The UK’s first vineyard hotel has opened its doors in Hensol in South Wales. Llanerch Hotel is the result of a £2m investment by Ryan Davies, owner of Llanerch Vineyard…
Comprising of just 26 rooms and suites, the Llanerch Hotel has opened in South Wales as the UK’s first vineyard hotel, situated quite literally in the heart of the vineyard.
“To become the first vineyard hotel in the UK is a fantastic achievement for the team at Llanerch,” said Ryan Davies, owner of Llanerch Vineyard. “Across Europe, wine hotels are very popular and we wanted to bring that unique experience to south Wales.”
Davies took over the vineyard, which is one of the oldest in Wales, in 2010 with the aim to replicate the successful wine tourism models he had seen whilst working in vineyards in New Zealand and Australia, where vineyards are tourist attractions in their own right, offering restaurants, weddings and events, in addition to traditional wine tasting and vineyard experiences.
Since then, Llanerch has become the largest commercial vineyard in Wales and attracts visitors from around the world with its award-winning restaurant and bar, unique marquee and lodge wedding venues, on site cookery school owned by Angela Grey and wine tasting and vineyard tours.
Davies added: “We have had a number of B&B rooms available at the vineyard since 2010, but as the business grew, so did the demand for accommodation at Llanerch. The popularity of Cardiff, which is just 20 minutes away, as an events destination for everything from rugby to high profile concerts has also pushed up demand for high quality accommodation in south Wales.
“This has been a vision for Llanerch for many years. We have managed every aspect of this project – the biggest we’ve ever undertaken – ourselves to ensure that the hotel offers the highest quality and that every detail has been thought about, from luxury in-room products to maximising the spectacular scenery enjoyed by every room.”
Image credit: Llanerch Hotel
The superior rooms at Llanerch Hotel are 42 sq ft and include a super king size bed with a large sofa and living area and a luxury ensuite bathroom with shower.
The four suites, located in each corner of the hotel, are over 45 sq ft and include a bedroom with super king size bed, as well as a large living room with sofas and a seating area, which can be separated by a partition, and a luxury ensuite bathroom with shower.
The vineyard’s existing courtyard rooms, set in one of the vineyard’s original stone outbuildings, have also been fully refurbished in keeping with the new hotel.
Each room has a large widescreen smart TV, allowing guests to stream from their own devices, a Nespresso coffee maker and kettle and luxury interiors, including Welsh wool blankets, made at Pembrokeshire’s traditional woollen mill Melin Tregwynt, and art by local photographer Andy Stoyle.
trivago has reviewed the data and tallied the scores, and it’s time to reveal the hotels that travellers consider to be the very best — the winners of the trivago Awards 2018.
The trivago Awards give hoteliers the chance to receive recognition for their hard work and dedication to providing exemplary guest experiences, and to highlight and publicise this achievement to a world of travellers. In discussing the Awards, Johannes Thomas, Managing Director at trivago NV, said: “As an independent source of hotel information with data on over 175 million guest reviews, we are well-positioned to identify the top-rated hotels that excel at delivering exceptional guest experiences. The trivago Awards give us the chance to recognise and honour the hard-working hoteliers behind these exemplary hotels, and we are thrilled to do so again this year.”
All winning hotels receive exclusive award-indicators (certificates to put on display, widgets for their websites and social media pages, and more) that can increase their visibility and guest appeal online and offline. And the single top hotel in each category also gets to take home a coveted trivago Awards trophy along with a winner’s badge for their hotel profile.
trivago applauds all the winning hotels for offering top-notch, top-rated guest experiences. So, without further ado, let’s find out who the national winners in the United Kingdom are…
The top-rated hotels with the best value for money
This year, the best value for money in the UK can be found at St Michael’s Guest House in Scarborough.
Whatever the season or occasion, family-run Victorian guest house aims to make everyone’s stay enjoyable and relaxing by giving a traditional service. Owners Dee and Glyn had this to say about providing award-winning value: “As trivago is one of the best known and respected international websites that travellers turn to when planning a stay away from home it is a huge honour that we should be associated with them and even more amazing to win an award. We don’t feel that we do anything special here at St Michael’s just be ourselves. We offer clean and comfortable accommodation and a good locally sourced breakfast at reasonable prices. Our main aim is for our guests to feel relaxed in a happy atmosphere; as if they are visiting friends.”
Here are the top-10 recipients of the trivago Awards 2018 in the category of Best Value for Money in the UK:
The top-rated 3-star hotels
This year, the number one 3-star hotel in the UK is Cedar Manor in Windermere.
Set in mature gardens with the beautiful cedar tree that the hotel takes its name from, Cedar Manor is renowned for its friendliness with a relaxed and informal feel.
On receiving the award-winning hotel, owners Caroline and Jonathan Kaye said: “We’re just a small hotel – ten rooms including a detached suite – but we’ve proved that small is beautiful. We’re lucky to be in the most beautiful part of the country and we’ve created a haven of tranquil luxury to match our landscape. We know that the trivago Awards recognise those hoteliers who deliver an exceptional experience to their guests, and that’s what we strive to achieve. Each year we invest in our hotel and in our staff to keep on getting better and better, talking to our guests, listening to our guests, paying attention to the tiny details.”
