Britannia has been named the UK’s worst large hotel chain by Which? for the 10th year in a row.
Its dismal reputation has been further cemented following an annual survey by Which? that asked respondents to assess 35 chains across 10 key categories, including bed comfort, food, customer service, ‘description matches reality’, and Wi-Fi. Britannia, which has an average room price of £119, scores just two out of five stars across every category.
One guest described their Britannia room as ‘absolutely dire, drab and smelly’, the consumer champion says. Topping the list was Premier Inn, which has an average room price of £89 – making it the second cheapest of the large hotel chains that were surveyed, after Travelodge.
Britannia has been named the UK’s worst large hotel chain by Which? for the 10th year in a row. Pictured is the chain’s International Hotel in Canary Wharf, which MailOnline Travel Editor Ted Thornhill reviewed recently
MailOnline’s Ted outside the Britannia in Canary Wharf during his review stay
Premier Inn customers were particularly impressed by the hotel chain’s cleanliness and how well the description of the rooms lived up to expectations – awarding both categories five stars. Earlier this year, MailOnline Travel compared top-ranking Premier Inn with bottom-ranking Britannia – and found that its own experiences echoed the Which? survey’s findings.
Last-place Britannia has over 60 hotels across the UK and many of its properties actually have illustrious histories – the majestic 19th-century Adelphi in Liverpool, for example, counts Prime Minister Winston Churchill among its former patrons. Contemporary Britannia guests, however, have found their stays to be far from first class, says Which?, with respondents describing their surroundings as ‘tired and tatty’, with a ‘rough and ready’ feel.
The consumer champion reveals that 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 per cent) noting issues with cleanliness.
One guest complained of dirt and mould, Which? reveals, adding that 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.
It’s no surprise, then, that Britannia managed an overall customer satisfaction score of just 56 per cent.
Britannia was closely followed by Mercure and Jurys Inn/Leonardo Hotels (Jurys Inn is currently undergoing a rebranding to Leonardo Hotels), which tied in second-from-last place with scores of 58 per cent.
While many guests praised Mercure for ‘conveniently located’ hotels with ‘helpful staff’, facilities were described as ‘basic’, Which? reveals. Summing up their experience, one guest commented: ‘Not that bad but definitely not good. Avoid if possible.’
Jurys Inn/Leonardo Hotels elicited similar feedback, the watchdog says, with one guest describing their stay as ‘good, but nothing special for the price’. Nonetheless, many praised the chain for its conveniently located properties and ‘good service’.
A table showing the results of the Which? member survey of large and small hotel chains
With a customer satisfaction score of 78 per cent, Premier Inn has been named number one in the large hotel chain ranking. Pictured is a Premier Inn hotel in Aldgate, London
At the other end of the table, produced from a survey of almost 4,500 hotel stays, first-place Premier Inn earns an impressive customer score of 78 per cent. Which? says that guests also appreciated the comfort of the beds, customer service and Wi-Fi facilities on offer, awarding these four stars.
The consumer champion says that 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 of 21 per cent, already a big leap. The increase has certainly been noted by guests, who award it just two stars for value for money, resulting in the loss of its Which? Recommended Provider status, the watchdog reveals.
Sofitel ranks second with a score of 76 per cent. The hotel group, which has an average room price of £204, earns five stars for cleanliness, bed comfort and the description of the room matching reality.
Many of Britannia’s properties actually have illustrious histories – the Adelphi (above) in Liverpool, for example, counts Winston Churchill among its former patrons. Contemporary Britannia guests, however, have found their stays to be far from first class, says Which?
It’s tailed by third-place Crowne Plaza, which has a customer score of 74 per cent, with five stars snapped up for cleanliness and description matching reality. A stay at a Crowne Plaza hotel will set guests back around £129, Which? reveals.
Both Sofitel and Crowne Plaza, received Which? Recommended Provider Status this year, crystalising their status as quality hotel chains.
With rates on the rise, finding a good value stay has never been more important to travellers – but less is not always more, according to Which?. Though it is the cheapest large chain in the survey with an average room rate of £78, Travelodge (joint 11th) was rated just two stars for value for money – much like Premier Inn.
Which? says that Travelodge guests felt they didn’t get enough bang for their buck – 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 scores 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, the watchdog notes.
Sofitel ranks second overall with a score of 76 per cent, earning five stars for cleanliness, bed comfort and the description of the room matching reality. Above is a Sofitel in central London
Among small hotel chains, Warner Hotels comes top, 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, says Which? Although one of the pricier hotel chains assessed, with an average room rate of £173 per night, it scores 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 (second) also fared well among smaller chains, with a customer score of 76 per cent. Which? reveals that 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. Both Warner Leisure and Malmaison have been awarded Which? Recommended Provider Status.
At the bottom of the table, QHotels is the lowest-ranking small hotel chain with an overall score of 62 per cent, though it earns four stars for cleanliness.
Commenting on the findings, Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel, says: ‘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 such as Warner Hotels.’
The bronze medal in the large hotel ranking goes to Crowne Plaza, with a customer score of 74 per cent. Pictured is a Crowne Plaza in Liverpool
Meanwhile, 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, we 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 per cent for its staff. The same guest data scores Mercure at 76 per cent 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 per cent of positive mentions about our service friendliness. The experience and well-being of our guests at each and every property is our highest priority.’
A spokesperson for Travelodge said: ‘Annually, we welcome nearly 19million customers across our 581 UK hotels with over 500 hotels achieving a high score of four-plus Dots on Tripadvisor. This year, we have consistently ranked second 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.’
Britannia did not respond to requests for comment.