1. Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey
There are fewer than 10 British hotels whose chefs have been awarded two Michelin stars, and outside London, that figure shrinks still further. Michael Wignall spent five years at North Yorkshire’s much-loved Devonshire Arms, where he held one star, before moving to Pennyhill Park in 2007. Last year, Pennyhill’s restaurant, Michael Wignall at The Latymer, was awarded a second star for his complex modern European cooking which is always a work of art. There is a 10-course tasting menu (vegetarian or carnivorous) and seven- or three-course set menus.
• 01276 471774, pennyhillpark.co.uk. Doubles from £215 room-only. Seven-course set menu £72
2. Cleveland Tontine, Staddlebridge, North Yorkshire
Regulars at this seven-room hotel, built in 1804, are returning after completion of a refurbishment which almost topped the £1m mark. The Staddlebridge location, close to the A19, places it on the radar between Teesside and York, handy for events at Mount Grace Priory and for the villages of Yarm and Hutton Rudby. This is Yorkshire, so you won’t need a magnifying glass to see your assiette of heritage beetroot with horseradish ice-cream. Classics (prawn cocktail, moules, steak) co-habit with the likes of chilli and fennel risotto, and duck-egg custard tart with blackberries.
• 01609 882 671, theclevelandtontine.co.uk. Doubles from £110 B&B. Three-course dinner about £36 a head
3. Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway
On a gloriously remote cove hugged by woodland in John Buchan country, on Scotland’s rocky south-west coast, this 10-bedroom, trad, privately owned hotel is also easily accessible. Vegetables come from the hotel’s kitchen garden and everything from potato crisps to ice-cream is made in head chef Tony Pierce’s kitchen. Not for nothing does Knockinaam Lodge have the longest-held Michelin star in Scotland – Pierce delivers modern Scottish tasting menus which make the most of Hebridean shellfish, hand-dived scallops, meat from Galloway estates and smoked salmon from Allan Watson at Galloway Smokehouse.
• 01776 810471, knockinaamlodge.com. Dinner, bed and breakfast from £190 for two
4. The Samling, Windermere, Cumbria
This whitewashed Lakeland hotel has changed since I first visited more than a decade ago. Back then, all 11 gorgeous rooms were available only for exclusive-use bookings, so dinner was a clubby, private affair. Later, under the ill-fated von Essen hotel group, dining became more formal. Now the culinary team – headed by Ian Swainson (formerly of L’Ortolan and La Bécasse) with James Cross (from Noma in Copenhagen) – is putting The Samling on Windermere’s map for lunch as well as dinner, with a relaxed atmosphere and the delights of Cartmel venison and sloe gin crème brulée.
• 01539 431922, thesamlinghotel.co.uk. DB&B from £230 for two, B&B doubles from £150
The Hambrough, Isle of Wight
This little boutique hotel, on the southern coast of the island, has been described as Notting Hill on sea. Bathrooms with a view have certainly proved popular but it was former chef-patron Robert Thompson who really put it on the map by gaining a Michelin star in 2008. Now Thompson has left and the hotel has a new head chef, Darren Beevers, straight from Club Gascon in London. He’s putting autumn cooking classes on the menu, along with plenty of game.
• 01983 856333, thehambrough.com. Dinner, B&B for two from £280.