The Independent Hotelier Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the independent hotel sector. An independently spirited pioneer, recognised for excellence, with a reputation for pushing boundaries and creating exceptional guest experiences. Above all, the winner is someone committed to the development of their team, the success of their establishment and the industry at large.
Vote for the shortlisted candidate who you believe deserves this accolade using the button below. The winner will be announced on Monday 4 October during a ceremony at the show.
Charlie Luxton and Dan Brod
Charlie Luxton and Dan Brod pioneered the British inn movement. Charlie, having earned his spurs as operations director at Soho House for ten years, stumbled across their first inn, The Beckford Arms, when visiting Wiltshire in 2009. Dan, who like many British independent hoteliers, came a circuitous route to hotels after studying for two engineering degrees, a spell in the junior ranks of the film industry in LA, a career in high tech inventions and a chef for Conran Group. The two joined forces and united their love of food, design and people to create truly remarkable places.
With over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, beginning in his native Germany, Henrik’s first senior position in the UK was at Tylney Hall in Hampshire in 2000 where he was Deputy General Manager. In 2002, he was appointed General Manager of both The Capital Hotel and The Levin Hotel in London. In 2009, he moved to St. James’s Hotel and Club as Managing Director and opened a new restaurant, Seven Park Place, that earned a Michelin star within a year of opening under chef William Drabble. In 2014, Henrik joined Flemings Mayfair as General Manager. He oversaw the £20 million refurbishment of the 129 new-look guest rooms, suites and apartments and opened the highly acclaimed restaurant Ormer Mayfair. Henrik has been a member of the board of Small Luxury Hotels of the World for nine years and a director for the last four years.
James Thomson OBE
James Thomson is one of Scotland’s best-known independent hoteliers and restauranteurs. Despite his parents’ initial misgivings, he set about on a career in hospitality and soon acquired a series of run-down 16th Century tenement buildings near the city’s iconic castle. In 1979, he opened The Witchery by the Castle. He was only twenty years old and became the youngest licensee in Scotland. The Witchery became an integral part of the social and hospitality scene in Edinburgh and is credited with revitalising the city’s neglected Old Town; whilst James’ trademark opulent and atmospheric design style, sitting alongside great food, wine and service and theatrical suites of accommodation, has garnered many awards and accolades over four decades. In 2003, he bought Prestonfield House Hotel, where he had worked as a teenage waiter, and embarked on a decadent multi-million-pound refurbishment, which soon gained Five AA Red Stars and became AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland. James is an active ambassador for his city and the Scottish hospitality industry and is involved in many charitable initiatives and education at all levels.
Joanne Taylor-Stagg FIH MI
The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences
Joanne Taylor-Stagg FIH MI is a seasoned hospitality professional with over 25 years’ experience, holding many senior roles in that time. She uses creativity and leadership to facilitate the growth of her team and the establishments, delivering record-breaking revenue, exceeding guest and team satisfaction whilst managing positive owner relationships. Joanne has overseen multi-million-pound refurbishments, worked on acquisitions and refinancing deals. Progressing and nurturing young talent is a passion of Joanne’s. She played a pivotal role in setting up the inaugural IHG Academy helping the young and long-term unemployed return to work. She recently worked with Dr Hilary Cooke to create Master Innholders Developing Additional Skills (MIDAS) in response to the exodus of young talent from the industry due to Covid. Joanne is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Master Innholder, and St Julian’s Scholar. Joanne is currently the General Manager of the five-star Athenaeum Hotel & Residences in Mayfair, London.
Laurence Beere FIH MI
The Queensbury Hotel
Laurence purchased Bath’s 29 bedroomed, Grade II-listed, Georgian Queensberry Hotel in 2003. The hotel now sets a benchmark for individualistic, style-driven boutique hotel propositions UK-wide. It is incredibly important to Laurence that he supports his entire team in developing their careers and reaching their full potential and he is very proud to be known as a real wage employer. His care-filled approach to management was evident throughout the Covid-19 pandemic despite all of the challenges presented to the business. His unrelenting commitment doesn’t end with his team, Laurence also actively guides young aspiring managers through his role as mentor in the Master Innholders mentor program. He is also a fellow of the Institute of Hospitality. Laurence currently acts on the Bath Advisory Group and is keenly supportive of the national trade body UK Hospitality.
Ross Grieve FIH MI
Ross Grieve FIH MI joined Seaham Hall in 2013 and has transformed it into today’s vibrant five-star boutique hotel, combining contemporary luxury with strong historical links. Grieve has created a glorious coastal retreat, with 21 stylish suites, the huge yet intimate award-winning Serenity Spa and a fine-dining restaurant serving locally sourced British fare, while ensuring that warm northern hospitality - and people - are at the heart of everything. Accolades under his leadership include Small Hotel of the Year 2020 in the North East Tourism Awards, AA 5 Red Star and 2 Rosettes, plus 5 Bubble luxury status from the Good Spa Guide.