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 - Complimentary Spa Treatment
‘Old-fashioned in all the best ways’, ‘a Cornish jewel’, ‘a real joy – almost a privilege – to stay there’; complements rained down from trusted readers after visits to Toby Ashworth’s hotel on the Roseland Peninsula.
Tudor Farmhouse - 'The Forest Awakens' Special Offer
A lovely little hotel,’ writes a reader on a return visit to Hari and Colin Fell’s ingeniously converted farm buildings in the Forest of Dean.
Stoberry House - Autumn and Winter Three Night Special Offer
‘Five stars’, ‘Highly recommended’, ‘Faultless.’ ‘Frances, Tim and their lovely staff treat guests as if they are treasured members of the family.’ This year’s Guide received plentiful accolades for Tim and Frances Meeres Young’s B&B in an 18th-century coach house.
Gregans Castle Hotel
On the Wild Atlantic Way, with views across the ‘dramatic’ Burren Hills to Galway Bay, ‘delightful’ Gregans Castle is ‘the epitome of understated country-house hotel luxury,’ writes a Guide regular this year.
‘This is not just a good hotel but a very good hotel.’ High praise this year from a trusted reader, for every aspect of the hospitality at Lord and Lady Macdonald’s historic former hunting lodge on the Isle of Skye.
The Star Inn
‘Wow, what a wonderful place this is!’ A regular reader lauded Andrew Pern’s restaurant-with-rooms on the edge of the North York Moors, which has a Michelin star and ambience on tap.
In a gem of a medieval Cinque Port town, this Queen Anne-style house designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens has a new lease of life as an upmarket hotel.
From £90 per night
Restaurant James Sommerin
With a Michelin star and ‘spectacular’ views of the Severn estuary and famous pier from a prime spot on Penarth’s late Victorian esplanade, James Sommerin’s family-run restaurant-with-rooms is ‘a very pleasant place to stay’.
‘How refreshing to find a hotel that continues to strive to be the best, and succeed.’ Guide readers returned to Struan and Louise Lothian’s ‘small but pleasing hotel’ this year with friends, to find ‘the greeting friendly, the room lovely and warm’.
Gerald and Margo Smith have created a gourmet destination in a lonely pub at a crossroads just to the south of the Scottish moors,’ write Guide inspectors this year.
Cesar Winners 2018
‘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 - 40% Discount 40th Anniversary 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 - Half Term Special Offer from £100 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.
‘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.
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’.
‘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’.
The Mash Inn
‘Food-focussed readers will be happy’ at this red brick Chilterns restaurant-with-rooms that offers a ‘distinctive cooking style’.
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.
‘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.
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.
Hotels chosen in 2016
Hazel Bank - Early Bird Three Night Special Offer
Gary and Donna MacRae take evident pride in their hotel in its own wooded grounds, perched above this hamlet in the Borrowdale valley.
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.
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.