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Which? magazine looks at the UK’s best and worst hotel chains

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I was sent a copy of Which? Travel magazine this month because I’m quoted in it.  I very rarely see it otherwise since it is a subscription-only title.

The November issue includes the annual Which? Travel reader survey into the best and worst UK hotel chains.  The results are not hugely surprising but they still make interesting reading.

The methodology, based on reader votes, is complex so I’ll just focus on the overall ranking.

The winner was Premier Inn with 79%.  This is fine by me – I have written before on HFP about how impressive I find Premier Inn on the odd occasions when I need to use them.

Hilton Garden Inn comes second but with only eight UK properties doesn’t really mean much.  Third was Fuller’s Hotels with 75% – a chain I have never used.

Non-UK based readers may be surprised to see Crowne Plaza in 5th place, but the quality of their UK hotels is far higher than you would find in the USA.

Other brands I like – Renaissance, DoubleTree, Hampton and Radisson Blu Edwardian – also do well.

Premier Inn Which? Travel

But what about the bottom of the list?

Of the 32 large chains covered, there is no prize for guessing who comes bottom.  Not only does this chain come last, but it comes last by a whopping margin of 22% from its nearest competitor.

Yes, step forward Britannia Hotels.  Despite having 60 hotels they can’t manage an overall score of more than 35%.  The 2nd worst chain (Old English Inns) manages 57%.

The biggest surprise in the bottom 12 is Hilton, although there are some exceptionally ropey regional properties out there.  Mercure was also a surprise near the bottom although I am biased because the one I see most often is the exceptional Sheffield hotel.  It is less of a surprise to see easyHotel, Park Inn, Thistle and Travelodge down there.

PS.  If you can get hold of a copy, there is also an interesting story about shrinking hotel rooms.  The Which? Travel team visits a London hotel with a 5 sq m room (of which the bedroom is 3 sq m – the single bed touches the wall on both sides) and apparently some easyHotel UK rooms are 6 sq m.  Z Hotel in Soho has 8 sq m rooms which are, impressively, 50% more expensive per square metre than booking a suite at The Ritz ….

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Comments (91)

  • Alex Sm says:

    I think that – for some reason, correct me if I am wrong – that in general IHG’s US properties are worse in quality (and often higher in price) that IHG’s properties in Europe, especially HIX and CP. Most of European – and UK – CP and HIX are newly built or recently converted and look very nice.

    • mr dee says:

      The new HIX hotels are nice but most old ones are poor and I have found that the regular Holiday Inn is often the worst by IHG in terms of not only service but also the state of the places, much better in Europe.

  • Trickster says:

    On the subject of Hilton, if you have made stays towards the end of October when they were doing system upgrades, don’t count on the point or stays posting as the important alert on that app states, I had to get them posted manually via twitter dm- who were very responsive and helpful to be fair.

  • Voltron says:

    Which magazine is acutally very good, been a subscriber for a long time, might be worth for some people to try out the magazine, they usually always have a £1 for first 3 months etc or similar deal on.
    There is the main magazine, plus a seperate mag for money / travel.

    • Shoestring says:

      Hard to justify the subscription when all you have to do these days is research your product online.

      It’s £10.75/ month or £129/ year.

  • Chris says:

    Recently stayed in the Hilton London Euston & Canary Wharf which were both excellent however the Hilton Birmingham NEC was awful, extremely outraged shoddy looking rooms, beds like concrete, definitely wouldn’t stay there again.

  • Chris says:

    ** silly auto correct, meant to say outdated rooms.

  • Shoestring says:

    Fond memories of smuggling in 3 kids (to make 5 of us) into Premier Inn & Travelodge. We used to get the boys – both blondies when they were younger – to wear the same sweatshirt/ jeans/ cap combo and just time it 15 mins apart. The unlucky one had to stay in the car on his own until dad came back to breeze him past the front desk.

    Tbh I think the front desk staff know exactly what’s going on & don’t care too much.

    That was a few years ago – wouldn’t try that with my big 3 teenagers lol

    Though I guess there must be some student record out there of how many you can get into a hotel room after a night on the tiles somewhere far from home.