UK’s top hotels, restaurants and pubs revealed at AA Hospitality Awards 2019
London. 23 September. The best hotels, restaurants and pubs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were revealed at the AA Hospitality Awards tonight in a glittering ceremony at Grosvenor House in London.
The twenty-second annual awards were presented by Kate Silverton and honoured the best establishments in the UK across twenty-three categories, including Chefs’ Chef, Lifetime Achievement Award and Housekeeper of the Year.
The winners of the AA Hospitality Awards are:
Restaurant of the Year
- England – Fordwich Arms, Canterbury
- London – Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown, London, E9
- Wales – Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, Colwyn Bay
- Scotland – Sugar Boat, Helensburgh
Hotel of the Year
- England – Chewton Glen, New Milton
- London – The Landmark, London, NW1
- Wales – TheGrove, Narbeth
- Scotland – The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder
- Northern Ireland – The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast
Pub of the Year
- England – Three Daggers, Edington
- Wales – Glynne Arms, Hawarden
- Scotland – Meikleour Arms Public House, Perth
Spa of the Year
- Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate
Eco Hotel of the Year
Food Service Award
- Overall Winner – Hampton Manor, Solihull
- Regional Awards:
o England – Hampton Manor, Solihull
o Wales – Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel, Dolgellau
o Scotland – Castle Terrace Restaurant, Edinburgh
Lifetime Achievement Award
Large Hotel Group of the Year
Small Hotel Group of the Year
- Inverlochy Castle Management International
Housekeeper of the Year
- Overall Winner – Hampton Manor, Solihull
- Regional Awards:
o England – Hampton Manor, Solihull
o Wales – Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel, Dolgellau
o Scotland – Castle Terrace Restaurant, Edinburgh
College Restaurant of the Year
New 5 Rosettes
- Lympstone Manor, Exmouth
New 4 Rosettes
- Coworth Park, Ascot
- Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead
- Hipping Hall, Lancaster
- Hrishi at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Windermere
- Old Downton Lodge, Ludlow
- Roganic, London
- Sorrel, Dorking
- The Angel at Hetton, Hetton
- The Greenhouse, London
- The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, Malmesbury
5 Red Stars
- Foxhill Manor, Broadway, Worcestershire
- Cromlix Hotel, Kinbuck, Dunblane
- Alexander House Hotel, Turners Hill, West Sussex
- Adare Manor, Adare, Limerick
- The Langham, London, W1
- Café Royale, London, W1
- Seaham Hall, Seaham, County Durham
- Torridon, Wester Ross, Torridon
4 Red Stars
- Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Ballymena, County Antrim
- The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
- The Painswick, Painswick, Gloucestershire
- St Ermins Hotel, London, SW1
- The Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, Hampshire
- Cavendish Hotel, Baslow, Derbyshire
- Maison Talbooth, Dedham, Essex
3 Red Stars
- Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey
- THE PIG at Combe Hotel, Honiton, Devon
The full list of this year’s AA Hospitality Awards winners can be found at
Quotes & Award Details
Hotel of the Year
The AA Hotel of the Year Award is the AA’s ultimate accolade for hotels in the UK. It is awarded to hotels that are recognised as being outstanding examples of their kind. From the small family-run hotel to the most ambitious commercial ventures, hotels of every size and style are potential winners.
- Hotel of the Year, England – Chewton Glen, New Milton
Andrew Stembridge, Executive Director of Iconic Luxury Hotels commented: ““We are thrilled that Chewton Glen has been crowned Hotel of the Year again especially considering the number of very credible new hotels that have popped up of late. Winning this prestigious title is undoubtedly testament to the energy, passion and creativity of the entire team who work so hard not only to ensure that our guests always want to return but are also focused on continually improving and innovating. Chewton Glen has always remarkable as defined by Martin Skan half a century ago and we are exceptionally fortunate to still have owners who support our vision through reinvestment.”