Here are the top-10 recipients of the trivago Awards 2018 in the category of Best 3-Star Hotels in the UK:
The top-rated 4-star hotels
This year, the number one 4-star hotel in the UK is The Clontarf Hotel in Llandudno.
Located on the peaceful West Shore at the foot of the Great Orme, the family-run hotel offers unique styled rooms with lovely views of the sea.
On receiving the award, owners Mark and Joni Stubbs said: “We are delighted to have been selected by trivago to have been the number one 4-star hotel in the UK. We take a relaxed and informal approach to hotel management and want all guests to feel comfortable but with all the modern comforts of today’s hotel environment. We look forward to welcoming many more trivago guests in the future.”
Here are the top-10 recipients of the trivago Awards 2018 in the category of Best 4-Star Hotels in the UK:
The top-rated 5-star hotels
Just like last year, the number one 5-star hotel in the UK is Hotel 41 in London.
Boasting one of London’s prime locations, attentive staff and striking rooms, 41 offers an unforgettable hotel experience.
Digital Marketing Manager, Edward Boulton, acknowledged the team for providing an exceptional service to their guests: “At Hotel 41, ‘No request too large, no detail too small’ is our ethos, and our warm, thoughtful and personalised service is something we pride ourselves on. Our team go above and beyond to provide five-star service to each and every guest, ensuring that a stay at Hotel 41 is remembered for more than just the luxurious décor. We’re incredibly honoured to receive this trivago Award which recognises our commitment to our guests’ experience.”
Here are the top-10 recipients of the trivago Awards 2018 in the category of Best 5-Star Hotels in the UK:
The top-rated alternative accommodation
This year, the number one best alternative accommodation in the UK is The Arthington Guest House in Blackpool.
Known for their outstanding service, rich complimentary breakfast, and proximity to the promenade and attractions.
Owners Steve and Elaine pride themselves on providing the highest standards of comfort. They said: “We are over the moon that for the third year running we have been nominated for the trivago Awards. We have been running The Arthington in Blackpool since 2006 and its success has been down to hard work and not resting on our laurels. Trying to cater for the modern guest, whilst realising our limitations is our honest approach to the way we do our business. A big thank you to all the guests both old and new who have posted reviews about us, we would not be a success without them.”
Here are the top-10 recipients of the trivago Awards 2018 in the category of Best Alternative Accommodation in the UK:
The top-rated chain hotels
The hotel chains with the best collective ratings across the UK this year are The Montcalm Hotels, Principal Hotel Company and Corus Hotels. The number one hotel within The Montcalm Hotels in the UK is The Montcalm London Marble Arch.
Sitting grandly at the top of Park Lane, The Montcalm London Marble Arch promises the luxury lifestyle and individually tailored guest experience. Upon winning the award, Managing Director, Ramesh Arora had this to say: “At the Montcalm we consider hospitality an art form, and we’re always pioneering new ways to enjoy it. It’s how we not only keep standards consistently high but also keep the guest experience constantly fresh and rewarding. We’re thrilled to receive this award from trivago for the Montcalm London Marble Arch because it recognises the dedication of all our staff in perfecting their art.”
This year, the top-rated hotel of the Principal Hotel Company in the UK is The Principal York.
Tracy Harrison, General manager said: “It is a huge honour to be recognised by trivago – one of the world’s most trusted travel comparison websites – following the £20m refurbishment and revival of York’s historic grande-dame railway hotel.
What’s more, to receive an accolade that has been based solely on ratings and reviews from trivago’s global network of savvy travellers, would only provide our team with a feeling of extra achievement. In order to deliver a unique guest experience, we combine unique local heritage with a modern take on traditional British hotel service that is intuitive to guest needs. Our people are key to our rebirth and so we introduced a new dedicated guest relations team who are empowered to surprise and delight each of our guests in some way during their stay, exceeding the expectations of our star-rating.“
Finally, the number one hotel within Corus Hotels in the UK is Laura Ashley The Manor in Elstree.
Situated in landscaped gardens within 10 acres of natural woodland and views overlooking the Hertfordshire countryside, Laura Ashley The Manor Hotel is known for charming Tudor style exterior and stylish contemporary interior décor.
How does trivago determine the winning hotels?
Just as we aggregate hotel prices from across the web, we also aggregate guest reviews and ratings for a wide variety of amenities and services for all hotels that display prices on trivago. The reviews are then assigned an overall score by amenity or service category using an internally developed algorithm. The overall score is displayed on trivago, making it easy for travellers to compare amenities and services offered as they search for their ideal hotel. For the trivago Awards 2018, the hotel with the highest score in each awarded category is deemed the category winner. To ensure accuracy, a minimum of 20 reviews were required for award eligibility.
