Sales – Virgin West Coast tickets from £4, £30-£150 off Qatar flights and, erm, easyHotel deals

News in brief:

Virgin West Coast sale – Birmingham and Coventry from £4!

Today (midnight Thursday) will see the end of a Virgin Trains flash sale on the West Coast route.

London to Birmingham / Coventry starts at £4 in Standard Class and £17 in First Class.  You must travel between 8th March and 2nd May 2016.

Details of all the sale fares can be found on the Virgin website here.

Remember that you will also earn either 2 Virgin Flying Club or 2 Nectar points for every £1 you spend.

Virgin Trains sale

£150 off a Qatar Airways business class flight from the UK

In a partnership with Heathrow Airport, Qatar Airways is offering £150 off any business class return fare from the UK.  In economy, the discount is £30.

You need to book by 17th March for travel at any point up to 15th December.

The code you need to use is HALQR380 which you need to use on this booking page on the Qatar website.

Qatar launched its flights to Sydney yesterday and Birmingham is coming very soon.  My report on their A380 business class will appear in a few days.

Qatar A380

easyHotel rooms from £15!

I have never stayed at an easyHotel.  However, reader Alex tipped me off about the sale they are running until Friday night and you can’t knock the prices.

Croydon is priced from £15, London Old Street from £24, London Earls Court from £24 and Glasgow from £19.

This is for stays between 21st March and 5th June.  You can book here.

If I was looking for a super-cheap night for a weekend stay then I’d be holding out for a last minute £25 Ibis room or £40 Novotel in Accor’s Happy Mondays promotion.  However, if you only need somewhere for a few hours to rest your head and want to lock in a room then these prices seem OK – just watch out for the extras they like to add.

I personally think that easyGroup missed a huge trick in budget hotels and should be where Premier Inn is today.  It is ironic that whilst easyJet is going upmarket, easyHotel still seems to target the ‘nothing matters but price’ segment – and, in hotels, that never really works due to underlying property costs.

Bits: Design Hotels now bookable with SPG points and a potential SPG bargain in Croatia
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  1. Need another sub £1000 business class sale on Qatar or RJ. Currently in Thailand after flying from ARN to BKK which hands down beats BA club world by miles.
    If it wasn’t for HFP I wouldn’t have known about the sale etc so thanks Rob! Also now 500ish TP away from Gold….

  2. I met the easyHotel management a couple of years ago. They felt their real estate advantage was that they didn’t need to offer windows in all rooms, so they can convert more traditional office space. Beyind that, you can’t compete on price with cheap B&Bs/Airbnb if you have to pay OTA commissions, so you need a brand that people come direct to: seem a fair point/position but they haven’t good there yey – they ride on the back of people googling “easyjet hotels”.

    • The one in Kensington, though, is a traditional Victorian townhouse conversion. As you can now convert office space to housing without ‘change of use’ planning permission, the flow of available sites will be lower.

      Ryanair works because they buy brand new planes which have the double benefit of being cheap to run and look good to the customer. A cheap hotel conversion looks, well, cheap.

      I hugely admire Premier Inn – the quality of the new ones is fantastic.

      • Tis true, there is a new one here in Wigan and its the nicest hotel in town!

      • Easyhotel are profitable, have decent margins, have high occupancy rates and have been around for 12 years.

        It seems to me that you’re just projecting your personal upmarket tastes onto the budget market and don’t fully understand it. No one flies Ryanair because of the new planes, they fly them because of price. Their planes also do look cheap – have you ever been on one? Even though they’ve been toning it down, it’s still a garish yellow inside with advertising boards on the overhead bins. The seats don’t recline and you don’t even get a seat back pocket.

        While it’s a big deal for you, I can assure you people on a small budget (Easyhotel’s target market) aren’t overly concerned about something “looking cheap”!

        • 12 years and 10 UK hotels does not reek of success to me.

          ‘Profitable’ and ‘margin’ are odd words in this context. As easyHotel has no costs – the franchises pay upfront fees and ongoing revenue cuts – it is difficult for it to make a loss. What are there total room numbers in the UK? 1600 globally so probably 1000 in the UK. The new Accor budget hotel in the Trocadero will have 600 rooms on its own.

          The Glasgow hotel went bust in 2013, note, and was bailed out personally by Stelios who then reopened it.

          Premier Inn has 700 UK hotels and 50,000 rooms.

          What I would say for easyHotel is that it probably mops up a lot of traffic which would otherwise end up in the fire trap one-star hotels of Earls Court and Victoria and we should be grateful for that. Back in the day I may well have stayed in one myself – I stayed in far worse places than an easyHotel when I was a kid, the low point potentially being a rooms which turned out to be a mattress on the floor in a room above a strip club in Paris.

          • It’s profitable, in business and expanding – that’s a success. It seems rather flippant to say otherwise!

            Of course they have costs… It’s not just a franchise model, they own some of their own hotels. Why you’re comparing them to Accor or Premier Inn I have no idea. There is a rather large middle ground between, “never works” and “global mega-chain”!

            • I compare it to Premier Inn because easyJet is the Premier Inn of the airline business, and Premier Inn is the hotel business that Stelios should have launched! That would have made him a proper 2nd (technically 3rd) fortune.

            • But Premier Inn already existed. I don’t buy the suggestion that the Easy Group could have opened up a replica chain to Premier Inn and definitely beat Whitbread in their own area of expertise. I’m not sure it’s a particularly good comparison either – the Easy Group branding is cheap and tacky looking and they often occupy the bottom rung of the market (EasyBus, EasyGym, EasyFoodStore). Premier Inn is a budget chain, but they don’t seek to come across as one in presentation.

