Yorkshire’s most recent Michelin-starred restaurant, the Angel Inn, at Hetton, has scooped “an Oscar” of the hotel industry.
Judges from the 2021 Good Hotel Guide, which is out today, awarded the hostelry, owned by chef Michael Wignall and wife Johanna, with its “magnificent food” and “sublime views” a Cesar Award for Inn of the Year.
The Guide, which describes the Angel as a place to enjoy local ales as well as a first-rate dining experience and a luxurious night’s sleep awards 10 Cesars - named after the hotelier Cesar Ritz - a year for consistent excellence.
Mrs Wignall said: “It is lovely to be recognised and for the guys to have all that hard work pay off and have that recognition, especially with everything that is going on.
“For the guys in the kitchen and front-of-house it is difficult - they are wearing facemasks and all they want to do is give service and the welcome they always have.
"It is difficult when you are mindful that you don’t want to get too close or hover around that much and you are wearing a mask and people don’t understand what you are saying.
“But they have been doing an amazing job and we are getting lovely feedback.”
The business made the most of being shut down by getting on with a major refurbishment. And since reopening they have had two record months.
Mrs Wignall said: “I think a lot of businesses are experiencing the same thing - people want to get out of the cities and towns and enjoy the countryside.
“So many people have said: ‘We never thought of going to the Yorkshire Dales, we always go to Majorca.’
“I genuinely do think people will continue to come, especially as I can’t see international travel opening up too much over the next few months.”
The trademark Virginia creeper has gone as have a couple of walls and the heavy drapes. The floors are now polished concrete, it is light and airy, but “still feels cosy” says Mrs Wignall.
Co-edited by Adam and Caroline Raphael, with former travel editor and former assistant travel editor of The Times, Jane Knight and Kate Quill, the Guide features 750 hotels, inns, B&Bs and guesthouses, with over 400 main entries,37 of which are new, and a shortlist section with 51 new entries.
Mr Raphael said: “Hospitality is one of the largest employers in the country, with nearly three million working in it full time or part time.
“As the pandemic has continued, the thousands of small hotels, B&Bs and inns on which we all depend are facing the toughest of challenges.
“They don’t have capital, they don’t have reserves; all they have is their willingness to work their butt off and their determination to succeed.”
Country and seaside hotels have been doing better than city-centre locations which are a “disaster area” says Mr Raphael.
Sales have plummeted 87 per cent in the second quarter, equivalent to nearly £30bn in lost revenue.
Some chain hotels are passing on the cut in VAT - lowered to five per cent in July - to guests.
But most of the Guide’s independents cannot afford to do so. “They need every penny if they are to survive”, he said.