is the only British hotel  restaurant with three Michelin stars. Other eateries in the property include the Promenade, China Tang and the Grill. There is also the Spatisserie, which complements the Dorchester Spa.

Recently, Destination I Do magazine wrote: “The Dorchester is where we would direct you if your invitation to the palace gets lost in the post. This five-star  luxury property treats you like royalty from the moment you enter the elegant lobby adorned with floor-to-ceiling floral displays.”

Two and a half years ago the Grill underwent a discreet yet extensive  refurbishment, with designer Bruno Moinard adding a “gloss of gilt and  glamour”. Notably, he introduced a vast, hand-blown Murano glass chandelier  and pivoting wall panels that swivel as the restaurant moves from day to night.

8 Gleneagles
Auchterarder, Perthshire
Number of bedrooms 232
AA rating Five red stars
Owner and operator Ennismore
Rooms start at £265
2016 ranking 8 ◆

Nestled in some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery, Gleneagles was swiftly  hailed as “the palace in the glens” when it opened in 1924. Despite its remote  location, the combination of luxurious accommodation, world-class food and service, and three championship golf courses have put it on the international  map.

Among its claims to fame are that it hosted the G8 Summit in 2005 and the Ryder Cup in 2014. Certainly, the nine bars and restaurants set high culinary standards, including Scotland’s only two-Michelin-star restaurant, Andrew Fairlie at  Gleneagles, which opened in May 2001.

There have always been ongoing improvements, but a change of ownership has increased the pace. In July 2015, private investment and property company  Ennismore bought the trophy property from drinks giant Diageo. Last year,  Ennismore announced a “bold and creative” multmillion-pound refurbishment. The hotel has been working with designers such as David Collins Studio,  Timorous Beasties, Macaulay Sinclair and Goddard Littlefair to give the 93-year-old property a contemporary feel, while retaining its Scottish identity. As well as  the bedrooms, the revamp has created the glamorous American Bar and  Glendevon residents lounge. There is also the new Birnam Brasserie – inspired by the grand Parisian cafés – while the Century Bar opened last June. The new  Garden Café is due to open in the autumn.


9 The Pig on the Beach
Studland Bay, Dorset
Number of bedrooms 23
AA rating Three red stars
Owner and operator Home Grown Hotels
Rooms start at £135
2016 ranking 16 ▲

Opened in 2013, the Pig on the Beach is the highest-rated hotel on this list within  the countryside-based, quirky, boutique brand.  Designed in the shabby chic style that has become the Pigs’ signature, the Beach overlooks Studland Bay and has a  greenhouse restaurant, private room for dinner parties and two treatment rooms. In a rethink of traditional country house hotels it has uneven floorboards, eclectic artefacts and mismatched sofas around a cosy fire. Guests can also stay in one of two thatched dovecotes or two shepherd huts on wheels in the garden.

The visionary hotelier behind it is chief executive and chairman Robin Hutson.
A review last year by Kari Colmans in Luxury London nails this Pig’s essence:  “While the top-tier hotel brands bend over backwards to the huffs and puffs of  the market-changing supers, a growing breed of independent operators is doing something wholly different; shunning imagination-stretching opulence for the  luxuries of fresh air, open spaces, and comforting – but impeccable – grub. And  with rooms booked more than a year in advance, the middle-ground five-star market is obviously there for the taking.”

10 The Ritz London
London W1
Number of bedrooms 136
AA rating Five red stars
Owner and operator Ellerman Investments
Rooms start at £455
2016 ranking 11 ▲

“Iconic” is a well-worn epithet for luxury hotels across the world. The Ritz    London is one of the few that has earned it. Its French château-style architecture  and Louis XVI furnishings are world-famous and its service is legendary. The  hotel was opened in May 1906 by Swiss hotelier César Ritz. His vision was   advanced, with bathrooms for every guestroom, double-glazing and a ventilation system. Since 1995, it has been owned by private company Ellerman Investments – headed by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay – which spent 15 years refurbishing the Grade II*-listed building.

The hotel’s frescoed restaurant – which was established by famed chef Auguste  Escoffier – was awarded its first Michelin star last year. The Telegraph’s Fiona  Duncan wrote: “The Ritz is ravishing and it always feels like party time here. As  for the bedrooms and suites, they have all the contemporary amenities you   would expect but remain in their original Louis XVI style.” Yet the Ritz has also embraced modernity, with the full Sky package in HD in each bedroom.





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