Raise a glass to the winners of the ‘Oscars’ of the UK hospitality industry.
At a prestigious awards ceremony hosted by the AA at Grosvenor House in London on Monday night, awards were presented in categories including ‘Hotel of the Year’, ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and ‘Chefs’ Chef of the Year’.
The 2023 AA Hospitality Awards winners were picked by the AA’s inspectors, who spent the past year feasting their way through the UK’s restaurants and laying their heads in the nation’s hotel rooms in a bid to crown the cream of the crop. Here are their verdicts…
The top hotel in England is Forest Side, a former mansion house that’s been transformed into a hotel – complete with a Michelin-starred restaurant – on the edge of the pretty Lake District village of Grasmere.
The 2023 AA Hospitality Awards winners have been revealed. Taking the prize for England’s hotel of the year is Forest Side (above), a former mansion house in the Lake District that’s been transformed into a hotel
Penally Abbey Hotel is the top-ranking hotel in Wales. The AA Inspector was impressed by its friendly staff
‘The bedrooms have stunning views of the hills and countryside beyond,’ reveals the AA’s inspector.
The number one hotel in London is The Lanesborough, an ‘elegant and luxurious’ hotel that ‘offers nearly 100 rooms, of which almost 50 are suites, with a personal butler service for all guests 24 hours a day’.
Reigning supreme as the best hotel in Wales, meanwhile, is Penally Abbey Hotel in Pembrokeshire. The AA Inspector was impressed by its ‘friendly team’ who show a ‘genuine concern for guest comfort and enjoyment’.
THE AA’S 2023 HOSPITALITY AWARD WINNERS
Paul Ainsworth of Paul Ainsworth at No.6
Pan Pacific London, London
The Pig Hotel Group
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Jonathan Raggett, Red Carnation Hotels
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AWARD
HOUSEKEEPER OF THE YEAR
Nicola Burton from Hartwell House & Spa, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
England – The Old Stamp House Restaurant, Ambleside
London – Chutney Mary, London
Wales – The Jackdaw, Conwy
Scotland – Cail Bruich, Glasgow
HOTEL OF THE YEAR
England – Forest Side, Grasmere
London – The Lanesborough, London
Wales – Penally Abbey Hotel, Penally
Scotland – Fingal, Leith, Edinburgh
Northern Ireland – Killeavy Castle Estate, Killeavy
RESTAURANT WITH ROOMS
England – The New Inn, Hereford
Wales – Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms, Eglwys Fach
Scotland – The Witchery, Edinburgh
SPA HOTEL OF THE YEAR
South Lodge, West Sussex
GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Coaching Inn Group
SMALL HOTEL GROUP OF THE YEAR
FOOD SERVICE AWARD
The Strathearn, The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder
Arkle, The Chester Grosvenor
Woven by Adam Smith, Coworth Park
England – Allium at Askham Hall, Cumbria
Wales – Palé Hall Hotel & Restaurant, Gwynedd
Scotland – The Little Chartroom, Edinburgh
COLLEGE RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
@thirty-four Restaurant, Exeter College
Senara Restaurant, Truro & Penwith
The Classroom, Cardiff and Vale College
Source: The AA
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Scotland’s top hotel is Fingal, a former support vessel for the Northern Lighthouse Board that’s been converted into a luxury hotel
The number one hotel in London is The Lanesborough, an ‘elegant and luxurious’ hotel that ‘offers nearly 100 rooms, of which almost 50 are suites, with a personal butler service for all guests 24 hours a day’
READ MORE: Inside Forest Side, England’s Hotel of the Year…
It looks like the Cluedo murder mystery mansion.
Forest Side hotel, a striking Gothic building dating back to the 1850s, is surrounded by dark and moody fells on a wooded hillside at the edge of the Lake District village of Grasmere…
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Moving up the map, Scotland’s hotel of the year is Fingal, a former support vessel for the Northern Lighthouse Board that’s been converted into a luxury hotel that’s moored permanently in Edinburgh.
