Britannia has earned the unenviable crown of the “worst hotel chain in the UK” for a ninth consecutive year in Which?’s annual survey.
The consumer champion’s ratings – based on more than 2,600 hotel stays – found there are affordable, quality rooms available in the UK – but also chains to avoid – with rates falling by more than an eighth as the cost of self-catering accommodation rocketed during the pandemic.
Which? members rated 24 large hotel chains and six small ones in ten categories, including cleanliness, customer service, bed comfort, communal areas, value for money and whether the chain’s description matches reality.
The bottom scoring large chain was Britannia, where more than half of its guests in our survey – 51 per cent – said they ran into a problem during their stay.
The most common issue was cleanliness.
One guest complained: “It was terrible. The room was dirty. The bathroom was dirty. The carpet was terrible, stains everywhere.”
The chain has 61 hotels across 36 parts of the UK, many in historic buildings, such as the Adelphi in Liverpool which counts Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra as former guests.
But the upkeep of them was another common cause for complaint.
Britannia scored an overall 49 per cent in our survey.
Although a dismal score, this was the best result the chain has had in years, after it earned slightly improved ratings for bed comfort (three stars) and value for money (two stars).
Britannia’s consistent failings have insulated other chains from criticism over the years, but Mercure ran it close in 2021, with a score of just 52 per cent.
While some guests praised Mercure hotels’ central locations, many observed that standards had fallen.
One guest said: “Mercure are not as smart as they used to be – there are some poor-quality properties in their portfolio. However, they can offer good value.”
The survey also found that room price was not necessarily a good indicator of quality.
The average price those surveyed paid for a room in Britannia was £99 – 50 per cent more expensive than the highest scoring large hotel chain and Which? Recommended Provider, Premier Inn.
At just £66 per night on average, Premier Inn was given five-star ratings for cleanliness, Covid-19 safety measures and bed comfort, with customers enjoying their king-sized beds and choice of firm or soft pillows.
Pub operators also performed well, with large hotel chain Wetherspoon receiving 74 per cent and small chain Young’s scoring 73 per cent.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Year after year, guests are let down by Britannia’s run-down hotels and often dirty rooms. This year saw some slight improvements to the chain’s score – but not enough to drag it off the bottom of our rankings.
“Until the company ups its game further, we would urge guests to look elsewhere.
“The impressive, budget-friendly Premier Inn is our pick of the large chains and Hotel du Vin offers high quality stays in interesting locations.”
Britannia did not respond to requests for comment.
Image: Britannia Hotels