London's five-AA-star Royal Horseguards hotel has been highlighted in an investigation by Which? Travel as being one of more than 650 UK hotels to receive a poor food hygiene rating.
The 282-bedroom hotel, which has a two-AA-rosette restaurant, scored a rating of two on the zero to five scale.
Which? said there was a surprising number of highly rated hotels on the list of the 652 UK hotels, B&Bs and guest houses which have been identified as having a rating of two or below from their local authority on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) scale. The study also revealed that many businesses chose not to make public the ratings, either on the premises or online. Business in England and Scotland are not legally required to publish their ratings, unlike businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Royal Horseguards, which is owned by GLH, said that the hotel is always committed to "the best possible standards in health and safety" for guests and staff.
"When the food safety department of the City of Westminster council visited the hotel in March 2016, we took its findings very seriously. A new senior management team immediately took action to improve standards to the level our staff and customers expect."
The spokesperson added that the hotel commissioned additional inspection in July and November 2016 from an independent health and safety inspector NSF.
"These independent reports found significant improvements had been made by the new hotel team and described the kitchen as being ‘exceptionally clean and well maintained' during an unannounced audit."
A new executive chef was appointed to the Royal Horseguards hotel in June 2016, with the arrival of Graham Chatham, who was previously at the Langham hotel. Meanwhile, a further inspection by Westminster City Council at the Royal Horseguards is expected shortly.
In addition to the Royal Horseguards, other highly rated hotels with a low hygiene score included:
• The four-AA-star Novotel, Birmingham, received a hygiene rating of two for "high-risk food… out of temperature control". The hotel said: "We took immediate action to correct the issues raised from the inspection [in June 2016]. We are currently in the process of applying for recertification."
• Inspectors at the Copthorne hotel in Birmingham award a rating of one after discovering raw meat stored next to sauces in the fridge and out-of-date seafood. A Copthorne spokesperson explained that "the visit [by inspectors] occurred at a time when standard processes had been disrupted temporarily by a change in the kitchen team. The general manager took immediate action to remedy the faults identified and requested a return visit by environmental health inspectors at the earliest opportunity."
• The four-AA-star Best Western's Dean Court hotel in York, which holds two AA rosettes, received a food hygiene rating of one. Best Western blamed the score at the property on "a previous chef's administrative oversight and clerical error". It said the hotel is currently awaiting re-inspection.
Which? is now calling for the mandatory display of food hygiene ratings at hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses across the UK, both outside premises and on business websites. The FSA also believes a compulsory scheme is necessary.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "Around nine in 10 of us eat at least one meal in our overnight accommodation so it's vital that hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses have high standards of food hygiene.
"We know that displaying the rating outside the premises encourages higher standards, which is why we support the FSA case for a compulsory display scheme for the whole of the UK."
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