The Good Hotel Guide reveals its 10 César award winners for 2020

Guide launches today with hundreds of ideas for a break away from London

Today sees the launch of The Good Hotel Guide 2020: Great Britain & Ireland. London gets its own 16-page section and, in total, close to 50 establishments in the capital get a listing.

Although no London hotels, inns or B&Bs are honoured in the guide’s César Awards (its crème de la crème) a couple do receive honourable mentions in the Editor’s Choice section. The Editor’s Choice pages have wide-ranging headings such as Spas, Seaside, Dog-friendly and Family (for fuller list see further down the article).

In the Romantic section, Hazlitts in Frith Street, Soho, is listed with the description “you can repose on a bed adorned with gilded cherubs and steep in a vintage roll-top bath”.

In the Rooms With a View choice The Zetter in Clerkenwell is there. Clerkenwell? Views? “Book a rooftop deluxe studio … and from your terrace you can enjoy panoramic views of the glorious gallimaufry (a confused jumble – yes, I had to look it up) of a city”. 

Although London Inspire is a London-centric website, I have not lost sight of the fact that guides such as this are actually aimed at getting folk away from their regular surroundings. So, it’s absolutely possible that, apart from a passing interest, the section on the capital will be the last place that Londoners look.  

The guide, which was established in 1978 (42nd edition), runs to more than 700 pages. Many of the properties included are also listed on the website www.goodhotelguide.com but, for old school people such as I, much of the joy of this guide is having a physical copy you can dip into whenever you choose. I’ll always back the look and feel of a nice book over a computer screen.

It would make a great Christmas gift. Sorry for mentioning it so early.

Let’s be honest, even if you won £169m on the lottery (the figure up for grabs as I’m writing this) you wouldn’t be able to get around to all the hotels in the guide before the next one comes out – even though you could afford to.

No, part of the pleasure of owning such a guide is that you can make yourself a coffee, or something stronger dependent on the time of day, sit in your favourite armchair and “visit” loads of great-sounding places. If one grabs your attention sufficiently all the details are there to allow you to turn the daydream into reality. 

Co-edited by Adam and Caroline Raphael, together with award-winning travel writers Ian Belcher and Joanna Symons, the new 2020 edition features 830 hotels, inns and B&Bs, with 433 main entries chosen for their exceptional hospitality and distinctive style. The guide’s choices range from great value B&Bs from as little as £75 per room per night (two sharing) to luxury hotels, restaurants-with-rooms, and boutique city hotels.

Adam Raphael says: “We have come a long way since the first edition of the guide. While Wi-Fi and power showers have become the norm, what has remained integral to the guide, is its honesty; not a penny is paid for an entry in the print edition. The test of a good hotel remains the same – great hospitality, attention to detail, and friendly, attentive service.”

Ten César Awards are presented each year to a selection of hotels which have demonstrated excellence in their field. Named after César Ritz, these are known as the Oscars of the hotel industry. 

Here are The Good Hotel Guide’s 10 César winners for 2020: ​

Newcomer of the year:  North House, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Just moments from the yachtie playground of The Solent, this immaculately run boutique hotel occupies a Grade II listed townhouse. Food is locally sourced, there is a pretty garden offering alfresco dining, plus 14 bedrooms with views of the sea or the garden courtyard, all overseen by hands-on owners and charming staff.

Seaside Hotel of the year:  The Old Coastguard, Mousehole, Cornwall
This informal dining pub has 14 bedrooms, many with sea views, and is decorated in the owners’ Charles and Edmund Inkin’s signature style: blazing fires, bare floorboards and mismatched furniture. Hit by a fire this summer, it will reopen in early 2020. Despite its temporary closure, the editors of the guide awarded it a César because it is outstanding.

Country house hotel of the year: Old Downton Lodge, Ludlow, Shropshire (above and main picture at the start of this article)‎
Set around parterre gardens deep in the countryside, this restaurant-with-rooms is a conversion of barns and farm buildings, has 10 unique rustic bedrooms and a spectacular Tudor-style dining room. The wine list has won numerous awards, and menus are crafted from the finest quality ingredients.

