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The winners of the 15th annual Which? Awards have been announced, recognising brands that went above and beyond for consumers in an exacting year.
The awards cover a 12-month period that saw businesses grapple with coronavirus restrictions, supply-chain disruption and the ongoing impacts of Brexit.
We analysed brands from a wide range of industries – including travel, cars, banking, large appliances, home technology and more.
The winning brands went the extra mile for consumers, providing outstanding products or services and maintaining high levels of customer support in challenging conditions.
Read on to discover this year’s winners and to find out more about them.
Banking brand of the year
- Winner: Starling Bank
- Also shortlisted: First Direct and Nationwide
In the past year, Starling Bank attracted more current account switchers than any other provider.
The digital bank scored highly in our current account customer satisfaction survey, with full marks for customer service, complaints handling and its innovative mobile banking app, and passed our most recent online banking security test with flying colours.
Check out the best and worst banks to see how your bank compares.
Car brand of the year
- Winner: Toyota
- Also shortlisted: Honda, Lexus, Mazda and Skoda
Toyota is the best car brand for the second year running. The brand’s range of affordable hybrid cars provides excellent options for consumers looking to reduce their environmental impact.
More than half the Toyotas we’ve reviewed after putting them through our tough lab and road tests are Best Buys, with the brand producing high-scoring models in our small car reviews, medium estate car reviews and sports car reviews.
See our expert pick of the best hybrid cars for 2021.
Home entertainment brand of the year
- Winner: LG
- Also shortlisted: Amazon, Google, Samsung, Sennheiser and Sony
After a year when we all relied on at-home entertainment, LG comes out on top. Its best-in-class televisions, which come in enough sizes to suit most living rooms, helped us while away the hours at home.
While LG’s sound bars, which once held the brand back as it struggled to keep pace with the competition, have come on in leaps and bounds.
Need a new telly? Check out our expert guide on how to buy the best TV.
You can buy LG products directly from LG’s UK website – be sure to check our reviews, though, to make sure a product is right for you.
Home technology brand of the year
- Winner: Apple
- Also shortlisted: OnePlus, Samsung and Xiaomi
Another excellent year for Apple sees it named best home technology brand for the second year in a row. Although Apple products are expensive, we think they offer value for money – not least because the brand provides security updates for longer than most rivals. (See our story on which mobile phone brands offer the best security support.)
In the past year, Apple has introduced the Apple M1 processor, taking its tech to a whole new level.
Find out whether the latest MacBook is one of our top five laptops for 2021.
To see Apple’s full range, go to the Apple UK website. You can also buy directly from Apple, but be sure to check our reviews first to make sure a product is right for you.
Insurance brand of the year
- Winner: LV
- Also shortlisted: Direct Line, John Lewis and NFU Mutual
LV is named insurance brand of the year in recognition of its excellent customer scores and high levels of cover across both car and home insurance – standing out in particular with its car insurance.
Additionally, in a year when lots of us had holidays cancelled at short notice, the insurer also impressed with the levels of ‘Covid Cover’ in its travel insurance policy (which covers you if you have the virus or have to self-isolate).
See which other providers have you covered in our insurance advice and reviews.
Kitchen and household products brand of the year
- Winner: DeLonghi
- Also shortlisted: Asda, Breville and Tefal
DeLonghi’s impressive range of kettles, toasters and coffee machines sees it named best kitchen and household products brand. It has a number of high-scoring products, with almost half the DeLonghi models we tested last year earning a prestigious Which? Best Buy badge.
Craving a freshly ground cuppa? Here are the best coffee machines for 2021.
You can buy Delonghi’s products from its website – but check our reviews before you buy, to make sure a product is right for you.
Large kitchen appliance brand of the year
- Winner: Bosch
- Also shortlisted: AEG, Beko, LG, Miele and Samsung
Bosch is named best large kitchen appliance brand for the first time since 2014, rounding off a golden year for the manufacturer. 14 of the 18 Bosch appliances we’ve tested over the past 12 months are Best Buys, including top-scoring models in our fridge reviews, washer-dryer reviews and washing machine reviews.
