The Merchant Hotel in Belfast has won a new award from The AA for service and the quality and range of spirits and cocktails in its bar.
The AA Spirit Award, sponsored by The Balvenie whisky, was given to the hotel in recognition of the skills of staff in its cocktail bar, service standards and the quality of recruitment and training.
Held at the Grosvenor House in Mayfair, London on Monday 22nd September, the AA Awards recognise outstanding excellence in hospitality.
The AA Spirit Award, sponsored by famous single malt Scotch whisky brand, The Balvanie, was introduced for the first time this year. The highly coveted title was awarded to The Merchant Hotel, which was deemed by the judges to be a “hospitality business that really champions spirits through its product offerings and service, promotes customer awareness and knowledge and is passionate about both pre-dinner and after dinner guest experiences.”
Commenting on the award The Merchant Hotel General Manager, Gavin Carroll said:
“We are thrilled and honoured to be named the first recipients of the prestigious AA Spirit Award. We pride ourselves on the excellence of our product offering and service; our dedicated mixologists and bar teams have curated an enviable collection of quality and often rare, coveted spirits from across the world and are committed to passing on their knowledge and passion to our customers.”
“We are proud of the role that The Merchant has played in the development of Belfast’s hospitality scene and we will continue to strive for excellence, offering five-star service and facilities to visitors and residents alike.”
Attended by world-renowned chefs, prominent hoteliers, hospitality gurus and key industry media, the AA Hospitality Awards are amongst the most prestigious national awards of their kind – widely regarded as the Oscars for the hospitality industry, they draw on the unrivalled knowledge and expertise of the AA inspectorate and other industry professionals involved in the judging process. Winners are selected in recognition of excellence and success within their chosen category, having shown a significant improvement in the preceding 12 – 18 months and proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences. From top hotels and restaurants to the best of British pubs, the AA Hospitality Awards celebrate everything that is great in British hospitality. All the winners will appear in the latest edition of the 2015 AA Hotel, Restaurant and Pub Guides which were launched at the event.
Guests at the awards ceremony, hosted by Fiona Bruce, were treated to a sensational gourmet meal created by2013 AA Chefs’ Chef, Tom Kerridge as well as entertainment from Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Light Balance.
The former headquarters of the Ulster Bank was transformed in 2006 to become the luxury five-star Merchant Hotel. The cocktail bar, now under the management of Michael Patterson, has over 100 drinks on its list and has been regularly named as one of the best bars in the world.
The Merchant Hotel is owned by the Beannchor Group, which boasts a portfolio of over 50 pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland.
From top hotels and restaurants to the best of British pubs, the AA Hospitality Awards celebrate everything that is great in British hospitality. All the winners will appear in the latest edition of the 2015 AA Hotel, Restaurant and Pub Guides which were launched at the event.
Other winners last night were:
- AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year 2014 (sponsored by Caterer.com): Nathan Outlaw
- AA Lifetime Achievement Award: Ruth Rogers, founder of The River Café
- AA Hotel of the Year, England (sponsored by Temple Spa): Dormy House, Broadway
- AA Hotel of the Year, Wales: Ynyshir Hall, Eglwys Fach
- AA Hotel of the Year, Scotland: Meldrum House Country Hotel, Aberdeen
- AA Hotel of the Year, London (sponsored by BriefYourMarket): Rosewood London, London
- AA Hotel of the Year, Northern Ireland: The Bushmills Inn Hotel, Bushmills
- AA Restaurant of the Year, England: Sticky Walnut, Chester
- AA Restaurant of the Year, Wales: Bully’s, Cardiff
- AA Restaurant of the Year, Scotland: Timberyard, Edinburgh
- AA Restaurant of the Year, London (sponsored by Food & Travel Magazine): Berners Tavern, London
- AA Wine Award (all categories sponsored by Matthew Clark): The Queensberry Hotel, Bath
- AA Wine Award, England: The Queensberry Hotel, Bath
- AA Wine Award, Wales: The Grove, Narbeth
- AA Wine Award, Scotland: The Peat Inn, St Andrews
- AA Pub of the Year, England: The Pheasant, Gestingthorpe
- AA Pub of the Year, Wales: Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd
- AA Pub of the Year, Scotland: The Bridge Inn, Ratho
- AA Small Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by Beacon): Eden Hotel Collection
- AA Hotel Group of the Year: QHotels
- AA Eco Hotel (sponsored by D-ENERGi): Waterton Park Hotel, West Yorkshire
- AA Eco Hotel Group of the Year: Red Carnation Hotels
- AA Food Service Award: Galvin at Windows, London
- AA Housekeeper of the Year Award (sponsored by Northmace & Hendon): Geraldine Maursy, The Landmark, London
The AA also announced which of the country’s top restaurants had achieved the higher AA Rosettes awards. Seven restaurants were awarded four AA Rosettes while 28 saw their ratings rise to three AA Rosettes.
New four rosettes
Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, St Helier, Jersey
The French, By Simon Rogan, Manchester
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock, Cornwall
Restaurant Story, London
Le Gavroche, London
The Greenhouse, London
New three rosettes
Cannizaro House, Wimbledon, London
Sixtyone Restaurant, London
Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford
Llangoed Hall, Llyswen
Yorebridge House, Bainbridge
La Belle Époque, Sofitel Heathrow
Red Lion, Pewsey
The Hambrough, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow
Cotswolds88 Hotel, Painswick
Caxton Grill, St Ermins Hotel, London
Kitchen Table, London
The Packhorse Inn, Moulton
Manchester House Bar and Restaurant, Manchester
Hell Bay, Bryher
Amberley Castle, Amberley
Buckland Manor, Buckland
Ynyshir Hall, Eglwysfach
The Crown at Whitebrook, Whitebrook
Lainston House, Spartsholt
Chiltern Firehouse, London
The Clove Club, London
The Hinds Head, Bray
Mark Greenaway, Edinburgh