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VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2017: winners

This year's VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2017, hosted by Sue Perkins, took place at the Hilton Waldorf in London where the top honours were awarded to the businesses that have demonstrated exceptional customer service, and given their visitors an unforgettable English holiday experience.

Congratulations to all our winners!

Afternoon Tea of the Year

Countess of York at the National Railway Museum

Winner

Countess of York at the National Railway Museum, York, Yorkshire

The Countess of York, a beautifully restored 1956 Pullman-style carriage converted into an Edwardian-style dining car, has gained a reputation as one of the finest destinations for afternoon tea in York, with chefs who create menus that are full of flavour using locally-sourced produce. 

Finalists

The Chester Grosvenor, Chester, Cheshire

Since opening its doors in 1865, The Chester Grosvenor continues to be an icon of understated style, glamour and elegance. Escape to one of the individually designed bedrooms with a timeless décor. The Chester Grosvenor overlooks the famous Eastgate Clock, just minutes away from the UK’s number one zoo. 

The Grand Brighton, Brighton, East Sussex

Standing centre stage on Brighton’s famous seafront, this luxury 201 bedroom Victorian hotel was designed and built in 1864. Featuring a luxury day spa and award-winning GB1 seafood restaurant, the hotel is also a unique venue for meetings and conferences boasting gold accreditation from the MIA.

Bed & Breakfast of the Year

St. Cuthbert's House

Winner 

St. Cuthbert's House, Seahouses, Northumberland

St. Cuthbert’s House is a beautifully restored former Presbyterian Chapel dating from 1810, situated on the stunning Northumberland coast. Owners Jeff & Jill Sutheran have created six beautifully-appointed guest bedrooms incorporating many original features into the restoration, including the old pulpit and communion table and original wooden flooring. 

Finalists

Dorset House B&B, Lyme Regis, Dorset

Dorset House is a contemporary B&B with five rooms in a beautiful Regency Grade II listed building overlooking the sea. The focus is on informal luxury – ensuring that guests truly relax for the duration of their stay with a personal welcome, thoughtful touches and a lovely snug and honesty bar. 

Grassfield Hall, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire

Restored it to its former glory over a four-year period, this Georgian house opened as a luxurious bed and breakfast in 2014. Every aspect of the interior is a reflection of the outside grandeur, high quality furniture and fittings, carefully designed stylish bedrooms, with beautiful handpicked decor. 

Boutique/Guest Accommodation of the Year

The Glazebrook House Hotel

Winner 

The Glazebrook House Hotel, South Brent, Devon

Set in beautiful, secluded grounds, the Glazebrook House Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel and restaurant, with nine unique rooms and a surprise around every corner. The Glazebrook House Hotel has created an enchanting atmosphere with stunning British revival décor, sumptuous handmade furnishings and beguiling vintage and retro curios. 

Finalists

Daisybank Cottage Boutique Bed & Breakfast, The New Forest, Hampshire

Daisybank Cottage is a unique, secret hideaway in the heart of the New Forest National Park, which offers a mix of warm, contemporary style and laid-back luxury. Relax in a spoiling luxurious bedroom or the shepherd’s hut in the garden. 

Grassington House, Grassington, North Yorkshire

Nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Grassington House presides over the main square and is a welcoming location in which to escape, either spending a few hours enjoying a meal in the highly praised restaurant, or slipping away for the night to sleep in one of the nine individually styled rooms. 

Business Tourism Award

Warwick Conferences

Winner

Warwick Conferences, Warwick, Warwickshire

Warwick Conferences is based on the University of Warwick campus offering over 300 flexible meeting spaces across five top-quality venues - The Slate, Scarman, Radcliffe, Arden and Conference Park. Facilities provide a focussed learning environment free of any distractions and are equipped with everything necessary for a successful conference, meeting or training event. 

Finalists

Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa, Darlington, Durham

Rockliffe Hall is a 5 AA red-star hotel, golf and spa resort located in picturesque County Durham. The resort offers 61 luxurious bedrooms, a multi award-winning spa, an 18 hole Championship golf course, three unique restaurants and ten meeting/event rooms catering for up to 250 guests. 

The Crystal, London, Greater London

The Crystal is the most sustainable events and conference venue in London. The dynamic and innovative landmark building is home to 17 state-of-the-art and technologically advanced event spaces that can cater for product launches, fi ne dining receptions, corporate events and more. 