‘This is a hotel experience unlike any other that Edinburgh can offer,’ says the AA’s Inspector.
And Northern Ireland’s hotel of the year is Killeavy Castle Estate in County Armagh, a ‘fairy-tale castle’ set in ‘a 350-acre estate made up of woods and farmlands’.
The prize for ‘spa hotel of the year’ goes to South Lodge in West Sussex. Its spa, complete with a spin studio and an outdoor hydrotherapy pool, is ‘set into the natural contours of the land and designed with sustainability in mind’, the AA’s inspector reveals.
For travellers with an affinity for foodie experiences, the awards also breaks down the nation’s top restaurants with rooms, with The New Inn in Hereford taking the top spot in England.
Originally a 16th-century coaching lodge, the inn has been ‘delightfully refurbished’ and boasts ‘plenty of character’, the AA’s inspector notes.
In Wales, the number one restaurant with rooms is Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms, an inn surrounded by mountains to the west of the country.
Northern Ireland ‘s hotel of the year is Killeavy Castle Estate in County Armagh, a ‘fairy-tale castle’ set in ‘a 350-acre estate made up of woods and farm lands’
The prize for ‘spa hotel of the year’ goes to South Lodge, West Sussex. Its spa has been ‘designed with sustainability in mind’
The Witchery, a ‘romantic’ inn housed within a 16th-century building in Edinburgh is Scotland’s top restaurant with rooms
READ MORE: Inside The Old Stamp House Restaurant, England’s Restaurant of the Year
As the taxi approaches the Old Stamp House restaurant in Ambleside, I wonder how much of it would be ‘the world’s best’. Would it have the world’s best restaurant entrance? The world’s best restaurant tables and chairs? The world’s best bathroom taps?
This lauded Lake District eatery has been named the overall global winner of Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice ‘Best of the Best’ Restaurants Awards for the past two years, garnering gushing tributes from almost every customer (1,334 ‘excellent’ reviews out of 1,477 at the time of writing)…
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Ynyshir’s restaurant serves ‘exceptional’ food that takes diners on a ‘relentless tasting journey that offers hit after hit’, says the AA’s inspector.
And the gong for Scotland’s best restaurant with rooms goes to The Witchery, an inn housed in a 16th-century property beside Edinburgh Castle.
The AA’s inspector notes that it’s a ‘romantic’ destination, with suites ‘filled with antiques, opulently draped beds, large roll-top baths and a plethora of memorabilia’.
Looking to the top restaurants of the year, in England, it’s the Old Stamp House Restaurant in the Lake District town of Ambleside that takes the crown.
The AA’s inspector praises the ‘charming little basement’ restaurant for its ‘creatively presented’ tasting menus with ‘plenty of focus on the best of Cumbrian produce’.
London’s restaurant of the year is Chutney Mary, a ‘long-established and super stylish’ Indian restaurant in the St James district.
‘Expect luxurious ingredients, careful presentation and well-judged spicing in a fabulously glossy dining room,’ says the AA’s Inspector.
The Jackdaw in Conwy is Wales’s top restaurant. This eatery, housed in a former cinema, offers ‘clever modern dishes and a cool Scandi vibe’.
England’s restaurant of the year is The Old Stamp House Restaurant (above) in Ambleside. The AA’s inspector praises the ‘charming little basement’ restaurant for its ‘creatively presented’ tasting menus
One of the dishes served at the Old Stamp House Restaurant, where diners tuck into ‘the best of Cumbrian produce’
Scotland’s restaurant of the year, meanwhile, is Cail Bruich, a Glasgow eatery that ‘champions the finest British produce’.
Here you can expect ‘a unique and relaxed dining experience’ and ‘modern Scottish cooking with lots of luxury ingredients’.
