The inaugural Hoteliers' Hotels Top 100 list was unveiled last week by The Caterer and Sky. Rosalind Mullen profiles the full collection, including the winning hotel, which has been at the top of its game for 50 years.
Iconic country house hotel Chewton Glen has been named as the best in the country by the UK's leading hoteliers.
The five-red-AA-star, 70-bedroom property on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire 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 hotel journalist Fiona Duncan, Giovanna Grossi and fellow AA hotel inspectors, and senior editors at The Caterer, the list was revealed last week at a glittering reception at London's Ham Yard hotel, which itself was ranked number 15.
In addition to the Top 100 list, six category winners were also announced. Chewton Glen added to its overall Hoteliers' Hotels title by also winning the Countryside Hotel of the Year and Spa Hotel of the Year categories.
The award for Food Hotel of the Year went to Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, which was placed second on the overall list, while the family-owned Goring, third on the list, was named City Centre Hotel of the Year.
Meanwhile, Foxhill Manor (number 17) in Broadway, Worcestershire, and Calcot Manor (number 20) in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, carried off the titles of Boutique Hotel of the Year and Family Hotel of the Year respectively.
Contributors 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, and included respected operators such as Robin Hutson, chairman and chief executive of Lime Wood Group and Home Grown Hotels; Thomas Kochs, managing director of the Café Royal; and Philip Newman-Hall, former managing director of Le Manoir. Hoteliers were not permitted to vote for their own hotel or one within their group.
Amanda Afiya, editor of The Caterer, said "Hoteliers know their industry, its pitfalls and opportunities best, so who better to ask when compiling a list of the top hotels in the UK? We're lucky to have so many wonderful hotels across the UK and we're excited to be launching this list. There are, of course, many ways of ranking and evaluating hotels, but there's nothing quite as special as peer group recognition."
From our sponsor At Sky we pride ourselves on offering exclusive and engaging content alongside innovative technology to ensure that hotels can provide their guests with the very best in-room experience. This prestigious list of the UK's best and finest hotels recognises all of the hard work that goes in to ensure every guest has a perfect stay.
We would like to congratulate all of the operators that have been included in this most definitive list of the UK's greatest hotels, as selected by the industry's leading professionals.
Below are hotels ranked 11 - 20
11. The Ritz London
Number of bedrooms 136
AA rating Five red stars
Owner Ellerman Group, owned by the Barclay brothers
Rooms start at £860
"Iconic" is a well-worn epithet for luxury hotels. Arguably, the Ritz London is one of the few that has earned it. Its French chateau-style architecture and Louis XVI furnishings are world-famous, and its service is legendary.
The hotel was opened in May 1906 on the site of the Walsingham House hotel by hotelier César Ritz. His vision, at that time, was advanced, with bathrooms for every guestroom, double glazing, a ventilation system and brass beds.
Since 1995 the hotel has been owned by Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay's private company, Ellerman Investments. The twin brothers have spent 15 years refurbishing the Grade II-listed building and in 2006 also opened the restored reception rooms at the adjacent William Kent House at 22 Arlington Street.
The hotel may be traditional in style, but it ensures that its guests are fully up-to-date with technology, offering Sky boxes with access to more than 300 entertainment, sport and movie channels.
In 2002, the hotel was granted a Royal Warrant for Banqueting and Catering Services by the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales Suite itself commands a rate of £10,500.
12. The Connaught
Number of bedrooms 121
AA rating Five red stars
Owner Constellation Hotels, owned by Qatar Holding
Operator Maybourne Hotel Group
Rooms start at £350
This hotel is famed for blending contemporary style, classic English character and impeccable service. The Connaught opened as a hotel in 1897, although didn't get its current name until 1917, having been previously known
as the Coburg hotel. It has been owned by Maybourne since 2005, along with high-flying siblings Claridge's and the Berkeley.
Over the years, several celebrated chefs have put the restaurant on the map, and today, it offers two-Michelin-starred cuisine from Hélène Darroze.
In 2007 the hotel underwent a £70m refurbishment to include the David Collins-designed Connaught Bar, a Japanese garden and Europe's first Aman Spa. Two years later, a sumptuous new ballroom - the first in
Mayfair for more than 80 years - was added.
The Daily Telegraph's hotel reviewer Fiona Duncan said: "The Connaught feels right, a successful mix of traditional and contemporary."
13. Rosewood London
Number of bedrooms 306
AA rating Five red stars
Owner CTF Development, owned by Hong Kong-based Cheng family
Operator Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
Rooms start at £355
The 1914 Edwardian, Grade II-listed building was, until 1989, the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company. It opened as a hotel in 2000 as the Renaissance Chancery Court, under the management of Marriott.
In 2013, the hotel underwent a £85m renovation to strip the property back to the bare bones of its Belle Époque heyday.