Dog Friendly Business of the Year

Letheringham Water Mill Cottages

Winner 

Letheringham Water Mill Cottages, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Nestling in the heart of beautiful rural Suffolk, close to the Heritage Suffolk Coast, this is the ideal place to relax with two and four legged friends. Four magical places to stay - three riverside decked cottages and The Mill House - all set beside the River Deben in seven acres of trees and greenery at this historic Grade II Water Mill. 

Finalists

The Lamppost Café, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

The Lamppost Cafe serves both hound and human, and is truly unique place where wet dogs and muddy wellies are wholeheartedly welcome! Hounds can enjoy a menu of handmade pupcakes, doggy ice cream and dog beer. 

The Oakley Court, Windsor, Berkshire

The Oakley Court is a stunning Gothic Victorian Mansion set amidst 33 acres of beautiful landscaped grounds on the banks of the River Thames in Windsor. This independent, quirky hotel with an iconic past has been the setting for over 200 films including most famously The Rocky Horror Picture Show. 

Family Friendly Accommodation of the Year

Bosinver Farm Cottages

Winner

Bosinver Farm Cottages, St Austell, Cornwall

Bosinver Farm Cottages’ 20 detached luxurious cottages are set in 30 acres of Cornish wildflower meadows and are stylishly furnished and equipped with everything needed for carefree family holidays. Parents and children alike love the fun and funky interiors and facilities such as the indoor pool, playbarn, games room, outdoor play areas, animal feeding and pony rides, all included at no extra cost. 

Finalists

Darwin Forest Country Park, Matlock, Derbyshire

Darwin Forest Country Park is a 5 star lodge holiday park located on the edge of the glorious Peak District National Park. The family owned park has 112 luxury lodges that sleep between two and eight people. It has a vast array of family-friendly facilities including a swimming pool, play centre and restaurant. 

Mill Farm Eco Barn, Winterton-on-sea, Norfolk

Stay, play and explore on the Norfolk Coast and Broads in these beautiful holiday barns. The philosophy is to provide family-friendly, luxurious, eco holidays. Children collect eggs from free range hens, groom and feed ponies and collect fresh veg from Grandad Terry’s allotment.

The Olde House - Farm Cottages, Wadebridge, Cornwall

The Olde House offers 28 self-catering holiday cottages on a 500 acre working farm in Cornwall. During the school holidays, the Hawkey Family run free activities, including pond dipping, woodland fun, falconry, archery, farm rides and communal barbecues. 

Family Friendly Attraction of the Year

Thames Rockets

Winner 

Thames Rockets, Southbank, London

Thames Rockets have been powering the London sightseeing industry forwards ever since its conception in 2006. Offering a terrific twist on traditional cruises, Thames Rockets provide a truly personal experience on-board their 12 seater speedboats.

Finalists

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, Beamish, County Durham

Beamish is an amazing attraction like no other, where visitors take an unforgettable trip back in time, experiencing unforgettable sights, sounds and tastes, as the past comes to life. Set in 350-acres of beautiful countryside, people can ride on a tram and steam engine, taste food from a coal-fired range, take a spin on a fairground ride, write on a schoolroom slate, knead bakery dough and join a Home Guard drill.

Gallery Oldham, Oldham, Greater Manchester

Gallery Oldham provides a welcoming environment where visitors can explore, relax, learn and have fun. The Gallery provides a wide range of exhibitions and activities for audiences of all ages. It features artworks and items from Oldham’s diverse collections, alongside commissioned art, international work, touring exhibitions and work produced with local communities.

Family Friendly Food & Drink Business of the Year

Chester Zoo

Winner

Chester Zoo, Chester, Cheshire

Chester Zoo is home to 15,000 exotic and endangered animals, based in 125 acres of beautiful, award-winning gardens. But it is not just a zoo. It comprises a team of talented, expert staff dedicated to providing the highest standards of care for the animals, as well as discovering new conservation initiatives and giving the 1.9 million visitors an inspirational day out. 

Finalist

The Rainforest Cafe, London, Greater London

The Rainforest Cafe, London’s largest family restaurant, is a tropical hideaway in the heart of the West End. Themed as an exotic jungle that recreates the sights and sounds of the rainforest, the restaurant is also home to a cast of astounding, lifelike, animated inhabitants including chattering gorillas, menacing jaguar and trumpeting elephants. 