The AA Food Service Award goes to The Strathearn restaurant at Gleneagles in Scotland, where diners enjoy ‘slick’ service and Franco-Scottish cooking with ‘plenty of modern twists’.
THE AA’S NEW ROSETTE AND RED STAR WINNERS
NEW 5 ROSETTES
Steve Smith at Latymer, Surrey
NEW FOUR ROSETTES
The Cellar, Fife
Where The Light Gets In, Manchester
Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire
MO, Dormy House, Worcestershire
The Samling, Cumbria
Ben Wilkinson at The Pass, West Sussex
NEW 3 ROSETTES
Next Door, Cheshire
1863 Restaurant with Rooms, Cumbria
The Wildebeest, Norfolk
The George at Alstonefield, Staffordshire.
Forge, North Yorkshire
The Lantern Room, West Yorkshire
1921 Angel Hill, Suffolk
Restaurant Roots, Dorset
The Cottage in the Wood, Worcestershire
The Idle Rocks Restaurant, Cornwall
The New Inn, Herefordshire
The Lanesborough Grill, London
Crockers Tring, Hertfordshire
The Cygnet at The Swan Inn, Oxfordshire
8 By Andrew Sheridan, Liverpool
The Newport Restaurant, Fife
Legacy, North Yorkshire
London Stock Restaurant, London
The Clock House, Surrey
The Bulls Head Inn, Derbyshire
The Star Inn at Harome, North Yorkshire
Cedar Tree Restaurant by Hrishikesh Desai, Cumbria
The Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms Hotel, Hampshire
Culture Restaurant, Cornwall
The Killingworth Castle, Wootton, Oxfordshire
The Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Oxfordshire
The Ethicurean, Bristol
NEW 5 RED STARS
Crossbasket Castle, South Lanarkshire
NEW 4 RED STARS
The Fish Hotel, Worcestershire
Thornbury Castle Hotel, Gloucestershire
Source: The AA
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London’s restaurant of the year is Chutney Mary, a ‘long-established and super stylish’ Indian restaurant in the St James district
Scotland’s restaurant of the year is Cail Bruich, a Glasgow restaurant that ‘champions the finest British produce’
The AA Wine Award goes to Askham Hall in Cumbria, where guests are treated to a ‘notable wine list’ that includes a number of ‘vintage French stunners’
The AA Food Service Award goes to The Strathearn (above) restaurant at Gleneagles in Scotland, where diners enjoy ‘slick’ service and Franco-Scottish cooking with ‘plenty of modern twists’
The ‘Chef’s Chef of the Year’ goes to Paul Ainsworth, who – as the name suggests – is Chef Patron of Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 in Padstow
The AA Wine Award goes to Askham Hall in Cumbria, where guests are treated to a ‘notable wine list’ that includes a number of ‘vintage French stunners’.
CHEF’S CHEF OF THE YEAR
The ‘Chef’s Chef of the Year’ goes to Paul Ainsworth, who – as the name suggests – is Chef Patron of Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 in Padstow, Cornwall.
The Southampton-born chef studied catering and hospitality at his local college and went on to work with celebrated chefs that include Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing.
The AA says: ‘After eight years in London, Paul moved to Padstow to work at No 6, and fell in love with Cornwall. Together with his wife Emma, they took over the business, relaunching it as Paul Ainsworth at No 6.’ The AA’s Inspector praises the restaurant as a ‘truly delightful place to eat’, adding that every dish on the menu is ‘underpinned by quality produce and assured technique’.
Commenting on the awards, Simon Numphud, Managing Director at AA Media, said: ‘It’s a delight to be back at Grosvenor House as we mark the greatest hospitality celebration across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The last year has been tough on the hospitality industry as we’ve felt, like many others, the challenges facing businesses. Yet I’m so proud of the resilience, innovation and quality shown by the UK hospitality industry in response. We would like to extend a massive congratulations [to] all the winners and shortlisted establishments for their hard work, passion, and dedication.’
For more information on the winners, visit ratedtrips.com.
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