Style choice

Rod Nutter, sales director for hospitality textile brand Hilden and one of this year’s Hilden Style Awards judges, on the concept behind the awards and what this year’s panel is looking for

When and why did you launch the Hilden Style Awards?
We first introduced the Style Awards in 2012 to celebrate hospitality establishments offering unique and stylish experiences to their guests. Hilden’s products are used in some of the world’s most beautiful hotels, restaurants and hospitality businesses.

This means that we are often fortunate enough to get a look inside some stunning rooms and locations: from magnificent city centre hotels through to private lets and one-room B&Bs. No matter how small or large [the venue], there is some fantastic interior design out there and we felt this should be recognised.

We really want to support boutique and independent establishments who strive to give guests an unforgettable experience and we think they deserve some praise [too].

Who can enter the awards?
Any independent accommodation or dining establishment who think that they have something different to offer or that just loves to make use of design and space to make a lasting impression on their guests can enter the awards.

This year we are looking for the most stylish guestroom, dining room or bathroom and all entrants need to do is visit and submit a picture of their chosen room or suite.

What are you looking for from entrants and winners?
We’re very open-minded. Alongside myself there are four other judges (including Nora Elias, the editor of Professional Spa & Wellness magazine), which we think is a great number, to get a good balance of views and opinions.

The judges are all operating at the forefront of their respective industries and they are well travelled and well versed in what customers want and in current trends.

I (personally) love rooms where the establishment’s personality really shines through and where there are no boundaries to the creativity. There are some fantastic secret escapes in the UK that offer unique experiences and it’s these we want to capture. Last year’s entries included a mix of modern and [more traditional] designs, and there really are no set criteria to what we are looking for.

How does the judging process work?
Once the awards close at midnight on August 31, the judges will be invited to shortlist three finalists per category. Each finalist will be visited by the Hilden team, which will carry out an assessment on the room or suite. Once the visits are complete, the judges will meet and collectively decide on the winner in each category.

Once the winners have been chosen, they will be contacted by phone or email. In late September we will then announce the winners to the press and do lots of promotional activity.

The awards have been given a bit of an overhaul since last year. What’s new?
We’ve revamped the categories this year and become a lot more focused on a specific room or feature. Last year our categories were more open and included Most Stylish Independent Hotel, Most Stylish Restaurant and Most Stylish Self Catering B&B.

This year we really wanted to hone in on the use of interior design in a much smaller space and look more at the details of a single room. We’ve also changed our judges to reflect the new categories and we’re really excited about these changes.

What do the winners receive? Apart from the honour, of course☺?
Winners receive £500 to spend at, an iPad Air, luxury Liddell bathrobes, a glass trophy, an online winner’s badge and a double page spread in our annual Style Guide for the hospitality sector. The runners-up in each category will be given a finalist’s badge as well as a feature in our Style Guide.

Is there anything you particularly enjoy about being part of the awards process?
Last year we had some stunning entries and this year we are already seeing the same kind of calibre. It really opens your eyes to the level of hotels and restaurants that are out there, in places you’ve often never thought of visiting. That is why we love the awards process, because we really are unearthing some hidden gems.