Lenka Trckova Lenka is a member of trivago’s Industry Management team for English-speaking markets. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and studied marketing communication and business management in the Czech Republic. She joined trivago to pursue her passion for the hospitality industry and is focused on supporting hoteliers to reach their online potential through marketing and technology. READ THE ORIGINAL BLOG POST FROM TRIVAGO’S HOTEL MANAGER BLOG HERE
Hotel Indigo Cardiff is a boutique hotel that has been designed by Matthews Mee Interior Design to evoke classic Welsh heritage.
As with all Hotel Indigo establishments, the surrounding area was carefully researched to discover the location’s intricacies, its history, special events, industry and people. The hotel is then designed around this to provide a unique and more meaningful experience that reflects the hotel’s location.
The Cardiff hotel, which will be managed by Redefine|BDL Hotels, features 122 guest bedrooms and 122 bathrooms, with a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill restaurant located on the roof of the building. The greatest attention has been paid to crafting unique spaces throughout the hotel that reflect the history and vibrancy of the Welsh capital. The guest rooms are themed ‘Made in Wales’, ‘Welsh Industry’ and ‘Music’, with each featuring local art and regionally-sourced natural materials to reflect the city’s strong legacy.
Matthews Mee wanted to mix contemporary style and modern functionality with its heritage-rich designs. It sought an electrical accessories supplier that could support with modern solutions that would complement the design themes while delivering a classy, high-quality look and adhering to the latest guest demands.
Working with contractor Kier and local wholesaler Evans Electrical, Hamilton Litestat was chosen as a solutions provider. Hamilton’s sleek and stylish Hartland collection of box-fix decorative wiring accessories was nominated as the perfect match for the interior design theme. With a vast number of rooms to furnish, a combination of Hartland 1, 2 and 3-gang rocker switches were specified for controlling lighting in each room.
2-gang dual-switched sockets were selected for power supply while further dual-switched sockets equipped with two USB charger points were also fitted at bedsides for easy access. One USB port is 1A rated for mobile phone charging and a second 2.1A USB port is for charging tablets and other devices. With USB charging capabilities, the Hamilton switched sockets meet the demands of modern hotel guests who want to be connected 24/7 using their smart devices.
Hamilton products welcome each guest into their room as a Hamilton hotel key card switch has been installed next to a single rocker switch that controls the lighting in the entrance area. Hamilton also helps make European guests feel at home with the inclusion of a European SCHUKO and dual USB 2-gang switched sockets within a specially manufactured plate installed above a vanity table in each room.
In the 72 ‘Made in Wales’ rooms and the 31 ‘Welsh Industry’ rooms, the decorative accessories were specified in Hartland design and finished in Matt Black with Copper switches and Matt Black inserts. Meanwhile, the 19 ‘Music’ rooms feature Hartland products finished in Antique Brass with Antique Brass switches and Black inserts. All bathrooms are fitted with Hartland plates finished in Satin Steel with White inserts.
Hotel Indigo Cardiff is due to start taking guest bookings in November with much anticipation building for the opening of this stunning hotel. Andrew Miles, senior project manager, Kier Construction Western and Wales, said: “Kier is pleased to be long-standing customers of Hamilton. We have always been impressed by the company’s quality solutions and customer service.
“Having seen the hotel’s design we were confident we could successfully collaborate and deliver a bespoke solution that could achieve the aspirations of Matthews Mee. The clean, timeless design of the Hartland collection was perfect for this project and we’re thrilled to have been involved with delivering such a unique high-quality establishment.”
Hotel Indigo® Cardiff’s General Manager, Tom Gaskell, added: “We take immense pride in our attention to detail and we’re pleased to have found an electrical partner that takes this as seriously as us. It’s these little touches that turns a nice hotel into an exceptional hotel and makes a guest’s stay all the more pleasurable. We’re pleased with the final finish and it’s been good to work with such a prestigious manufacturer.”
“With boutique hotels, quality and individuality are extremely important for business,” added Gavin Williams, Marketing Manager at Hamilton. “We take immense pride in being a long-standing and recognised supplier to this industry that demands the best from its suppliers. The Hotel Indigo® Cardiff is a stunning building with breathtaking rooms and we’re proud to have played a part in ensuring that every guest has the best possible quality experience.”
London, as expected, is the most popular destination this autumn with the greatest search volume coming from international travellers. Cardiff has overtaken London by the highest average clicked price among overseas visitors and Germans account for the largest group of travellers from off-shore countries.
This autumn, 64% of all search inquires to UK destinations have been made by domestic travellers. Based on search volume, German travellers make up the largest group of visitors coming from overseas followed by travellers from the US, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark.
London is the most searched destination in the UK, accounting for 67% of all UK searches from the top 10 visiting countries. Edinburgh takes the second place followed by Blackpool, the third most popular city for the UK residents. However, Blackpool ranks much lower (closing the top 30) for international travellers who prefer Liverpool.
Lenka Trckova, Industry Management UK & Ireland, Hotel Relations: “Our data shows that travellers from all around the world will pay the highest prices for hotels in London, Cardiff and Liverpool. Cardiff is for overseas visitors even more expensive than London, reaching the average level of £137 per night. We can see a significant difference in search behaviour between international and domestic travellers particularly in London and Edinburgh. For these longstanding popular destinations, UK residents pay roughly £20 more than international visitors.”
