Britannia Hotels

Britannia Hotels is a British hotel group with 61 hotels across the country. Britannia operates at the budget end of the market, and includes the Pontins Holiday Park portfolio. In recent years, Britannia Hotels has been a subject of widespread criticism over the hygiene and maintenance of its locations, with the consumer group Which? declaring the hotel chain to be the worst in the United Kingdom since October 2013:[2][3] the controversies have contributed towards the growing general perception of Britannia Hotels as "Britain's worst hotel chain".[4]

Britannia Hotels Limited
Private
IndustryHotels & Hospitality
HeadquartersHale, Greater Manchester, England
Number of locations
61 hotels across the UK
Key people
Alex Langsam CEO
Robert Ferrari CFO
ProductsHotels and property development
ServicesConference room hire, banqueting functions, health club membership
RevenueIncrease £55.448m (2011)[1]
Increase £8.752m (2011)
Increase £8.138m (2011)
OwnerA.Langsam
Hawksford Trust Company Jersey Limited
Number of employees
12,000
SubsidiariesBritannia Adelphi Hotel Ltd
Birmingham International Hotel Ltd
Ambassador Hotels (Bournemouth) Ltd
Ambassador (East Cliff) Ltd
Britannia Hotel Bolton Ltd
Britannia Hotel Leeds Ltd
Britannia Country House Hotel Ltd
Britannia Hotel Edinburgh Ltd
Britannia Hotel Wolverhampton Ltd
Websitewww.britanniahotels.com

OverviewEdit

Britannia Hotels was founded in 1976 with the purchase of the Britannia Country House Hotel in Didsbury, Manchester. Its Chief Executive, founder, and largest shareholder remains Alex Langsam. Langsam is a non-domiciled taxpayer, registered as living in Austria for tax-purposes since 1999.[5] His net personal worth was valued at £90 million in 2013 by The Sunday Times.[6]

Its head office is based in the old town hall in Hale, Manchester. A large cluster of the company's hotels are located in and around Manchester.

Soon after its foundation Britannia began making a number of further acquisitions.

 
The Britannia Manchester Hotel, formerly Watts Warehouse, Manchester

The second purchase in 1981 was a derelict listed building in central Manchester (the former Watts Warehouse standing on Portland Street, Manchester). After redeveloping the unit it opened in May 1982 as the Britannia Hotel Manchester. At the end of 1982 British Rail sold off its hotel division - British Transport Hotels. From this sale, in 1983 Britannia bought the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool.

In 1987 Britannia Hotels converted an unused building in Manchester that had been the city's C&A department store - this became the Sachas Hotel.[7][8] Later in the same year Bosworth Hall, a country house style hotel in Market Bosworth Leicestershire, was purchased. Bosworth Hall was being converted from a hospital/nursing home into a hotel and Britannia took over the development from the builders who went bankrupt. In 1988 the company purchased and began development of the International Hotel adjacent to Canary Wharf in the London's Docklands. The hotel opened on 9 June 1992. A year later, Britannia took over a 187-bedroom hotel in Stockport. After a period of refurbishment the Britannia Stockport Hotel opened in 1993. In the summer of the same year the group also purchased the Europa Hotel situated close to Gatwick Airport.

In the following 10 years the group acquired 16 more hotels in locations such as Birmingham, Aberdeen and Newcastle. In November 2004 it acquired four hotels from the Grand Leisure Group: the Grand Hotel in Scarborough, the Grand Hotel in Llandudno, the Grand Burstin Hotel in Folkestone and the Grand Metropole in Blackpool. In January 2011, the company bought North West holiday camp business Pontins out of administration in a £18.5m deal which safeguarded about 1,000 jobs. Following the acquisition Britannia had to deal with a series of complaints.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

