Britannia has cemented its status as one of the UK’s worst hotel chains – after coming bottom in Which?’s annual survey for the tenth year in a row.
The consumer champion’s rankings are based on almost 4,500 hotel stays, with respondents invited to rate their experiences at 35 chains across 10 key categories, including cleanliness, bed comfort, food, customer service and value for money.
The latter is likely to be especially important to travellers this year, with Which?’s research showing the cost of a night’s hotel stay has gone up by 21 per cent on average in the last 12 months.
Marking its tenth consecutive year at the bottom of the consumer champion’s charts is Britannia. Guests awarded the chain two stars across every category, including cleanliness, food, and value for money, and it achieved an overall customer satisfaction score of 56 per cent.
With over 60 hotels across the UK, many of its properties have illustrious histories – the majestic Adelphi in Liverpool for example reports welcoming some of the Titanic’s wealthiest guests ahead of the ship’s fated departure from the UK in 1912. Contemporary Britannia guests however have found their stays to be far from first class, with respondents describing their surroundings as “tired and tatty,” with a “rough and ready” feel.
As many as 28 per cent of those who stayed at a Britannia hotel reported an issue with their stay, with over half of those (54%) noting issues with cleanliness. One guest described their room as “absolutely dire, drab and smelly”, while another complained of dirt and mould. Plumbing concerns such as faulty toilets and lack of hot water were also common, with one in five (19 per cent) of those who encountered an issue reporting a complaint of this nature.
Mercure and Jurys Inn/Leonardo Hotels also performed poorly in the survey, both earning a customer satisfaction score of 58 per cent. While many guests praised Mercure for “conveniently located” hotels with “helpful staff”, facilities were described as “basic”. Summing up their experience, one guest commented: “Not that bad but definitely not good. Avoid if possible.”
Jurys Inn/Leonardo Hotels elicited similar feedback, with one guest describing their stay as “Good, but nothing special for the price”. Nonetheless, many praised the chain for their conveniently located properties and “good service”.
At the top of the table is Premier Inn, with a customer score of 78 per cent. Rated an impressive five stars both for cleanliness and how well the description of the rooms lived up to expectations, guests also appreciated the comfort of the beds, customer service and wi-fi facilities on offer, awarding these four stars. Multiple travellers praised the chain for offering a “reliable” and “quality service”, with many respondents sharing that they are return guests owing to the consistency on offer across the brand’s sites.
However, despite being the second cheapest chain in the table, analysis by Which? found that an average night’s stay at the popular brand has risen by a staggering 35 per cent compared with 2021 – significantly more than the national average (21%). The increase has certainly been noted by guests, who awarded it just two stars for value for money, resulting in the loss of its Which? Recommended Provider status.
With rates on the rise, finding a good value stay has never been more important to travellers – but less is not always more. Travelodge, the cheapest chain in the survey with an average room rate of £78, also rated just 2 stars for value for money. That guests felt they didn’t get enough bang for their buck is clear– one said their room was “very run down”, while others remarked on “cramped” and “tired” bathrooms and breakfasts that were “not worth the money”. Overall, the chain scored a meagre one star for food and drink, and just two stars for the bedrooms, bathrooms, customer service, communal facilities and how well the description of the rooms matched the reality.
Among small hotel chains, Warner Hotels came up trumps, with a customer score of 77 per cent. Achieving five stars for cleanliness, quality of the bedrooms and how well the description matched the experience, customers praised the “modern, comfortable” rooms and “friendly welcome” offered by staff. Although one of the pricier hotel chains assessed, with an average room rate of £173 per night, it scored four stars for value for money, with multiple guests commenting that the inclusion of entertainment, breakfast and dinner made the stay worth its higher price tag.
Malmaison also fared well among smaller chains, with a customer score of 76 per cent. Guests praised the “fantastic service” and “pure luxury” experience on offer, giving it five stars for cleanliness, quality of the rooms, and how well the experience lived up to the description.
Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel, said:
“With a decade of dismal reviews cementing its place as one of the UK’s worst hotel chains, our results suggest that Britannia should be avoided at all costs.
“With the average price of a UK hotel stay now costing a fifth more than it did last year, travellers want to be sure they are getting the best possible experience for their money. Our results show that price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality and many respondents reported fantastic stays with brands including Premier Inn and smaller chains like Warner Hotels.”
Notes to editors
– In August 2022, Which? surveyed of 4,447 consumers – members of the public and Which? Connect members – who have stayed in a UK hotel in the last 12 months.
– Respondents were asked to rate their stay on categories including cleanliness (which includes bedrooms, bathrooms and communal areas), bedrooms (includes furniture, air con, heating and facilities), bathrooms (includes fixtures, fittings, lighting, towels, toiletries, shower and/or bath), food, customer service, bed comfort, communal areas and facilities, how well the description provided matched the reality, wi-fi, and value for money.
– The customer score is a combined calculation taking into account overall satisfaction and likeliness to recommend.
– Jurys Inn is currently undergoing a rebranding to Leonardo Hotels. For this reason, these two brands have been included together in the survey. The survey did not include Leonardo Royal or Nyx by Leonardo Hotels.
– Two large chains received Which? Recommended Provider Status: Sofitel and Crowne Plaza. WRP status was also awarded to small chains Warner Leisure and Malmaison.
Full table of results:
Rights of reply:
Britannia did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for Jurys Inn Hotels said: “To date in 2022, we have experienced significant growth in occupancy and received over 213,000 guest reviews across our 52 hotels, located across the United Kingdom and Ireland, recording high customer satisfaction scores, which position us strongly amongst our competitive set.
“While Which’s? findings, based on a survey of only 58 guests, are at odds with this, all feedback is important to us and, as per our wider strategy, continually look at ways to enhance the customer experience across all our hotels, with product innovation, people and customer service sitting at the heart of this plan.”
A spokesperson for Mercure said: “We are surprised to see our position in this survey, it does not reflect the standard of guest experience which we strive for, and we will take action to address these comments. In fact, the most recent BVA BDRC Hotel Guest Survey ranks Mercure 14th out of 164 hotel brands in the UK and scores the brand highly for ‘excellent cleaning and hygiene standards’.
“We pride ourselves on the welcoming hospitality of our hotel teams, as your reader notes. Our guest feedback, based on nearly 100,000* annual reviews, scores Mercure at 84.5% for its staff. The same guest data scores Mercure at 76% overall guest satisfaction, exceeding the overall Which? customer score by nearly 20 points. Furthermore, our TrustYou data, based on more than 18,000 independent reviews on TripAdvisor and other platforms, also highlights the excellent quality of Mercure staff service, resulting in 91% of positive mentions about our service friendliness. The experience and wellbeing of our guests at each and every property is our highest priority.” (*RPS data based on 96,162 annual reviews)
A spokesperson for Travelodge said: “Annually we welcome nearly 19 million customers across our 581 UK hotels with over 500 hotels achieving a high score of 4+ Dots on Tripadvisor. This year, we have consistently ranked 2nd for Value in the YouGov BrandIndex for Hotel & Cruises sector. We are dedicated to providing great value rooms and continue to invest in our hotels. We are sorry that the respondents from this survey did not receive our normal high level of service.”
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