B&B of the year: Underleigh House, Hope, Derbyshire
Near the end of a quiet cul-de-sac within the Peak District National Park, this 19th-century farmhouse B&B overlooks the beautiful Hope Valley. Three of the four bedrooms are a suite, including one with French doors opening on to the garden. There is a cosy lounge with a log-burner and breakfast showcases an array of fresh local produce.

Romantic hotel of the year: Southernhay House, Exeter, Devon
On a pretty square just a stroll away from Exeter Cathedral, this romantic Georgian townhouse has 11 bedrooms, all with minibar, REN toiletries and comfy seating. The peaceful dining room offers a short menu of intelligent dishes served by charming waiting staff.

Inn of the year: The Pipe and Glass Inn, South Dalton, Yorkshire ‎
This former coaching inn has five contemporary bedrooms and views over nearby Dalton Park. There is a cosy beamed bar and a child-friendly Michelin-starred restaurant, popular for its vegetarian options. Tables are also available for dining in the garden, where everything planted – from roses to rosemary – is edible.

Scottish luxury hotel of the year:‎ The Airds Hotel, Port Appin, Argyll and Bute
Set beside Loch Linnhe, with views of the Morvern mountains, this 18th-century ferry inn has 11 individually appointed bedrooms and an award-winning restaurant which makes use of the best West Coast and home-grown produce. The hotel offers high tea for under-eights and guests can take cream tea by the fire in one of the lounges or alfresco in the hotel’s gardens, complete with lochside views.

Welsh hotel of the year:‎ The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire ‎
The very model of a town hotel, in the heart of Abergavenny, this family-run former Georgian coaching inn displays an inspiring collection of original artworks. There is dining in the Foxhunter Bar and Oak Room restaurant – or head to Michelin-starred sister restaurant, The Walnut Tree. The famous afternoon tea offers delicious cakes and pastries from the hotel’s own bakery.

Irish B&B of the year: The Quay House, Clifden, County Galway
In a small harbour town, this B&B is centred on a 19th-century harbourmaster’s house. The owners are keen auction hoppers and have charmingly decorated the property with their unique finds. Each of the 16 bedrooms has a terrace or balcony, most with harbour views, and breakfast is served in a bright, leafy conservatory.

Restaurant-with-rooms of the year: Read’s, Faversham, Kent
This Georgian manor house is on the outskirts of the market town of Faversham and has six traditional-style bedrooms, carefully furnished with antiques. The classically trained chef uses produce from the walled kitchen garden, plus local meat and game, to craft mouth-watering set-price menus.

The 2020 Guide has 36 new main entries and an extended shortlist section with 50 new entries. Its aim, as it has been over the past 40 years, is to champion properties where the guest comes first.‎

The 2020 Editor’s Choice section highlights the top 10 hotels in 16 categories:  This Year’s Discoveries, Romantic, Spas, Seaside, Restaurants-with-Rooms, Dog-friendly, Country House, Gardens, Rooms with a View, B&Bs, Value, Pubs-with-Rooms, Family, Walking, Quirky and ‎Weddings. All hotels are listed alphabetically, by village or town, with a photograph, and all of the Guide’s main entries include a full review with accompanying contact details.

This year’s revamped Shortlist ‎section features 397 properties with extended text and a photograph for each entry.

Many of the entries in the Good Hotel Guide 2020 are also available online (link above), where there are a further five online-only Editor’s Choice hotel categories: Gourmet (new), Fishing, Golf, Eco-friendly and Historic.

The Good Hotel Guide 2020: Great Britain & Ireland is priced at £16 (including p&p within the UK) from The Good Hotel Guide, 50 Addison Avenue, London W11 4QP (Tel: 020 7602 4182https://www.goodhotelguide.com/buy-the-guide/) or available at £20 from all good bookshops. 

Discount vouchers worth a total of £150 are included in each copy of the guide. They enable a 25% saving off one night’s normal B&B price at participating hotels. The hotels making the discount offer are clearly shown at the top of the light blue info panel (see alongside). One discounted stay and the book has paid for itself.

Good Hotel Guide gift vouchers are also available, in denominations from £100 to £1,000. If you buy a voucher a free copy of the book is included.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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