Bosch also has more Eco Buys – our environmentally-friendly appliance recommendation – than any other brand. This proves you don’t need to spend over the odds if you want a sustainable kitchen appliance.
If you need a new fridge, our top five fridges for 2021 have you covered.
To see the full Bosch range, go to the Bosch UK website. You can also buy direct – check our reviews first to make sure a product is right for you.
Retailer of the year
- Winner: Richer Sounds
- Also shortlisted: Healthspan, John Lewis, Seasalt and Skechers
Richer Sounds is the stand-out retailer of 2021. It drew rave reviews in our latest tech shop customer survey, which shouldn’t come as a surprise: the home entertainment retailer offers a six-year guarantee on electrical goods and an industry-leading Price Beat promise (if you find the product at a better price within 14 days of purchase, Richer Sounds will beat it by up to £100).
It also provides video call consultations, which are handy for socially-distanced tech advice.
Find out which retailers to avoid in our guide to the best and worst shops.
To find out why shoppers love Richer Sounds, check out the Richer Sounds website.
Travel brand of the year
- Winner: National Trust Holidays
- Also shortlisted: Exodus, Jet2 Holidays and Trailfinders
In the year of the domestic holiday, National Trust Holidays emerged as the best travel brand. According to our latest travel customer satisfaction survey, it provides superb cottage holiday experiences for people able to travel – and promptly refunds those who can’t due to Covid-19. See our holiday cottage company reviews to find out more.
Plus, as a charity, National Trust Holidays reinvests all the money it makes from cottage holiday rentals into restoring 10 additional historic buildings each year.
Find out more about National Trust Holidays on its website.
Utilities brand of the year
- Winner: Tesco Mobile
- Also shortlisted: Octopus Energy and Zen Internet
It might not be the first brand that comes to mind when looking for a new phone contract, but Tesco Mobile easily outranks its largest competitors in our best and worst mobile phone providers survey.
As well as earning high ratings for customer service, network reliability and value for money from customers in our survey, Tesco Mobile guarantees not to raise price of its deals mid-contract.
You can compare mobile phone deals to find the cheapest deal.
Or head to our Tesco Mobile review to see what customers thought of the service.
Which? Trusted Trader of the year
- Winner: Finesse Windows Ltd
- Also shortlisted: Bumblebee Plumbing & Heating Ltd and Splash of Colour Painting & Decorating Ltd
Outstanding dedication to consumers and the local community sees Birmingham-based Finesse Windows Ltd crowned best Which? Trusted Trader for the second time.
Finesse has also been named Which? Trusted Trader of the Month four times, with judges constantly impressed by how Finesse has incorporated the Which? endorsement into every aspect of the business to build trust and confidence for consumers.
Find out more about the Which? Trusted Trader of the year 2021.
Need a local trader you can rely on? Go to Which? Trusted Traders.
Shining a light on ‘excellent products’ and ‘outstanding services’
Anabel Hoult, Which? Chief Executive, said:
‘The Which? Awards are a fantastic opportunity for us to acknowledge the brands that have gone above and beyond for consumers this year, either through the excellent products they manufacture or the outstanding services they offer.
‘It gives me great pleasure, in a year that has been so difficult both for businesses and consumers, to be able to shine a light on brands that have excelled in their categories. Congratulations to all the winners.’
How we selected the Which? Awards 2021 winners
Like our product testing and investigations, the Which? Awards are completely independent. Brands can’t nominate themselves for an award or influence our choice of winners.
To select the winning brands, an expert panel of judges takes into account everything from customer service and value for money to innovation and breadth of offering. This includes the results of our product tests, investigations and satisfaction surveys.
Which? is a not-for-profit organisation that works on behalf of you, the consumer. Find out more about us and the work we do.