September 25, 2012
The AA has tonight announced the winners of the prestigious AA Hospitality Awards 2012-13 at a stunning dinner held at the London Hilton, Park Lane. The event, hosted by Kate Silverton, saw the great and good of the country’s hospitality industry come together to celebrate not only the amazing achievements of the individuals and establishments receiving recognition for outstanding excellence in their field, but also 20 years of the iconic AA Restaurant Guide.
The evening opened with a tribute to the AA Restaurant Guide by Heston Blumenthal and Raymond Blanc before the superb gourmet meal created by chef Jason Atherton and the team at the London Hilton Park Lane and entertainment from glamorous string quartet Siren.
The award event also sees the launch of the 2013 AA guides to UK hotels, restaurants, pubs and B&Bs which contain details of all the winning establishments.
The winners of the AA Hospitality Awards 2012-2013 are:
AA Lifetime Achievement Award
This award recognises a lifetime commitment to the pursuit of perfection within their discipline. Along with the highest quality of service and standards, a track record of constant improvement and an unswerving dedication.
Winner – Antonio Carluccio OBE
With a career that has spanned five decades, Antonio Carluccio first came to Britain in 1975 when he took a job as a wine merchant selling Italian wines. He also continued his hobby of searching for mushrooms in the English countryside. In 1981 Carluccio took over the Neal Street restaurant in Covent Garden and a decade later opened his first deli in the adjacent premises. In the meantime, his TV and writing career began to take off and in 1998 the first Carluccio’s Cafe was born in Market Street London. He is best known in this country for his white hair, gentle manner and above all for a lifetime of passion and dedication to food, cooking and the wonderful ingredients and traditions of his beloved Italy.
AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year (sponsored by Caterer.com)
A unique award that offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition.
Winner – Pierre Koffmann
Pierre Koffmann has been cooking up a storm in the culinary world for over four decades. His career has seen him working all over Europe before his love of rugby brought him to England in 1970. On arriving in London he worked for the Roux brothers before opening his now legendary restaurant, La Tante Claire in 1977. Three years ago Pierre came out of retirement and a year later Koffmann’s at The Berkeley opened to critical acclaim. A modest and thoughtful chef who is dedicated to the stove it is not difficult to see why he is so well respected in his field. He is a truly iconic figure in the culinary world and has played a pivotal role in training a number of today’s great chefs including Tom Aikens, Tom Kitchin, Marco Pierre White and Eric Chavot.
AA Hotel of the Year
Introduced in 1992, and awarded to hotels that are recognised as being outstanding examples in their particular market.
Winner, England – Lime Wood, Lyndhurst, Hampshire
This delightful property has a true country house feel. Rooms have been fitted with no expense spared. There are 14 suites and 15 bedrooms many of which have real fires, free standing tubs, private gardens or balconies over-looking the New Forest. Guests can also enjoy the world class spa, with treatment rooms and impressive hydro pool and sauna. Food plays an important part at Limewood with excellent Three Rosette cooking in the dining room, whilst the Scullery offers a more Brasserie style cuisine. This hotel truly sets the scene for the future of country houses; high tech, traditional, unpretentious, yet outstanding at the same time.
Winner, Scotland – The Torridon, Torridon, Highlands
This beautiful hotel, once a grand shooting lodge, enjoys an idyllic location in 58 acres of parklands with stunning views over the magnificent sea loch. This year sees owners Daniel and Rohaise Rose-Bristow, who joined Rohaise’s family business in 1999, celebrate 20 years of family ownership. The building has been lovingly restored to its original splendour and the 19 bedrooms are all spacious and offer the utmost in comfort and luxury. With a three AA Rosette restaurant and award winning Whisky Bar this is truly a special place which encompasses all that is true Scottish hospitality in an elegant and peaceful country house backdrop.
Winner, Wales – Bodysgallen Hotel, Llandudno
The main property at Bodysgallen Hotel is a Grade 1 listed house that dates back to the 17th century with sections dating back as far as the 13th century. The property, which has now been handed to the National Trust, sits in over 200 acres of beautiful parklands and gardens, with spectacular views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle. This well-run hotel in a delightful setting boasts two restaurants, 15 individually designed bedrooms and suits in the main house with a further 16 cottage suites in the grounds as well as the Bodysgallen Spa.
Winner, London (sponsored by AA Business Insurance) – Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane London W1
This iconic hotel, which is Park Lane at its finest, has undergone an impressive refurbishment incorporating renowned artwork and stylish design. Hospitality is the Four Seasons way, with a home from home feel, yet high professionalism from an extremely well drilled team. The 193 bedrooms and suites, a number of which have wonderful views across the park, are chic and appointed to a very high standard with guest comfort and technology in mind. The hotel is home to Amaranto restaurant which provides a novel concept of blending lounge, bar and restaurant and removes the perceived boundaries and exposes the guest to the finest levels of service and experience. As well as a fitness centre, the icing on the cake of this hotel is the glass walled roof-top spa with unrivalled views across London.
