We give our Cesar Awards to the ten best hotels of the year. Named after Cesar Ritz, the most celebrated of hoteliers, these are the Oscars of hotel keeping.
Cesar Winners 2019
The Nare - 'Coastal Walking' Special Offer
With its spa, its pools, balconies and sub-tropical gardens overlooking sandy Carne Beach, Toby Ashworth’s hotel is the perfect mix of family-friendliness and luxury. Top marks for Cornish cream teas, local seafood, a talented new chef, smiling staff and traditional values.
Stoberry House - Summer Five Night Special Offer
The bedrooms are luxurious, breakfast is exceptional at Tim and Frances Meeres Young’s 18th-century coach house overlooking the cathedral city. From the hosts’ attention to the smallest detail, to the beautifully landscaped gardens, this is a labour of love.
Gregans Castle Hotel
A generosity of spirit infuses Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray’s Georgian country house, with magical views across the Burren to Galway Bay. Elegant interiors are filled with antiques, modern art, fresh garden flowers. The cooking is unpretentious but imaginative.
There are glorious loch views from bedrooms filled with antiques, at Lord and Lady Macdonald’s former hunting lodge on Skye. Ancestral portraits abound. A ghillie organises fishing and stalking, while chef Marcello Tully cooks delicious fare. Speed, bonny boat!
Hari and Colin Fell have created luxurious contemporary accommodation within historic, rustic farm buildings. Eggs from the ducks and hens in the paddock, vegetables from the kitchen garden, wild garlic foraged from the Forest of Dean supply chef Rob Cox’s 20-mile menus.
The Star Inn at Harome
This chocolate-box-pretty-thatched village inn is infused with wit – the bar filled with odds and ends; a billiard table at the foot of a bed – but chef/patron Andrew Pern’s Michelin-starred cooking is seriously good. One room has both spa bath and piano.
Struan and Louise Lothian spare no effort to please guests at their friendly hotel. Fires burn in comfy lounges. There’s a cabinet of whiskies; rooms with balcony, with books, a four-poster, binoculars, loch views; a daily-changing menu of superb cooking.
An exciting gourmet destination within sight of the Scottish border. Each smart bedroom is named after an infamous clan of Border Reivers – a daring departure.
There is a pleasurable away-from-it-all feeling at this Queen Anne-style Lutyens house with ‘secret garden’, on the edge of a jewel of a medieval town. New owners John and Dorothy Fothergill have refurbished with great style. Food and service win high praise.
From £90 per night
Restaurant James Sommerin
Superb sea views, contemporary design and acclaimed Michelin-starred cooking prove to be winning ingredients at Louise and James Sommerin’s family-run enterprise on the Severn estuary.
Cesar Winners 2018
Hambleton Hall - Summer Breaks in Rutland
‘Perfection to the very last detail,’ writes a reader this year, of Tim and Stefa Hart’s hotel with landscaped gardens stretching down to Rutland Water.
Soar Mill Cove Hotel - Summer Family Staycation Saver Special Offer
‘We couldn’t have enjoyed it more or been more welcome,’ write trusted Guide correspondents this year, after dropping by at Keith Makepeace’s long-established, family-run hotel with views across National Trust coastline to the open sea.
Judges - Summer and Autumn Special Offer from £125 B&B
‘Wonderful. Ten out of ten,’ writes a delighted reader in 2018, of this Victorian retreat.
In ‘an extraordinarily beautiful location’ on Shetland’s wild West coast, ‘charming, unobtrusive host’ Pierre Dupont runs his guest house on informal lines.
A long drive through parkland brings guests to this Georgian mansion beside the golf course on the edge of town, where Beryl and James Kearney are the ‘warm and friendly’ hosts.
St Cuthbert’s House
Regular Guide readers laud Jeff and Jill Sutheran’s B&B, forged from a ‘delightfully converted’ Presbyterian church, as ‘a perfect base for exploring this beautiful part of the north-east’.
The Red Lion Freehouse
Readers this year ‘ran out of superlatives’ after a ‘rather splendid visit’ to this thatched gastropub in ‘a delightful village’.