The average duration of stay reveals that travellers from the UK will mostly take short two-night trips this autumn. On the contrary, visitors from France, Italy and Denmark are likely to stay longest, as they search for stays of four nights on average.
For further insights and more detailed information about traveller behaviour and popular destinations in the UK, visit the trivago Hotel Manager Blog.
About the data The 2017 autumn travel trends are based on data gathered from trivago.com searches between 1 June – 2 August 2017, for the period of 1 October – 30 November 2017 and includes searches for stay of three and more days. All prices shown are the average clicked prices selected by trivago users for a standard double room.
Wolfscastle Country Hotel, member of The Great Inns of Britain, is proud to announce the opening of a new on site Beauty and Wellness Spa. The hotel’s newest addition is part of the 40th anniversary celebrations which are taking place throughout 2017.
The spa offers a high quality experience for guests to indulge in, with three new treatment rooms, a relaxation room and nail bar.
Wolfscastle Country Hotel has undergone various reincarnations over the ages to become one of Wales’ leading hotels and restaurants. Located in rural Pembrokeshire, the hotel has the advantage of being closely situated to countryside and the coast and boasts the 2 AA Rosette Allt yr Afon restaurant which offers culinary excellence in a Victorian style dining room.
The hotel is famed for their enviable wine list and with over 200 years of experience in wine trading, Wolfscastle Country Hotel is the perfect place to escape, relax and unwind.
trivago data shows that London is the most popular destination for international visitors, beach locations are popular with locals, travellers from Ireland, Italy and France are searching for the longest stays, and hotel guests from USA and Australia search for the highest prices-per-night on average.
These are just some of the insights from an analysis of summer travel trends in the United Kingdom, which reveals where international travellers are visiting from, and compares their search behaviour and destinations-of-choice with those of domestic travellers.
The top ten destinations in the UK account for more than 87% of searches from international travellers, to UK destinations. The most searches from off-shore countries to UK destinations are from Germany, USA, Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden, are the top countries based on searches for UK hotels.
The most popular destinations for domestic and inbound travellers is London, followed by Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glasgow ranks much lower for UK residents, who prefer Blackpool, Bournemouth, other seaside locations and other cities.
The most popular destinations for domestic and inbound travellers is London, followed by Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glasgow ranks much lower for UK residents, who prefer Blackpool, Bournemouth, other seaside locations and other cities.
Traveller behaviour from the key markets, for searches to destinations around the globe, show that travellers from Australia are the biggest spenders, with an average clicked price per night of £161, followed by USA with £152 and the UK with £151.
Visitors from Ireland, Italy, and France are likely to stay the longest, searching for stays of eight nights on average, to destinations worldwide.
The most popular week to travel varies for each visiting country, but in terms of search volume from all markets the biggest influx of travellers is set to arrive in the UK in the week beginning 31 July.
For more detailed insights into popular destinations and traveller behaviour for the UK this summer, visit the trivago Hotel Manager blog.
Visitors to Cardiff will soon be able to enjoy a new, unique hotel experience as Hotel Indigo gets set to open its doors within the heart of the Welsh capital this summer.
The boutique hotel, managed by Redefine|BDL Hotels (RBH) – the UK’s leading independent hotel management company – expects to welcome its first guests in July, bringing 122 beautifully decorated bedrooms to the already burgeoning tourism industry in Cardiff.
Acclaimed chef Marco Pierre White will also open one of his famous Steakhouse Bar & Grill’s on the roof of the development, further increasing Cardiff’s claim to being one of the best food destinations outside of London.
Those staying at the hotel will be able to enjoy all of those at-home luxuries they’re accustomed to, including free Wi-Fi throughout. Each of the guest rooms will be designed to highlight three recurring themes – made in Wales, industry and music – celebrating the heritage synonymous with the local area and beyond.
Located within close proximity of Cardiff’s business district and with easy access to major attractions such as Cardiff Castle and the Millennium Stadium, both adventurous guests wishing to explore the city or those who prefer to relax in the boutique surroundings of the hotel will be well catered for. A small fitness centre will also be available for those wishing to keep fit during their stay.
Marco Pierre White added: “Cardiff is such a vibrant city and the location is perfect for my Steakhouse Bar & Grill. I’m really looking forward to getting the doors open and welcoming our first guests. It’s going to be a big hit with both diners and drinkers who are out for a good time and wanting to enjoy food and drink in a stunning setting.”
CEO, Nick Taplin added: “This is an exciting time for Black and White Hospitality with our 1st restaurant with Redefine BDL and our 4th rooftop bar and restaurant venue. We have been working on this scheme for 6 years and know the Cardiff market well and are very excited to be bringing our Steakhouse Bar and Grill to this magnificent City.
Palé Hall is delighted to have achieved a five star rating from prestigious hospitality association the AA.
Recommending hotels for over 100 years, AA inspectors awarded the luxury hotel with their highest rating in their most recent announcement. This is the first time time in 10 years a hotel or restaurant in Wales has received this accolade and Palé Hall is the only AA five star property in north Wales. Opened in September last year, Palé Hall is one of three establishments in Wales to enjoy this rating.