Glamping Provider of the Year

The Dandelion Hideaway

Winner 

The Dandelion Hideaway, Market Bosworth, Leicestershire

For family holidays and romantic escapes, The Dandelion Hideaway’s hamlet of gorgeous canvas cottages melt into 200 acres of beautiful, rolling Leicestershire countryside. The Hideaway provides a delightful experience combining the luxury of truly sumptuous glamping with the promise of idyllic rural days, at the same time peeping into farm-life. 

Finalists

Longlands, Combe Martin, North Devon

Longlands’ five luxurious Safari lodges nestle into the hillside of a secluded valley, overlooking the North Devon Coast. The 17 acres of breath-taking countryside, with ancient woods, boating lake and streams, lie in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the western border of Exmoor National Park. 

Secret Meadows, Nr Woodbridge, Suffolk

Tucked away on a 115 acre County Wildlife site, Secret Meadows takes glamping to new heights. Luxurious safari tents, Gypsy’s Rest and The Hobbit Box sit in individual woodland glades overlooking wildflower meadows. Guests can explore nature trails and choose from packages such as luxury food hampers, wood-fired hot tub, hen coop hire, wildlife sponsorships and bushcraft workshops. 

GREAT China Welcome of Year

Blenheim Palace

Winner 

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace is the home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. This World Heritage Site boasts over 300 years of history and more than 2000 acres of Parkland and Formal Gardens. Blenheim Palace is a living, changing experience with a wealth of events, themed tours and exhibitions throughout the year, and welcomes millions of visitors from the UK and overseas.

Finalists

Beiwei 55o Travel - Native British Mandarin-speaking Guides, London and Newcastle

This UK tour operator provides tours to Chinese tourists that are run and guided by native British Mandarin-speaking guides, and cater specifically for Chinese visitors to the UK. They offer the best of both worlds to Chinese visitors - local knowledge and British insight in their own language with enjoyable, comfortable travel. 

Lake District China Forum, Windermere, Cumbria

Lake District China Forum was formed in March 2015 when Windermere Lake Cruises and English Lake Hotels Resorts & Venues initially met to see how they could work together to enhance the exposure of the Lake District to Chinese visitors. 

The Lowry Hotel , Salford, Greater Manchester

The Lowry Hotel is a 5 star contemporary hotel on the banks of the River Irwell. Offering 165 bedrooms, six suites and the Charles Forte Presidential suite with floor-to-ceiling windows our bedrooms are the largest in the city.

Guided Tour of the Year

Shiverpool

Winner

Shiverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside

Shiverpool was the first theatrically-led city tour in Liverpool. The experience explores the city's most stunning locations and landmarks, revealing their hidden histories. Shiverpool introduces creepy historical findings in a series of stunning street theatre performances presented by SpiritGuides who aim to chill, thrill and entertain. 

Finalists

Robin Hood Town Tour, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

The Robin Hood Town Tour is the definitive way to explore Nottingham’s key sites of interest, understand its history and learn about the evolution of the legend of Robin Hood. The best local eateries, heritage pubs and quirky shopping areas are pointed out, even caves are explored, in a one-stop-shop for all things Nottingham. 

Vintage Adventure Tours, Peak District National Park

Vintage Adventure Tours provides unique vintage car tours within the Peak District National Park. Although the landscape is the star, there is no better way to see and discover it than in an open-topped vintage tourer with the wind in your hair looking over the dry stone walls.

Holiday Park/Holiday Village of the Year

Trethem Mill Touring Park

Winner 

Trethem Mill Touring Park, St Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall

Trethem Mill is a 5 star Gold multi-award winning touring park nestling in a valley on the Roseland Peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are 84 individually hedged pitches that are suitable for caravans, motorhomes and tents. 

Finalists

Park Cliffe Holiday Park, Windermere, Cumbria

Park Cliffe Holiday Park is ideally located just three miles from Bowness-on-Windermere and offers a peaceful, tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Park is in a world of its own, with stunning views over Lake Windermere and to the fells and mountains beyond, and is a haven for wildlife such as squirrels, foxes and roe and red deer.

Poston Mill Park, Peterchurch, Herefordshire

Poston Mill is a place where you can relax in exceptional comfort. Escape to your very own country retreat, which is dog-friendly, explore meandering paths that lead to stunning views or hop on a bus at the entrance and explore nearby villages and towns.

Hotel of the Year

Northcote

Winner 

Northcote, Langho, Lancashire

An award-winning small luxury hotel with Michelin star restaurant that strives to deliver outstanding food, wine and service to all guests and offer a warm welcome with genuine hospitality. It is best known for outstanding dishes produced by Chef Patron Nigel and Executive Head Chef Lisa Allen in a restaurant that has retained its Michelin star since 1996. 

