In our first article in this two-part feature we highlighted some key similarities between these fiercely-competitive budget hotel groups.
Today, we look at what guests say by analysing recent TripAdvisor reviews for their cheap London hotels and drawing out some stats.
The comparison is made easier by the fact that both companies currently have around the same number of hotels in London – though given their rapid expansion plans this could soon change drastically.
A top-level search of each chain’s hotels in London on TripAdvisor reveals some interesting data. The median Travelodge is ranked at number 542 (from 1077 hotels). This is OK given the low prices but not especially high.
The highest-rated Travelodge on TripAdvisor – Travelodge Southwark – is ranked at number 193. This hotel is well-rated for its large and modern rooms as well as its proximity to the attractions of the South Bank.
The median Premier Inn has a rank of 160. This means that the “average” Premier Inn is rated better by TripAdvisor reviewers than even the “best” Travelodge (though that’s before factoring in price differences – see below).
The best Premier Inn (Tower Hill) is ranked at number 39 – it’s modern and clean, with friendly staff that would put much pricier hotels to shame.
Indeed, Premier Inn Tower Hill is ranked higher than the Dorchester and Claridge’s (though I grant they’re competing in very different markets).
In fact, Premier Inn overall has an impressive five of its hotels within the current TripAdvisor top 100 London hotels. This is definitely an achievement in view of its below-average room rates.
Purely on these numbers then, Premier Inn is the clear “winner” if our analysis were based purely on guest reviews. This is in line with its focus on the overall stay and its core product of a “good night’s sleep”.
On the other hand, Travelodge wins hands-down on pricing. Despite the fact that Premier Inn often advertises similar rates to Travelodge, it seems these are in practice much harder to grab.
All the testing we did at London Hotels Insight found that Travelodge consistently delivers lower obtainable prices than its big rival.
This price gap between the two companies is actually bigger than I thought, given how Premier Inn likes to position itself as a low-price brand.
Average reported prices on TripAdvisor find Premier Inn to be significantly dearer (sometimes even double the Travelodge price and often north of £100 per night). At these rates, you can’t really call it a “budget hotel”.
Both chains have hotels all over London, so the choice seems very clear.
If you purely want the cheapest possible stay then go for Travelodge. Its TripAdvisor reviews are not bad when you allow for its very low prices, especially during its frequent discounted room sales.
Having stayed myself in several Travelodges all over London I can personally report that they do a good job . If you’re looking for the cheapest possible “crash pad”, Travelodge certainly fits the bill.
However, if you want “economy plus” i.e. a cheap but more comfortable stay, then you should go for Premier Inn. Beware though that you may sometimes end up paying for a mid-range hotel rather than a cheap one.
In many of its hotels however, this pricing is justified. For example, Premier Inn Southwark is currently ranked at number 50 on TripAdvisor and gets rave reviews. It is a relatively new and modern hotel with consistently friendly service and good breakfasts served in the Anchor pub.
Overall, since the TripAdvisor data theoretically takes account of both price and quality, it seems that Premier Inn is probably the winner.
But at the end of the day, you pay the money you want and take your pick!
Photo credits: Travelodge, Premier Inn.