It was at the back end of 2020 that Britannia was voted the ‘UK’s worst’ hotel chain for the eighth-year running.
The list was drawn up by Which? consumer group which said Britannia, which has 62 hotels across the country, had received a customer score of 37%, with the lack of cleaning a particular concern.
One of the most scathing reviews was so bad it was “unprintable”, it said.
It run venues at Newcastle Airport and Gosforth, as well as the Grand Hotel on Queen’s Parade in Sunderland.
We decided to check out Tripadvisor reviews of its Sunderland hotel to see how much things have improved. This is what hotel guests in 2021 so far have written.
Ricky B wrote: Wasn’t giving instructions to the room, Do not isolate here, at night I requested room service, was told “we do not do room service” a sandwich for lunch and a set menu which you have no control over for dinner. Really shocking treatment.
‘Dated and unclean’
Baggieblackcat wrote: I recently stayed at the Grand hotel and I was happy to see all of the covid precautions in place. The hotel is quite dated but this can be accepted. I initially noticed that my room (101 quite apt) had damaged furniture, the shower was weak and the toilet didn’t flush properly. Not great, but still manageable. However, it was on the evening after I had collected food that I became mortified by what I found.
I moved the sofa to face the tv and what I saw underneath was disgusting. I found old breakfast cereal, lollipop sticks, McDonalds wrappers, Dirt, Dust, part of an old slipper that was degrading. It was truly vile. It obviously hadn’t been cleaned for a long time.
I complained and was immediately moved into a room with a sea view…this room was better but had stains on the carpet and was also in need of a refurb.
I have since reached out to Britannia Hotels to raise my concerns, but they have not responded. The hotel was very very quiet, there is no excuse not to give it a deep clean…especially in today’s climate.
I will not be staying here again. There are cleaner and safer alternatives nearby.
‘Sue H wrote: I would not advise anyone booking evening meal it was disappointing. It was a set menu with very few options. The menu was not published in advance. Had we seen it, we’d not have opted for dinner.
“We ordered a glass of red wine and bottle of Budweiser. The bud came warm so we asked for a cold bottle and were told they would put it in the fridge it came back a bit colder when we finished the meal. We went back to the room very disappointed and were dreading breakfast however breakfast was beautiful so can’t understand why evening meal was so disappointing. On leaving hotel the gentleman on reception asked if we had a good stay. I voiced our concerns about the evening meal to which he laughed and said they had just reopened and it will be better next time. Nothing more we would say in response.
Lesley S wrote: We booked in this hotel for 8 days, we stayed 7.
False advertising is the 1st thing, our room looked nothing like the picture, the furniture was very old, stained and could use a lick of varnish, we had a random lamp just stuck in the corner, and a plug in radiator for heat, you would be warmer hugging a candle.
I asked if we could have extra pillows as I can’t sleep flat, they had none, we had to go and buy 2.
The window was letting all the rain in, so I told reception, they sent a manager to check, she gave me towels to mop it up and said the maintainance (sic) team would be up to fix it, they never arrived.
As for breakfast, well….40 minutes to get served, 35 mins to get it to our table, burnt toast, and freezing cold breakfast, if it had legs it would have ran away aswell…(sic)
Absolutely disgusting..when checking out, reception guy said leaving early?, did not ask why or if we enjoyed our stay…bad service all round.
Would not recomend (sic) this hotel at all.
‘The shower head was broken’
Mark S wrote. When we arrived at the hotel it seemed fine the staff were happy and helpfull (sic). The room how ever was not as advertised in the pictures we saw when booking it. The shower head was broken when it rained water came in under the big windows the 2nd breakfast we had there was burnt badly and in general this is not a five star hotel.
Here’s a rare positive review.