An AA Inspector said of Chewton Glen: “Chewton Glen has been revitalised in recent years and the eco-friendly tree-houses point the hotel in a fresh and exciting direction. The extensive grounds include – in addition to activities like golf and croquet – a walled garden, which provides for the hotel kitchen, and is a feature in its own right. Bedrooms are luxurious and delightfully appointed, while public areas are stylish and comfortable, the perfect place for traditional afternoon tea.”
- Hotel of the Year, London – The Landmark, London, NW1
Andrew Batchelor, General Manager at The Landmark: “We are all hugely proud, thrilled and honoured to receive this prestigious award. Thank you, AA.“
An AA Inspector said of The Landmark: “Once one of the last truly grand railway hotels, The Landmark London boasts several stunning features, the most spectacular being the naturally lit central atrium forming the hotel’s focal point. The air-conditioned bedrooms are luxurious and have large, stylish bathrooms. There is also a health club that offers a complete wellbeing experience.
- Hotel of the Year, Wales – The Grove, Narbeth
Thomas Agius Ferrante, General Manager at The Grove commented: ““The team work tirelessly to constantly enhance every aspect of the great experience at our lovely hotel in the Northern Hills. Achieving this accolade is real acknowledgement of the quality they constantly deliver. Everybody here is both delighted and very proud and it felt a real honour to celebrate the honour to celebrate the evening with so many people from the industry.””
An AA Inspector said of The Grove: “The Grove is an elegant 17th-century country house set on a hillside in 26 acres of rolling countryside. The owners have lovingly restored the building with care, combining period features with excellent modern decor. There are bedrooms in the main house, and additional rooms in separate buildings; all are appointed with high levels of quality and comfort.”
- Hotel of the Year, Scotland – The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder
Conor O’Leary, Gleneagles’ Joint Managing Director, said: “We’re thrilled to receive this prestigious award which reflects the remarkable journey we’ve been on over the last three years to ensure Gleneagles takes its place amongst the finest hotels in the world. We’ve reignited the excitement Gleneagles created when it first opened nearly a century ago, to provide our guests with an outstanding experience and an unparalleled range of adventures for those who love luxury experiences as much as they love having fun. In celebrating this award which recognises the dedicated efforts of our whole team, we can look with pride at what we’ve achieved, with a keen sense of momentum and excitement for the future.”
An AA inspector said of The Gleneagles Hotel: “With its international reputation for high standards, this grand hotel provides something for everyone. A recent change of ownership has resulted in many areas being refurbished. Set in 850 acres of glorious countryside, Gleneagles offers a peaceful retreat, as well as many sporting activities, including the famous championship golf courses. All bedrooms are appointed to a high standard and offer both traditional and contemporary styles.”
- Hotel of the Year, Northern Ireland – The Fitzwilliam, Belfast
Cian Landers, General Manager of The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the 2019-20 AA Hotel of the Year Northern Ireland. This award means so much to us and is testament to the efforts of the fantastic team we have here at The Fitzwilliam Hotel and the continuous effort to ensure we go above and beyond in creating a special experience for all of our guests. I am extremely proud of all my staff whose hard work has made this possible.”
An AA inspector said of The Fitzwilliam: “The Fitzwilliam is perfectly placed for Belfast city centre, adjacent to the Grand Opera House and set amid a range of shops and restaurants. The modern contemporary style bedrooms are tastefully appointed and have a great range of facilities including air conditioning. The public areas feature a smart cocktail bar and guests can dine in the modern restaurant on the first floor – a range of bar food is also available.”
Restaurant of the Year
The AA Restaurant of the Year recognises restaurants that provide cuisine of a truly excellent standard, as well as demonstrating innovation and ambience and providing a high standard of hospitality.
- Restaurant of the Year, England – Fordwich Arms, Canterbury
Guy Palmer-Brown, Daniel and Natasha Smith, Owners of Fordwich Arms: “When we opened the Fordwich Arms we could not have imagined such a phenomenal first 12 months. We feel truly blessed and it has proven to us that the hard work and dedication from our team in such a young business has paid off. This will only spur us on to achieve as much as we possibly can going forward. A huge thank you to our team for their continual hard work, without whom none of this would have been possible, as well as our guests for their never-ending support of us.”
