Celebrating our Northern UK AA Hospitality Award winners who picked up their accolades at the 20th award ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London on 25 September 2017.
THE awards celebrate the UK’s top hotels, restaurants, and pubs and the people behind them.
The ceremony, which marked the release of the 2018 editions of the AA Hotel Guide and AA Best Restaurants Guide, also saw three businesses – Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon; Ynyshir, Eglwys Fach, Powys; and Bohemia, St Helier, Jersey – receive five AA rosettes, with six restaurants collecting four rosettes.
The AA independently inspects hundreds of restaurants across the British Isles. This award 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
The Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe
Steven Smith, chef owner said: “I’m not going to go with the cliché, ‘we’re really pleased to have won’ because of course we are. It’s so much more than that. As a pub, we’re here for the long term and this award not only creates a legacy for The Freemasons, it’s a building block from which we plan to move onward and upwards.
“When I started out over a decade ago, I wanted to stake out a place for myself in this industry and become known for the quality of my dishes and menus. This is a very proud moment for me.
Aga and the team really put The Freemasons on the map for foodies across the country, as well as our loyal customers and regular visitors.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Freemasons at Wiswell: “Exciting virtuoso cooking in a relaxed village inn.”
Restaurant of the Year Scotland
The Dining Room, Edinburgh
Jan-Willem Damen, operations director of the Dining Room, said: “We are extremely proud to have been given this award. It is a recognition of 12 years of unwavering dedication by a kitchen team led throughout by exec chef James Freeman, to create stunning dishes with locally sourced Scottish ingredients.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said: “The Dining Room’s partnership with The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society offers a dining experience steeped in French classicism.”
Restaurant of the Year London went to Elystan Street for its ‘high flying cooking delivering brilliance at every turn in a relaxed atmosphere.’
Restaurant of the Year Wales was awarded to Beach House Restaurant at Oxwich Beach, Swansea for its ‘fresh contemporary cooking style to match the fresh sea air.’
The winners of this prestigious award, introduced in 2001, stand out as truly excellent all-round 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 Scotland
The Bow Bar, Edinburgh
Mike Smith, manager of The Bow Bar, said: “Managing an independent bar allows for a lot more creativity, so we put a lot of energy into making a simple formula a success. To be recognised for these efforts is a real honour, and we thank you for giving you ‘Best Pub in Scotland’.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Bow Bar: “For any whisky or beer connoisseur, the Bow Bar is an absolute delight”.
Pub of the Year Wales
Bryn Tyrch, Conwy, North Wales
Rachel Roberts, marketing director of Bryn Tyrch, said: “We are very proud and honoured to get this award. This reflects a real team effort from all the team and we thank them for all their hard work and for our clients for believing and supporting us.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Bryn Tyrch: “Charming old inn with mountain views”
The Bell at Ramsbury, Wiltshire won Pub of the Year England for its ‘comfy rooms, welcoming bar and café.’
This award is the AA’s ultimate accolade for hotels in the UK. It is awarded to hotels that are recognised as being outstanding examples in their particular market. 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 N. Ireland
The Old Inn, Bangor, Northern Ireland
Paul Rice, managing director of The Old Inn, said: “When we heard the news of being The AA’s Northern Ireland Hotel of the Year for 2017 we were of course delighted. It recognises the individuals throughout the hotel for their warm personalities and the skill and execution of delivering top class food, drinks, accommodation and also great recognition for the sales and administration team for ensuring our brand and our company remain strong in a challenging market.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Old Inn: “Behind the quaint thatched exterior of The Old Inn lies an untold elegance and grandeur.”
Hotel of the Year Scotland
Douneside House, Aboyne
Marcel Wassen, general manager of Douneside House, said: “We are absolutely delighted to win this award. It is a reflection of the hard work of the whole team; without their dedication, commitment and passion this would not have been possible.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Douneside House: “The Douneside House presents customers with warm, friendly and engaging staff as well as excellent standards throughout.”
The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath won Hotel of the Year England, thanks to its ability to provide a ‘sophisticated and luxurious experience’ due to its exclusive access to natural thermal waters, according to the AA Hotel inspector.
The Hotel of the Year London was won by The Goring described as an ‘an icon of British hospitality with exemplary customer care.’ Hotel of the Year Wales was awarded to Twr Y Felin Hotel, St Davids for its ‘excellent design and presentation, with noteworthy attention to detail.’
Wales and overall – Ynyshir, Powys, Wales
This award recognises the outstanding contribution to promoting wine understanding and appreciation. 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.
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Ynyshir: “The dining room at Ynyshir offers the very best selection of wines to accompany their highly accomplished food.”
In Scotland Andrew Fairlie restaurant at Gleneagles (Michelin 2 star restaurant) scooped the wine award for its outstanding wine list and experience.
In England the wine award was rewarded to The Five Fields, Chelsea.
AA College Restaurant of the Year:
South Cheshire College, Crewe
AA Foodservice Award:
Three Chimneys, Colbost, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
Chef of the Year
John Williams, MBE, executive chef at the The Ritz in London was awarded Chef of the Year by his peers. Head of Hotel & Hospitality Services at The AA Andrew Oxley said: “John’s remarkable career is an example to anyone who wants to become the very best in the culinary world.”
Housekeeper of the Year
Tzveta Ivanova, The Milestone Hotel, Kensington for their outstanding commitment and performance.. one who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Eco Hotel of the Year went to The Oakley Court, Windsor, Berkshire for its ‘high standard of eco-conscious luxury which shows respect to its lovely scenic setting and for the environment in general.’
AA Customers’ Choice
The Savoy, London
Andrew Oxley, Head of Hotel Services at The AA, said: “The Savoy continues to lead the way with over 125 years as a renowned, five-star establishment.”
AA Hotel Group of the Year
Andrew Brownsword Hotels
AA Lifetime Achievement Award
Philippe Rossiter, former chief executive, Institute of Hospitality