Speaking about the rating General Manager Pim Wolfs said: “We are extremely proud to have received this great accolade. Our team work extremely hard to ensure that we provide the best service, food and comfort possible and we are delighted that the AA have recognised this. As a family run hotel that has been open less than eight months, the five star rating is a huge achievement and I want to thank everyone who has helped us get there.”
Owned by Alan and Angela Harper, who lovingly restored the historic building to its former glory, Palé Hall is a peaceful and luxurious retreat surrounded by the natural beauty of the Welsh valleys on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. One of the UK’s most talented and well-known chefs Michael Caines, lends his invaluable guidance for the food and beverage at the hotel which is overseen by Head Chef Gareth Stevenson. Gareth’s dishes focus on the fantastic local produce surrounding the hotel.
Commenting on the announcement AA’s Commercial Manger Alistair Sandall said “It was a pleasure to be able to award five stars to Pale Hall Hotel & Restaurant this week. It is a welcome addition to our other high quality hotels in Wales. The refurbishment has been carried out with passion, skill and care by owners Alan and Angela Harper. The service delivery and hospitality is first class and commensurate with all expectations at this high level. We look forward to working with the hotel on the journey towards red stars and wish them luck for the future.”
Two luxury heritage hotels in Pembrokeshire are celebrating being awarded the prestigious AA 5 Gold Star rating.
Roch Castle (pictured, above) and Penrhiw Hotel are two luxury hotels and exclusive stay properties on the St Davids peninsula, created by Welsh-born international architect and patron of contemporary art, Keith Griffiths.
Roch Castle, a meticulously restored 12th century Norman castle, and Penrhiw Hotel, a luxuriously appointed former vicarage, have each received a 5 Gold Star Award by the AA – the organisation’s ‘supreme accolade for guest accommodation.’
According to the AA’s rating system, this accolade recognises the hotels’ ‘excellent levels of quality throughout and outstanding levels of hospitality and service’ and ‘luxurious accommodation.’ Both properties have also received AA Breakfast Awards for their emphasis on freshly prepared local ingredients and presentation quality. Breakfast at Roch Castle and Penrhiw Hotel is made using fresh local produce.
Meadow Suite Bedroom Penrhiw Hotel
Paula Ellis, Group General Manager and a recent finalist in the Boutique Hotelier Service Star awards said: “We are thrilled to receive such high acclaim from the AA for our hospitality. The wonderful comments made by the inspectors mirror our aim to provide guests with a warm Welsh welcome and the highest quality of service, comfort and cuisine.
“Personally, in almost twenty years of working in Wales’ leading hotels, I have not experienced so many marvellous accolades achieved by properties so soon after opening,” added Paula Ellis.
St. Davids, Wales. Roch Castle
Together with sister property Twr y Felin Hotel, also located on the St Davids peninsula, Roch Castle and Penrhiw Hotel form a trio of luxury hotels on the Pembrokeshire coast. Since October this year Twr y Felin Hotel and Roch Castle have been listed in the Sunday Times Ultimate 100 British Hotels list, Twr y Felin has been awarded Best Serviced Accommodation over 12 rooms at the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards and has been shortlisted in the Civic Trust Awards. Roch Castle has also been shortlisted in the Welsh Hospitality Awards.
The re-imagined Grade II listed Palé Hall is now officially open as one of the finest country house hotels in Wales and the UK, and the first member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World in Wales. New owners Alan and Angela Harper have lovingly restored the historic house to its former glory, creating a peaceful and luxurious retreat surrounded by the natural beauty of the Welsh valleys on the edge of Snowdonia National Park.
Palé Hall is one of Wales’s most important surviving homes with a fascinating history dating back to the late 19th century when Henry Robertson, a railway engineer, industrialist and contemporary of Brunel, bought the estate as a grand personal project at the end of his transformative career in building public works. Since construction, the manor house has played host to some of Britain’s most famous figures including Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill.
In its new chapter as a hotel, 18 guest bedrooms and suites have been individually designed with their own style and personal identity, as have the beautiful light-filled public areas of the house including the opulent drawing room and tranquil parlour overlooking the grounds. General Manager Pim Wolfs, who has a wealth of experience from establishments including Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, is in charge of ensuring guests experience the very best personal service throughout their stay.
The individually designed guestrooms use soft yet playful Zoffany furnishings and quintessentially British William Morris prints. Each room holds its own history, such as the aptly named Victoria Suite, home to the bed that Queen Victoria once slept in and her original bathtub. Choose from ‘Classic Rooms’, ‘Turret Suites’, ‘Grand Rooms’, ‘Master Rooms’ and ‘Superior Suites’. A very special highlight is the amazing wood panelled Churchill Suite, where Churchill is alleged to have played snooker on his many visits to Palé Hall. Every guestroom enjoys a stunning view across the rural Welsh landscape, with window seats or deeply comfortable sofas and armchairs from which to watch the world go by.
