What do you look for in a British hotel? Good food goes without saying, along with a comfy bed and slick service. But what about the feel of the place and attention to detail?
At the Good Hotel Guide, we pride ourselves on finding small, characterful hotels where you’re treated as treasured guests and with generous extras as standard — perhaps complimentary tea and cakes, a glass of wine or pantries to raid.
Above all, we look for places that care. So here are the Cesar winners for 2024 (named after Cesar Ritz, the most celebrated of hoteliers who in 1898 founded the Ritz hotel in Paris).
Best country hotel – The Retreat at Elcot Park, Newbury, Berkshire
The Good Hotel Guide has revealed its Cesar winners for 2024, celebrating British hotels where you’re ‘treated as treasured guests’. The Retreat at Elcot Park, pictured above, has been named ‘best country hotel’
A fraction of the price of many traditional country house hotels, The Retreat at Elcot Park has a relaxed, fun air that starts with the glass of complimentary wine at check-in.
There are pantries to raid, family swim times in the pool, a swish spa and a chilled courtyard area with coffee shop, wine cellar and hair salon. Bedrooms have a modern English feel and the Pan-Asian restaurant shouldn’t be missed.
Details: B&B doubles from £198 (retreatelcotpark.com).
Best city hotel – The Rookery, Central London
The Rookery in Central London, pictured, has been named the UK’s best city hotel
Bedrooms at The Rookery might have a four-poster bed, vintage bathroom fittings and a writing desk. Room-only doubles are priced from £289
Expect to find Bagheera the cat snoozing by the fire and rooms with mahogany panelling in this beautiful homage to yesteryear. Hidden down a narrow lane near Smithfield Market and named after a once crime-filled area, The Rookery has tradition at its core. Bedrooms might have a four-poster bed, vintage bathroom fittings and a writing desk, as well as more modern attributes such as air conditioning, mini bar, TV and 24-hour room service.
Details: Room-only doubles from £289 (rookeryhotel.com).
Best B&B – Dorset House, Lyme Regis, Dorset
Dorset House in Lyme Regis, with its ‘smart and uncluttered’ rooms, has been named the best B&B in the UK. It’s shown in the three images above
Lyn and Jason Martin describe their B&B as ‘breakfast with rooms’ and you can see why from the morning menu, which might include homemade granola and bread, followed by honey-baked figs with rose-scented ricotta or peacomole, feta and mint with poached egg on sourdough.
Bedrooms in the cream Georgian house are smart and uncluttered, with large sash windows, antique furniture and designer shower rooms. The Martins also run a pizza restaurant in town.
Details: B&B doubles from £170 (dorsethouselyme.com).
Best pub with rooms – Inn at Whitewell, Whitewell, Lancashire
The Inn at Whitewell in Lancashire (above), which overlooks the River Hodder, takes the title of Britain’s best pub with rooms
Overlooking the River Hodder in the Forest of Bowland, this old manor house comes with flagged floors, open fires and a cheery welcome from third-generation members of the Bowman family. Traditional bedrooms might have beams or a four-poster along with views of the surrounding countryside.
Chef Jamie Cadman is in his 20th year here and his food continues to impress; there is an on-site wine shop.
Details: B&B doubles from £145 (innatwhitewell.com).
Best hotel South of England – Boys Hall, Willesborough, Kent
Boys Hotel (shown in the three images above), a 17th-century manor in Kent, was awarded the best hotel in the South of England
Set in a 17th-century manor whose bedrooms are better than many in top hotels, this is clearly not your average restaurant-with-rooms. The location, just minutes from Ashford International, might not be the most inspiring, but the secret garden oasis and inviting sitting rooms make up for that.
Food is a highlight — steak cooked over the firepit with a bone marrow peppercorn sauce or John Dory with kohlrabi, bisque and brown crab rouille.
Details: B&B doubles from £180 (boys-hall.com).
