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Cumbria double at glitzy Mayfair awards

Gary MacRae (left), from the Hazel Bank Country House Hotel, with fellow Cumbrian award winners Sara and Oliver Smith, from the Sharrow Bay Hotel, at Monday’s awards dinner at the May Fair Hotel in London.

[T]wo Cumbrian hotels beat the best in the UK and Ireland to win top international hospitality awards at Mayfair in London.

The Hazel Bank Country House Hotel at Rosthwaite in Borrowdale was named Best Small and Exclusive Property at the 2018 Conde Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence.

And the Sharrow Bay Hotel on Ullswater took the title of Best Waterside Hotel at the 36th annual awards held by the global travel guide publisher, which also produces Vogue, GQ and Glamour magazines.

Gary MacRae, who owns and runs the Hazel Bank with his wife Donna, was first to receive his award at a black tie dinner at the capital’s May Fair Hotel on Monday evening. He was followed shortly after by Oliver and Sara Smith, from Sharrow Bay.

“It was very humbling to be called up on stage in such elite company and at such a prestigious London venue to collect an award from Conde Nast Johansens, who are the most respected name in the world bar none for independent travellers,” said Gary, 56. “I’m from Keswick and Donna’s from Borrowdale and I don’t think either of us ever dreamed we’d be bringing a trophy back to the valley from a grand event like this in Mayfair when we started out in hospitality!,” added Gary, whose hotel was also a finalist in the Most Innovative Wine List of the Year category.

The awards are based on responses from online voting, guest feedback and local expert reports from hotels featured in Conde Nast Johansens’ guides and online. Winners each received a framed certificate, a trophy and a bottle of Champagne Taittinger.

The judges were impressed that the Hazel Bank, which is hidden away in four acres of grounds, had been “immortalised in Hugh Walpole’s Herries Chronicles as the protagonist’s idyllic Lake District home.” They also commented on the late-Victorian house’s dramatic setting in the heart of Lakeland, referring to it as a “peaceful seven-bedroom sojourn, close to the market town of Keswick, serene Derwentwater and epic Borrowdale valley and fells.”

Sharrow Bay

The Sharrow Bay was labelled “an English Lakes legend” by judges, having been heralded as the first country house hotel after its launch in the late 1940s by Francis Coulson and Brian Slack. “Idyllically located directly on the lakeshore at the foot of Ullswater’s wild and quiet Eastern Fells, the panoramic views from here are utterly breathtaking,” the judges added.

Sharrow Bay’s Hotel Director, Oliver Smith said: “Our team here at Sharrow Bay is delighted to have won this prestigous award. We would like to thank all those who took the time to vote for us, it is nice to know our unwavering dedication to our guests’ overall experience is appreciated.”

Sharrow Bay received a framed certificate, a trophy kindly supplied by Sycal Business Gifts and a bottle of Champagne Taittinger.

Hotel director Oliver is leaving the Sharrow Bay next month after four years’ service and will take up a new post at The Samling on Lake Windermere.

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