Dirty UK hotels better shape up

Dirty rooms, petty rules and hostility towards children are just some of the problems UK hotels need to address if they are to win back visitors after the effects of foot-and-mouth and 11 September, says the Which? Hotel Guide 2003. Many hotels still need to improve their standards, says the guide, published today.

Compensation from the government to hotels affected by foot-and-mouth has largely been used for marketing rather than refurbishing, it adds. The guide's inspector in the Lake District said most hotels had spent their grants on producing new brochures, adding: "I would have preferred to see a few more upgrading their bathrooms instead."

Other inspectors found wildly varying standards of housekeeping among establishments that failed to make it into the guide. One reported "astonishingly dirty rooms - a forensic scientist's delight" in a chain hotel. At another property "the ceiling was festooned with cobwebs and...the room had a lingering smell of stale cooking."

The attitude of some hoteliers towards their guests was a further problem. Petty rules and rigid meal times continued to infuriate customers and inspectors alike. And many hotels still refused to accept children. "This ought to be illegal - certainly no hotelier in the US would dream of it," wrote one reader.

Patricia Yates, co-editor of the guide, said: "Most UK hotels need to raise their game if they are going to survive in today's difficult circumstances. "If you pay for accommodation, you expect at least a clean, comfortable room and personal service - hoteliers need to look at the quality of what they offer." Which? also chose its hotels of the year, which are given a special mention for all-round excellence. They were:
Tranquil treasures
Dale Head Hall, Keswick
Lydgate House, Postbridge
Buckland Manor, Buckland
Brilliant B&Bs
Rowanfield, Ambleside
The Pend, Dunkeld
Isbourne Manor House, Winchcombe
Oak Tree Farm, Hopwas
Fossil House and Cottage, Strathkinness
Notable newcomers
Tanglewood House, Ullapool
The Talkhouse, Pontdolgoch
Museum Inn, Farnham
Quirky character
Hodgkinson's, Matlock Bath
Old Windmill, Bradford-on-Avon
Old Railway Station, Petworth
Ravishing restaurants-with-rooms
Little Barwick House, Barwick
Darroch Learg, Ballater
Coastal corkers
Henley Hotel, Bigbury-on-Sea
Seaview Hotel, Seaview
Trefeddian Hotel, Aberdovey
Glorious gastropubs
Clytha Arms, Clytha
Felin Fach Griffin, Felinfach
Bell Inn and Hill House, Horndon on the Hill
Rural knockouts
East Peterel Field Farm, Hexham
Old Rectory, Cricket Malherbie
Edenwater House, Ednam
Sterling service
Borrowdale Gates Hotel, Grange-in-Borrowdale
Penmaenuchaf Hall, Penmaenpool
Stylish chic
Percy's Country Hotel and Restaurant, Virginstow
Quebecs, Leeds