Top-rated independent businesses in the UK

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At Tide, we are dedicated to supporting startups and small businesses.

With this in mind, we want to celebrate some of the local heroes who consistently deliver brilliant experiences to their customers. We’ve been searching for the best-rated independent businesses in a selection of categories, using TripAdvisor data as our guide.

In this report, we focus on the perfect small businesses to visit on your summer break, including the top 10 performers across various hospitality, retail, and leisure niches, including:

Calculating the winners

To arrive at our top 10s, we searched TripAdvisor for each category, took the top 20 results, and then multiplied the number of reviews by the average rating to give an overall score. This overall score determines the place in the top 10.

The top-rated independent businesses

Without further ado, let’s reveal some of the greatest independent businesses that are making waves in their communities.

Ice cream shops

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Winner: The Looking Glass Ice Cream Parlour

Score: 3685

Secret of their success: Reviewers often mention the delicious flavours of their unique ice creams, the charming décor, and the friendly service.

“Wow! I have never experienced this much flavour in an ice cream before. The Maltesers flavour summed up the art of ice cream making for me. It looked right, it melted right and most importantly it tasted right.”

Standout review

Fish and chip shops

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Winner: Oban Fish and Chip Shop

Score: 8676

Secret of their success: Fresh fish caught locally and delivered each morning from the South Pier in Oban, as well as a variety of other seafood options, including squid and squat lobsters.

“We had a delicious takeaway from here on Sunday and it was brilliant. Fish supper, scampi supper, mushy peas and some battered scallops to try. Wow. Everything was brilliant but the scallops in particular were fantastic and were cooked to perfection.”

Standout review

Cafes

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Winner: Peggy May’s Café

Score: 2390

Secret of their success: Reviewers often mention the quality of the homemade food and cakes, as well as the friendly atmosphere and warm welcome.

“One of the best lunches I have ever had! The bread was so delicious and fresh, and the scones were so fresh and warm from the oven. Super dog friendly too and the service was great. Will definitely be back!”

Standout review

Vintage shops

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Winner: Sims Vintage Antiques Centre

Score: 515

Secret of their success: In their own words, Sims is “full of a fascinating array of antiques, collectables, memorabilia, curios & interiors”, and the owners “pride ourselves on offering a friendly and professional service to our dealers and customers alike”.

“My wife and I have been visiting this shop for several years now. it is probably my favourite of all the antique shops we frequent on a regular basis… Phil & Terri who own the centre couldn’t be any more friendly or helpful with us, we’ve also got to know several of the dealers who go out of their way to locate items for us. This really is the best centre for miles around. The site also has other shops to browse and a restaurant and farm shop. Pay them a visit you won’t be disappointed.”

Standout review

Cinemas

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Weirdly, two cinemas have tied for first place, so we have two winners to share:

Joint winner: The Red Carpet Cinema & Café Bar

Score: 4918

Secret of their success: As the name suggests, this cinema offers brunch, lunch or dinner, as well as the movie experience.

“Seats very comfortable: picture and sound quality perfect. The meal afterwards, beer battered fish with chips and tartare sauce; I have only ever enjoyed fish and chips as much as this meal, when I have been at a seaside resort. The batter had just the right amount of crispness, the fish was the freshest I have had in a long while; and you could say, ‘chips are chips’ but at this restaurant chips are tasty morsels, well worth savouring slowly. Staff attentiveness and genuine pleasure in serving, couldn’t have been better.”

Standout review

Joint winner: Tyneside Cinema

Score: 4918

Secret of their success: This Grade II-listed building has recently been restored to its original 1937 art deco design, giving every cinema trip an added elegance.

“This place is utterly fantastic, the seats are so comfortable and they are constantly showing movies suitable for all ages. The large cinema basement has a proper vintage cinema feel, and the tiny cinema further up are more modern and just as nice. I’d recommend this movie theatre to anyone wanting a true cinema experience!”

Standout review

Campsites

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Winner: Petruth Paddocks

Score: 3469

Secret of their success: Their own words give a clear indication of why this charming site is so popular with campers: “Petruth Paddocks is a place where anyone can rock up and feel immediately at home. A live-and-let-live place where there are refreshingly few rules, kids can be kids, campfires are encouraged, music and bad singing are not a problem and people feel free to wander round making new friends.”

“Such a gem of a site close to Cheddar and easy walking distance to the gorge. Staff are super friendly and helpful. Toilets and showers are impeccable and the whole place has a nice family friendly and easy-going vibe. There’s an on-site coffee shack and pizza stand. Cheddar Ales pop up bar is 5 mins walk and also sells delicious pizza made to order. I couldn’t recommend Petruth Paddocks more highly. This was our 3rd visit and certainly won’t be our last.”

Standout review

While it’s interesting to see which independent businesses are highly rated on TripAdvisor, we recognise that this kind of analysis only gives us a narrow view of the business. We have not verified these reviews or visited each business, so we take the TripAdvisor reviews and data in good faith.

A bright future for independent businesses

While the challenges surrounding Covid are likely to continue for some time, it’s clear that people are eager to get their lives back on track. And that means travel, seeing friends, going on adventures, starting hobbies, shopping, and immersing ourselves in culture.

As you can see from these winning businesses, customers appreciate the local, independent companies that provide great experiences, personalised service, and a connection to the local environment. As Covid restrictions are relaxed, Britain is likely to boom back to life with a renewed sense of purpose (and elasticated waists).

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And when you register your company with us, we’ll pay your Companies House incorporation fee for you.
You also get a free business bank account at the same time, so you can start taking care of your finance admin straight away. Start your own adventure today and register your company with Tide 🚀

Photo by Tim Douglas, published on Pexels

Kerstin Reichert

Senior SEO Manager and SME marketing expert

Tide Team

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