Which hotel chain can you rely on when choosing accommodation in the UK? We asked thousands of Which? members to tell us about their experiences of large and small hotel chains. Readers rated everything from the beds to the service, plus for the first time we asked people to rate the Covid-19 safety measures hotels had put in place.
So, how did they fare? Did Premier Inn once again make the top five? And can Britannia, a hotel chain that usually languishes at the bottom of the table, finally climb a few notches?
While several of the more expensive brands performed very well, the top-rated large hotel chain will only set you back £66 per night.
Predictably, Britannia was the worst-rated in our survey again, for the ninth year in a row. It’s upped its game slightly since last time, but still scored a lacklustre 49% overall. Instead, book with one of the six that are this year’s Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs).
Best large UK hotel chains
This year’s results, which are based on a survey of 2,603 Which? members, saw Premier Inn take the top spot. We have linked to the chains that scored 65% or more.
USING THE TABLE A large hotel chain has 31 or more hotels in group worldwide. Based on an online survey of 2,603 Which? members and the public in Oct 2021. Star ratings from one to five. Which? Recommended Provider is based on customer score and other criteria, including at least four stars for cleanliness. Customer score – combines overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending.
Best small UK hotel chains
This year’s small hotel chain results, which includes hotel chains with 30 or fewer hotels worldwide, saw Hotel du Vin finish at the top of the table. We have linked to the chains that scored 65% or more.
USING THE TABLE A small or medium hotels chain has a maximum of 30 hotels worldwide. Based on an online survey of 2,603 Which? members and the public in Oct 2021. Star ratings from one to five. Which? Recommended Provider is based on customer score and other criteria, including at least four stars for cleanliness. Customer score – combines overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending.
Large UK hotel chains: Which? Recommended Providers
Premier Inn – 79%
While Premier Inn’s trademark purple decor is more ‘functional’ than ‘romantic getaway’, its extra cosy king-size beds with choice of pillow (firm or soft) earn it five stars for bed comfort.
And enhanced cleaning, sanitising points and one-way systems saw it clinch top marks in our survey for cleanliness and Covid measures too.
The phrases ‘consistent’ and ‘reliable’ were used repeatedly to describe Premier Inn in our survey. And in these turbulent times, guests were happy to find rooms that were exactly as they expected, especially as the brand had one of the lowest average prices per night in our survey.
Which? verdict: Premier Inn is a worthy WRP and a bargain at £66 per night.
Crowne Plaza – 78%
Crowne Plaza hotels are aimed primarily at those travelling for work, which is why many of their lodgings are situated in city centres or near to airports. But even though our survey respondents were not business travellers, they seemed to like the locations.
Readers commented on how good the staff were during their stays, which led to it gaining top marks for customer service. The quality of the rooms was also rated five stars – better even than Premier Inn.
In fact, it received a multitude of five star ratings, including cleanliness and Covid-19 safety measures. It impressed readers so much that the brand found itself in second place in our results table – narrowly missing out on the top spot.
Which? Verdict: A good all-rounder that has hotels in convenient locations
Sofitel – 77%
Sofitel hotels are pure luxury – especially when you visit the chain’s five-star central London property, St James, which occupies a former bank. Think dazzling chandeliers, plush banquette seating and gleaming marble floors.
The only other two UK-based hotels are stationed at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, ideal if you want a high-quality stay the night before or after a flight. You do pay for the privilege, with rooms costing £146 a night on average. In return for the dent in your wallet you’ll get five star rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms and customer service. Readers were also impressed by the safety measures the brand had put in place due to Covid-19, awarding it top marks in this category.
But, at over the double the price of a Premier Inn, weigh up whether it’s decadence or convenience you’re looking for.
Which? verdict: An indulgence that’s worth splashing out on
Radisson Blu – 74%
Most people don’t have strong opinions about the big, international hotel chains, but our survey respondents are fond of Radisson Blu. It received the holy trinity of five stars for bedrooms, bed comfort and cleanliness, the crucial ingredients of a good hotel stay.
It also coped well with the pandemic. One reader told us: ‘It took Covid seriously, with lots of mitigations’. Its customer score was just beaten by Sofitel, also a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP), but on average you paid £41 less per night to stay at a Radisson Blu.
Which? verdict: Next time you want a full service, four-star hotel we’d pick Radisson Blu over many of its rivals.
Best small UK hotel chains
Hotel du Vin – 80%
Hotel du Vin, with 19 properties throughout the UK, favours buildings that are a little different, such as an old sugar warehouse, a Georgian brewery, or a glamorous mansion on the edge of Wimbledon Common.
Scoring five out of five stars for its cleanliness and bathrooms, Hotel du Vin impressed customers in these categories. Plus, you can expect a formula of stylish rooms, Egyptian cotton sheets and powerful showers.
At £150 per night on average though, your stay won’t come cheap, hence the chain’s three star value for money score.
Which? verdict: High quality stays in unusual locations.
Warner Leisure – 75%
A little like Center Parcs for grown-ups (no kids are allowed), Warner Leisure has 14 historic properties in scenic country and coastal locations across the UK. Customers awarded it four or five stars in most categories in our results table, with cleanliness and bathrooms proving to be big hits.
On average you’ll pay £171 per night to stay at a Warner Leisure hotel, but for that price, there are extras included from gym and pool access, to daily activities (such as archery and golf), as well as evening entertainment. As for food, you can opt for bed and breakfast or choose the half-board option where you can expect a full three-course meal each night.
Which? verdict: A grown-up stay somewhere that’s more than just a place to sleep.
Worst hotel overall
Britannia – 49%
The sad thing about Britannia is that it could be so much better. It owns historic buildings in great locations. Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt stayed at the Adelphi in Liverpool, as did Frank Sinatra. What would they think of it now?
One guest complained to us of ‘small and basic rooms’, ‘no soap or shampoo’ and ‘bags of rubbish outside the main entrance’?
There are tiny glimmers of hope. Its 49% score is the best Britannia’s ever had. Three stars for bed comfort is a triumph by its bleak standards. However, a string of two-star ratings, for cleanliness among other things, as well as horrible, one-star bathrooms, shows it has a long way to go.
Which? verdict: Stay elsewhere. Anywhere else.
How we rate UK hotel chains
In October 2021, we asked 2,603 Which? members and members of the general public to complete an online survey about their experience of staying in small and large UK hotel chains in the past 12 months. To be considered a chain hotel, the hotel group must have a minimum of five UK properties. Large hotel chains have 31 or more properties in the group worldwide, while small chains have a maximum of 30 properties in the group worldwide.
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