‘A lovely one night stay in a junior suite overlooking the sea’
Linden S wrote: I stayed on my own this time in a gorgeous sea view room with a huge floor-to-ceiling bay window. The room was very large and clean, also the bathroom with whirlpool bath and separate shower was very spacious. I seldom travel on my own, and I’d love to be able to book this room again when travelling with my husband, but it appears from the website and booking engines that these gorgeous rooms ONLY come with a huge double bed which is not suitable for us as restless sleepers, we need two beds! PLEASE could just ONE of these rooms come with ziplink mattresses (the divans are already two separate ones joined together)? We so often find that the best sea view rooms in so many hotels are only available with a double bed, on the assumption that everyone who wants a sea view also wants a double bed!!! If you could offer ziplink or twin beds, in this type of room, we would be regular visitors!
Then, back to a more typical review
‘Grand in name only’
Paul D wrote: Stayed here a few times over the years , but this time was not the best. First of all asked for extra pillows in the room as we only had 1 each, no extra pillows at all in the hotel. Onto the rooms, a little bit dated . But looking around the room I think it was decorated by bodge it n leg it…. The skirting boards were painted along with the carpets, the general paint finish was very amateurish. The Bathroom fan didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a while!! Finally the ground in powder substance in the carpet by the bed. On the bright side all the staff I had contact with in the hotel were brilliant, couldn’t do enough for you.
‘Enjoyed Sunderland very much, wish I could say the same for Grand Hotel!’
CwrightWorsley wrote: On arriving at the Grand Hotel, first impressions count, the glass front on the entrance was filthy I mean, you couldn’t see through! on entering a very nice reception the smell that meet you was chlorine, like walking into the swimming baths! I paid extra for a sea view, yes there was a sea view , through again filthy window including bird poo !! The room is very dated the furniture from the 1980s! and the bed extremely hard with a flimsy mattress topper, we where there for two night thankfully, The bathroom also very dated and toilet needs a really good clean! We had a meal in the hotel, and really disappointed my partner had the 3 course soup, lamb ( more like mutton) tough and desert, I had burger and came with frozen chips! Mentioned to the manger she said she’d tell the chief! The following day on return, no one had been in the room to clean or tidy, no clean towels, or tea, you have to do your own and ask for clean towels and tea, when I asked, this is due to COVID! why we weren’t in the room?
This hotel is class as 4 star, this hotel is definitely not 4 star and the menu is very basic, the breakfast also basic, with little box’s of orange/apple juice which had a taste of disinfectant! Would not be returning to this hotel, really disappointed lucky there are plenty of places to eat, a lovely Indian near by plus bars.
Enjoyed Sunderland very much, wish I could say the same for Grand Hotel!
‘Last minute let down’
Barry C wrote: As previously known as The Marriott Hotel, we were always delighted with the quality of the rooms and level of staff. Once we heard Brittania (sic) had taken over, we were more than a little concerned. However, as we had a family get together over the full weekend 29th /30 th May, it’s location in Seaburn was perfect. Both nights booked well in advance, cases packed, dog organised etc etc. Four hours before we were to travel, we received a phone call saying there had been a mix up between the hotel and Booking. Com. No room at the inn ! Family re-union wrecked and a huge disappointment due to incompetence. So another of the Brittania (sic) chain to avoid. I have no doubt it will run a once respected hotel into the ground.
David F wrote: We are elderly residents of Sunderland living close by the hotel. Our daughter booked 2 rooms for our 2 grandchildren for the nights of 11/12 June 21. After their arrival, our grand-daughter found she had been given an accessible room where the toilet was filthy, with hairs in the shower and stained towels and pillowcase. There was a portable fan full of hairs and dust. The reception clerk wiped around the toilet at 11.30 pm. The next day, Saturday, my wife rang reception to complain and was told it would be corrected. The young man who responded was very polite and attentive and assured her it would be looked into. On the Sunday morning, our grand-daughter told us that nothing had been touched, with the same dirt and stained linen as before.
We have known this hotel for over 50 years and it has slowly deteriorated to the sad state it is in now. We would never recommend that anyone stays there again, and certainly not members of our own family.
ChronicleLive has contacted Britannia Hotels for comment.