The finalists for this year's East of England Tourism Awards have been announced, and the finalists for the Large Hotel of the Year award, sponsored by Ensors Chartered Accountants, encompass a selection of full service hotels from across the region that are providing truly memorable guest experiences.

Eastern Daily Press: Down Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate, a 19th century Grade II Italianate mansion on the Hertfordshire/Essex borderDown Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate, a 19th century Grade II Italianate mansion on the Hertfordshire/Essex border (Image: Down Hall Hotel)

Down Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate

Down Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate is a 19th century Grade II Italianate mansion set within 110 acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands in Bishop’s Stortford on the Hertfordshire/Essex border.

The Veladail Group purchased the historic property in 1986, carrying out a sympathetic restoration and extension project over the following years.

Today the four-silver-star hotel boasts 98 bedrooms, as well as an event space, spa, bar and restaurants which showcase the fresh produce grown within the hotel’s own kitchen garden. 

Over recent years an extensive refurbishment has been carried out in the bedrooms, function rooms, bars and restaurants. These developments continue as the hotel continues to strive to be an idyllic escape for all types of guests – including business travellers, conference attendees, wedding couples and many local guests.

Describing Down Hall as “beautifully presented throughout”, the judges said that the room they stayed in “had a real ‘wow’ factor” and was “immaculately decorated and furnished”.

They praised their meal as “one of the best dining experiences they have ever had” and said that their visit was made even better by the “friendly and genuine caring nature of the team members”.

Eastern Daily Press: Turing Locke is an ‘avant-garde style’ aparthotel near CambridgeTuring Locke is an ‘avant-garde style’ aparthotel near Cambridge (Image: Edmund Dabney)

Turing Locke

Located just north-west of Cambridge’s city centre, Turing Locke is an ‘avant-garde style’ aparthotel in the new, sustainable district of Eddington.

It is home to 180 carefully designed apartments which benefit from traditional hotel services. The aparthotel also includes a restaurant, cocktail bar, coffee shop, hair salon, co-working space, meeting room and gym, as well as a rooftop terrace and central landscaped courtyard – matching the needs of a variety of travellers including families, solo travellers, business people and more.

Turing Locke has been trading for two years under the ownership of edyn limited. It takes its name from the pioneering computer scientist, Alan Turing, who was a mathematics undergraduate at King’s College, Cambridge. The building has been designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects dRMM, and the hotel is run by a team of 29 including hosts, general managers, sales and marketing teams.

The judges enjoyed the “different” guest experience offered by Turing Locke compared to a traditional hotel.

They said that “the overall feel of the hotel was modern, clean and fresh”, and “the staff were very welcoming, informative and friendly”. 

The food, which was provided by associated restaurant Astronomer, offered “fantastic value”, tasted “amazing and “was beautifully presented”.

Wivenhoe House Hotel

Wivenhoe House Hotel is an elegant country house hotel in North Essex. Alongside a selection of uniquely decorated historic rooms, luxurious contemporary rooms in the Garden Wing, a brasserie, bar and outside terraces, the hotel is also home to the Edge Hotel School, which offers practical experience for hospitality management students within the fully commercial hotel.

Owned by the University of Essex, Wivenhoe House Hotel has been operating as a commercial hotel for 11 years, and all staff also work as teachers and mentors to the next generation of hospitality leaders in the Edge Hotel School.

It has recently introduced its Wivenhoe LIVE events, which are live music events aimed at bringing in a younger demographic.

The judges said that Wivenhoe House “certainly makes a great first impression” with its “beautifully presented” entrance and “equally impressive” welcome from reception staff.

They noted the quality of the room they stayed in and added that “the presentation and quality of the food was excellent and the level of service exemplary”.

They were also pleased to hear about the hotel’s training links with the University of Essex, which they said the hotel is “justifiably proud of”.

The winner of Large Hotel of the Year will be announced at the East of England Tourism Awards ceremony at Snape Maltings, Suffolk on Thursday, February 15. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the event, please visit

To see the finalists in all categories, click ​here.