INDEPENDENT country house hotel, Beamish Hall, has had five years of investment and hard work rewarded after achieving a prestigious AA four star rating. As a result, Beamish Hall becomes the only four star country house hotel in County Durham.

It is a considerable accolade for a building that was derelict when Stanley based entrepreneur David Craggs walked his dogs past the ‘for sale’ sign and decided to purchase it in 2004.

Since the Craggs family took over the reins, the hotel has undergone a complete transformation, with £7million being invested into the hall. This has included the complete refurbishment of the grade two listed building, as well as the addition of new bedrooms, meeting and function rooms, and the opening of Beamish Wild and The Stables pub and micro brewery.

The AA is a national recognition which assesses establishments that offer accommodation to a set of common quality standards. These standards are agreed by the AA and the UK tourist authorities and grading is undertaken annually.

General manager Chris Comerford joined Beamish Hall three years ago and has been instrumental in leading the team through the AA grading. “As a family run independent country house hotel, we’re delighted that Beamish Hall has been recognised by the AA rating inspectors for its high standards”, says Chris. “This award opens up a new market of visitors for us and puts us alongside other four star hotel chains in the region, such as the Hilton and Marriott.

“In order to achieve this rating we have needed to meet strict quality standards and we have looked carefully at the service and delivery side of the operations to ensure guests receive the best possible experience during their stay.”

AA inspectors supplement their reports with an additional quality assessment of all facilities, services and hospitality offered by the hotel. This wider ranging assessment results in an overall merit score, shown as a percentage next to the star rating.

To gain AA recognition, a hotel must achieve a minimum quality score of 50 per cent, while to achieve four star rating a score of 70 per cent is needed. Beamish Hall achieved 73 per cent, which is excellent for a first grading at this level.

Chris adds: “Now we have our four star rating we will continue to improve our service and are aiming for a higher percentage in the future. The hotel is continuing to develop and David Craggs is already planning for further additions to the hotel as he looks to develop the business.”