              I agree if it worked then they would currently be much more successful, but I’m fairly sure that a multi-million pound venture would have done a bit of market research into where they should operate in the sector before they started!

  3. Chris Jones says:

    Off subject here.

    With the loss off Accor platinum (Amex) I noticed that I currently need 10 stays or1400 points from status. Has anybody attempted to transfer points?

  4. The virgin trains deal is fantastic value, I’ve managed to get some tickets for some travel around Easter and some tickets for when I return back from a football match. Saved me hundreds of pounds!

  5. Way back in the day, the difference between Ryanair and easyJet was that Ryanair bought cheap old planes which were expensive to run and maintain and easyJet bought new expensive planes which were cheaper to run and fix. Stelios is on record saying that if either Ryanair or easyJet had a crash, it would be the end of the (then) fledgling no frills flight sector. Of course, now more established, Ryanair has upgraded their metal.

    To easyHotel. I have stayed in the Victoria one when my regular cheap overnighter was unavailable and it was adequate. if you have been / lived in Japan you will surely be familiar with the modular bathrooms they have in salaryman hotels etc. Same with easyHotel.

    I also enquired about their business model and franchising. To be honest, it was pretty poor and totally reliant upon the third party owning the property and essentially it being a low rent run down building which could benefit from increased occupancy at the expense of more smaller rooms and brand recognition.

    I hugely admire Premier Inn except when the pricing works against me and I feel they are too expensive but day in day out, they deliver fair value and as mentioned above, the new ones are truly good hotels.

    By contrast, the easyHotel model seems to be going nowhere and should perhaps be retired.

  6. I stayed in the Old Street Easyhotel in Janaury for a couple of nights, purely because of the location and price. The room literally just has a bed, a bathroom module, and some hooks on the wall. If you want wifi you obviously have to pay for it. I did get a window, though.

    The guests seemed to be mainly youngsters backpacking, so there was some late-night noise. The bed was perfectly acceptable, but if you’re going to be spending any time in the room at all it’s pretty grim. I’ve been in way more appealing youth hostels.

  7. Hmmmn, seems as if the Virgin sale does not allow two together railcards to be applied to the sale price… Weird, it was doing it last sale at christmas time…

  8. Andrew H says:

    Off topic – just received an email from BA advertising Avios purchase bonus.

    “Be rewarded when you treat yourself, or somebody else. Enjoy up to 30% bonus Avios when you purchase or gift Avios between now and 17 March, so you can reach that reward flight or upgrade and be on the beach even sooner.

    Here’s how much you could earn
    10% bonus when you purchase or gift 1,000 — 15,000 Avios
    20% bonus when you purchase or gift 16,000 — 34,000 Avios
    30% bonus when you purchase or gift 35,000 Avios”

    • £575 for 35,000 + 10,500 Bonus = 1.26373p each

      Glad I got 50,000 for ISTR under 0.7p each on the Groupon deal :)

  9. blueskies says:

    OT:Does anyone know of a cash back/avios earning website to buy European rail tickets?

    • Balls I could probably have used them for my Ouibus booking on an overnight coach from London – Paris later this month. Would have sweetened the 9hr journey a little.

  10. Does anyone have experience of Accor Happy Mondays availability within a couple of miles of London Euston? Not sure whether to book Old Street Easyhotel @ £55 or wait until the week of my trip to hopefully get a Happy Mondays offer for ~£40.

    • The Pullman, next door, is often on at 80. Luxury but well worth the 25 extra over easyHotel!

      • I want cheap, not luxury! Combining this with Virgin West Coast offer to get an uplanned and unbudgeted weekend in the capital.

      • Pullman St Pancras is 90. The Ibis is next door and is excellent value at 40.

    • We’ve stayed at a few over the last few year and haven’t had any availability issues. There is a Mercure about 10 mins walk from Euston, and a nice coffee shop not too far away for breakfast

  11. I had a look at booking some friends a hotel in Glasgow, and the easy hotel is in a good central location and cheap (20 pounds a night!), stopped in my tracks when i saw the reviews and pictures on TripAdvisor. Tiny rooms, and i think people would be better off in a hostel.

    Premier Inn is operating at a high level of consistency, you know you are going to get a great comfortable bed, a decent TV etc. The quality of breakfast is variable (one in Leeds city centre uses a set of hot plates in the TGI’s and the coffee is in flasks).

    Had a few bargain bookings with Travelodge, and the refurbished rooms are a vast improvement, not as good as Premier Inn, but good and actually better than most Holiday Inn Express. Stayed in the HIX Stirling a few weeks ago in what was the worst mattress ever endured – 2 single mattresses joined together, but of different levels of worn out and therefore sitting at different heights!

    • We used to smuggle 3 kids into PI past front desk :)

      Best way was to leave a few minutes then get the second boy in with the first boy’s sweatshirt on.

      Not done it for a couple of years now, they’ve grown so much there might not be enough bedspace any more lol

      • Genghis says:

        All I can think of is: “there were 5 in the bed and the little one said…”

      • My brother used to go to his nearby Premier Inn and pay for the breakfast, pretend he had stayed the night, then the kids would eat for free!

  12. Discount mike says:

    Can anybody find any £25/40 rooms in London in accors happy Mondays promo. I can’t find anything for this weekend, might be because I’m currently in Spain and they check your IP’s location