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 2021
Lewtrenchard Manor - Twixmas Break Special Offer
With stucco ceilings, antique-filled rooms and ornate fireplaces, the Murray family’s manor house is clearly made to be shared with someone special. After dinner à deux in the wood-panelled dining room, you can retire to a sleigh bed or four-poster.
Reached by horse-drawn carriage over a scenic isthmus, Elizabeth Perrée’s 400-year-old farmhouse on car-free Sark is as charming as its owner. There are cliffs and coves to explore before returning to tuck into local lobster and scallops.
Our inspectors were bowled over by the food created by Michelin-starred chef/patron Geoffrey Smeddle in his old coaching inn with modern interior. Dishes might include pastrami of sea trout, loin of deer.
Historic mixes with hip in this half-timbered house with inglenook fireplace that has been given a stylish makeover. Brendan McDonagh gets as much praise for his warm welcome and breakfasts as his partner, Lionel Copley, does for his interior design.
Readers’ complimentary reports on this adults-only hotel flood our inbox. The seaside setting, spa and smiling service, alongside an effective environmental policy, win repeated praise. Over the past year we haven’t had a single negative comment.
Proof positive that sustainability can be stylish, Sara and Richard Parry-Jones’s hotel has the wow factor as soon as the door opens to a glass staircase built into the hillside. There is biomass heating, and roofs have sheep’s wool insulation.
Fantastic food, amazing value and a side serving of culture in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon are the hallmarks of this restaurant-with-rooms. The barn is as atmospheric as they come, with a flagstone floor and an impossibly high vaulted ceiling.
Walks from the doorstep, views of Helm Crag, and fires to gather round for pre-dinner drinks make the Winsland family’s Victorian country house hotel a clear winner. As is the food, with imaginative menus, homemade bread, and kippers for breakfast.
There’s a library in the double-height stables and a delicious dinner is served with a serenade from chef Paddy Flynn, who runs this 18th-century country house with his wife, Hannah. The Georgian interiors have a relaxed, homely atmosphere.
Local ales are served as well as Michelin-starred food at this Dales pub with beams and luxury rooms. Chef/patron Michael Wignall uses local food but global inspiration to create such dishes as Yorkshire duck with soy, black bean and miso.
The Angel Hotel - Seven Nights for the Price of Five Special Offer
William Griffiths’s Georgian former coaching inn is the very model of a town hotel; family run, with friendly staff, a relaxed locals bar, eclectic menus, modern artworks. Afternoon tea is a particular treat, with cakes from the hotel’s own bakery.
Southernhay House - Two Night 25% Discount Midweek Special Offer
Silk, Spice… the bedrooms at Deborah Clark and Tony Orchard’s boutique hotel recall the original owner. A Georgian Orientalist and diplomat, he’d have enjoyed drinks on the pretty veranda, dinner alfresco, a free- standing bath in a glamorous bedroom.
Deep in the countryside, Willem and Pippa Vlok have created superb accommodation in historic farm buildings around parterre gardens. From dinner in a room resembling a medieval great hall, to a perfect breakfast, everything delighted our inspectors.
From cream teas by the fire to drinks on the loch shore, Shaun and Jenny McKivragan’s former ferry inn is a place for indulgence. Bedrooms have designer fabrics, Bulgari toiletries; dinner brings superb West Coast produce. Breakfast is exceptional.
Generosity of spirit abounds at Julia and Paddy Foyle’s fun B&B, filled with entertaining auction finds. Bedrooms have immense character, a terrace or balcony, perhaps a harbour view. Breakfast in the conservatory is all you could ask – and more.
Perfect hosts Vivienne and Philip Taylor set high standards at their Peak District longhouse home. Three of four well- equipped guest bedrooms are suites. A log burner warms the cosy lounge. Breakfast brings an array of fresh and very local produce.
Readers feel thoroughly spoilt at the Inkin brothers’ informal dining pub in a pretty fishing village. Most bedrooms have a sea view. In sunny weather, you can eat local seafood on the terrace in the palm-filled garden. Simple things done with style.
Just minutes from the yacht-filled Solent lies Luke Staples and Lewis Green’s chic, immaculately run boutique hotel, with top-notch, locally sourced food, a pretty garden for alfresco dining, hands-on owners and thoroughly charming young staff.
Our inspectors loved everything at David and Rona Pitchford’s Georgian manor house, but it’s Mr Pitchford’s cooking that really sets it apart. A typical dish: roast Kentish lamb, smoked potato puree, haggis and lovage tart, roasted onion, lamb sauce.
With a cosy, beamed bar and Michelin-starred cooking in the child-friendly, veggie-friendly restaurant, James and Kate Mackenzie’s former coaching inn is a winner. Smart bedrooms have a terrific bathroom, and everything in the garden is edible.
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.
Tudor Farmhouse - Three Nights for the Price of Two Special Offer
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.
Stoberry House - Four Nights for the Price of Three 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.
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!
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.
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.
On the edge of Salisbury Plain not far from Stonehenge, this thatched 19th-century beer house is run as a friendly village local and Michelin-starred pub-with-rooms by chef/proprietors Guy and Brittany Manning.
Battlesteads - Two and Three Night Taster Menu Special Offers
‘The many “green” features of this hotel are laudable,’ say Guide readers of the ‘colourful, interesting grounds’, ‘amazing’ dark sky observatory and sustainable approach at Dee and Richard Slade’s rural hotel.
On the quayside overlooking the estuary and salt marshes, in the luminous landscape of north Norfolk, Emma Stannard’s ‘lovely, comfortable', child-friendly hotel gets another thumbs-up from a trusted reader.
Year after year we receive rave reviews from readers extolling both house and hosts at Robert Smith and Arwel Hughes’s modern, single-storey B&B with beautifully tended gardens, gazing out to the Preseli hills.
With its towers and battlements, wood-panelled walls and ornate ceilings, this Victorian-folly castle set in acres of grounds still manages to be ‘very relaxed; we never felt we had to be on our best behaviour’.
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.
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