Finalists

The Manor House, an Exclusive Hotel & Golf Club, Castle Combe, Wiltshire

The Manor House Hotel is a 14th century Jacobean manor house located in Castle Combe on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, near Bath. The hotel dates back to the 14th century and still boasts many original features, including wattle and daub walls, original beams and panelling in the front hall dating back to the 17th century. 

The Pheasant Hotel, Harome, Nr Helmsley, York

The Manor House Hotel is a 14th century Jacobean manor house located in Castle Combe on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, near Bath. The hotel dates back to the 14th century and still boasts many original features, including wattle and daub walls, original beams and panelling in the front hall dating back to the 17th century. 

Inclusive Tourism Award

Eden Project

Winner 

Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall

The Eden Project connects visitors with each other and the living world. Here, massive covered Biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity and the sights, scents and tastes of the Mediterranean serve as a backdrop to the striking contemporary outdoor gardens. Art installations, summer concerts, exhibitions and stories provide an exciting programme of year-round family events.

Finalists

The Deep, Hull, East Yorkshire

The Deep is a spectacular aquarium, which tells the story of the world’s oceans through a mix of stunning marine life, interactive stations and audio presentations. It is home to over 3,500 fish, including the UK’s only green sawfish, spectacular sharks and rays, a colony of Gentoo penguins and Loggerhead sea turtles. 

Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The museum houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance. 

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year

Waddesdon Manor

Winner 

Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon Manor was built at the end of the 19th century by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his outstanding collection of art treasures and to entertain the fashionable world. Today Waddesdon offers something for everyone all year round for art lovers to families, gardeners to gourmets.

Finalists

Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth, Hampshire

The new Mary Rose Museum was opened in 2013 and displays the ship alongside her treasures. It tells the story of over 500 men who lived and worked on board the Mary Rose and allows visitors to step into the showcase with the ship herself. 

The Roman Baths & Pump Room, Bath, Bath & North East Somerset

Set in the natural heart of Bath, the Roman Baths were built nearly 2,000 years ago around Britain's only hot springs. Subsequent developments in the Middle Ages and Georgian period have added to the historical complexity and interest of this unique site. 

Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year

Blakelow Farm Holiday Cottages

Winner

Blakelow Farm Holiday Cottages, Winster, Derbyshire

Resting high above the valley with spectacular views to Chatsworth House and beyond, the four cottages offer 5 star Gold characterful accommodation, set in 8 acres of gardens and meadows just outside the pretty conservation village of Winster. 

Finalists

Smallshaw Cottages & Spa, Millhouse Green, South Yorkshire

Smallshaw Farm Cottages and Spa is a beautiful revitalising rural retreat featuring luxury self-catering accommodation and an indulgent on-site spa. Family run and situated in a picturesque countryside location, Smallshaw boasts breath-taking Peak District views offering couples, families and groups the ultimate relaxing get-away. 

Waternook Lakeside Accommodation, Ullswater, The Lake District

5 star opulence on Ullswater, Waternook Lakeside Accommodation is quite simply outstanding and luxurious in every way. This magnificent private estate occupies a sublime, secluded setting within 26 acres of private grounds boasting boathouse and jetty, and simply breath-taking views of lake and mountain.

Self Catering Property of the Year

Cottage in the Dales - The Byre

Winner

Cottage in the Dales - The Byre, Nr Leyburn, North Yorkshire

Nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, 'The Byre' is the epitome of the English hideaway. From the exclusive 'Cottage in the Dales' collection, guests will be treated to the 'Distinctly Dales' experience, whether coming for the first time or the tenth. 

Finalists

Lendal Tower, York, North Yorkshire

Lendal Tower is a 700 year old, Grade 1 Listed Ancient Scheduled Monument located in the heart of York that has been transformed into luxurious holiday accommodation. The aim was to fuse the old with the new, by retaining the character and heritage of the property but at the same time giving guests unparalleled levels of comfort. 

The Chestnuts, Shilton, Nr Burford - The Cotswolds

The Chestnuts is a luxury holiday cottage in The Cotswolds. Situated in the heart of a small rural village, it has all the charm of a character property with all the comfort and conveniences of modern life. 

