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Are London hotels really that bad?

by Rajul on February 8, 2010

TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards are the world’s most democratic hotel awards

TripAdvisor recently published its list of the top 25 hotels to stay in the UK (chosen by Europeans), with London hotels conspicuous by their absence.

The “Travellers’ Choice” 2010  list is made credible by its huge sample size, as it’s based on thousands of TripAdvisor reviews from all over the world.

In my view this sample size trumps the well-documented issues linked with TripAdvisor reviews (addressed in this blog’s TripAdvisor User Guide).

TripAdvisor’s VP of Marketing for Europe stated: “With the Olympics just two years away it’s worrying not to see a single London hotel in the Top 25 UK list…London hotels are clearly going to have to raise their game.”

But is such doom and gloom justified?  Why do London hotels do so much worse than their counterparts in the UK’s regions?

My explanation for this is twofold.

Firstly, while London has some outstanding hotels, it also has more poor hotels than anywhere else in Britain.  If you take a look at TripAdvisor’s “dirtiest hotels” list for example, you’ll find the city disproportionately represented.  London has a stunning 8 of the UK’s 10 grimiest hotels!

Basic cleanliness is all too often lacking in some of London’s worst hotels

Where such bad hotels may not even survive elsewhere, they may make a good profit in London because demand for beds is structurally so high.

And it is those poor, overpriced hotels which sadly help to drag down the others’ reputation.  Which leads directly to my second explanation for the London result: by any objective measure, London hotels are expensive.

In reality, I don’t think London room rates are out of line when compared to other major tourist centres like Paris, Rome, New York and Barcelona.

But perceived high rates lead to unrealistic expectations.  Only well-run hotel groups – such as Red Carnation Hotel Collection which currently dominates the top of TripAdvisor’s London rankings – seem able to cope.

So here’s the thing: even if people do have a good experience in a London hotel, they often still don’t feel they’ve had great value for money.

How can this be rectified?

Better standards and more rooms are needed at the bottom of the market to help align supply with demand.  This process is already underway thanks to massive investment in new hotels being led by the budget hotel chains.

And more innovation is needed, with the “luxury budget” sector leaders led by Base2stay and YOTEL certainly working in this direction.

Finally, TripAdvisor did find a couple of bright lights in London: for example the stylish Soho Hotel did well (despite its current lack of free WiFi).

Check rates at the Soho Hotel

And the Luna & Simone Hotel in Victoria – already identified by us as one of London’s best cheap hotels for families – was ranked in the top 10 family hotels worldwide (despite again being out of the overall UK top 25).

The rave reviews received by Luna & Simone Hotel make it a role model for cheap London hotels Luna & Simone Hotel near Victoria is a role model for cheap London hotels

Luna & Simone shows that a hotel can be cheap without being nasty – and puts more expensive rivals to shame by bundling in free WiFi for all guests.

Check rates at Luna & Simone Hotel

So it’s not all doom and gloom for London hotels.  Particularly if you keep yourself well-informed about the best-value London hotels by becoming a regular reader of London Hotels Insight and following us on Twitter.

Search for a London hotel – Book Now, Pay When you Stay

Photo credits: TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice logo (with permission from TripAdvisor), Luna & Simone Hotel.

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