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ISSUE 4 - September 2009

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César awards

The top ten

Next month, the Good Hotel Guide will announce its choice of the ten outstanding hotels, inns and B&Bs which have won its coveted César awards for 2010. The accolade, named in honour of the famous 19th-century Swiss hotelier, César of the Ritz, is prized by hoteliers, because it signals that they are at the top of their profession. It also attracts publicity of a kind that cannot be bought, as well as lots of guests.

On October 4th, the day before the Guide's official publication date, the Sunday Times will preview the new César awards in its travel section as it has done for the last ten years. The paper wrote a couple of years ago: ‘Where other hotel inspectors count trouser presses, the Good Hotel Guide rates a place on the things that really matter, such as character, hospitality and good food. That’s why we take the César seriously.’ So seriously that the Sunday Times pays for one of its star travel writers to stay for a night and have dinner in each of the César award-winning hotels.

How do we select our César winners? It begins with reports from our readers whose judgment we know is sound because we have been tracking their opinions for years. If a hotel or B&B starts to attract exceptionally good reports from trusted readers, we send an inspector to stay for a night. Hotels keep their César as long as they remain in the same ownership and maintain their original quality. Our mission is to promote outstanding, independent hotels, inns and B&Bs.Their character, style and cost may vary hugely. But the founding editor’s benchmark still sets the crucial standard: a good hotel is ‘where the guest comes first'.

Adam Raphael




Hail César

Special Offers

Bye bye fax

Design counts

Travellers' tales

Buy the new Guide

La Sablonnerie


Special offers

After what has been a surprisingly good summer for our selected hotels, many are now promoting special offers. Autumn, before the chill sets in, is a great time for a short break. Nearly 100 of the Guide’s hotels have put up a special offer on the GHG website to attract visitors. More than half of these are on the Special Offers Page which is looked at by 70% of visitors to the website. As always, travellers love a bargain, and many hotels tend to concentrate on discounts of the three nights for two variety. But my eye tends to be drawn to the more quirky. I llike the sound of La Sablonnerie’s romantic moonlight drive in a horse-drawn carriage on Sark, or the Cornish fizz and handmade chocolates at Hotel Penzance in Cornwall.


Hotels with special offers

Carrig House, Co. Kerry

Cashel House, Co. Galway

Corsewall Lighthouse, Dumfries

La Sablonnerie, Sark

Swinton Park, Masham

Ees Wyke, Lake District

Griffin Inn, Fletching

Crossways, East Sussex

The Victoria, London

The White Cliffs, Dover


Mill End, Chagford, Devon

Corse Lawn, nr Tewkesbury

Glenfinnan House, Scotland

Farlam Hall, Brampton

The Bath Arms, Horningsham

Gravetye Manor, West Sussex

Combe House, Devon

The Pear Tree at Purton

The Priory, Wareham

Hotel Penzance, Cornwall

Maes-y-Neuadd, Talsarnau


Fortingall Hotel, Perthshire

The Crown and Castle, Orford

Hambleton Hall, Rutland

Feversham Arms, Helmsley d

The Lake, Llangammarch Wells

Star Castle, Isles of Scilly

An Lochan, Tighnabruaich

The Draycott, London

The Bay Horse, Ulverston

Frogg Manor, Broxton

Howtown Hotel


Goodbye fax

There are 852 hotels in the 2010 Guide. All have a telephone. But seven do not have email, nine do not have a website, and 171 do not have fax. Our figures show that fax is on the slide, vanquished by the ease, cheapness, and speed of email. So far as I am concerned, the sooner I can get rid of the office fax machine, a temperamental beast, the happier, I will be. I am always surprised when a hotel refuses to have anything to do with email. But a few of our favourite places resolutely insist on personal telephone contact. Jacquie Baldry, owner of the Howtown Hotel, an old-fashioned walking retreat on the shores of Ullswater, which has neither fax, nor email, tells me: 'I am proud to be a Luddite.' Brave, though I am, I haven't tried to persuade her that email, along with other bits of the 21st century such as computers and mobile phones, does make life easier. Not everyone shares my passion for gadgets, and I accept that when they go wrong, they can be infuriating.




Looks count

Good design matters, which is why we are investing in a new look for the Good Hotel Guide's website. This will be launched on October 5th to coincide with publication of the 2010 edition. Search facility will be improved, the home page will fill the screen, and special offers will be given more space and a better lay-out. But the essential simplicity and clarity of the design, which has been widely praised, will be preserved. We are also planning to redesign the print edition. Any suggestions you may have for improvement will be considered. Is the type face large enough? Is it easy to find the hotel you are looking for? What new features would you like? The continued success of the printed version is crucial for the future of the Guide, for it represents our key advantage: that an entry cannot be bought. But how in the age of the internet and the culture of free information can this be preserved? All ideas welcome! The best will get a mention here plus a bottle of champagne.


Glenfinnan House, Scotland

New web design. Work in progress.


Travellers Tales

Basil Fawlty lives

  1. The bedroom was as tired as the staff. There were just three people front-of-house to look after the reception desk, a private party, the restaurant and the bar. A small vase of yellow roses stood at the end of the bar: two were very dead. When I pointed this out, I was told: ‘The flowers are not my job.’ The dead flowers had not been removed by the following morning.
  2. When I remarked that the room was dark, the owner said of course it was dark as it was in the oldest part of the hotel. This is why the window was small, and she ‘had no intention of changing that’. Nevertheless another room would be shown to us. This was much more agreeable and we accepted it. ‘I suppose now you will want your luggage moved again,’ she said.
  3. There were two waiting staff in the restaurant, one female, one male. The female took our order, then returned because she could not remember it. She came to our table twice with food that was not ours. When I asked for the wine I had ordered, she said she had forgotten it, and stood there giggling.
Good Hotel Guide cover


Buy the 2010 Guide

The 2010 edition of the Good Hotel Guide to Great Britain and Ireland will be published on October 5th. Completely revised and rewritten, the new edition has 450 full entries, and more than 400 shortlist entries. There are nearly 60 new entries and a similar number of hotels has been dropped. Discount vouchers worth a total of £150 are included with each copy. They enable a 25% saving off the normal B&B price at participating hotels. A priority copy of the new Guide, in advance of publication, costs £17.50 (including £2.50 p&p), compared to a retail price of £20.

Click here to buy now!


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The Good Hotel Guide, founded 32 years ago, is totally independent. It receives no payments, hospitality or advertising from hotels selected for an entry in the printed Guide. Hotels pay to be on the Guide's website, but only those hotels who have an entry in the printed Guide are invited to appear on the website. Some of our selected hotels also buy copies of the printed Guide from us. Selected hotels are recommended by readers, backed where necessary by an anonymous inspection. The British edition of the Guide is published each autumn. Adam and Caroline Raphael, who edit the Guide, are award-winning journalists. Caroline, a former BBC researcher and a travel writer, is editor-in-chief. She has worked on the Guide for more than 30 years. Adam, who previously worked for the Guardian, the Observer, the BBC and the Economist, is the Guide's marketing director. Desmond Balmer, formerly travel editor of the Observer, is editor of the British guide. The Guide specialises in small owner-managed hotels and B&Bs in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands. It includes budget B&Bs, good value hotels as well as grand country houses and chic city hotels, all offering value for money in their price.range..