The big news from the Boutique Hotel Awards 2012 is that the world’s culinary capital is closer than you might expect.
Amid 30 hoteliers from Fiji to Tanzania, the Best Dining Award went to The Samling (pictured above), an 11 room retreat overlooking Lake Windermere.
That’s the place to find Ian Swainson, one of the most exciting young chefs in the UK after roles at Michelin-starred L’Ortolan and La Becasse, who the judges said ‘encapsulates dining hospitality’.
The award winning Samling dining room
In reference to his signature dish sloe gin crème brulee, they announced, ‘The food is perfectly executed with spectacular and well-thought-out flavours. The element of theatre further enlivens the preparation and presentation, making The Samling a truly exciting place to stay and eat.’
Elsewhere at the Hempel Hotel hosted ceremony, awards were presented by Miss Denmark to Hansar Samui in Thailand for Best Beach Boutique, Casa Colombo in Sri Lanka for Best Design Boutique and Borgo Santo Pietro in Italy for Best Overall Boutique.
The Borgo Santo Pietro in Italy won Best Overall Boutique
‘We looked for hotels that allow guests to connect with their location, people and culture,’ said Edward Gabbai, the director. ‘We looked for partnerships with innovative architects and designers that produce properties of architectural merit. We looked for renowned restaurants that provide exclusivity. And above all, we looked for the undeniably unique.’
‘This year,’ he continued, ‘the awards considered nominations from 300 of the world’s finest small hotels. The judges, led by deputy chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, Richard Hytner, included architects, former hotel managers, culinary experts and journalists who drew upon their own considerable expertise, and our unique scoring system, to pick the winners.’
A popular event with 80 people to dinner, conversation was dominated by the fact that boutiques are surviving the luxury market downturn better than grand hotels. Based on the quality of the entrants, that’ll come as no surprise, proving once again that biggest isn’t always best.
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