Bulls, Bears & Brexit

By Adam Raphael

The 2019 edition of the Guide, to be published on Monday, has a record number of 860 entries, ranging from great-value B&Bs to luxurious country house hotels. The Daily Mail will publish exclusively this Saturday the ten winners of the Guide’s 2019 César awards. They include a castle on the Wild Atlantic Way, an Isle of Skye hunting lodge, and a former run-down pub turned into a gourmet destination. A further sign of health is that search traffic on the Guide’s website increased by 91% over the past year.

There is a simple reason for this. Trusted reports on hotels are scarce. A third of TripAdvisor reviews are fake, according to The Times. Independent hotels like the ones in our Guide are also reporting good trading. This may be because one immediate consequence of Brexit, the sharp fall in the value of the pound, has undoubtedly helped the hospitality industry in the short term. A new Guide survey of its selected hotels found that 97% reported trading as good or fair over the past year with only 3% saying it had been poor. Nearly 60% of the hotels surveyed had seen an increase in foreign guests and over half recorded occupancy rates above 75%.

So why worry? Well, if Brexit negotiations end in a fudge, as seems likely, leaving all the hard questions about our future trading relationship with the EU and the Northern Ireland border in limbo, this will be damaging. More than a third of GHG selected hotels said that Brexit had already affected staff recruitment and retention. But perhaps the most significant impact of whatever is, or is not agreed will be on confidence. Discretionary spending depends on the feel-good factor. Political turmoil and a fast-depreciating currency will not loosen domestic wallets.

Enough gloom! The Guide continues to do what it does best. Over the past two years, we have published more than 200 articles featuring our selected hotels, inns and B&Bs in leading media outlets such as Country Life, The Observer, the Sun, the Evening Standard and the Yorkshire Post. Publicity such as this cannot be bought. It is a result of the Guide’s reputation for independence established over more than four decades.

Unlike TripAdvisor, our reviews of hotels can be trusted because we track everyone who writes to us. A reader writing to the Guide for the first time about a hotel or B&B is listed in our database as ‘New.’  If he or she continues to write, and appears to be on the Guide’s wavelength, they will be upgraded to ‘Regular’. Finally, a few are promoted to ‘Trusted’ because their opinions have proved to be reliable. It is from the ranks of the ‘Trusted’ that we recruit the Guide’s inspectors whose overnight stays, always anonymous, help to settle disagreements.

The reports of inspectors and readers are continually cross-checked. The process is time consuming and expensive but it is hard for anyone to manipulate. That’s not to say that our judgements are always right. But when we do go wrong, you may be sure that you, our readers, will quickly point this out. So please keep writing. Your reviews are what makes the Guide reliable and keeps it honest.

The 2019 Good Hotel Guide will be published on October 8th. To buy a copy for £16 including p&p, a discount of 20% off the shop price, CLICK HERE.