An AA Inspector said of Fordwich Arms: “The 1930s country boozer with a terrace and garden looking over the River Stour was begging for a makeover, and that’s just what it got when high-flying young chef-patron Dan Smith took the helm in 2018 and immediately turned the place into a foodie destination. Smith’s cooking is firmly in the new-wave modern British camp, allying sharp technique with intriguing combinations of first-class materials.”
- Restaurant of the Year, London – Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown, London, E9
Tom Brown, Chef Patron of Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown commented: “I’m thrilled to have won the ‘AA Restaurant of the Year London’ award, it is such an honour to be recognised by such a prestigious association. I’m so proud of our fantastic team who work tirelessly to ensure we are constantly evolving and delivering a memorable experience to all our guests. Thank you to all the inspectors who have visited us since opening, this award means so much to us.”
An AA Inspector said of Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown: “This new seafood joint is making big waves. The vibe is super cool, light and relaxed; a handsome monochrome, industrial look with retro bow-back chairs and black tabletops and dominant central-hub kitchen. Confidently exposed, Brown’s team turns out dazzling seafood sharing-plates in the simple but brilliantly executed genre, backed by standout ingredients, flavour and balance.”
- Restaurant of the Year, Wales – Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, Colwyn Bay
Bryn Williams, Co-Owner of Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias said: “We are extremely thrilled and excited to win this very special award and to be recognised by such a prestigious organisation within our industry. This is all down to the dedication and hard work of our team at Porth Eirias.”
An AA Inspector said of Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias: “Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sweeping views of Colwyn Bay, and exposed steelwork, pendant lights and industrial-chic create the feeling of a hip, big-city eatery. Bryn Williams made his name alongside celebrated chefs and has been chef-patron of Odette’s in London’s Primrose Hill since 2008, so you can expect sharp modern British bistro ideas.”
- Restaurant of the Year, Scotland – Sugar Boat, Helensburgh
Will Smith, Owner of Sugar Boat commented: “This award is an incredible achievement by the whole team and is testament to the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into opening and building the restaurant. Thrilled, elated, blown away, astounded and so very proud to be recognised at a national level. Thank you to everyone who has helped us on our journey.”
An AA Inspector said of Sugar Boat: “On a square in the heart of town, with tables out front and back, Sugar Boat is done out in natural colours of earth and sea, with a marble-topped bar and viewable kitchen. The hearty modern bistro cooking features big flavours and an essentially simple approach.”
Pub of the Year
The AA Pub of the Year is awarded to great all-rounder pubs or inns. They successfully combine the provision of enjoyable food, a great pub atmosphere and a warm welcome with a high standard of management.
- Pub of the Year, England – Three Daggers, Edington
Richard Smith, General Manager of Three Daggers commented: “It’s a huge compliment to be awarded AA pub of the Year. It is true testament to the hard work of all the staff and the vision and its owners. Hospitality is a tough business and it’s great to see the long hours, sacrifice and passion being recognised by the AA.”
AA Hospitality said of Three Daggers: “A pub with its own microbrewery, farm and farm shop, The Three Daggers has plenty to offer locals and destination diners. Bare tables, mismatched wooden chairs, exposed brick and heritage colours add to the informal country pub feel, as does the seasonal modern cooking.”
- Pub of the Year, Wales – Glynne Arms, Hawarden
AA Hospitality said of Glynne Arms: “This fine-looking old coaching inn’s success is down to Charlie and Caroline Gladstone. Charlie’s great-great grandfather was 19th-century prime minister Sir William Ewart Gladstone, who married into Hawarden Castle’s Glynne dynasty. Meat, fruit and vegetables come from the couple’s Estate Farm Shop down the road.”
- Pub of the Year, Scotland – Meikleour Arms Public House, Perth
Claire Mercer Nairne, owner of the Meikleour Arms commented: “We could not dream of winning such a coveted award! Giving a new lease of life to a rural Scottish country pub has been a marvellous journey for our team and now attending a prestigious event in Mayfair to collect an award recognising our hard work is just surreal. The AA Quality standard is the highest in the industry and we are so honoured and over-joyed.”