From 2005 to 2015 the Group enjoyed its most rapid period of expansion acquiring 23 hotels - including the Palace Hotel in Buxton and the Basingstoke Country Hotel acquired from the Hotel Collection[17][18] and the Trecarn Hotel Torquay[19] and Cavendish Hotel in Eastbourne. In 2016, Britannia Hotels also purchased The Bromsgrove Hotel & Spa which was previously owned and operated by Hilton. Later in 2017, Britannia Hotels also acquired the Royal Hotel in Hull from the Mercure Hotel Group expanding the empire to 53 Hotels.[20]

List of propertiesEdit

As of 18 February 2020, Britannia Hotels operated 61 hotels, all of which were within Great Britain:[21]

Common brand names
Brand Locations Total Notes
Britannia Hotels 17
Airport Inn 2
Grand Hotel 5 The Scarborough location is Grade II* listed.
Total properties 24
Named hotels
Location Properties Total Notes
Aviemore Coylumbridge Aviemore Hotel 1
Basingstoke Country Hotel 1
Birmingham Bromsgrove Hotel 1
Blackpool 3
Bournemouth 4
Brighton Royal Albion Hotel 1 The Royal Albion Hotel is Grade II* listed.
Buxton Palace Hotel 1
Coventry
  • Royal Court Hotel
1
Eastbourne Cavendish Hotel 1
Folkestone Grand Burstin Hotel 1
Gatwick
  • Europa Gatwick Hotel
  • Gatwick Lodge
  • Russ Hill Hotel
3
Kingston upon Hull Royal Hotel 1
Leeds Hollins Hall Hotel 1
Liverpool Adelphi Hotel 1 The Adelphi Hotel is Grade II listed.
London International Hotel 1
Manchester
  • Ashley Hotel
  • Britannia Country House Hotel
  • Sachas Hotel
3
Market Bosworth Bosworth Hall Hotel 1 The Bosworth Hall Hotel is Grade II* listed.
Norwich Sprowston Manor Hotel 1
Peterhead Waterside Hotel 1
Prestwick Adamton Country House 1
Scarborough 2
Southampton Meon Valley Hotel 1
Southport
  • Prince of Wales Hotel
  • Scarisbrick Hotel
2
Stoke on Trent North Stafford Hotel 1 The North Stafford Hotel is Grade II* listed.
Torquay Trecarn Hotel 1
Warrington Daresbury Park Hotel & Spa 1
Total properties 37

EventsEdit

The 1988 Philip Saville film The Fruit Machine featured interior and main entrance scenes of the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool, including a vertical pan shot past the lit marquee at night.

In 2008 as part of the Capital of Culture celebrations, a musical based on the Adelphi Hotel, written and directed by Phil Willmott, Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi, ran at the Liverpool Playhouse from 30 June until 2 August.[22]

Industry receptionEdit

In 2011, the Group Travel Awards declared Britannia to be the "Most Group-Friendly Hotel Chain or Group".[23] Two years later, The Institute of Customer Service recognised Pontins (one of Britannia's subsidiaries) as the Most Improved Organisation at the 2013 UK Customer Satisfaction Awards.[24]

ControversiesEdit

Britannia Hotels has been subject to widespread criticism. In October 2019, consumer group Which? declared Britannia Hotels to be the worst hotel chain in the United Kingdom for the seventh consecutive year, despite a slight increase in its overall score (39%, as against 35% in 2018).[2] Britannia Hotels had been at the bottom of the Which? hotel chain rankings since October 2013, when then-editor Richard Headland warned that other chains (such as Premier Inn) were undercutting Britannia with better service at similar prices.[3]

Hygiene and maintenance issuesEdit

In 2005 and 2006 the Grand Hotel in Scarborough and the Britannia Adelphi were investigated by the BBC over theft and hygiene.[25][26] In November 2014, an undercover investigation by the Liverpool Echo found issues with the upkeep of both the exterior and interior of the Adelphi, warning that the ageing interiors and basic service placed Britannia Hotels at a disadvantage in the fast-evolving "cut-throat" tourism industry.[27] Which? journalists found the Britannia Lodge near Gatwick airport to be in a worse condition, reporting smells of damp because of a clogged ventilation fan, a bathroom affected by mould, and stains revealed under ultraviolet light.[2]

Hotel research and booking site Oyster.com has reviewed a number of Britannia Hotels. The website commended most of the reviewed locations for their proximity to city centres or public transport hubs[28] and efforts to renovate some rooms in the Manchester location,[29] but raised concerns about outdated interiors, inconsistent maintenance, and Wi-Fi access fees,[30] the latter generally considered inappropriate in a country where internet access is a major part of daily life.