Best hotel South West – Plumber Manor, Dorset
The two images above show Plumber Manor country house hotel in Dorset, which has been named the best hotel in the South West
The ‘traditional’ interiors at Plumber Manor
A country house hotel with a heart, Plumber Manor is run by the Prideaux-Brunes, who treat their guests as family.
When one visitor had a toothache, they arranged a dental appointment and drove him to it.
Richard curates the reasonably priced wine list and acts as host alongside his wife, Alison, while brother Brian cooks well-regarded dishes. Traditional interiors are filled with antiques and artwork.
Details: B&B doubles from £195 (plumbermanor.co.uk).
Best hotel East Anglia – The Harper, Langham, Norfolk
The best hotel in East Anglia, according to the judges, is The Harper in Langham, Norfolk. It’s shown in the two images above
Both relaxed and refined, The Harper has artfully mismatched furniture and rustic-chic bedrooms
In homage to its heritage as the former home of Langham Glass, The Harper has a menagerie of glass animals in reception and stained-glass windows in the public rooms.
Both relaxed and refined, it has artfully mismatched furniture and rustic-chic bedrooms with complimentary cocktails, heated oak floor and Irene Forte products.
There is a good all-day menu as well as more formal dining and a small onsite spa.
Details: B&B doubles from £260 (theharper.co.uk)
Best hotel Wales – Harbourmaster Hotel, Aberaeron
Guests can look forward to maritime-themed rooms with sea views at the Harbourmaster Hotel, named the best hotel in Wales. It’s shown in the three images above
It’s not just the striking cobalt blue exterior by the waterside that makes this charming little hotel stand out. Named after different historic sailing ships, the maritime-themed rooms in the former harbourmaster’s house all have views over the sea; the top floor suite is particularly sought after.
Guests are greeted with complementary coffee and cakes, and there are plenty of local specialities in the restaurant.
Details: B&B doubles from £155 (harbour-master.com).
Best hotel Midlands – The Olive Branch, Clipsham, Rutland
Rustic furniture and roaring fires give The Olive Branch in Rutland the feel of a traditional village inn, Jane says. The property, named the best hotel in the Midlands, is shown in the three images above
Rustic furniture and roaring fires give this pub the feel of a traditional village inn, but the trio of farm labourers’ cottages in which it lies also hold a shop and a wine store.
Accompanying the delicious food is anything from the pub’s own beer to vintage wine. Rooms are over the road in Beech House and are themed on food. Berry comes in deep autumnal colours while Double Cream has an antique bed.
Details: B&B doubles from £170 (theolivebranchpub.com).
Best hotel North of England – Hazel Bank, Borrowdale, Cumbria
One guest felt so much at home at Hazel Bank in Cumbria – the best hotel in the North of England – that they likened their six-day stay to a ‘pleasant house party with friends’, Jane writes
Rooms at Hazel Bank have idyllic views across valleys and fells
Fantastic food, a good wine selection, stylish bedrooms and walks from the doorstep – Hazel Bank ticks all the right boxes for a country house hotel.
One guest felt so much at home at Gary and Donna MacRae’s Victorian house that they likened their six-day stay to a pleasant house party with friends.
Bedrooms have idyllic views across the valleys and fells, while Donna’s evening meals are equally spoiling.
Details: B&B doubles from £290 (hazelbankhotel.co.uk).
Best hotel in Scotland – Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick
Knockinaam Lodge, shown in the three images above, enjoys a knock-out position on a private cove, Jane reveals
Enjoying a knock-out position on a private cove where the road ends and the Irish Sea begins, Knockinaam charms guests with its unstuffy, relaxed air.
The views over the water to Northern Ireland are superb. Expect a wood-panelled bar, fires in the two lounges, patterned fabrics in the bedrooms and perhaps a bath tub by the window for a scenic soak.
The food deserves a special mention, with a daily changing menu of local specialities.
Details: B&B doubles with seven-course tasting menu for two from £430 (knockinaamlodge.com).
- Prices are based on rates in November. The latest Good Hotel Guide is now online at goodhotelguide.com.