An AA inspector said of Meikleour Arms Public House: “The inn’s own Lure of Meikleour real ale inhabits the bar, as does an extensive wine list; with one of the pub’s owners coming from Bordeaux expect some good clarets, as well as wines from off-the-beaten-track vineyards elsewhere. Eat in the traditional flagstone-floored bar, the woodland-themed stone barn, the more intimate private dining room, or in the garden. The restaurant serves country food, including venison from estate woods, beef from Aberdeenshire, white fish from the East Coast, mussels from Shetland and rod-caught trout from local lochs.”
Chefs’ Chef – Jason Atherton
A popular and coveted title, this unique award, introduced in 1996, offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition of their performance over the past twelve months.
Jason Atherton started out working alongside chefs including Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, before joining the Gordon Ramsay Holdings in 2001 and launching ‘Maze’, first in London and then another five globally. Jason opened ‘Pollen Street Social’ in April 2011 and now runs 16 restaurants internationally. Jason is married to Irha Atherton who works alongside him as co-director at The Social Company.
Jason Atherton commented: “When you win a Chef’s Chef of the Year it’s that award where the chefs vote you, so for me to be voted by my peers it’s just incredible. I was not expecting it, I’m absolutely thrilled to bits.”
Simon Numphud, Managing Director of AA Media said: “Jason is one of the UK’s most respected and successful chefs, a reputation hard earned through his relentless commitment and passion for his craft. Given his success and commitment to the industry, he is an inspiration to many and hence no surprise that the AA rosette chef community has voted for him to become this year’s AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year.”
Eco Hotel of the Year – Carbis Bay Hotel, St Ives
Introduced in 2010, this award recognises a clear commitment to sustainability, demonstrated through good practice and policy to make a positive contribution to reducing impact on the environment.
Stephen Baker, Managing Director, Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate: “On behalf of Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate, I am immensely proud and honoured to have been granted this award. As some of you may know, we are fortunate to be in a stunningly beautiful location and we are very aware of doing everything we can to preserve our Carbis Bay for the future. Thank you very much indeed for this award and for your recognition.”
An AA Inspector said of Carbis Bay Hotel: “In a peaceful location with access to its own white-sand beach, this hotel offers comfortable accommodation. The attractive public areas feature a smart bar and lounge, and a sun lounge overlooking the sea. Bedrooms, many with fine views, are well equipped. Interesting cuisine and particularly enjoyable breakfasts are offered. A small complex of luxury, self-catering apartments is available.”
Spa of the Year – Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate
New to the AA Hospitality Awards this year, the Spa of the Year Award recognises an outstanding spa offering within a hotel, delivering both an excellent overall product and spa experience.
Peter Banks, Managing Director at Rudding Park Hotel: “To win the AA Spa Hotel of the Year in its first year is an incredible honour. Rudding Park has won numerous awards over the years and the addition of The Spa has enhanced the guest experience and placed Rudding Park on the national map. The AA Hospitality Awards celebrate the brightest and best among the nation’s hotels, restaurants and chefs and to receive such recognition is an incredible achievement and fantastic boost for the whole team. To be an exceptional hospitality provider you have to be live and breathe hospitality. It is hard work! Winning such a prestigious industry award voted by our peers and high-profile industry judges is a fantastic endorsement of the success Rudding Park has achieved so far.”
An AA inspector said of Rudding Park Hotel: “Set in beautiful parkland, Rudding Park dates from the early 19th century and the interiors are stylishly contemporary and elegant. The bedrooms are luxurious – the Follifoot Wing features stunning suites and bedrooms with spas. The grandeur of the mansion house and grounds make this a popular wedding venue; there’s also an impressive spa with treatment rooms, a gym, private cinema and extensive conference facilities, plus an adjoining 18-hole, par 72 golf course, and driving range.”
