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Which? magazine unveils the best – and worst – UK hotel chains

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With travel now picking up again, Which? magazine has been able to bring back one of its annual highlights – the best and worst UK hotel chains, as voted for by its readers.

You can see the full article on the Which? website here.

There is, of course, no surprise over the winner of the UK’s worst hotel chain.

the best - and worst - UK hotel chains

Yes, yet again Britannia Hotels has won.

Based, admittedly, on a relatively small sample size due to covid restrictions, Britannia was rated one star out of five for bathrooms, and two stars for seven other categories such as cleanliness, customer service and value for money.

(What I don’t quite understand is how Which? finds anyone to vote for Britannia. Surely all of their readership must have been put off by now, given that Britannia has won this title multiple times?!)

More surprising is who came second – Accor’s Mercure brand. Admittedly, Mercure also performed badly in the last pre-covd version of this survey, but it still surprises me. This is probably because my view is coloured by the Sheffield property (below, website here) which is arguably the best large hotel in the city centre. Perhaps it should be rebranded before it is dragged down by its siblings?

Worst hotels in Britain

Who was voted the UK’s best hotel chain?

The UK’s best large hotel chain

The ‘large chain’ winner was Premier Inn.

This is not hugely surprising. I am a big fan of Premier Inn – ‘consistent’ is the best way to describe them – and happy to use them if I’m in a town with no high end options. In many parts of the UK, the local Premier Inn is the best hotel in the area.

Second was Crowne Plaza. This is more surprising, and I doubt this run can continue. The best London hotels have left or are leaving (Kensington, The City) and some dubious additions have been made (Sheffield).

Sofitel, Radisson Blu and Wetherspoons Hotels round out the top five, with Hilton in 6th.

(Sofitel should arguably not have been on the ‘large chain’ list given that it only has three UK hotels. One of these is a super-luxury property in St James whilst the other two are at Heathrow and at Gatwick.)

The UK’s best small or medium hotel chain

In the ‘small and medium chains’ category, the winner was Hotel du Vin. It’s worth noting that Hotel du Vin got a higher overall score than Premier Inn. I think most people would agree with this choice.

Warner Leisure – not really aimed at the HfP demographic, but arguably closer to the typical Which? subscriber – came second. The small ABode chain, about which I have heard a lot of good things but never visited, came third.

Young’s Hotel and Malmaison, the sister chain to Hotel du Vin, complete the top five.

You can read the full article on the Which? website here. To read about Mercure’s poor showing you need to read this CityAM article.

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Comments (68)

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  • Tony1 says:

    Mercure is a “conversion” brand for Accor – the standards are truly variable – there are very good ones, and some very bad. IMHO Mercure is the brand where the owners of the hotel tend to spend less on the refurbishments as there is no definitive brand standard to comply with.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Was going to say many local lectures which range from decent quality, but nothing special, to absolute sh1t hole.

      In general the state of U.K. countryside 3/4 star hotels is pretty shocking due to lack of investment.

  • Nick G says:

    The mercure York sticks in my mind as one of the biggest s*#@ holes I’ve ever stayed in. Should have stayed in a premier inn in the centre.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      It has spent the last year largely block-booked as a temporary home for asylum seekers funded by York Council.
      Laudable yes, but shows who was prepared to bid cheapest for that contract…

  • Vin says:

    A surprisingly good CP we stayed in recently was the Crowne Plaza Stratford-upon-Avon. What looks like a relic of the ’70’s from the outside has been done up to modern standards with a very pleasant breakfast and bar dining lounge area. A ‘cozy’ executive lounge, access to the gym/pool (also used by fee paying public), nicely thought out executive rooms, plenty of paid parking, attentive staff and a short walk into the historic city centre makes this, I feel, a better choice than the Indigo.

    • CamFlyer says:

      +1 on the CP Stratford-upon-Avon.

      Though as of August 2020 (seems so long ago!) Covid safe breakfast was disappointing.

      • Harrier25 says:

        +2 for the Crowne Plaza Stratford upon Avon. Stayed there many times. Excellent hotel.

  • Blenz101 says:

    Mecure Watford is an absolute shocker. Trip advisor gives a fair representation of just how bad things can get.

    • Paul Pogba says:

      The “Spiders Web” is currently being used to house refugees (as is the equally glamorous “Linton Travel Tavern” Hilton up the road) and planning has been approved for demolition of the former and replacement with warehousing.

      • aseftel says:

        Interesting. I’d wondered how the Hilton had stayed so busy through lockdowns. Seemed to always have a busy car park when driving past. Still puzzling how it has such a poor reputation (seemingly deserved). Hilton’s EMEA HQ is round the corner and so presumably there is a decent volume of international Hilton management staying there in more normal times. By contrast, Hilton McLean (next to the global HQ) was very well-oiled.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Brand spanking new 5* Hilton being built if not already built in Watford.

  • chabuddy geezy says:

    I stayed in the Mercure Caledonian in Aberdeen back in 2020. I thought it was pretty good for the price we paid.

    • Panda Mick says:

      Stayed in the Mercure Inverness last summer. Was nice, if not a little generic. There was some lovely scottish themed art in the reception, though. Breakfast was great too!

  • TimM says:

    I stayed at the Britannia Adelphi in Liverpool, once the “best hotel outside London”, last year because it was hosting the International Beatles Convention with my disabled mother who wanted to attend. Needless to say, it ended in a court case. We booked the most expensive suite in the hotel but didn’t get it, far from. They had the nerve to defend the case. They must have a large legal department. We won.

    There was a Premier Inn next door. We would have been far better there.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      It was horrible when they set the TV show there, it’s worse now. Britannia thrive on the coach trip trade, mostly elderly guests who remember their landmark properties as they were decades ago. And they keep coming back because it’s so cheap.

  • Entitled says:

    No honourable mention for Best Western? I shudder every time I pass one.

    • Blindman67 says:

      I stay in some due to work and TBHO of late they have improved drastically, with refurbs being rolled out, especially to the Hallmark acquired ones.

  • Tony1 says:

    Rob, your link to the Mercure seems not to work – gives me bad status … ( could be Accor bad IT or just de ja vu ) lol

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