Hottest Property Award
Dating from 1550 this medieval fortified castle boasts vaulted stone rooms and spiral stairs up narrow stone turrets, complete with arrow slits to keep an eye out for guests coming to visit! Sympathetically restored by husband and wife team Simo and Stef, the castle preserves a rustic patina while hiding many modern luxuries beneath the medieval façade, including underfloor heating below original flagstone floors, free standing copper baths, and entire turret rain-shower wet rooms.
Kilmartin Castle is now very sustainable, with the removal of single use plastics, and pottery commissioned from a local artist adorns the bathroom, while power comes from a 100% renewable energy provider. The food for breakfast is sourced locally, or is freshly harvested from the organic castle garden. It is a place where guests eat together around the breakfast table, share a drink around the fire and often stay in touch long after their stay.
Simo and Stef now call many guests friends, and feedback highlights a truly experiential stay, as does their 15,000+ strong followers on Instagram, with Stef and Simo often asking them to vote on product choices, and when deciding on decor for the castle.
Judges describe Kilmartin Castle as ‘magical, luxurious, rustic’, combining the ‘ancient and modern’ having been ‘lovingly and thoughtfully restored’, a ‘historic, ancient’ property that is ‘discovery-inducing’.
Unsung Hero Award
Jules Murray – Housekeeper
KVM Serviced Accommodation Ltd
Nominated by Moneesha who runs KVM Serviced Accommodation, who told us how housekeeper Jules is ‘the most reliable member of staff I have met’ and that she is ‘honest, kind, flexible, considerate and reliable’. Going over and above expectations to help guests, and with the running of the business, be that sending back forgotten items, arranging for the hand-delivery of a left driving licence, or the sorting of the removal of excessive rubbish after guest stays. She carries guests’ luggage up stairs, has visited guests in the evening if they struggle to operate equipment, worked longer hours when the business was short staffed, and helped with the training of others. Going way above and beyond her defined role of housekeeper to help make KVM the successful business it is today.
All this while being a single mum to her disabled son, she also volunteers for a lost pets charitable organisation too. Moneesha signed off her nomination by saying ‘she is a star who deserves to be recognised’, and as our Unsung Hero of 2022 we wholeheartedly agree.
Judges describe Jules as ‘reliable, customer focused, going the extra mile’, ‘conscientious, dependable, considerate’, and ‘hard-working, generous, committed’.
Outstanding Host Award
Kiltariff Hall Country House
County Down, Northern Ireland
Catherine really goes the extra mile when looking after her guests, and as well as offering the traditional bed and breakfast, she also can provide packed lunches and a three-course evening meal too. With seasonal fruit and vegetables coming from her own garden, and homemade jam served all year round, all other food is sourced as locally as possible.
A warm welcome is ensured with tea, coffee and home baking offered on arrival, as she helps her guests plan itineraries, personalising suggestions to individual interests. She has even sourced special discounts at local activity providers for those who stay with her.
Catherine often helps with transport issues as Kiltariff Hall Country House is in a rural location with a limited taxi service, dropping guests off at local restaurants, booking tours, even helping with genealogy searches, and offers concierge levels of service at the property.
Judges described Catherine’s hosting as ‘attentive yet unobtrusive’, and her accommodation as a ‘welcoming, cosy and spotlessly clean family home’, and highlight how she is ‘people orientated’ and ‘knowledgeable, helpful’ and ‘sustainably focussed’.