Food Service Award – The Ritz, London
This award recognises restaurants that deliver excellent standards of restaurant service and hospitality. Teams will deliver technical service skills and food and beverage knowledge of the highest standard.
Simon Girling, Director of Food and Beverage at The Ritz London: “It is the greatest honour for the hotel to have been recognized by the AA, the leading authority in the hospitality industry, with this prestigious award – thank you! I am extremely proud of the entire Front of House service team whose passion is to deliver the very best experience, and demonstrate the highest quality of personalised service and technical expertise, to every guest who comes into The Ritz and The Ritz Restaurant, every day.”
An AA Inspector said of the Ritz: “Hospitality and service are delivered so fluently, that the overall experience feels completely seamless and service just happens at all the appropriate points. It is all underpinned by a passionate, professional team that have a well-deserved reputation of being one of the best in the industry.”
This award recognises an outstanding contribution to promoting, understanding and appreciating wine. Nominees are judged on the quality of their wine list and their ability to inspire customers to make wider and more adventurous choices in selecting wines.
- Overall Winner / Wine Award England – Hampton Manor, Solihull
James Hill, Managing Director at Hampton Manor commented: “Winning this award is a special moment that is shared with our friends running other restaurants, families growing vineyards across the world, wine makers treating their fruit with love and passionate importers caught up a rich conversation about the future of our soils and the sustainability of our farming systems. A special nod goes to our friends Sam and Lucy who are leading the natural wine conversation in our region through their ground-breaking business Wine Freedom. They have significantly shaped our thinking. Natural wine is a movement and a dialogue that is capturing the imagination of a new generation of wine drinkers.”
An AA Inspector said of Hampton Manor wine list: “Super impressive list and is wonderfully curated. Features include funky producers, difficult to source wines via innovative keg system. A list that is totally engaging. Amazing, very stylish and one that takes you on a journey and story. The wine list is a feature in its own right and an innovative way to organise a list, very helpful. A list that pushes the boundaries, such personality.”
- Wine Award Wales – Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel, Dolgellau
Mark Watson, Director at Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel commented: “It is an honour to be recognised by the AA for the hard work which goes into the formulation of our wine selection.”
An AA Inspector said of Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel wine list: “A list full of passion and much effort. The hotel clearly knows their market and customers, love the tasting notes and the vintage chart is a nice addition. Really good pricing and nice sherry selection. You sense there is a real personality behind the list, and it’s very accessible.”
- Wine Award Scotland – Castle Terrace Restaurant, Edinburgh
Joel Bastian, Group Head Sommelier at Castle Terrace Restaurant commented: “Passion, curiosity and hard work always pays off.”
An AA Inspector said of Castle Terrace Restaurant wine list: “A beautifully laid out list that is really accessible and easy to read. Whilst leaning towards French wines, overall it is nicely balanced with a strong New World selection. Vintage selections were excellent, pricing appropriate and great magnum selection. A list packed full of Interest.”
Lifetime Achievement – Robin Sheppard, Chairman, Bespoke Hotels
The AA Lifetime Achievement Award, introduced in 2006, recognises professionals within the hospitality industry who have committed their lives to the pursuit of perfection within their discipline. Winners of this award are to be congratulated for making significant fundamental contributions to the industry which have had a notable impact and must have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress in their field.
Robin has been an hotelier for 40+ years winning many Hotel/Hotelier of the Year awards. In 2000 he co-founded Bespoke Hotels which has grown into the UK’s latest independent hotel group with over 200 properties, including the multi-award winning Hotel Gotham. Most recently he won the Hotel Catey and the Oxford Brookes awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry.
He is also the Government’s Hospitality Sector Champion for Disabled People.
His greatest achievement, though, has been to fight back from GBS, a totally paralysing illness. His slow recovery inspired him to launch the Bespoke Access Awards in conjunction with RIBA encouraging better design and empathy from architects, interior designers and hospitality professionals alike.
Robin Sheppard commented: “I just got married, and it doesn’t get any better to spend the second night of your honeymoon winning a lifetime achievement award, so I’m thrilled to bits, astonished and just absolutely delighted.”