New York-based Tony Chi and Associates oversaw the design of the public and event space of the hotel. The company worked with English Heritage to retain original features, such as the original carriageway entrance and the Pavonazzo marble staircase, which rises over seven storeys. The faÁ§ade and the interiors' dark mahogany and rare marble were also preserved.
The hotel has 11 events spaces, including a ballroom for up to 435 guests, with a show kitchen in one of two private dining rooms. Leisure facilities include the Sense spa and a fitness suite. The hotel's top suite - the
Manor House - has its own street entrance (and postcode), with six bedrooms and 6,318 sq ft of living space.
The recent transformation has created a hotel that is "elegant, sophisticated and laid back, a grand city hotel in the new style", according to Fiona Duncan of The Daily Telegraph.
14. Babington House
Number of bedrooms 33
Owner and operator Soho House & Co
Rooms start at £294
Famed for being the mecca of media-types, Babington is a prototype for the hip, savvy country house hotel for people who don't do chintz. It offers guests relaxation and understated luxury - and is a curious mix of sophisticated and child-friendly.
It all began in 1998 when Soho House club founder Nick Jones - named by The Caterer as the 2015 Hotelier of the Year - bought the Georgian country house. He converted it to a hotel, club and wedding venue for the London members of Soho House club, as well as new Somerset members. Soho House, of course, now operates 17 clubs across Europe and the US.
A Country Life reviewer captured what this hotel is aiming for: "The staff were cheerful, relaxed and made us feel almost as if we were staying with friends, rather than at a hotel."
The main house includes a games room, a child-free room, library and the Orangery, which transforms from a casual, bright and airy restaurant in the day to intimate, romantic and sophisticated in the evening. Rooms have a nod to the country house, with oak furniture or large fireplaces, but also have a quirky edge with trendy wallpapers, soft furnishings and chandeliers. There is also a Sky box in each room so guests can enjoy access to more than 300 entertainment, sport and movie channels.
Other entertainment includes a 45-seat cinema and indoor and outdoor pools. The 18-acre grounds also feature a gym, cricket pitch, walled garden and grass and hard tennis courts as well as the Cowshed Spa.
15. Ham Yard Hotel
Number of bedrooms 91
Owner and operator Firmdale Hotels
Rooms start at £373
Open since June 2014 in a peaceful courtyard away from bustling Soho, this luxury hotel is Firmdale founders' Tim and Kit Kemp's most recent project, costing £90m.
As always, Kit has overseen the boutique hotel's uber-chic design, which is partly what Firmdale is famous for. As well as an airy restaurant and bar with outdoor dining and drinking, there is a drawing room, library, orangery, spa, a 190-seat theatre, and an original 1950s bowling alley imported from Texas. To top it off there is a leafy rooftop garden with views across London. Oh, and there is a gym and hypoxic studio, too.
Its awards give you a flavour of what's on offer. They include: New London Architecture Awards 2015 - Hotels & Hospitality Winner; Mrs and Mrs Smith, the Smith Awards 2014 - Best Newcomer; and Tatler Travel Awards 2014 - Most Fun Ever.
Last year, Ham Yard helped Firmdale to achieve record financial results for the group, with revenues up 24% to £99.6m. Ham Yard achieved sales of just under £2m a month in its first eight months of operation - 20% ahead of budget.
16. The Pig on the Beach
Number of bedrooms 23
AA rating Three red stars
Owner and operator Home Grown Hotels
Rooms start at £145
Opened in 2013, the Pig on the Beach is one of five quirky boutique hotels in the Pig chain, with sister properties dotted across the New Forest, Bath, Devon and Southampton.
Designed in the shabby-chic style that has become the Pigs' signature, the Pig on the Beach overlooks Studland Bay and offers a greenhouse restaurant, private room for dinner parties and two treatment rooms. It has uneven floorboards, eclectic artefacts and mismatched sofas around a cosy fire. Guests can also stay in one of two thatched dovecotes and a shepherd's hut on wheels in the garden.
It's no surprise that the visionary hotelier behind it is chief executive Robin Hutson, the co-founder of Hotel du Vin who also heads Lime Wood Group. Home Grown Hotels is believed to have paid about £3.5m for an
80-year lease on the Grade II-listed former Manor Hotel from the National Trust and then invested about £5.5m transforming it.
As with the other Pigs, the restaurant is central to the business, accounting for at least 60% of revenue. Meals are served in the conservatory and the "micro-seasonal" menu sources ingredients from the kitchen garden
or within 25 miles - particularly seafood.
A review in The Financial Times in August 2014 pointed to an unusual problem for a remote hotel: "â¦staff dealt with a stream of passers-by, eager to have a coffee and a nose around. Most were politely turned away; a manager calmly explained that on a sunny day they can get 200 walk-ins - 'and if we let them all in, there would be nowhere for residents to sit down'."
