Britannia has been named the UK’s worst large hotel chain by Which? for the ninth year running.
It scored just two out of five stars for cleanliness, and its bathrooms received just one star, with the consumer champion saying that one guest found ‘stains everywhere’ in their Britannia room.
Topping the list was Premier Inn, which has more than 800 hotels throughout the UK and an average room price of just £66. Customers were particularly impressed by their king-sized beds and the selection between firm or soft pillows.
Britannia has been ranked the UK’s worst large hotel chain for the ninth consecutive year by Which? Pictured is the chain’s Royal Albion hotel in Brighton
A table showing the results of the 2022 Which? member survey of large and small hotel chains
Which? members rated 24 large hotel chains and six small ones based on 2,600 stays in the 15 months before October 2021.
Guests were asked to assess the hotels in 10 categories, including cleanliness, customer service, bed comfort, communal areas, value for money and whether the chain’s ‘description matches reality’.
Overall, it found there are ‘affordable, quality rooms available’ in Britain, with hotel rates falling by more than an eighth in the past year.
However, the watchdog warned that, based on the findings, there are some chains to avoid.
In 2020, when Which? visited the Folkestone Britannia, also known as the Grand Burstin, as part of a separate investigation into hotel hygiene, researchers said that they found stray hairs and stained towels upon an initial inspection.
Following further tests using UV fluid and germ powder, researchers also explained that they found surfaces that had not been thoroughly cleaned between stays.
At the chain’s Brighton hotel, the Royal Albion, Which? conducted swab tests that it said ‘revealed traces of enterococci bacteria on the toilet seat and bathroom door handle’.
As part of a separate investigation in 2020, Which? researchers looked at hotel hygiene at Britannia’s Grand Burstin hotel
Following further tests using UV fluid and germ powder, researchers said that they found surfaces that had not been thoroughly cleaned between stays at the Grand Burstin hotel
When presented with Which?’s findings at the time, Britannia said: ‘We are totally committed to providing a safe environment for visitors. We have so far spent around £2million on Covid-19 precautions, but we accept there is more to do.’
Cleanliness aside, the chain still managed to disappoint, said Which? In a standard room in the basement of the Folkestone Britannia that the consumer watchdog checked into, it said that there was ‘graffiti carved into the ageing wardrobe, pillows flimsier than bookmarks, and broken glass on the carpet at breakfast’.
Not much seems to have changed, according to the latest findings.
Washable substances are invisible to the naked eye, but glow red under ultraviolet light. This image is from the 2020 investigation at the Grand Burstin hotel
Overall, Britannia scored 49 per cent in the survey – a ‘dismal score’, according to the consumer champion.
More than half (51 per cent) of Britannia guests that took part in the survey revealed that they ran into problems during their stay with the chain, which has 61 hotels in 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.
Cleanliness was the most prevalent issue. According to Which?, one guest complained: ‘It was terrible. The room was dirty. The bathroom was dirty. The carpet was terrible, stains everywhere.’
Topping the large-chain list was Premier Inn, which received a customer satisfaction score of 79 per cent. Pictured is a Premier Inn hotel in Aldgate, London
The upkeep of the properties similarly left guests dissatisfied. According to the consumer champion, one guest said that their hotel was ‘run into the ground’, while another described a Britannia property as ‘old, worn out and in need of a drastic makeover’.
A third complained that there were ‘small and basic rooms’, ‘no soap or shampoo’ and ‘bags of rubbish outside the main entrance’.
However, the watchdog pointed out that this was the ‘best result the chain has had in years’, with somewhat improved ratings for bed comfort (three stars) and value for money (two stars).
Second-worst-rated hotel chain Mercure wasn’t too far off Britannia’s ranking – it received a score of 52 per cent, and was also awarded just two stars for cleanliness.
Second-worst-rated hotel chain Mercure wasn’t too far off Britannia’s ranking – it received a score of 52 per cent. Pictured is a Mercure in Manchester
According to Which?, while some guests praised Mercure hotels’ ‘central locations’, many felt that the standards in the chain had fallen.
One guest wrote: ‘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.’
A spokesperson for Mercure told MailOnline Travel: ‘We are surprised to see our position in this survey, it does not reflect the high standard of guest experience which we strive for and we will take action to address these comments.
The Crowne Plaza ranked second after Premier Inn with an impressive rating of 78 per cent. Above is a Birmingham edition of the hotel chain
‘The experience and wellbeing of our guests at each and every property is our highest priority. The BDRC Hotel Guest Survey in 2021 ranks Mercure amongst the top midscale brands for excellent cleanliness and safety standards, superior quality of bedding and a brand that values its customers. We pride ourselves on delivering consistent quality and standards and providing a great night’s sleep, whilst offering great value for money, as your reader notes.’
Meanwhile, first-place Premier Inn was awarded five stars for cleanliness, Covid-19 safety measures and bed comfort. It received a customer satisfaction score of 79 per cent – just ahead of Crowne Plaza (78 per cent) and Sofitel (77 per cent).
However, Premier Inn’s score was topped by the best small chain, Hotel du Vin, which racked up a total of 80 per cent.
Which? says that Hotel du Vin properties, where rooms cost on average £150 a night, are ideal ‘for anyone looking for a little more luxury’. The chain boasts ‘spotlessly clean rooms’ and bathrooms with ‘powerful monsoon showers’.
A Sofitel hotel in central London. The chain was awarded Which? Recommended Provider status
Warner Leisure (75 per cent), with five stars for cleanliness, was the second best-rated small hotel chain.
Q Hotels (59 per cent) finished in last place in the small chain ranking, though it received several four-star ratings, including for cleanliness and beds.
Those surveyed were impressed by the pub operators, with large hotel chain Wetherspoon receiving 74 per cent and small chain Young’s scoring 73 per cent.
Which? Recommended Provider status was awarded to four large hotel chains – Premier Inn, Crowne Plaza, Sofitel and Radisson Blu (74 per cent) – as well as to two small hotel chains, Hotel du Vin and Warner Leisure.
The entrance to the Hotel du Vin in Birmingham. Which? says that Hotel du Vin properties are ideal ‘for anyone looking for a little more luxury’
Generally, the survey found that room price was not necessarily a good indicator of quality. The average price of a room at a Britannia hotel was £99 – 50 per cent pricier than the average at the Premier Inn.
Which? added that while British hotels can be expensive, they became better value during the pandemic when compared to the cost of self-catering accommodation.
Last summer, a Which? survey revealed that private holiday accommodation was costing 41 per cent more than for the same period in 2019, averaging out at £300 extra per week. And, while UK hotel prices were among the highest in Europe, they dropped by 13 per cent in the same period.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said of the hotel survey: ‘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.’
MailOnline Travel requested a comment from Britannia but received no response. We will update this article accordingly should it respond. For the full list of results visit www.which.co.uk.