AA Restaurant of the Year
While the standard of cuisine is at the very heart of the selection criteria for these awards, innovation, ambience, and hospitality are all part of the equation that determines the eventual winners.
Winner, England – The Church Green British Grill, Lymm, Cheshire
Some four years ago Aiden Byrne purchased an old Cheshire pub located on the side of the Lymm Dam. He opened it as Aiden Byrne at The Church Green and earned three AA Rosettes. After assessing the local market and listening to his customers he decided to change direction slightly and relaunched the operation as The Church Green British Grill with two AA Rosettes. As well as Aiden’s classical signature dishes and an exciting tasting menu, diners can enjoy amazing steaks sourced from small Cheshire farms. There are also some posh, upmarket twists on gastro pub classics such as fish and chips and beer battered Fleetwood scampi. The medium sized wine list offers some great quality and value for money wines, with a good selection of wines by the glass. Staff are friendly and attentive and they attract a lot of repeat diners. This is a popular winner of this sought after award.
Winner, Scotland – Rogano, Glasgow
This iconic restaurant first opened in 1935 and is the oldest surviving restaurant in Glasgow. It was fitted out in Art Deco style as a replica of the great Cunard liner, the ‘Queen Mary’. The restaurant specialises in the finest fish and seafood from Scottish waters. Similarly, classics such as grilled sirloin of beef and roast duck breast also feature alongside some more local classics such as haggis, neeps and tatties. It is not surprising that the wine list is very classical with a heavy French influence. With an Oyster Bar and a Café, this place is extremely busy and is a real institution in Glasgow.
Winner, Wales – Sosban, Llanelli
Located in Llanelli’s North Dock, Sosban Restaurant is situated in a Grade II listed building which was completed in 1900 and once supplied hydraulic power to the docks. The building’s history has been made a feature with the 90 foot original water pump tower creating the entrance which leads into the open plan dining area with very high ceilings and arch windows offering views out to the sea. Staff are friendly and the service is efficient. Their ethos is ‘no pomp or fuss; drink, eat and be merry’ creating a relaxed enjoyable ambience. This restaurant is owned by food journalist Simon Wright, Welsh Rugby Internationals Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel and construction entrepreneur Robert Williams. Food here is reasonably priced with a focus on Welsh quality seasonal produce and clear flavours.
Winner, London (sponsored by Food and Travel)– Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London SW1
Heston’s first London restaurant opened to much acclaim and over 18 months later diners are still flocking there in their droves. This stylish restaurant is housed in Knightbridge’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel and as you would expect from this renowned chef, the operation is innovative both in terms of cuisine and décor. Service, as you would expect, is attentive and friendly but it is the food here that steals the show. Heston and his executive head chef, Ashley Palmer-Watts, have taken inspiration from historic British gastronomy and have created some incredibly gratifying food. They have taken old recipes and have given them a modern, contemporary twist.
AA Pub of the Year
Combining the provision of enjoyable food, a great pub atmosphere, and a warm welcome with a high standard of management
Winner, England – The Black Swan, Ravenstonedale, Cumbria
Located in the conservation village of Ravenstonedale, this delightful village inn is not just a pub, it is a central hub for the community. Family owned and run, there is a relaxed atmosphere here with very friendly service. A good array of local real ales is available along with good honest cooking utilising local seasonal ingredients. The property has been fully refurbished with a grant from one of the Prince of Wales charities “Pub is the Hub” as it is home to the village store selling local produce as well as essentials for the community.
Winner, Scotland – West Brewery, Glasgow
Set in the imposing Victorian ex-Templeton Carpet Factory building on Glasgow Green, West Brewery is the only brewery in the UK to follow the German purity brewing laws of Reinheitsgebot. Using traditional laws and cutting edge technology, the brewery has created a range of beers that are becoming increasingly popular. Food is also served with a German and European theme in the large beer hall where staff are friendly and helpful offering tours for those looking to learn more.
Winner, Wales – The Inn at Penallt, Monmouth
Located in the peaceful village of Penallt on the edge of the Wye Valley, this rural inn was bought by Andrew and Jackie Murphy almost three years ago. They have spent some time restoring and renovating this property to create the traditional pub and restaurant they dreamed of running. Hospitality is second to none and real ales and traditional draught beers are served, plus a good selection of bottled beers and ciders. The cuisine is so good that dinners will drive here to taste their quality food. This is a popular, friendly, well deserving winner for Welsh Pub of the Year.