Planning issuesEdit

In the mid-1980s, Alex Langsam acquired the Grade II* listed London Road Fire Station in Manchester for the group. Proposals to redevelop it into a hotel and offices were delayed and in 2006 it was placed on English Heritage's register of "at risk" historical buildings.[31] The city council's attempt to compulsorily purchase the building was rejected on 29 November 2011.[32][33] In 2015 Britannia sold the building to Allied London who began redevelopment as a mixed-use leisure and hotel facility.[34]

Social issuesEdit

Amid increasing pressure on Britannia Hotels over poor cleanliness, the Home Office temporarily rented rooms in three Britannia locations (two in Bournemouth, one in Folkestone) to house asylum seekers because of overcrowding at the detention centres.[35] The Home Office also rented rooms for new refugees who were waiting for long-term housing.[4]

In December 2018, the Britannia Royal at Kingston upon Hull cancelled a charity reservation for rough sleepers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without giving a reason. The incident led to a significant escalation of general criticism against Britannia Hotels, who then temporarily removed their presence from social media.[36]

Evictions and sackings in response to COVID-19Edit

In March 2020, Britannia Hotels attracted widespread condemnation for their response to the coronavirus pandemic: on 19 March, the Coylumbridge Aviemore Hotel sacked and evicted approximately thirty staff without notice or redundancy pay, leaving several homeless as a result of living in the hotel as part of their jobs.[37][38] Britannia Hotels later reversed the decision under widespread political and public pressure, but claimed that the sackings were due to an “administrative error”.[39][40] A similar incident also occurred at the Britannia-owned Pontins holiday parks, where many employees were living there as part of their jobs.[41]

On 24 March, Manchester City Council reported that Britannia Hotels evicted homeless people from Britannia's two city centre hotels (Britannia Manchester and Sachas Hotel), despite the central government allowing hotels to continue accommodating health workers and homeless people.[42]

Legal issuesEdit

In September 2007, Manchester Crown Court fined Britannia Hotels £39,486 for food hygiene offences at the Britannia Hotel in Stockport, shortly after TripAdvisor rated it as one of Britain's dirtiest hotels.[43] In December 2014, the Nuneaton Justice Centre fined Britannia Hotels £25,400 for food hygiene offences at the Royal Court Hotel in Coventry.[44]

Britannia Hotels was prosecuted for breaking health and safety laws after a student drowned at the Adelphi.[45] In November 2015, the Liverpool Echo investigated a guest's complaints about the Adelphi.[46] In June 2017, the Adelphi was prosecuted for breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations.[47] Further issues with the Adelphi have been reported since.[48][49][50] The Liverpool Echo visited the Company's headquarters in June 2019 to interview a spokesperson about the complaints, but no-one would see them.[51]

