/ Travel & Leisure

Would you stay at a Wetherspoons?

No, I don’t mean falling asleep after a few too many drinks… pub chains are increasingly getting into the hotel market: offering budget rooms in some great locations. Would you stay at one?

Whenever I stay in a hotel, I still get a little jolt of excitement sliding the keycard in the door. There’s something deliciously decadent about those plump pillows and crisp white sheets. Best of all you don’t have to remake the bed the next morning.

But what if that eager anticipation turns to horror? I’ve stayed in some pretty shocking hotel rooms in my time.

Stained sheets, lumpy mattresses, bed bugs (several times) and even a stranger already tucked up asleep – you name it, I’ve probably stumbled across it at check-in.

Consistency is king

That’s why chain hotels are so popular. You know exactly what you’re getting, with no nasty surprises along the way.

Which? Recommended Provider Premier Inn is the king of consistency, and very much-loved as a result. But we all need to change it up once in a while.

Enter the pubs chains now offering rooms. Breweries Fuller’s and Young’s have started offering accommodation at certain locations – and the ventures have proved a massive hit with members this year.

Even Wetherspoons, best known for its cheap pints and curry nights, has got in on the act. It might not be the obvious place to whisk your spouse for a romantic weekend away, but you can now bed down in 57 of its properties.

Boozer beds

It was with trepidation that I checked into the Wetherspoon’s Swan Hotel in Leighton Buzzard. There’s no denying it’s a gorgeous building – grade II listed with a statue of a swan atop.

It’s also slap-bang in the centre – unlike many of its budget rivals, relegated to unglamorous car park locations on the edge of town.

Inside I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d taken a wrong turn past the slot machines on the way to the loo.

But at the top of the stairs, a smiley receptionist awaited. And my double room was cute and characterful, with vintage wallpaper and gilded gold frames. Best of all it was an absolute steal at under £60 a night.

Noisy neighbours

Sadly there was no escaping the noise from the beer garden, and breakfast in the pub downstairs was an equally boisterous affair.

There aren’t many establishments where you’ll encounter an overexcited stag party at that time in the morning. Thankfully my tasty mini cooked breakfast and bottomless coffee (£5) hit the spot.

Fuller’s and Young’s offer a classier stay, for a steeper price of course. But these pub chains all have prime locations and characterful buildings in common – something you’ll struggle to find with the big corporate brands.

The fact that there’s only a staircase between you and your bed after a slap-up meal and a couple of glasses of wine is an added bonus.

So, are you already wise to the delights of the pub stay? What were your experiences? Perhaps you’re considering a weekend at ‘Spoons as we speak? Whatever your views, we’d love to hear them.

Comments
Member

If the venue is where I want to be and the competition isn’t more attractive, then perhaps I’d stay. However, sleeping over a pub, can be noisy unless they get the soundproofing right and I don’t want to come down to breakfast in a converted bar that has been caroused in the previous evening, even if that is adjacent to the actual restaurant. If these places want to compete they need to provide accommodation and food and ambience to match the other chains, and hopefully beat them, so that the public is likely to re-visit.

Member
DerekP says:
6 November 2018

Depending on the circumstances of the trip, I probably be happy to stay at a Wetherspoons.

In the past I have stayed at many, many Premier Inns and some Fullers and Marstons pubs, together will many smaller family run pubs.

Then, if I have an acceptable first visit, I will quite likely return for subsequent visits.

Member

Pubs have been offering B&B for many years – centuries even – but probably not under an organised brewery/pub-owning company format. Young & Co have been adding bedrooms to their hotels for at least a decade and Fullers soon followed. Wetherspoons and Marstons have operated hotel rooms for a few years now so the current provision is not that new.

I have stayed in pubs scores of times and usually had a good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast. They represent good value and are popular. They are sometimes a bit quirky and increasingly adopting the ’boutique’ style which is not everyone’s cup of tea. I have not stayed in a Young’s or Wetherspoon establishment but in Fullers Inns in London on several occasions. Being within the sound of Big Ben one of them was a bit pricey but still better than the alternatives: the accommodation was superior and it was a very short walk away from St. James’s Park Underground station.

