Restaurants will now need to pay to be eligible for AA Rosettes

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Restaurants wishing to be included in the AA Restaurant Guide will now have to pay an annual fee of £180 or risk losing their Rosettes.

A letter from the AA shared on Twitter explains the rationale behind the move - namely, to continue its "valuable service" to standalone restaurants.

It reads: "Our Rosette awards have become a symbol of excellence for both the culinary industry and the general public." 

"Our inspectors visit, pay their own bill and provide feedback that results in Rosette plates being posted out and proudly displayed on restaurant walls up and down the country." 

"To help us continue this valuable service, we're introducing an annual fee of £180 (£150 plus VAT) for standalone restaurants." 

In exchange for the fee, the letter goes on, restaurants will receive a website entry on the "brand-new AA-Powered site," an image in the guide - which it says is worth £180 - an entry in the annual restaurant guide (and pub guide if applicable), a Rosette plaque, and many more perks, such as a link to update their details on the AA's new restaurant portal. 

The guide was launched 54 years ago and was the UK's first nationwide food guide - as it took Michelin until the seventies to expand across the channel. Its much coveted accolade scheme assesses restaurants on everything from food and service to the overall quality of the dining experiences, offering a maximum of 5 Rosettes to those restaurants considered the best in the country. 

Until recently, the AA's income from its hospitality guides predominantly came from hotels and B&Bs, who paid a fee to be included in the AA Hotel Guide. 

In 1994, it launched specialist consultancy services to help businesses meet their standards, but - ostensibly in a bid to fund a new website and app, which were criticised for being out of date - since then, and with no geographical expansion in sight, the guide had no new streams of revenue on the horizon. 

The new fee is payable by all restaurants wishing to figure in the guide by March 27th 2020 - and, with more than 2,000 listed restaurants, will bring in £360,000 (£300,000 plus VAT). 

In the 2020 Guide 813 restaurants were awarded a single Rosette, 961 have two, 203 have three, 45 have four and just 18 have five. 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 3rd February 2020

Restaurants will now need to pay to be eligible for AA Rosettes