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year

Monkey Haven

Winner

Monkey Haven, Newport, Isle of Wight

Monkey Haven is a primate rescue centre that is now home to monkeys, birds of prey, meerkats and other exotic creatures. There are keeper talks, trails, play areas, a café and gift shop to keep the whole family entertained during their visit.

Finalists

Burton Constable Hall & Grounds, Hull, East Yorkshire

Burton Constable Hall is an Elizabethan gem nestling in the heart of East Yorkshire, surrounded by 330 acres of stunning ‘Capability Brown’ landscaped parkland. Burton Constable has been the home of the Constable Family for over 700 years, and offers a unique and exceptional day out for all the family whilst maintaining its atmosphere of calm and gentle peacefulness.

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth, Dorset

The Russell-Cotes is a dramatic and flamboyant seaside Victorian villa, comprising a historic house, art gallery, museum, garden, café and gift shop. It sits on Bournemouth’s stunning clifftop overlooking the sea.

Sustainable Tourism Award

Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant

Winner

Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant, Wark, Northumberland

Multi award-winning Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant is renowned for its superb food, welcoming hospitality and outstanding ‘green’ credentials. Originally built as a farmstead in 1747, the stone-built pub, hotel and restaurant features a cosy open fire, sunny walled beer garden and conservatory. 

Finalists

FSC Blencathra Centre, Keswick, Cumbria

Blencathra Centre is part of Field Studies Council, an environmental education charity providing outdoor learning opportunities for all ages. It is a unique experience, enriched through an awareness of the special relationship between people and the environment.

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, Devon

The National Marine Aquarium is a conservation education charity connecting people with our oceans. The aquarium is home to the most species of sharks and rays, the largest native collection and the largest single viewing panel in the UK. 

Taste of England Award

The Art School Restaurant

Winner

The Art School Restaurant, Liverpool, Merseyside

The Art School is a fine-dining restaurant situated in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter. Critically acclaimed, it offers a range of pescetarian, vegetarian and vegan menus alongside its pre-theatre, excellence and tasting menus. 

Finalists

The Coach House by Michael Caines, Kentisbury Grange, Barnstaple, Devon

The Coach House by Michael Caines is a stylish fine dining restaurant set in the grounds of stunning Victorian manor house Kentisbury Grange Hotel. The restaurant is in partnership with Michelin-starred Devonian chef, Michael Caines MBE and celebrates the best of Devon produce. 

The Scarlet Restaurant, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall

This seaside escape has 37 rooms which all have their own outdoor space, stylish interior and an innovative Ayurvedic spa. Headed up by Tom Hunter, the restaurant serves sophisticated, robust food that is surprising but never pretentious. 

Tourism Pub of the Year

The Anchor Inn

Winner 

The Anchor Inn, Bridport, Dorset

Nestled beneath the highest point on the South Coast, Golden Cap, The Anchor Inn is just a stone’s throw away from the world famous Jurassic Coast. With three small bar areas and large outside spaces, it makes the most of its coastal location which includes a spectacular cliff terrace from where to view the sunset over Lyme Bay. 

Finalists

The Howard Arms, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

This 400 year-old Cotswold stone pub is set on the edge of the Cotswolds, and only 15 minutes from Stratford, make it a perfect place to be based for sight-seeing, visiting gardens or walking.

The Tankerville Arms, Eglingham, Northumberland

At the very heart of the tranquil Northumbrian village of Eglingham stands The Tankerville Arms. Besides a very warm welcome, this quintessentially English country pub and restaurant offers guests an outstanding selection of traditional food and local ales, as well as a choice of delightful boutique rooms.

Visitor Information Provider of the Year

Gloucester Tourist Information Centre

Winner 

Gloucester Tourist Information Centre, Gloucester, Gloucestershire

Gloucester Tourist Information Centre is located on a busy pedestrianised walking route in the heart of historic Gloucester. Visitors are welcomed by a young dynamic team who have genuine passion for the city of Gloucester. 

Finalists

Oxford Visitor Information Centre, Experience Oxfordshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire

Oxford's aims are to Inspire, Inform and Facilitate: to inspire and inform the visitor about what they can see and do, and to facilitate it by providing the tools to go ahead with their chosen activity. Staff aim to engage with everyone who comes and to meet and exceed their needs individually.

Rugby Visitor Information Centre, Rugby, Warwickshire

Rugby’s unique place in history as the birthplace of the game makes it a destination for rugby fans. Rugby Visitor Information Centre helps them make the most of their visit, including exploring the place where the game began - Rugby School.

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