Every year The Good Hotel Guide includes a number of exciting finds – new ventures, longer-established places perhaps made over, with a change of ownership, or only recently brought to its notice. Here is its Editor’s choice of best newcomers in 2016. If you know of any hidden gems, let them know.
Newbegin House, Beverley, East Yorkshire
With just three spacious, traditionally furnished guest bedrooms, Walter and Nuala Sweeney are relaxed, attentive hosts at their B&B close to the centre of this historic market town. Their Georgian house is home to extended family and two dogs. Nuala cooks an excellent breakfast. With its Gothic Minster, cobbled streets and town trail, Beverley itself repays a visit. Doubles £80 (01482 888880, newbeginhousebbbeverley.co.uk).
The Seaside Boarding House, Burton Bradstock, Dorset
The name is, of course, ironic. Don’t expect a dragon landlady, burnt toast or petty house rules. Mary-Lou Sturridge and Anthony Mackintosh (both ex of London’s Groucho Club) have transformed a former B&B into a trendy restaurant-with-rooms. The eight bedrooms are chic and uncluttered. The kitchen makes use of local, seasonal ingredients. Enjoy cocktails on the terrace overlooking Lyme Bay or take crab sandwiches down to Chesil Beach. Doubles £180-£200, à la carte £35 (01308 897 205, theseasideboardinghouse.com).
Eckington Manor, Eckington, Worcestershire
Fans of Masterchef have probably glimpsed this timber-frame farmhouse, converted milking parlour and cider mill, from which Judy Gardner has created a 17-room hotel. Here chefs Mark Stinchcombe and Sue Ellis display the skill and invention that won Mark the 2015 Professionals title. Say, roast duck, salt-baked parsnip and puree, savoy cabbage; poached rhubarb, ginger mousse, vanilla parfait. Meat is from the farm’s pedigree herds; produce local. A cookery school teaches the story of food “from garden fork to dinner fork”. Dig in! Doubles £129-£229. Dinner £42 (01386 751600, eckingtonmanor.co.uk).
The Carpenters Arms, Felixkirk, North Yorkshire
This lively village pub-with-rooms is part of the Provenance Inns group. There are open fires in the bar and the restaurant overlooks the Vale of Mowbray, where the menu takes in local venison, chargrilled steaks and brasserie fare. There are 10 rooms in house; eight more, large and comfortably furnished, surround the landscaped garden. Doubles £120,-£185, à la carte £28 (01845 537369, thecarpentersarmsfelixkirk.com).
Old Downton Lodge, Ludlow, Shropshire
Lovely farm buildings, from medieval to Georgian, have been brought together by Pippa and Willem Volk as a restaurant-with-rooms amid the blue remembered hills of Shropshire. The dining room and 10 bedrooms surround parterres. The look is one of rustic charm, with exposed stone and beams. The bar lounge has been created from the stables with seating from the timber stalls. Karl Martin cooks tasting menus of five or seven courses, elegantly simple, so the local ingredients shine. Doubles from £125. Dinner £40-£50 (01568 771826, olddowntonlodge.com).
The Barn at Roundhurst, Lurgashall, West Sussex
A 17th-century threshing barn is the heart and soul of this guest complex on an organic farm within the South Downs National Park. The six bedrooms are chic with fun, individual touches. Many ingredients come from the farm: home-reared beef, maybe, with wild mushroom, spinach, onion puree, pommes Anna. Friendly owners Moya and Richard Connell can provide picnics if you want to ramble. Doubles £120-£200. Set dinner £40 (01428 642535, thebarnatroundhurst.com).
Sands Hotel, Margate, Kent
Since Turner Contemporary opened in 2011, the one-time home of kiss-me-quick hats and whelk stalls has been reinventing itself as a fashionable destination, where this smart new seafront hotel sits happily. The restored Victorian building has 20 guest bedrooms with muted décor, many with sea views. Ryan Tasker’s modern cooking, served in the glass-fronted Bay restaurant, exploits Kentish produce and the sea. Doubles £120-£200, lunch £11-£18, à la carte £35 (01843 228228, sandshotelmargate.co.uk).
St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland
The derelict administrative wing of a former asylum-turned-hospital has been resuscitated by hotelier Peter Candler as an inn and B&B. Behind a modern glass porch and bar lies a typical pub with wood-burning stove. The 11 bedrooms tend to the lofty and are traditionally furnished. Food is a mix of pub grub and modern British, for example, a sandwich of ham hock and pease pudding stottie, autumn veg and lentil curry, fish and chips … Doubles from £160, à la carte £25 (01670 293293, stmarysinn.co.uk).
Knockendarroch House, Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross
This Victorian mansion is run as a friendly small hotel by Struan and Louise Lothian, who bought it in 2014 and have renovated throughout. The 12 bedrooms have restful décor, some with balconies, with views of hills and mountains. Pitlochry’s Festival Theatre was born in a marquee in the garden – and hotel and theatre maintain close ties. Chef Graeme Stewart cooks modern dishes based on such local ingredients as Highland grouse and Perthshire lamb. Doubles £170-£195, dinner £42 (01796 473473, knockendarroch.co.uk).
The Bridge Inn at Ratho, Ratho, Midlothian
The bridge spans the Union Canal in this village close to Edinburgh. The inn is Graham and Rachel Bucknall’s characterful pub-with-rooms. The four unfussy bedrooms have views of countryside and canal. Ben Watson’s cooking is modern Scottish, served in the light and airy bistro – Perthshire venison, Loch Duart salmon, Scrabster haddock with chips. Doubles £80-£120, à la carte £27 (0131 333 1320, bridgeinn.com).
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