The drawback of staying in a pub used to be breakfast in the bar which would stink of smoke and stale beer. Following the expulsion of smoking, and higher managerial standards generally, this is no longer a problem. The food offering is more individual and less controlled than the major chains and in most cases cooked to order which I prefer.

In terms of noise disturbance I have had more sleepless nights in regular hotels that have big function rooms on the ground floor than in public houses that tend to shut at 11:30 pm. Apart from the noise of the disco or band and dreadful singing with the volume turned right up, the general commotion and racket from party guests wandering around the hotel corridors in the small hours in an advanced state of intoxication can become a bit much.

The pubs’ websites usually seem to give a good representation of the offer and I have found that booking direct is the best way to get the best terms, at least in major cities where they don’t need to pay commission to get a full house. Weekday prices are usually the best and adding a Sunday night to a weekend booking can be incredibly good value sometimes and reduces the average room rate for your stay.

Member
DerekP says:
6 November 2018

I agree with what John said, especially his comments about noisy hotels. I’d just add that hotels close to night clubs can be noisy too, when folk finally stagger home from those clubs to their beds for the night.

Member
ABarratt says:
7 November 2018

I have stayed at all 57 UK Wetherspoon hotels. Always my first option when planning a trip away. Car parking is one problem due to town / city location

Member

That’s a good way to plan your excursions. In times past I used to do that with Trust House hotels.

The car parking problem is the same whether you stay in a Wetherspoons or a city centre budget chain hotel. Hotels with free on-site parking tend to be three or four-star and pricey or out on the ring road, at the end of the runway, or next to the football stadium.

Member

I wouldn’t stay at a Wetherspoons because its founder/chairman supports Brexit. I’ve stopped drinking there for the same reason as well as because they’ve stopped selling draught German beer from which one gets no hangover. I also won’t buy Dyson products any more for the same reason. Supporting businesses whose management are happy to inflict economic damage on the country is not something I’m willing to do, even if the prices are low or the products are good.

Member

I suspect Tim Martin may be losing the plot over his anti-EU publicity. It’s never a good idea to alienate a substantial proportion of your customers.

Member

Looking at some of the regulars that inhabit his establishments I don’t think most would understand the political situation if he served it up on a silver salver with water cress all round it.

It’s probably also not a good idea for me to denigrate a substantial proportion of my fellow consumers of the amber nectar either!

Member
DerekP says:
6 November 2018

I think there’s a lot to be said for supporting UK businesses as opposed to multinational ones, especially if the latter are adept at avoiding UK taxes.

Member

I agree with you, Derek. The global hotel industry is far too dominated by US chains. Accor, the huge French chain, is the most notable exception. However, British hotels are generally lower quality and more expensive than in similar developed countries, so I am doubtful about what to expect from any British chains.

Member

We can each do that by patronising those UK businesses and avoiding the foreign ones – although some we cannot avoid. But it is up to us. Perhaps Which? could start listing the state where a business is owned when they review products and services in its mags. (Will the EU let them do that? Not long to wait if not 🙁 ).

Member

Isn’t it more important where a business employs workers than who the shareholders are? I would prefer to buy from a company that employs thousands in the UK and is majority Chinese-owned than a company that employs thousands in China and is majority British-owned.

Member

I’m rather assuming we could get both – UK shareholders in the main with UK workers producing the significant part of the product in the UK. Unlike the way vacuum cleaners and electric cars are treated. I don’t really want to see profits leaving here, no more than jobs. But to achieve this we need to be both innovative (which we are) and competitive – which requires investment in production and a well trained workforce. I’d preferably like the employees to have a stake in the profitability of the business.