The three dining areas within the house provide breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner to residents and non-residents, each with a different look and feel. The largest of them is the grand Henry Robertson dining room, followed by the Venetian dining room and finally the intimate library, the perfect setting for private dining.
The positive impact of the UK’s Brexit decision on the domestic hotel market was revealed last week as official figures show billions of pounds staying in the United Kingdom.
While the surge in UK holidays after the 23 June vote had been predicted, the findings by the Tourism Alliance exclusive to the Mail on Sunday show a huge rise both in visitors from abroad and in Britons opting for a staycation – worth some £1.4 billion to the UK economy.
The extra takings in 2016 for staycations alone are set to be £2.4 billion, according to the findings, whose members include the British Hospitality Association, ABTA and regional tourist boards. While £1 billion of that was spent before June 23, the total additional staycation income for the whole year is expected to be £1.4 billion.
The falling pound since the Brexit vote has made holidays more expensive for Britons going abroad and cheaper for foreign tourists coming here – giving Britain’s tourism a double boost. It all means the industry is set for a record-breaking year, and factors believed to be adding to the boom include the recent good weather, low interest rates and fears of terrorism overseas.
The Tourism Alliance estimated that spending by Britons on UK holidays has been up by 17 per cent on 2015 so far this year. Alliance director Kurt Janson told the Mail the additional £2.4 billion has the potential to create around 40,000 new jobs in tourism and hospitality.
Tucked away between the golden sands of Borth Beach and the rugged mountains of Snowdonia National Park, Ynyshir is one of Wales’ most highly acclaimed restaurants, with a dramatic backdrop of some of the most spectacular rural scenery in the country.
Previously known as Ynyshir Hall, and operated as a hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, the new purveyors of the property are to bring head chef Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred food to the forefront of the Ynyshir experience, repositioning the property as a restaurant with rooms in the autumn of 2016.
Ynyshir will maintain the high levels of service that hotel guests have come to expect, but with a focus on the dining experience, pushing Ynyshir forward as a destination restaurant with rooms. In line with the changes, opening days will be reduced to five per week, where both the restaurant and rooms will be closed on Sunday and Monday.
Gareth Ward arrived at Ynyshir in 2013 and quickly made his mark on the restaurant, gaining a coveted Michelin star in his first full year, as well as being awarded the Good Food Guide 2015 ‘Chef to Watch’ editor’s award. Four AA Rosettes quickly followed, making Ynyshir the only establishment in Wales to hold the accolade. During his time at Ynyshir, Gareth has quietly made a name for himself in the restaurant world for his creative and unique dishes, setting the foundations and raising the anticipation for this exciting new direction.
Once owned by Queen Victoria as a hidden retreat, Ynyshir offers ten bedrooms alongside the restaurant, each with their own identity. Each bedroom, including two garden suites, offers spectacular views over the gardens and surrounding landscape of RSPB Ynyshir Nature Reserve, one of Britain’s finest bird reserves. Ynyshir’s unspoiled setting offers guests a chance to explore some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery the UK has to offer, alongside an opportunity to revere the the quiet of the idyll, taking in fresh air and stunning night skies.
The remoteness of Ynyshir is what makes it so special and this new direction is set to re-establish the property as not only one of Wales’ most revered destination restaurants, but of the UK too, and with the added option to stay overnight, Ynyshir is the perfect location for the ultimate foodie retreat.
The Lion Quays Hotel & Spa in Oswestry, Shropshire, has announced its next stage of its £1 million refurbishment, which is set to be completed in 2017.
The property is owned by Ashok Bansal, a former surgeon, who paid around £10 million to for the 82-bedroom property in 2015.
The hotel has completed the £500k upgrade of 41 of its bedrooms, with work to begin on the following 41 by the end of the year. The Lion Quays Hotel and Spa has recently renovated its conference space with a £100,000 investment.
The interior redesign features a palette of deep plum, mauve and bold splashes of colour, offset against white linens. Executive and ground-floor feature guestrooms offer Juliet balconies or canal side balconies.
Colin Jenno, general manager of the Lion Quays Hotel & Spa, said: “We are thrilled with the progress of the redevelopment of the hotel. We are infusing some contemporary styling and modern touches into the bedrooms, and matched with our warmth of service and great proximity to major towns such as Chester and Manchester, I can only see the hotel going from strength to strength.
“The hotel has already reaped the benefits of the early investment and meeting space refit, with occupancy forecast to increase by 2% this year and meeting booking up by 10% on this time last year. Great signs that the work we have carried out has been well received, and boding well for business next year.”
Soughton Hall Hotel in Flintshire has undergone a £100,000 refurbishment as part of an investment programme by the new owners.
The historic mansion house and luxury wedding venue was originally built in 1714 as a bishop’s palace and the makeover by Elle R Leisure has breathed ‘new life’ into the building.
The extensive improvements included updating the main guest areas with a revamp of the library, entrance hall, reception and residents bar. Considerable changes to the hotel’s public spaces as well as upgrading the Bridal Suite have also occurred. The new owners have also invested in the ancient hall’s Wi-Fi system.
