England's best hotels, attractions and experiences for travellers in 2017 have been revealed - and the results may surprise you.
Some of the unexpected winners of the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence include a little-known animal sanctuary in the Isle of Wight, a gorgeous pub with rooms on the beach in Dorset and a spooky tour of Liverpool.
The awards saw the Premier League singled out for the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award due to English football's draw for UK and international visitors, with more than 800,000 overseas visitors attending a football match during their trip to Britain in 2014 and spending £684 million.
With 22 categories, from England's best small tourist attraction to the best afternoon tea, the awards revealed the UK attractions and experiences to tick off your bucket list in 2017.
Whether you're searching for the best family attraction to enjoy a day out with the kids (it's in London, by the way), or the top holiday park to pitch a tent this summer, you'll want to check out the winners of this year's awards. See the full list at visitenglandawards.org and browse photos of the winners in our slideshow below.
England's best places for tourists in 2017 (VisitEngland)
England's best places for tourists in 2017 (VisitEngland)
Monkey Haven is a primate rescue centre that has been caring for creatures in crisis since 2010 and is now home to monkeys, birds of prey, meerkats and other exotic creatures. There are keeper talks, trails, play areas, a café, gift shop and an app for 2017. As a charity, all proceeds are used to support the animals and the park is continually expanding. Many animals have been rescued from the cruel pet trade and are very rare.
For family holidays and romantic escapes, The Dandelion Hideaway’s hamlet of gorgeous canvas cottages melts into 200 acres of beautiful, rolling Leicestershire countryside. The Hideaway provides a delightful experience combining the luxury of truly sumptuous glamping with the promise of idyllic rural days, at the same time peeping into farm-life. With just six cottages there is a treasured, intimate atmosphere where guests can relax and indulge in peace, birdsong and starry nights. In the farmyard, there is a charming honesty shop, offering local produce and gifts. In summertime, there is a children's outdoor camp in the Spinney field.
Set beneath the highest point on the south coast, Golden Cap, The Anchor Inn is just a stone’s throw from the world-famous Jurassic Coast. With three small bar areas and large outside spaces, it makes the most of its coastal location - including a spectacular cliff terrace from which to view the sunset over Lyme Bay. The pub offers real ale, a comprehensive range of premium spirits and bespoke cocktail list to complement a top-class menu that changes with the seasons and is drawn from the best local producers in the area. Three boutique style guest rooms are available, all with sea views, meaning guests can fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
Set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, The Byre is the epitome of the English hideaway. From the exclusive Cottage in the Dales collection, guests can be assured of a distinctly Dales experience, whether coming for the first time or their tenth. The owners pride themselves on delivering a five-star experience without the inconvenience of other guests. Nothing is too much trouble and no detail is overlooked, from a freshly lit fire to escorting guests to a restaurant for a special occasion (even on Christmas Day).
The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects visitors with each other and the living world. Its Cornwall HQ is an international visitor destination and learning centre. Here, massive covered biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity and the sights, scents and tastes of the Mediterranean serve as a backdrop to the striking contemporary outdoor gardens. Art installations, summer concerts, exhibitions and stories provide an exciting programme of year-round family events. An Access Eden guide showcases sensory highlights, while assistance includes free shuttles, wheelchair loan, accessible facilities, access volunteers and relaxed sessions, making Eden truly accessible to all.
The Countess of York, a beautifully restored 1956 Pullman-style carriage converted into an Edwardian-style dining car, is a joint venture between the Science Museum Group and Levy Restaurants UK, the National Railway Museum’s catering partner. Since opening in 2015, the carriage has gained a reputation as one of the finest destinations for afternoon tea in York, with chefs creating menus that are full of flavour using locally-sourced produce. What really sets the venue apart is the setting and atmosphere it creates: guests are transported back in time for an opulent dining experience reminiscent of luxury European train travel.
Waddesdon Manor was built at the end of the 19th century by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his art collection and to entertain the fashionable world. Waddesdon was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957, with the Rothschild family maintaining an active interest in the running of it through a family charitable trust. Today Waddesdon offers something for everyone all year round. From art lovers to families, gardeners to gourmets, visitors can choose from priceless art treasures, a contemporary exhibition space, a beautiful restaurant and cafés, a country house hotel, gift and wine shops and acres of landscaped grounds packed with outdoor activities.
Thames Rockets has been powering the London sightseeing industry forwards ever since its conception in 2006. Offering a terrific twist on traditional cruises, Thames Rockets provide a truly personal experience on the 12-seater speedboats. With hand-picked actors and stand-up comics as guides, the banter flows all the way down the river through the iconic London skyline, with selfies to be snapped and memories made. Once past Tower Bridge it is time to turn up the music and hold on tight as the Rockets are pushed to the max, twisting and turning through the docklands with Thames Rockets' famous medleys playing through the onboard speakers. Thames Rockets have been number one on TripAdvisor for the fourth consecutive year.
Trethem Mill is a five-star Gold multi-award winning touring park nestling in a valley on the Roseland Peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is owned and run by three generations of one family and will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. There are 84 individually hedged pitches that are suitable for caravans, motorhomes and tents, offering fully serviced, all-weather and grass pitches. The holiday park is situated three miles from the villages of St Mawes and Portscatho, yet only a mile from the sea.
The Art School is a 50-cover fine-dining restaurant situated in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter. Critically acclaimed, it offers a range of pescetarian, vegetarian and vegan menus alongside its pre-theatre, excellence and tasting menus. Using only the finest ingredients from local suppliers, the experienced team of international chefs, waiters and sommeliers deliver the highest quality service in a relaxed setting. The seasonal menus are perfectly matched with an exclusive range of organic spirits, a huge wine list and a world-class selection of champagnes.
Shiverpool was the first theatrically-led city tour in Liverpool. A strong family-run enterprise, the directors share a passion for storytelling, performance and have developed a culture of excellence through creativity, strong leadership and support. The experience explores the city's most stunning locations and landmarks, revealing their hidden histories. Shiverpool introduces creepy historical findings in a series of street theatre performances presented by SpiritGuides who aim to chill, thrill and entertain. Shiverpool's offer includes evening walking tours, vintage bus tours, daytime family walks and bespook events.
An award-winning small luxury hotel with a Michelin star restaurant that strives to deliver outstanding food, wine and service, Northcote offers outstanding dishes produced by Chef Patron Nigel and Executive Head Chef Lisa Allen. The hotel passionately represents true British business with roots that are firmly and proudly Lancastrian. It is a unique gastronomic destination for food lovers with a true commitment to regional and British produce.