Member

I get particularly fed up with UK-based companies using Indian call centres to service their UK customers. Yesterday I was talking to Three, because they seem to have blocked calls to UIFNs (Universal International Freephone Numbers), which start +800 or 00800. To speak to a specific representative at Apple, the only way is to dial +800 2775 2775 followed by their extension number. I said the number as “double zero eight hundred two double seven five two double seven five“. Three’s offshore Indian worker didn’t understand “double“, because when he read back the number, he omitted the second digit in each of the three doubles, saying “0800 275 275“. Even when I repeated it, he still didn’t understand “double“. This is one of many occasions when I have found the standard of English amongst Indian call centre workers to be insufficient to do the job.

It is not acceptable for UK businesses to offshore business-related customer-facing support to incompetent workers in India for cost reasons rather than for the quality of the local expertise; this was a classic example. In my experience, the only company that does this successfully is Dell, leveraging excellent Indian IT expertise, which is often superior to British IT expertise. When I speak to Dell, I can put up with minor language barriers because of their superior IT expertise. But when it comes to non-IT matters, for example consumer rights over faulty goods, it’s a different story; they become useless.

Member
Carole says:
9 November 2018

I avoid shopping in ASDA because they are American owned and, I assume, possibly incorrectly, that they manage not to pay all the taxes UK companies pay.

Have ASDA bought out Sainsbury’s or is that still under discussion? Another one to avoid if they have.

Can Which? also state country of manufacture on white goods etc.

Member

They were never gong to ‘buy out’ Sainsbury’s; it was Sainsbury’s that asked to take over Asda. Asda welcomed the move.

Member

I can relate to NFH’s experience except I can’t understand what they say at all. After requesting a repeat explanation and still failing to understand the Indian accent I usually end up apologising saying “I’m sorry, I am a little hard of hearing and your accent is different to mine. Would you please repeat what you said a little slower and more clearly. Thank you.” It always works.

I had a similar experience a week ago, except the guy on the other end of the ‘phone was a Geordie 🙂

Member

I can tune in to most English accents but the fault in all call centres is the restricted scripts and programmed responses that make describing a problem and getting accurate recognition very difficult. I find the best enunciators of English are in Edinburgh and Aberdeen and they generally have the intelligence to deal well with queries.

Member

Nudging you all politely back towards pub stays… 🙂

I’m not sure I could face staying in a pub just for the noise alone

Member

Patrick Steen says:
Today 12:59

I’m not sure I could face staying in a pub just for the noise alone
Oh, I think they have other things besides the noise. 🙂

Member

Haha, that’ll teach me for writing with a poor sentence structure!

Member

🙂

Member

The only time I have stayed in a pub was when a friend decided to realise his ambition of running a country pub. It was back in the days before the smoking ban and it was not very pleasant.

Like Vynor, I would be wary of staying in a pub because it might be noisy. We now have a Wetherspoon in town and that is a venue for young drinkers, with someone on the door to check the age of visitors.

Member

I remember staying near the railway station in Derby over a pub in which the beds had crisp linen sheets. What was less pleasant was that, unknown to us, it was across the road from a John Menzies newspaper depot, concealed by roller shutters, which sprang into life at about half-past three in the morning with a lot of noise and shouting as the papers were transferred to vans and lorries.

Member
DerekP says:
7 November 2018

Malcom R said “…We now have a Wetherspoon in town and that is a venue for young drinkers, with someone on the door to check the age of visitors, so most W?C regulars wouldn’t be allowed in…” 😉 😉 😉

I hate pubs with doormen!

Thankfully none of the pubs I choose to visit operate that way.

Member

It was me who said that. 🙂 Some of the pubs in town don’t accept cards, which might deter young people.

Looking at the history of our local Wetherspoon it once had a few rooms and also stabling, but that disappeared long before the major refurbishment.

Member

Stayed in an interesting ‘inn’ in rural Spain before. The guesthouse in the building next door was full, so the family put me up in a room in their apartment above the bar. The music and singing went on until about 3am and I had to be up at 6… still, it felt like a strangely authentic experience.

Member
DerekP says:
25 November 2018

Last week I enjoyed a most agreeable stay at a great village pub, the White Lion Inn in Whissendine, Rutland. All the staff there did a great job of making me welcome and looking after me. If I ever need to go back to that area, I’d definitely stay there again.