Elle R Leisure owner James Ramsbottom told The Daily Post: “Every little thing we are doing at Soughton Hall, from revamping the website to moving dining from the Stables restaurant back into the newly-refurbished main hall, is about getting more people in to appreciate this stunning building.
“We want to open the doors and breathe new life into the building to secure its future as an architectural treasure and as a successful business so more people can enjoy coming here for many generations to come,” he added.
Steeped in rich history and surrounded by the stunning Welsh valleys on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, the reimagined Grade II listed Palé Hall by new owners Alan and Angela Harper is set to be unveiled later this summer.
Palé Hall will launch as one of the UK’s finest destination country house hotels with renowned Chef Michael Caines working in collaboration with the Harpers to add an exclusive fine dining restaurant. Alan and Angela have personally overseen the refurbishment, choosing every last detail themselves and creating a peaceful and luxurious retreat surrounded by natural beauty and accompanied by the finest wines and foods.
Palé Hall is one of Wales’ most important surviving homes with a fascinating history dating back to the late 19th century when Henry Robertson, a railway engineer, industrialist and contemporary of Brunel, bought the estate as a grand personal project at the end of his transformative career in building public works. Since construction, the manor house has played host to some of Britain’s most famous figures including Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill.
In its new chapter as a hotel, 18 guest bedrooms and suites have been transformed and individually designed with their own style and personal identity. The guestrooms use soft yet playful furnishings by Hotel Designs Directory members Zoffany and quintessentially British William Morris prints. Each room holds its own history, such as the aptly named Victoria Suite, home to the bed that Queen Victoria once slept in and her original bath. Another highlight is the wood panelled Robertson Suite where Churchill is alleged to have played snooker on his many visits to Palé Hall. Furthermore, every guestroom enjoys a stunning view across the rural Welsh landscape, with window seats or deeply comfortable sofas and armchairs from which to watch the world go by.
Two drawing rooms both with large comfortable sofas and armchairs are delicately decorated as befits a luxurious country home. Floor to ceiling windows make the ground floor living rooms the perfect place to relax with a book, board game or pre-dinner drink. The piano situated in Palé Hall’s main entrance hall will play a central part, with Palé Hall hosting musical evenings for both guests and locals alike.
In the heart of the North Welsh countryside, Palé Hall is set to become one of the UK’s leading country house hotels with an emphasis on luxurious weekends away, delicious fine-dining from the acclaimed Michael Caines, and the stunning natural surroundings.
As predicted earlier in the year, the Hotel Collection has brought ten properties to market for a combined value of £130 million to be handled by Savills.
The hotels include some of the most well-known properties in their respective regions, and account for more than 1,400 bedrooms, 100 meeting rooms as well as several restaurants, gyms and spas, which produced a combined total revenue of £48 million in 2015.
Properties in England
The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate
The Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
The Redworth Hall Hotel, County Durham
The Imperial Hotel, Torquay
The Billesley Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool
The Shrigley Hall Hotel, Golf and Country Club, Macclesfield.
In Scotland and Wales
The Stirling Highland Hotel, Stirling
The Aberdeen Altens Hotel, Aberdeen
The Angel Hotel, Cardiff.
Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills said: “We are pleased to be bringing this significant collection of hotels to market. The distinctive heritage and character of each property has been maintained while generating a robust collective income. The Hotel Collection portfolio also offers numerous value-add and asset management opportunities to further enhance the long term revenue.”
Having been known as Puma Hotels, the portfolio was made up of more than 20 hotels at the time the group was acquired by Lone Star Funds in June 2014. Just 12 months later, Lone Star announced the creation of Amaris Hospitality – a company focused on properties operating under various international brands such as Hilton, Mercure and MGallery from AccorHotels – which meant it was likely to dispose of the individual properties that made up the Hotel Collection.
Cheltenham Park, Basingstoke Country, Palace hotel, Buxton and the Marine hotel in Troon have already been sold. Earlier this year, Lygon Arms in Broadway was sold to billionaires Ian and Richard Livingstone, who have added the hotel to sister hotels, Chewton Glen in Hampshire and Cliveden in Berkshire.
The hotel market in Cardiff has boomed. Most of the major chains are now present, and the City has bloomed under devolved government, tourism developing as the waterfront and other developments have increased its attractiveness. The city always had an impressive city centre. The civic government offices are amongst the most beautiful in Europe. The location of the Hilton makes it almost a part of the Civic Centre area and it is a natural choice for guests linked to Welsh national events, as we saw on this second visit. The Argentinean rugby team was headquartered in the Hotel, making full use of its health club and spa (as OH observed though, looking too small physically to be a threat to the Welsh team).
Some of the effects of developments in the town have been negative for hotels – for example, the arrival of restaurant chains such as Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italian’. This has raised the level of competition for the food spend, and numerous bars and restaurants provide guests with an alternative eating and drinking experience wider than that which was available in the early years of this century. Combined with an economic downturn, as marked here as anywhere else, competition is intensifying.
On my last visit, I commented on the excellence of the maintenance programme. The owners have completed a soft refurbishment and the entrance areas have been redesigned and refurbished. I met with the hotel and heard about their forthcoming major refurbishment plans.
