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

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Which? magazine has brought back one of its regular 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. It may be 18 months since the last set of awards but nothing ever changes here ….

the best - and worst - UK hotel chains

Yes, yet again Britannia Hotels has won (or lost).

Based, admittedly, on a relatively small sample size, Britannia was rated one star out of five for bathrooms, bedrooms and wi-fi, and two stars for categories such as cleanliness, customer service and value for money. This is a poorer showing than February 2022 when it only scored one star in one category.

(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?!)

Travelodge came second from bottom, which is not surprising. Whilst it is pushing ahead with selected refurbishments – and recent openings look quite smart – much of the estate is in a bad way.

More surprising is who came third from bottom – Accor’s Mercure brand. Mercure was actually 2nd from bottom in February 2022 so this counts as an improvement. 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 Hotel Indigo, part of IHG One Rewards.

This is not hugely surprising. I have often said that a Hotel Indigo is usually the best branded hotel in a regional city, and new openings such as Bath which I reviewed here are impressive.

Second and third spots were taken by Premier Inn Hub (the city centre variant with smaller rooms) and Premier Inn respectively.

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. Premier Inn actually won the overall title in 2022.

Crowne Plaza, which came 4th in February 2022, dropped to 14th! I predicted this in 2022, as the best London hotels were leaving (Kensington, The City) and some dubious additions had been made (eg Sheffield).

From fourth onwards we have Wetherspoon Hotels, Ibis Styles, Sofitel, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton, Holiday Inn Express and Marriott.

(Sofitel should arguably not have been on the ‘large chain’ list given that it only has three UK hotels. One of these is a smart 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 Brend. This is a name I didn’t know, but it is a group of resort hotels in Devon and Cornwall, including the Saunton Sands Hotel.

Second was Coaching Inn and third was Inn Collection Group. It’s worth noting that all three of these scored higher than the winner of the ‘best large chain’ title.

Hotel du Vin, website here, dropped to fourth after winning in February 2022.

Warner Leisure – not really aimed at the HfP demographic, but arguably closer to the typical Which? subscriber – came fifth. I was a little surprised to see Q Hotels and De Vere following on, ahead of Malmaison.

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

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Comments (80)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • memesweeper says:

    I will predict that Delta will be competing with Mercure on the bottom of the table next year.

    • Andy says:

      Yeh, stayed in the Bristol one a month or so back it was old and tired with building work starting at 8am on a Sat

      Talking of old and tired stayed in the Leonardo by Brighton train station last week don’t plan on staying there again

  • Go197 says:

    The opinion of 5000 Which subscribers has no relevance or meaning to me.

    Poll the HfP audience instead

    • Go197 says:

      Actually that would be just as irrelevant to my choice of where to stay. I need a top ten hotel chains list just as much as I need opinions from tiktok …

      • No longer Entitled says:

        Are you not looking forward to the forthcoming hotel dupe list?

        • Go197 says:

          There’s maybe something in that idea. The HfP Reader’s hotels series was quite interesting.

          Nobody needs to be told that an Indigo hotel is better than a Travelodge (although I spent a great many nights in Travelodge for work because it was £9 per night), but the well-travelled and well-heeled HfP readership no doubt has all sorts of interesting hotel stories they could tell

    • Rhys says:

      Michelin is about to branch out into hotels if you’re looking for top end recommendations…

    • BJ says:

      Meaning/relevance strikes me as a low- to mid-range price cohort. How else could Premier Inn take 2nd and 3rd places?

      A poll of HfP readers would be little more relevant, that would just reflect HfP-driven hype with votes from many readers who had not even tried airlines, hotels etc in question.

      • Andrew says:

        Ditto ibis Styles getting 5th…

        ibis Styles – when a standard ibis is not depressing enough

  • t0m says:

    I can’t believe Premier Inn Hub came 2nd. I hate this concept.. most of them don’t even seem to have any windows! They also seem to have “inspired” the Yotel Shoreditch which also has a number of windowless/airless boxes for rent at crazy prices.

    Am a big fan of classic Premier Inn, but not the Hub!

