The awards recognise a unique community of travel companies that have gone the extra mile for their customers and provided outstanding service as a standard. The awards combine public acclaim with expert judgement to decide who should be crowned best of the best, and has seen thousands of votes and hundreds of nominations whittled down to sixteen winners in the past few weeks.
The Reader’s Choice Award saw Michael Palin, known for his travel documentaries, comedy-writing and acting, claim the prize.
Heathrow picked up the award in the airport category, while British Airways flew in ahead in the European airline category, recognised as “a much more civilised and relaxing experience”. The combination of innovation and value were paramount in the long-haul airline category, which saw Air New Zealand winning the top spot.
The crowded travel app category saw Citymapper selected as the most valuable app for travellers, coming in ahead of the likes of Skyscanner and booking.com, for its most user-friendly methods of travel. Meanwhile, Herb Lester Associates scooped the best travel guide award with enhanced city maps that bring the fun back to travel.
Elsewhere, Caledonian MacBrayne of Scotland was recognised as the best ferry company. River-cruise specialist Viking claimed the number one spot in the cruise line category for its high-quality accommodation, and interesting and entertaining excursions.
The places to stay category included three holidaying classes; luxury, family and budget. Within luxury the Soho farmhouse in Oxfordshire prevailed ahead of tough competition from Indian Ocean properties, while the Landmark Trust claimed number-one spot in the family category. Winner in the budget place to stay category was pitchup.com, which stood out for its range of accommodation.
“I’m delighted to be involved in launching The Independent’s first Travel Awards. We wanted to celebrate the organisations that ensure travel is joyful, and it’s gratifying to have received so many public nominations and to be able to champion the best of the best,” Sophie Lam, head of travel at the Independent.
“It’s customary to complain about 21st–century travel, with all the stress and uncertainty involved, but there’s a hugely positive side, too. The travel industry delivers great experiences and good value, and helps to spread wealth around the world. That’s why it’s good to celebrate the stars of the industry from Britain and abroad,” said Simon Calder, travel correspondent at the Independent.