If Britannia Hotels made lager, it would probably be the worst lager in the world. They certainly have some of the very worst hotels. These aren’t just bad hotels, these are hotels where obscure strains of bacteria go on holiday.
This is one of my own letters, written in 2010 after a stay in their absolutely DISGUSTING hotel in Hampstead, London. Rather than the usual rant, I thought I’d take a different approach this time…
Dear Customer Relations,
BRITANNIA HAMPSTEAD HOTEL, LONDON
What good fortune that I happened to stay in your hotel on Primrose Hill Road this week. Normally, I would stay in Bloomsbury but for some unknown reason, all central London hotels were full and for a while, I thought that I wasn’t going to find anywhere to stay at all. However, Lady Luck smiled on me and guided me to your revolving door. Little did I realise how fortunate I had been.
I noticed at once the remarkable interior design of the lobby, bar and restaurant areas. The seventies style really is making a comeback isn’t it? The fact that yours is actually original gives the place that touch of real authenticity. I bet that one of the Board of Directors’ wives has (or had, she may be dead by now of course) a real talent for combining ‘eclectic’ pieces of furniture and remarkable flowery wallcoverings to create spaces of stunning originality.
The lighting was also very good – and bright. I can’t be doing with all this low level atmospheric lighting you see so much of nowadays. No point in having a great interior if it’s too dark to see it and you never know when you might have to indulge in a bit of complex cardio-thoracic surgery so it’s better to be safe than sorry, I say.
It was a little unusual to be asked to pay the £140.60 room rate in advance. Normally, a credit card authorisation would be taken and the bill settled the following morning. Could it be that your guests were less inclined to pay their bill after they had seen their room? That was a little worrying.
You can imagine how relieved I was therefore when, arriving at my bedroom, I found that the Director’s wife had used her considerable creative talents here too. More flowery wallpaper adorned every vertical surface (except for the bits that were peeling off) and I thought that the purple flowers were a perfect match for the dark green carpet. I couldn’t quite work out whether the assorted bodily fluid stains were part of the original design scheme or just the natural consequence of many happy visits over the years but I thought that they added a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the interior.
The peeling wallpaper theme was cleverly continued into the bathroom where cracked tiles and gaping holes in the walls provided some welcome relief to the otherwise boring flatness of the tiling. It was so good to see that your maintenance department hadn’t spoiled things by making unnecessary repairs.
The maintenance team also deserves my heartfelt thanks for disconnecting the bathroom extract system. I hate to see myself in the mirror when I’m shaving and I like it when a bathroom gets all steamy and water runs down the walls. I think that all that the black mould growing on the ceiling over the bath was a small price to pay for all that lovely humidity.
In this digital age, I really miss the steady ticking of an old fashioned alarm clock when I’m going to sleep so the incessant drum beat of the water dripping from the leaky shower head on to the bath tap below was a most welcome substitute.
Back in the bedroom, I also loved the way that the smoke detector had been decorated. The addition of the little frill of toilet paper that had been so tastefully taped around it was a stroke of genius and succeeded in transforming the otherwise banal object into a thing of beauty.
However, despite this positive treasury of sensory delights, my absolute clear favourite was getting knocked out by the ‘chandelier’. How terribly thoughtful of you to suspend the extraordinarily heavy light fitting such that the bulbous, brass extremity lay so precisely at eyebrow level. The resulting concussion was a considerable aid to a restful night’s sleep and I only needed to spend a few minutes counting the bedsprings sticking into my back before I was dreaming peacefully.
Finally, I must say that I really enjoyed the breakfast, cooked fresh on Wednesday morning. Of course, by the time I actually ate it on Friday, it was perhaps a little past its absolute best and the brown and crispy fried eggs were probably a bit ‘nouvelle cuisine’ for my unsophisticated tastes.
I can say however that following the breakfast, I was passing so much wind that I could have farted the national anthem and that is usually a sign of a damn fine breakfast.
Please be good enough to let me know when you’re next putting your prices up so I can come back and experience even more of your extraordinary good value.
PS. I apologise for the very poor quality of the photographs. These were taken using my mobile phone and after I had been knocked out by the chandelier so my photographic skills were somewhat impaired.
I never did receive a reply. Apparently, it is Brittania’s policy to completely ignore complaints, just like they completely ignore maintenance, redecoration and customer service. Just in case you think I am being a little harsh, below are a few genuine quotes taken from the TripAdvisor page on this particular hotel:
“Just the most appalling experience – room stank of old fags – bad furniture – lumpy bed – dreadful service – peeling paint work. Sleep on a park bench but don’t stay here!!!!!”
“When we first arrived at the hotel we were rudely treated and told to sign for our rooms, when going into the room we noticed a horrible damp smell that didnt seem to cease in the 3 days that we were there. Also, there were chunks missing out of the wall and the windows were impossible to see through. The ceiling of the bathroom had black mould growing above the shower and the wallpaper made my head want to burst! Also the towels that were provided were not changed since the previous guest as there was blood on them…. The bar staff were very rude and treated us as though we were an inconvenience to them for using services that they provide!”
“Do not stay here! The hotel was filthy and in a desparately bad state of repair, food poor and staff overworked and disinterested. Since departing I have written twice to head office with an official complaint sent by recorded delivery and both letters have been ignored”.
“Original carpets and curtains which look circa 1980’s, dirty, stained and disgusting. The furniture was dusty, the chairs looked as if someones incontinent aunty had sat on them. The bathroom was cruddy and not very clean”.
“Must be the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. In desperate need of refurbishment. Public areas dull & tired. Rooms filthy, furniture must have come from the skip. Only attempted breakfast once after being frog marched to reception to pay again despite being inclusive of my reservation – dinner looked awful”.
“First impressions were not good- the windows were filthy and the sign outside tatty. Our room was desperate. Situated on the fifth floor, its decore was old fashioned and sparse and the walls and ceilings displayed damp patches and dirty marks. The bathroom was dirty and the shower fittings hadn’t been cleaned for god knows how long and had gunge oozing from them“.
“We were given a room with no window – not even a fake one. It is a very strange experience waking up with no outside light, not one that I am eager to try again.
The receptionist was rude and unhelpful. Worst of all, they have charged me twice for my stay of 1 night, they are now refusing to accept that they have charged twice – even when I have emailed them a copy of my bank statement detailing the second transaction. Arguments are ongoing.
Stay here, if your not fussed about such things as natural light, customer service, cleanliness, oh – and theft!”
“We were given two rooms the an interconnecting door. We opened the door and could smell stale urine. There was still urine in the toilet from the previous guests”.
“Approaching the hotel, we thought it looked dirty but we were wrong, it wasn’t dirty, it was filthy! We had to clean the bathroom before we could use it, the ‘cleaner’ had left her short black hairs everywhere and it stank of smoke and damp. I didn’t mind that the furniture was old and needed replaced, I can cope with tired but not dirty.
Breakfast was also vile, I heard one of the waiters tell another to go get some more bacon from the microwave! My daughter couldn’t get her knife through the croissant it was so stale. The toast was set out on an old tray, still trying to work out how long it had been there.”
“I hated this hotel,the price was simply a rip off. The hotel maybe well positioned,but the rooms are awful. There is no matress cover,the beds are uncomfortable. The rooms are falling apart. I complained on the day we arrived,but did not get anywhere.And wrote to the hotel on but no one had the decency to reply”.
This hotel is badly in need of renovation. Not only that but it is very unkempt. Wallpaper falling off, stains on the bed, smelly and very dirty room. You would not let your dog stay in this!”