A few weeks ago, we spent a weekend in London, and trying to keep costs down we opted for a Travelodge night (we had a voucher) and a Premier Inn night. Usually, we spend a long time hunting and often stay in independent hotels in London as it can work out cheaper, but this weekend we needed easy and functional!
I've stayed in hotels of both chains many times, all over the country, and do quite like the fact you always know what you're going to get. Travelodges tend to be more simple and very functional, whereas Premier Inns feel that little bit more comfy, so it just depends on the reason for your stay.
Travelodge, London Central Kings Cross
This was not my first stay in this particular hotel. When I used to live in Macclesfield and have regular work trips to London, this was often where I stayed as it was so close to both the train station and the London office. It was always exactly what I needed, and I never had any issues.
But I've never stayed there on a Saturday night before.
Two quick disclaimers before I continue:
1) We had a voucher covering part of our stay as an apology for a very poor stay late last year at a different (Central London) Travelodge.
2) Whilst I haven't stayed in this hotel on a Saturday night before, I've stayed at plenty of other London hotels at weekends, so I'm not naïve to the fact there are likely to be lots of large groups and probably drunk parties going on.
Unfortunately, our Saturday night stay was awful, probably one of the worst hotel nights I've ever had.
The room was absolutely fine, very clean, with a comfy bed and a desk fan, which definitely came in handy as we were in London on the weekend temperatures were in the high twenties. The bathroom was a little dated, but everything worked and the shower was very powerful, which always get s thumbs up.
The noise, however, was unbelievable. Our room seemed to be underneath a corridor, and even the quietest walker would sound like an elephant about to come through the ceiling. We were also right next to the door onto our corridor, which was slammed all night and everyone had to walk through to get to their rooms.
There was drunken group after loud group returning to the hotel throughout the night, waking us at least eight or nine times through the night. These groups wouldn't then go straight to their room, there would be shouting, screaming and loud laughter. Multiple times I reached to the phone to call reception, but when you're warm in bed and already exhausted you don't necessarily want to have to do that.
I completely understand people are going to want to go out, but I think it's the responsibility of the hotel to make sure guests who are not there for that purpose are also able to have a good stay. Maybe there should be a system where 10 minutes after a loud group returns to the hotel, a member of staff does a quick circuit of the corridors, to make sure the noise hasn't continued.
I don't know what the answer is, but we got about two hours (maximum) or broken sleep. On our way out the next morning, there was no member of staff on reception, so we just left feeling like no one was at all bothered about our stay or our custom.
Unfortunately, this stay got a big thumbs down.
Premier Inn, Leicester Square
My gut instinct going in was that we would prefer the Premier Inn night, because they do pitch themselves as having that little extra bit of comfort, and I've always found their hotels to be far more consistent across the chain. After Saturday at the Travelodge, I hoped a Central London Premier Inn would deliver that same experience and let us have a good night's sleep after a day of watching Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Luckily, this Premier Inn was exactly what we needed.
It's situated right in the middle of Leicester Square, so if you want to be in the thick of it for a touristy weekend in London, it's pretty perfect. It's surrounded by restaurants, and also has its own bar and restaurant in the hotel.
You head inside and up to the reception area and it feels so calm and quiet in contrast to the outside. We were able to drop off our bags early, which is handy if you're going to be out and about in the city, and the welcome was friendly.
The room was much, much nicer than the night before. It was very spacious, nicely laid out and the bed was huge and comfortable. The bathroom was also more modern, with another good shower. The hotel was so quiet, despite it being incredibly busy in Leicester Square and being next door to a club - you'd never have guessed you were anywhere near the city centre once you were inside.
I think this one is obvious!
The Premier Inn offered the better stay in every sense. It was quiet, the staff cared, the room was nicer and they offered exactly what I've come to expect from the brand.
The Travelodge stay was frustrating and noisy, and we left without even seeing a member of staff, so it was easy to feel like nobody cared.
If you're a hotel breakfast fan, Travelodge only offers a continental option, but it's served in a nice, bright reception room. Premier Inn offers the full works, and a cooked breakfast was very much enjoyed the following morning!
As I said at the beginning, I tend to search all over the place when it comes to hotels in London, because the prices get so huge, but it was interesting to be able to compare two chains with which I've always been perfectly happy outside of the city centre.