    • planeconcorde says:

      I like the Premier Inn Hub concept. For a weekend trip in London, where I will be out of the room most of the time and just need somewhere to sleep it is great. I am single so it works for me. I can see why a couple would hate the standard rooms, but the ‘bigger’ rooms should over come many of the issues. Breakfast is very poor, I always eat out of the hotel.

  • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

    Since the Royal Albion in Brighton burnt down in the summer I expect this will actually help improve the Britannia rating.

    • Brighton Belle says:

      We have plenty of alternatives in Brighton if you’re disappointed you can’t stay in the Royal Albion and want the same or lower standards.

    • NA says:

      @BA Flyer IHG Stayer – Maybe true, but it’s the funniest comment on here in quite a long time 🙂

    • Lady London says:

      Oh dear can one wonder if they had it paid out on insurance?

  • TimM says:

    My first and only experience of Britannia Hotels was at the formerly best hotel in the UK outside of London, the Adelphi in Liverpool. The royals, rich and famous have all stayed there. I had read poor reviews so I booked the best suite in the hotel. I didn’t get it. I was allocated a fairly standard room that was clearly once the living room part of a suite and it stunk – some amateur had clearly tried to clean the carpet without a carpet cleaner so it was absolutely sodden. An immediate return to reception, joining the queue of other complainers, resulted in the stock response, ‘no other rooms available, any complaints talk to HQ’. I took Britannia Hotels to court and eventually won. Never to be repeated.

    • BJ says:

      I stayed at the Britannia International hotel in London just after it opened. It was nice, and to this day the breakfast buffet I had there was the best ever in a hotel. I had no hesitation in returning a yer or so later only to be dismayed by the scale of deterioration.

  • johnny_c-l says:

    This is the first time I have heard Brend hotels described as upmarket.

    • Mikeact says:

      I, too, wouldn’t describe them as upmarket, but generally, a good above average chain….apart from the Saunton Sands, which is their flagship, not least for the fantastic views and access to the fantastic beach.

      • Bagoly says:

        I remember the horror of my parents when Brend bought Saunton Sands Hotel in 1977 – he was very common.
        (We spent two weeks there every year from 1971 (when it had two red stars!) to 1986 – after the first few years we always had Table#1 in the Dining Room)
        Prior to the takeover, it was open only in the summer, and the waiting staff were students on vacation, often French.
        The very Scottish General Manager and his wife spent the winter in the south of France.
        Now the Brend founder Percy, and his son Peter, have both passed on.
        After the takeover, on one Wednesday night each year after the official entertainment had finished and well into the morning there was a Staff v Special Guests competition involving such things as blindfolded contestants on all fours with rolled-up newspapers trying to land the first blow on each other around the ballroom floor (I think I won once), yards of ale races etc.
        Actually, Guests was an extension after the first couple of years when it was just the extended family of Sir Ernest Harrison – the first chairman of Vodafone.

  • _nate says:

    Brittania Hotels really is something special. Last time I was at one for an event, a bedroom window fell off and nearly hit someone who was standing outside. That about sets the tone.

    • BJ says:

      I had a broken window pane and water pouring through the ceiling at the Grosvenor Hilton in Edinburgh so such problems are not brand-specific.

    • Vasco says:

      That must be why the Birmingham one has metal nets below the windows.

  • jj says:

    This is a bit of fun, but I’m hugely sceptical of Which?’s methodology here. A sample size of 4,611 people is not sufficient to create a league table: some brands probably had no more than 100-200 visitors which would give enormous error ranges on the scores. Even worse, it’s not obvious that there has been any attempt to correct for sampling bias by ensuring the sample isn’t self-selwcting, and is either representative of the UK population or the hotel-using population.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Well if you do a little google search you’d find asking a sample size that big is probably pretty normal for most surveys if not much larger and actually pretty statically accurate as long as its done under the right conditions

      Now you could ask yourself is just asking a group of which subscribers a wide enough demographic?

      but Britannia hotels are class A sh*tholes so they are probably spot on and Mercure has about 3 bad UK properties for every good one

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