There are wrinkled brows as to how the hotel is to compete within the food and drink market in Cardiff. As the doorman pointed out to me, the rate of new openings was such that the same market was being pulled from one new venue to another. I have seen this phenomenon before, strangely, in Carlisle in Cumbria. There a pub refurbishment could guarantee the pub an enthusiastic crowd until a competitor refurbished, at which point the crowd would move to the renewed venue. This seems to be beginning to happen in Cardiff, with the followers of fashion providing the audience. Whilst the main restaurant food offering in the hotel is of a high standard, and the superb location opposite Cardiff Castle and adjacent to the Civic Centre makes competing for evening and lunchtime business easier, attracting the lunch time and passing tourist trade into an hotel to eat is difficult.
The opening up of the bar to the reception area has provided a much more welcoming entrance area for the hotel. It appears to be successful as a social area in the hotel, and as a meeting zone, but the secondary restaurant is now restricted in its opening times. Whilst the bar and main restaurant have high visibility, the secondary restaurant, the Steam Bar, suffers from a low street presence along with a low visibility within the hotel.
Hilton’s policy on Wi-Fi access allows free access through BT Hotspots in the public areas, but this is a poor service as the free bit is largely limited to BT customers. When competing coffee shops offer a fast free service this again puts the hotel at a competitive disadvantage unless the guest is in a business room, where the Wi-Fi is free and use of the business lounge allows access to the same free Wi-Fi system.
The use of hotel lobby and dining services for informal business meetings is increasingly determined by the diner being able to use the tablet or laptop computer to access the web whilst in a luncheon meeting. Equally, the use of hotel public areas for informal business meetings requires a similar open access system for success. BT’s system falls short for people who are not already BT subscribers.
The hotel is well maintained and housekeeping is of a high standard. A soft refurb of fabrics and carpet has kept the bedroom areas looking contemporary, and they are competitive with other hotels. The rooms are large and the original design by KCA has been long lived. The bathrooms, which in my initial Review I considered a little less than luxurious despite their size are now the focus for the next upgrade programme, complicated by the fact that the large showers are not on the main service duct. Having the main plumbing services coming through the service duct to the bedroom makes not only maintenance easier but simplifies upgrades. Here the large curved shower walls contain the plumbing for the showers, making upgrade that bit more difficult without major works.
Hilton’s approach to design management appears strange to me, as they do not maintain relationships with their design practices. The original designer was Khuan Chew of KCA, a leading interior design practitioner, famous for her work on the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s famous ‘sail’ hotel. Hilton have not maintained a relationship with the practice apparently (I was told) because Khuan Chew did not do all the presentations herself. Expecting the head of a practice to do all the presentations seems to be a common client perception and I wonder whether Mr Foster, Mr Gehry or Mr Piano are expected to do all their presentations themselves?
It is not surprising that there is inconsistency, indeed incoherence, in design management at the major brands. At Marriott, for example, the bathrooms in the Renaissance Paddington are no match for those in the Marriott West Quay – why the variation? Why the apparent lack of trust Hilton place in their design list, epitomised by their failure to develop superb concepts such as that of the Hilton Diagonal Mar or Chicago’s Doubletree, the Wit into lifestyle brands instead of poaching ideas from other companies. At least at Hilton one cannot question the operational standards, and Cardiff demonstrates why they are such a consistent performer in the business market. The food is good, the interiors work well and the staff is well trained and efficient. As a first stage in bedroom refurbishment a major ‘presidential’ suite has been created (see the video).
The hotel does not attempt to be a boutique, and those looking for a boutique sense of funky style may be better staying at the Big Sleep down the road, but there is undoubted high quality here. There is an excellent small spa along with a Living Well gym operation and a swimming pool. It may be that the future for the Steam Bar is to become a part of the hotels pampering operation rather than trying to compete with the other food operations, or maybe it could become an adjunct to the already popular business services, oriented around serving the informal meeting market more formally. Perhaps a relationship over years with a designer who grew to know Cardiff and its market might have helped the hotel to judge how to balance its offering in the local market better, although with very high occupancy rates the marketing team and the owner have obviously positioned their hotel standards in the right place.
In difficult economic conditions Hilton seem to me to be getting their offerings pitched at the right level. As I will show further with the forthcoming Review of Hilton Liverpool, the chain is pitching as a very good four star, with business rooms offering enough to be almost five star in scale and nature of the offering to the guest. The group may be regarded by many designers as very ‘middle of the road’ but their operational standards and criteria seem to me to be right on the ball. If their design managers were equally able to exploit the quality many of their designers demonstrate, then the brand could not just be a leading business brand, but also lead the way in the lifestyle market.
Cardiff, with its upcoming refurbishment programme, could potentially become a test-bed. The rooms are large. The franchisee cares enough to be that rare owner who refurbishes and maintains the property in an exemplary manner. The operational team is experienced and eager. Perhaps, drawing on the Wit experience, the new design management team at Hilton will be bold enough to step once more towards creating a leading lifestyle brand experience.