The Mash Inn
‘Food-focussed readers will be happy’ at this red brick Chilterns restaurant-with-rooms that offers a ‘distinctive cooking style’.
‘The best of its kind.’ Standing in an ‘appealing’ village is Edward and Louise Sykes’s small, ‘equally professional and personable’ Georgian restaurant-with-rooms.
‘It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes this hotel so special.’ Atop a winding driveway, this Gothic pile is ‘light, airy, full of boutiquey charm – and, naturally, has delightful views across Grasmere’.
2017 Cesar Winners
The Blakeney Hotel
Standing right on the quay overlooking estuary and salt marshes, in a coastal village of flint cottages, gift shops and galleries, Emma Stannard’s hotel is ideal for outdoorsy family holidays.
Hell Bay Hotel
Isles of Scilly
‘The surrounds are dramatic, the interiors pretty spectacular too.’ Readers report much to enjoy at Robert Dorrien-Smith’s gloriously isolated island hotel.
‘We have become addicted to this place,’ write trusted readers, following a return visit to this beautiful Elizabethan manor house (Relais & Châteaux).
The Nobody Inn
A ‘time capsule of ancient England’, Sue Burdge’s venerable former dwelling house has been the village pub and hub since 1837.
The Cross at Kingussie
‘Derek and Celia are just fabulous,’ praised visitors this year. ‘Friendly, efficient – and they’ve done a magnificent job in maintaining and enhancing this former tweed mill.’
Dee and Richard Slade’s hybrid of pub and hotel in the empty reaches of Northumberland again reached for the stars with its unique blend of sustainable hospitality and astronomy.
Ael y Bryn
‘Ten gold stars’ glitter among a constellation of guests’ praise for the ‘wonderful’ B&B with its ‘aura of tranquillity’ and views over the Preseli hills.
Brocco on the Park
‘Effortless charm and warmth’ personify Tiina Carr’s ‘vibrant’ hotel, a ‘stone’s throw’ from the Botanical Gardens.
The Royal Oak
In a ‘quiet, wooded valley’, this thatched village pub had stood empty and decaying for more than seven years, when three villagers stepped in to rescue it.
‘Our third visit.’ Readers tempted back this year to celebrity chef Stephen Terry’s restaurant-with-rooms – a reinvention of a ‘grotty roadside pub’ – found everything to their liking.
Hotels chosen in 2016
The Grove - Three for Two Special Offer
Behind mature trees in 26 acres of gardens and meadows overlooking the Preseli hills, this whitewashed 18th-century mansion offers a ‘bucolic setting with that “away from it all” feeling’, reports a reader after this year’s visit.
Gary and Donna MacRae take evident pride in their hotel in its own wooded grounds, perched above this hamlet in the Borrowdale valley.
The Lord Crewe Arms
A ‘lovely drive over moors’ leads to this hotel in a North Pennines village built from the stone of a dissolved 12th-century abbey.
We hear a perennial chorus of approval from fans of Wendy and Simon Bennett’s family-friendly Victorian fantasy castle in the Eden valley, between Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
A Regency cottage-orné, built by Jeffry Wyatville as a fishing lodge for Georgiana, Duchess of Bedford, is run today in characteristic relaxed-chic style by Olga Polizzi (see also Tresanton, St Mawes).
The Coach House at Middleton Lodge
Developments are afoot at this hotel, centred on a Georgian coach house, ‘in a glorious setting on a huge estate with beautiful walled garden’.
Zanzibar International Hotel
Brimming with an ‘interesting collection’ of curios from far-flung lands, Max O’Rourke’s characterful seafront hotel is both ‘splendidly quirky’ and ‘utterly relaxed’.
Kilmichael Country House
Be prepared for shrieks of greeting as you turn in to the wooded drive of this ‘very special’ small mansion, the oldest house on Arran – and that’s just from the peacocks! Inside the house, owners Geoffrey Botterill and Antony Butterworth extend a ‘personable’ but less vociferous welcome, with offers of tea and home-made shortbread.