Paul Welburn with The Swan's three AA rosettes

Some major celebrating took place at the AA Hospitality Awards last night as Killingworth Castle in Wootton, The Wild Rabbit in Kingham and The Swan in Islip were awarded three rosettes for culinary excellence.

The three Oxfordshire gastropubs were all recipients of the prestigious three rosettes, presented by Claudia Winkleman at The JW Marriott Grosvenor House in London.

Last night’s Oxfordshire winners

Claire Alexander of The Killingworth Castle’s said: After a few challenging years, it’s particularly rewarding to get the recognition of being in the top percent of food providers in the country. It’s a huge motivator for us as an independent, family run business and we’re over the moon.

Jim and Claire Alexander of Killingworth Castle at the AA Hospitality Awards

The Killingworth Castle is a country inn with rooms, the kitchens headed up by the gifted Adam Brown READ OUR REVIEW HERE

Adam Brown at the AA Hospitality Awards

The Swan in Islip was also victorious at last night’s award ceremony having opened less than a year ago READ OUR REVIEW HERE.

The Swan, which also won RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR AT the OXINABOX FOOD AWARDS 2023, boasts ambitious head chef Paul Welburn who was absolutely delighted with last night’s announcement.

The Swan team at the AA Hospitality awards last night

“Super proud to be awarded 3 AA rosettes after less than a year READ ABOUT THE OPENING HERE,” Paul says. “Makes all the hard work so worth it. After three tough years READ ABOUT PAUL’S JOURNEY HERE I feel like I’m back in the industry again. I am genuinely over the moon, and so proud of all the team and owners.

Paul Welburn( centre) with his kitchen team – chef de partie Jenildo Dos Santos (L) and (R) Peter Little

“There is so much more to come, and the reaction last night, and this morning, has been unbelievable.

Paul continues: “Any time is tough to open restaurants but to be nationally recognised so soon is a testament to all the hard work involved.

The Swan Islip

“For me personally after a very tough and frustrating time, this feels really special. It’s also great to see the Oxfordshire food scene growing in this way.”

The Wild Rabbit in Kingham was also given three AA rosettes. Head chef Sam Bowser has certainly made a big impression since taking over the culinary reins in 2022 READ OUR REVIEW HERE

Sam Bowser at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham

The Wild rabbit is part of the Daylesford pub group, (it’s sister pubs are The Fox in Oddington READ OUR FOX REVIEW HERE and recently opened Bell in Charlbury READ OUR BELL REVIEW HERE). A spokesman said: “We are all delighted to be awarded 3 rosettes, it’s wonderful news for the entire team recognising all of the hard work that’s been put in.”

Simon Numphud, Managing Director at AA Media said: Every year we present awards to the very best AA-rated hotels, restaurants, spas and their teams across the UK. The AA Rosette award, first awarded in 1956, was the first nationwide scheme for assessing the quality of food served by restaurants and hotels. AA Rosettes recognise culinary excellence and dedication to ensure consistent quality of the highest order.”