New Which? research has found it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a hotel room in the UK for less than £100 a night – as Britannia was named worst hotel chain in the consumer champion’s annual survey for the 11th year in a row.
Hotel prices have risen by an inflation-busting 13 per cent on average this year, according to ONS figures, meaning even budget stays are not as cheap as they once were.
The majority of hotel chains (78%) in the consumer champion’s survey were reported as costing well over £100 a night for a room on average – including some of the most poorly rated. With prices spiralling, finding the right hotel for your money is increasingly important.
More than 5,000 people rated their hotel stays for the consumer champion’s annual hotel survey, with respondents invited to rate their experiences at 28 large and nine small hotel chains across the UK.
Guests scored their stays out of five stars across 10 categories including cleanliness, customer service, bed comfort, how well description matched the reality and value for money. An overall customer score was calculated combining overall satisfaction and likeliness to recommend.
Though no chain managed a full five stars for value for money, many still managed to impress.
Sharing the joint top spot in the large chains category with a customer score of 77 per cent are boutique chain Hotel Indigo, owned by IHG, and Premier Inn’s satellite brand, Hub by Premier Inn, both of which were awarded the coveted Which? Recommended Provider status.
Hotel Indigo stood out to respondents for its ‘stylish’ boutique offering, with many of its 18 UK hotels housed in historic buildings. Customers praised the chain’s ‘unusual’ and ‘quirky’ décor, noting the unique character and atmosphere of the brand’s accommodation. It scored an impressive clutch of five and four star ratings – dropping to three stars only on value for money.
Meanwhile, Hub by Premier Inn narrowly eclipsed its parent brand Premier Inn, which came a close second place, with a score of 75 per cent.
Currently found only in Edinburgh and London, hotels in the ‘Hub By Premier Inn’ portfolio boast excellent city centre locations and facilities, but with compact rooms – some completely windowless.
Multiple respondents praised the Hub hotels for their ‘convenient’ locations, and while customers did note the rooms were ‘extremely compact’ they nonetheless concluded that they were ‘efficient’ and ‘well designed’, particularly for shorter stays. The chain scored a full five stars for cleanliness, bed comfort and the description matching the reality, and scored four stars for its bedrooms, bathrooms, customer service, and communal areas and décor.
Premier Inn also secured Which? Recommended Provider status, and was rated five stars for its bed comfort, and four stars for its bedrooms, customer service, cleanliness, value for money and how well descriptions matched the reality.
In third place was budget pub chain Wetherspoons with a customer score of 73 per cent. With respondents reporting they paid £84 a night on average, it is among the cheaper options in the survey – and scored four stars for value for money.
It scored three stars for bed comfort, cleanliness, customer service and how well description matched the reality. In contrast, rival pub chain Old English/Greene King Inns found itself in the bottom three with a score of 60 per cent – despite a higher reported room cost, at £103 a night on average.
At the other end of the rankings, Britannia finds itself at the bottom of Which?’s tables for the eleventh consecutive year, with an abysmal score of just 48 per cent. The chain scored a dismal one star rating for its bedrooms, bathrooms and quality of the wi-fi, and scored no higher than two stars in any of the remaining categories – including cleanliness.
Though many of the chain’s properties have illustrious histories – Winston Churchill was once a guest at the famous Grand Hotel, Scarborough – many now offer but a faint glimpse of what one guest described as their ‘faded elegance’. One respondent said the hotel was ‘awful… so filthy that we cleaned the whole accommodation ourselves.’ Another lamented their stay was ‘like something out of the sixties’, while another guest concluded they’d ‘never stay in a Britannia again’.
Just ahead of Britannia, with mediocre joint scores of 56 per cent were Travelodge and Mercure.
Though some customers praised Mercure for their conveniently located hotels and ‘excellent service’, it nonetheless secured a run of two and three star ratings, including two stars for the quality of its bedrooms, bathrooms, and communal areas, with customers criticising the chain’s ‘dingy’, and ‘tired’ feel. With respondents reporting they paid £106 a night on average, it scored just two stars for value for money.
Travelodge similarly fell down on its value for money offer, scoring just two stars despite being among the cheapest brands in the survey, at £79 a night on average. Across the remaining categories it received a mixed bag of one, two and three star ratings – including two stars for its bedrooms, bathrooms, and breakfast, and just one star for wifi. One guest described their room as having ‘an NHS hospital aesthetic’ while another described the hotel as ‘dated and tired’. Others were more positive though, reporting they had a “good overall experience”.
Its ratings come in sharp contrast to budget competitor Days Inn, which despite also having an average price per night of £79, found itself higher up the charts with a middling customer score of 65 per cent – and an impressive four stars for value for money. Customers described it as ‘cheap and cheerful’ with ‘clean and quiet’ rooms.
In the small chains category, Brend Collection, Coaching Inn Group and Inn Collection Group all achieved Which? Recommended Provider Status.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel said:
“With prices at many hotels rising further this year, finding good value, budget accommodation is increasingly difficult. For those looking for a reasonably priced stay, there are big differences between the best and worst chains, with the likes of Premier Inn and Wetherspoons distinguishing themselves from the pack.
“When you’re booking your next trip, make sure to take time to research your options carefully, and read reviews from a range of sources to see what other guests thought of their stay.”
Notes to editors:
- 5,303 respondents made up of both Which? members and members of the public were surveyed in July 2023 about their hotel stays in the preceding 12 months.
- The average price paid is a median rate for a one-night stay, including all room rates, as recorded by survey respondents.
- During the period covered by the survey, Jurys Inn was 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.
- Six hotels received Which? recommended provider status: Indigo Hotels, Hub by Premier Inn, Premier Inn, Brend Collection, Coaching Inn Group and Inn Collection Group.
Full table of results:
Rights of Reply:
A spokesperson for Travelodge said: “Last year we welcomed over 21 million business and leisure guests to our hotels. 90% of our Travelodge UK hotels are rated 4* or above on TripAdvisor and our new breakfast menu at our onsite Bar Cafes has been rated excellent value for money by over 70% of our customers. Travelodge is investing significantly in our UK portfolio to deliver a high-quality, premium look and feel hotel design and a great value for money proposition to our customers. This hotel refit programme is Travelodge’s most significant brand transformation to date and is well underway across the country, with approximately £45 million being invested this year to update our hotels. We take our guest feedback very seriously and are sorry to hear that the Which? reviewers did not receive our normal high-quality service.”
Britannia did not respond to a request for comment.
Mercure did not provide a comment prior to publication.
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