17. Foxhill Manor
•Boutique Hotel of the Year
Number of bedrooms 8
Owner and operator Farncombe Estate
Rooms start at £295
This Grade II-listed arts and crafts country home has been refreshed and revitalised for the 21st century and has recently joined the new league of luxury boutique hotel hideaways.
The decor is warm, welcoming, contemporary and full of character, with artworks inspired by its Cotswolds location and interesting items collected by the owners as well as the occasional antique. All bedrooms feature a Sky box which offers guests a selection of more than 300 entertainment, sport and movie channels.
The property has been part of the 400-acre Farncombe Estate, owned by the Philip-Sorensen family, since 1977. In the past three years a multi-million-pound investment has created an integrated estate with three-award winning hotels including Dormy House (18) and the Fish hotel.
Foxhill Manor is arguably more exclusive than its larger sisters. It opened in 2014 with the likes of Lady Gaga and U2 band members making the most of its homely size and discreet location. Guests can eat locally sourced or foraged fare in the cosy restaurant, or nip up the hill to its big sister, Dormy House, to the House Spa.
In 2015, a reviewer in The Independent nailed it: "There is nothing so vulgar as a reception and in the large drawing room near the entrance hall, the bar is a collection of spirits on an antique sideboard. The host will fix you a drink if you'd like it, but otherwise you're free to do so yourself, at any time, and sink into an armchair in the window with views across the vale of Evesham."
18. Dormy House
Number of bedrooms 40
AA rating Four silver stars
Owner and operator Farncombe Estate
Rooms start at £255
Dormy House started life as a 17th century Cotswold farmhouse. After several incarnations, it is now part of the Farncombe Estate. A multi-million-pound investment by the Philip-Sorensen family has created an integrated estate with three-award winning boutique hotels.
Since the transformation of the estate and the reopening of the hotel in 2013, Dormy House has won numerous accolades, including AA Hotel of the Year for England 2014/2015; Best Spa Hotel at the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards 2014; and a five-bubble rating in The Good Spa Guide.
Centre stage is the Scandi-chic House Spa, where there are also gyms for workouts, classes and personal training sessions, a thermal suite, a Cotswold lavender sauna, salt therapy room, rhassoul mud room and outdoor hot tub.
The Garden Room offers fine dining and fine wines with a menu that reworks classic dishes using locally-sourced produce from the Farncombe Estate. The Potting Shed is similarly committed to local produce, but more affordable.
19. The Vineyard
Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire
Number of bedrooms 49
AA rating Five red stars
Owner Peter Michael and family
Operator The Vineyard
Rooms start at £248
Wine-lovers should be right at home at this exclusive hotel, which has been owned by the Michael family since 1996 and is a sister business to the Peter Michael Winery in Sonoma, California.
Unsurprisingly then, its 30,000-bottle wine cellar is biased towards Californian wines, although there are plenty from around the world too, earning it the 2015 European Hotel Wine List of the Year title. Former Amberley Castle chef Robby Jenks has just taken over at the three-AA-rosette restaurant.
Teetotallers can enjoy being pampered here, too, with the five-bubble-rated spa and a noted private art collection on display for guests' appreciation. The bedrooms are well-proportioned and individually furnished, in keeping with the contemporary classical style.
20. Calcot Manor
•Family Friendly Hotel of the Year
Number of bedrooms 35
AA rating Four stars
Owner and operator The Calcot Collection
Rooms start at £199
This country house hotel manages to strike a happy balance between being family friendly and romantic. According to Mr & Mrs Smith: "Family-friendlinessâ¦ doesn't mean that the hotel's a passion killer - the couples-only
rooms in the main house, sophisticated fine dining, and an outdoor hot tub mean the manor's as appealing a destination for twosomes as it is for toddlers."
Executive chairman of the Calcot Collection Richard Ball and his late father, Brian, opened the hotel in 1984. The main house was initially converted into a small seven-bedroom hotel, which soon doubled to offer 14 luxury bedrooms. Ball took over as managing director in 1996, when the hotel was sold from family ownership to private investors.
Calcot and its all-important spa is located in the Cotswolds in 220 acres. The 35 bedrooms include some family-friendly two-floor duplexes. Guests can dine in the more formal but airy Conservatory restaurant in the main house overlooking the grounds or the Gumstool Inn, a village-style pub adjacent to the main house with open fire, fireside grill, stone floors and pub food menu.
The spa offers a hot tub, indoor pool, treatment rooms and lounge. Outside, there are tennis courts, an outdoor pool, a dedicated children's playground, crèche, woodland gymnasium, mini football pitch, disc golf course, free bikes and horse riding - making it an all-round haven for families. And to seal its versatility, the Barn has rooms for business meetings, events and weddings.
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