The best hotels, attractions and experiences for travellers in England have just been revealed - and the results may surprise you.
VisitEngland's Awards for Excellence 2016 celebrate the best of the tourism industry, with winners including Best Tourism Experience, Best Visitor Attraction and Best Large Hotel, as well as this year's new edition, Best Dog Friendly Business.
England's Best Small Visitor Attraction for 2016 is the architectural masterpiece yet little-known Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Hampshire. According to TripAdvisor reviewers, the tourist attraction is a "hidden gem" and offers "a fab way to spend an afternoon".
Winner of the Best Large Visitor Attraction category is not in London, but Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery, home to a collection of 5,000 artworks and 2015's Museum of the Year. In fact, none of the winners are in London, proving there is much more to England than the capital.
New to the awards, the Best Dog Friendly Business was named as Higher Wiscombe in Devon, which offers luxury cottages that are eco and dog-friendly. All bedrooms have a private garden and beautiful rural views.
Meanwhile, the Best Tourism Experience for 2016 is Livingstone Lodge Overnight Safari Experience in Kent. Located in the English countryside, the attraction invites visitors to get up close to African animals, such as the endangered black rhino and giraffes. Livington Lodge has ten luxury tents and guests can choose to spend the night in a four-poster bed or a sleigh bed.
Browse our gallery to discover more of England's best travel experiences for 2016, including the top pub, number one B&B and the country's finest large hotel...
Visit England's finest places for holidaymakers
England's best holidays for 2016
The warm and welcoming The Fleece Inn, originally built in the early 15th century, is set on the doorstep to the Cotswolds and is loved by locals and visitors alike. It serves an array of local brews and traditional pub grub, including pies of the day and pork faggots and mash. The Fleece has also been named The Good Pub Guide's Country Pub of the Year 2016. The pub is by no means a luxury establishment, but sitting by the roaring log fire in its quirky little bar sipping home-brewed cider, you are likely to find yourself suddenly surrounded by folk musicians or Morris dancers, or regaled by Wassailers. Visitors can stay in the historic Master Chamber or in the delightful gypsy caravan in the orchard.
Voted the UK's best tourism experience five times by Visit England and Tourism South East, Livingstone Lodge Overnight Safari Experience, is a one-off glamping experience which offers its guests a real taste of an African safari in 100 acres of Kentish savannah. The lodge offers a delicious five course African buffet prepared by the chefs, and guests enjoy a full cooked, hearty breakfast.
This small, friendly group of people who are passionate about food. They have their own award winning farm, orchard, vegetable and herb gardens, and their Gold awarded accommodation features individually designed rooms and suites where our guests can truly relax and unwind. Mark Stinchcombe, one half of the Head Chef duo at Eckington Manor, recently won Masterchef: The Professionals. Visit www.eckingtonmanor.co.uk.
Railholiday is an inspiring example of a business that is deeply rooted in its local area. The painstaking and beautiful renovation of the railway carriages using local skills and materials demonstrates the owners’ enthusiasm and care runs through every strand of the business.
This innovative and educational visitor attraction is set in a beautifully restored historic paper mill, formerly used to produce banknotes and now distilling the famous Bombay Sapphire gin. In the state-of-the-art Thomas Heatherwick designed glasshouses, visitors are invited to taste and smell the botanicals used in the gin-making process. Guides are very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. At the end of the tour the experienced bar staff suggest visitors try one of the free cocktails, matched to each visitor’s particular taste. Visit distillery.bombaysapphire.com.
Set among breathtaking scenery in the heart of Wensleydale, Yorebridge House is a five-star ‘restaurant with rooms’ in a historic Grade II listed former headmaster’s house and school. Set in five acres and flanked by two rivers, this winner of the Mills and Boon Most Romantic Venue Award 2015 offers 12 luxurious contemporary bedrooms, wonderful bathrooms and exemplary service in a relaxed atmosphere. With features such as private outdoor hot tubs for selected rooms, outstanding cuisine, sumptuous public rooms and a welcome as warm as the log fire, this is a very special boutique hotel.
Treworgey Cottages are set on a 150 acre farm overlooking the Looe River valley. Each has been restored to a high standard, and features include log fires, beautiful bedrooms, well equipped kitchens and pretty private gardens. The on-site farm brims with indoor and outdoor activities including an outdoor pool with a view. Families can join in feeding the chickens, ducks, goats and pigs each morning and the licensed riding school offers pony and horse riding, exclusively for guests. There are splendid country walks, home cooked food deliveries and a farm shop on site. Visit cornishdreamcottages.co.uk.
With more than 55,000 artworks and 20,000 textiles, the Whitworth is one of Britain’s greatest collections of modern art and historic fine art. Awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2015 after a spectacular £15 million pound extension and refurbishment, this magnificent building houses ever-changing displays, brand new research and education facilities, book shop, gift shop, and a superbly appointed glass-walled restaurant with delightful views over the surrounding park and art garden. All this, and only a short bus ride from the city centre. Visitors will surely experience the buzz of excitement at every corner while their eyes soak up spectacular art and sculpture.Visit manchester.ac.uk/whitworth
This impressive 60-roomed luxury golf and spa hotel boasts three restaurants: the Orangery stands out with its golden pillars and outstanding food impeccably served with theatrical flair. The new spa includes an indoor/outdoor Spa Garden for total relaxation. Many of the bathrooms feature ‘tile TVs’ for added luxury. With a staff of around 300 across the whole estate to attend to their every need, guests feel truly pampered. Visit rockliffehall.com.
Woodovis is a tranquil, family owned park in 14 acres of countryside near the historic market town of Tavistock. With static holiday homes, glamping pods, camping and caravanning, the park prides itself on high standards and excellent facilities. Activities include under-cover boules, circus skills, story-telling and archery, as well as water-walking in the indoor swimming pool. There’s also a children’s play area and dog exercise area. Special features include a twice-weekly hog roast, visits from the weekly fish and chip van and the site-owned pub is just down the road. Visit woodovis.com
Trevose House is a six-room St Ives B&B, with bright seaside décor, retro furniture and airy rooms - some with sea views. Hosts Angela and Olivier, graduates of the Lausanne Hotel School, are charming and hospitable. Traditional English breakfast is cooked to order and guests are offered a selection of local artisan breads, plus daily specials, which might include griddled baby courgettes and Cornish goats’ cheese. There’s an honesty bar and a sun-trap terrace or the cosy snug in which to relax. Visit trevosehouse.
Higher Wiscombe comprises three fully equipped self-catering cottages, with en suite bedrooms throughout, set in a lovely valley only a few miles from the glorious beaches of Beer, Sidmouth and Branscombe. The gardens are secure, and the information provision is excellent – from walks and places to visit, to pubs and cafes that are dog friendly. Everything has been thought of: dog wash, bowls, beds, optional cages, stairgate, ample supplies of towels and mats, treats, Dicky Bag and spare poo bags. Shampoo, spare leads/collars are also available on request. An oasis for dogs, with first class accommodation for humans. Visit higherwiscombe.com.