AA Small Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by beacon)
Winner – Cotswold Inns and Hotels
Cotswold Inns and Hotels comprise of seven hotels located in the beautiful Cotswolds. Privately owned, the individual style of the hotels is modelled on the quintessential English country home, relaxing, friendly and enchanting with award winning food and wine. The Cotswold Inns and Hotels collection encapsulates everything that is so loved about the Cotswolds, all underpinned by a rich tapestry of history.
AA Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by D-ENERGi)
Winner – Hand Picked Hotels
In 2011 Hand Picked Hotels celebrated its 10th Anniversary. The portfolio of 17 properties boasts a unique collection of architecturally stunning and exquisitely refurbished country house hotels set in beautifully maintained grounds, offering the highest standards of cuisine and service, making each guest’s stay a memorable one.
AA Wine Award
The annual AA wine award, sponsored again by T&W Wines, attracted a huge response from our AA recognised restaurants with over 1,000 wine lists submitted for judging. The overall winner also receives a weekend at the wonderful Willi Opitz’s vineyard near the Austrian/Hungarian border.
Winner – England and Overall Winner – L’Etranger, London
L’Etranger has a remarkable wine list with superb listings. It proved to be an exciting list that judges found difficult putting down. The depth of vintages is outstanding and their pricing policy, with a guarantee to lower the list price further if a lower price for a particular wine in London is found, is highly commendable. This worthy winner has a top draw, serious wine list.
Winner – Scotland – Castle Terrace Restaurant, Edinburgh
At Castle Terrace Restaurant you will find an impressive, well chosen list that is extremely well laid out and presented. There is an interesting selection of wines by the glass and it is nice to see a page of half bottles too. The good diversity of selections are both balanced and quality driven.
Winner – Wales – The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Wales
The well chosen list at The Felin Fach Griffin is beautifully laid out. Quality choices are offered both by the glass and carafe as well as a good list of sherries. Good pricing and a clear commitment from all the team in promoting and understanding wine makes the Felin Fach a worthy winner.
AA Eco Hotel and Eco Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by British Gas Business)
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.
Winner – Eco Hotel – The Green House, Bournemouth
In addition to the standard eco steps such as energy saving lightbulbs and recycling, The Green House in Bournemouth has spent the past four years instigating over 100 eco initiatives to make sure that guest are spoilt without spoiling anything else. From locally sourced produced including carpets and furniture, which is made from storm or tree surgeon felled timber, to on-site generation of electricity, eco paint and wallpaper and even a company car that runs on used cooking oil from the kitchen, the team at The Green House really do go that extra mile for their guests and the environment.
Winner – Eco Hotel Group – Macdonald Hotels and Resorts
With hotels located across the country, Macdonald Hotels and Resorts believe it has a responsibility to minimise its impact on the local and wider environment. Its extensive environmental and sustainability policies guide how they do this and, starting five years ago, these policies saw a reduction in carbon output by 2000 tons in the first year. The company continues to focus on areas where it can continue to make progress such as minimising waste and promoting recycling as well as the introduction of the Room 15 initiative which has indentified 15 areas where its commitment to the environment can be significantly enhanced by 2015.
New Multi Rosette Restaurants
Five AA Rosettes
- Hibiscus – London
Four AA Rosettes
- The Pass Restaurant @ South Lodge Hotel – Lower Beeding
- Casamia – Bristol
- Pollen Street Social – London
- 7 Park Place by William Drabble – London
Three AA Rosettes
- Orwells, Henley on Thames
- Roger Hickman’s Restaurant, Norwich
- Stoke Place, Stoke Poges
- Rib Room @ Jumeirah Carlton Towers, London
- Wolfgang Puck@ 45 Park Lane, London
- Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
- Cringletie House, Peebles
- Alyn Williams @ The Westbury, London
- The Dining Room @ Hilbark, Frankby
- Thirty Six by Nigel Mendham @ Dukes Hotel, London
- One Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow
- Gordon’s, Inverkelor
- The Old Inn, Drewsteignton
- The James Miller Room @ Turnberry
- Hipping Hall, Kirby Lonsdale
- Rocca Bar & Grill @ Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, St Andrews
- Mount Juliet, ROI
- The Longridge Restaurant, Longridge
- Airds, Port Apin
- Isle of Eriska, Eriska
- Plas Ynyshir Hall Hotel
New Red Star Hotels
Five AA Red Stars
- 45 Park Lane, London
- Dukes London, London
Four AA Red Stars
- Cotswolds88, Gloucestershire
- Macdonald Windsor, Berkshire
Three AA Red Stars
- Lower Slaughter Manor, Gloucestershire
The Samling, Cumbria