Simon Numphud, Managing Director of AA Media said: “An incredible and engaging hotelier for over 40 years, his contribution to the industry speaks for itself and has been recognised by various personal awards in recent years. His success is an inspiration to us all, made even more remarkable given the determination to overcome significant disabilities and his continuing achievements.”
Large Hotel Group: Park Plaza Group
A hugely prestigious award presented in recognition of the large hotel group that has a proven track record of striving to ensure the very best levels of service, food and accommodation across the range of properties. Attention to detail is imperative and a committed and structured approach to future development is essential.
Greg Hegarty, Chief Operating Officer at
PPHE Hotel Group: “On behalf of our Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer and team members we are delighted to have been recognised as AA Large Group of The Year 2019. This is a significant milestone for the company and an outstanding achievement. The AA Hospitality Awards are one of the industry’s most highly regarded and recognised and so we are delighted to join some of the UK’s best properties and brands as award winners. Park Plaza is truly committed to the hospitality industry and promoting it as a progressive career option. We work with schools, colleges, key recruitment organisations and charities to support and encourage young people into careers in the hospitality sector and offer a variety of apprenticeships during the year. As an international brand with a strong London presence, we will strive to continue to invest in our UK portfolio alongside creative learning and development programmes to constantly delights our guests. Thank you once again to each of our team members for their hard work, passion and inspiring service which allows us to continuously provide such a high level of guest experience resulting in our winning of the AA Large Group of The Year 2019.”
Simon Numphud, Managing Director of AA Media said: “Park Plaza have continued to impress for both their continued investment across their portfolio of hotels but also their investment in the development of their teams. Attracting and retaining talent remains a critical challenge for the industry and it’s great to see the various initiatives the Park Plaza do to encourage young people that hospitality is a great career.”
Small Hotel Group: Inverlochy Castle Management International
A hugely prestigious award presented in recognition of the small hotel group that has a proven track record of striving to ensure the very best levels of service, food and accommodation. Attention to detail is imperative and a committed and structured approach to future development is essential.
Inverlochy Castle Management International said: “We’re celebrating our tenth anniversary this year and it’s a great honour to win this award – it has been a huge team effort.”
Simon Numphud, Managing Director of AA Media said: “ICMI have established themselves as one of Scotland’s leading luxury hotel operators. Great attention to detail, high standards of hotelkeeping and a real emphasis on cuisine.”
College Restaurant of the Year – Academy, Cheshire Colleges South & West, Cheshire
A new award in 2016, the AA College Restaurant of the Year Award has been developed in conjunction with our partner People 1st to recognise accredited colleges within the AA College Rosette Scheme that have shown outstanding achievements in a realistic working environment.
Academy, Cheshire Colleges South & West commented: “We’re overwhelmed – it means the world to us but it’s not just us three, we’re three members representing a bigger team, the college our industry and our members.”
Housekeeper of the Year – Anikca Korzelius, Housekeeper, St Ermins Hotel, London
Mafalda Albuquerque, Hotel Manager at St Ermin’s Hotel: “Ankica joined us 8 years ago as part of the relaunch team following a £50m total refurbishment and has blossomed into an exceptional Manager. She constantly strives for excellence and her attention to detail and consistent passion to deliver perfection put her in a class of her own. This award could not have gone to a better candidate; the training and procedures she has put in place, the pride she has in her staff and the loyalty her staff have for her are truly exceptional and the hotel and our guests benefit every day from her work. She is a passionate and hard-working professional and is truly deserves the industry-wide recognition of this great honour.”
Simon Numphud, Managing Director of AA Media said: “The inspection team were highly impressed with Ankica’s passion and commitment which was completely infectious, and her ability to look after two large hotels.”
The full list of this year’s AA Hospitality Awards winners can be found at www.theaa.com/hospitality-awards/hospitality-awards-winners.
All AA Hospitality Awards winners will be included in The Restaurant Guide 2020, published by AA Publishing.