In 2013 in Canterbury Crown Court the chain was ordered to pay £200,000 in fines and costs for putting guests and construction workers at risk of exposure to asbestos at the Grand Burstin Hotel in Folkestone.[52]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Britannia Hotels Ltd, Annual report and financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2011
  2. ^ a b c Kollewe, Julia (28 October 2019). "Britannia Hotels rated sector's worst chain for seventh year in a row". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b Coldwell, Will (30 October 2013). "The UK's best and worst hotel chains". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b Gill, Oliver (6 January 2020). "Sales at 'Britain's worst hotel chain' surge past £100m". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Hotel boss Alex Langsam loses appeal over 'non-dom' payout". Manchester Evening News. 11 October 2012.
  6. ^ https://www.thecaterer.com/#/articles/348222
  7. ^ "Sachas - Former C&A Clothing Store". manchesterhistory.net.
  8. ^ O'Leary, Abigail (8 August 2016). "Manchester's lost shops: Readers share their memories of Lewis's and more". Manchester Evening News.
  9. ^ "Anne Robinson Goes Head to Head With Woman From Pontins Following A Watchdog Report". YouTube. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Complaints made over Pontin's site at Pakefield - News". Lowestoft Journal. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  11. ^ Siddle, John (11 April 2015). "Pontins: Mass brawl at Southport holiday camp latest in long list of complaints".
  12. ^ "Pakefield: Holiday firm Pontins rapped over 'misleading' accommodation advertising".
  13. ^ Porter, Gary (2 September 2014). "Pontins Prestayn chalet was 'dirty beyond belief' claims holidaymaker".
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/pontins-sentencing-remarks-04042012/
  16. ^ "Pontins Holiday Park breach Health & Safety with disastrous consequences". 9 June 2014.
  17. ^ "New owners for landmark Buxton hotel".
  18. ^ http://www.christie.com/en/news/2015/06/15/britannia_hotels_continues_expansion_with_two_hotel_acquisitions_18465
  19. ^ Tore, Iuliia. "Britannia Hotels expands its portfolio - Rus Tourism News". www.rustourismnews.com.
  20. ^ "Mercure Hull Royal Hotel to be taken over by Britannia Hotels". Hull Daily Mail. 9 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 March 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Search our hotels". Britannia Hotels. Hale. 18 February 2020. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  22. ^ "Adelphi Hotel Play". Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "UK Customer Satisfaction Awards 2015 Winners". www.instituteofcustomerservice.com.
  25. ^ "Hotel rejects 'theft hotspot' tag". BBC News. 26 July 2006.
  26. ^ "BBC Inside Out - Hotel not-so-Grand". www.bbc.co.uk.
  27. ^ Rouse, Alisha (5 November 2014). "Adelphi Hotel owners Britannia Group branded worst in country by Which? magazine". Liverpool Echo. Liverpool: Reach plc. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Oyster Hotel Review: Britannia International Hotel". Oyster.com. Needham: TripAdvisor. 4 June 2019. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Oyster Hotel Review: Britannia Manchester Hotel". Oyster.com. Needham: TripAdvisor. 4 June 2019. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Oyster Hotel Review: Britannia Edinburgh Hotel". Oyster.com. Needham: TripAdvisor. 4 June 2019. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  31. ^ "All-action station". Manchester Evening News. 11 February 2006. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012.
  32. ^ Alex Langsam Breaks Silence Archived 7 September 2012 at Archive.today Manchester Confidential 9 September 2010
  33. ^ "Manchester council loses £700,000 bid to force sale of London Road Fire Station". Manchester Evening News. 29 November 2011. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011.
  34. ^ "Allied London starts work on London Road Fire Station". Place North West. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  35. ^ Knowles, Kitty (26 October 2014). "Is this really the worst hotel chain in Britain?". The Independent. London: Independent Digital News & Media. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  36. ^ Halliday, Josh (17 December 2018). "Donations flood in after hotel cancels booking for homeless people". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  37. ^ https://www.thenational.scot/news/18319815.aviemore-hotel-sacks-evicts-staff-immediately-virus-crisis/
  38. ^ https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/politicians-condemn-scots-hotel-after-21723003
  39. ^ "Coronavirus: Hotel made staff homeless in 'admin error'". London: BBC. BBC News. 21 March 2020. Archived from the original on 4 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  40. ^ Musgrove, Gavin (26 March 2020). "'We're delighted to be back at the Coylumbridge Hotel'". Strathspey & Badenoch Herald. Grantown-on-Spey: Highland News and Media. Archived from the original on 4 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  41. ^ Hughes, Owen (24 March 2020). "Britannia Hotels re-hires Pontins workers and Government will pay their wages". North Wales Live. Colwyn Bay: Reach plc. Archived from the original on 4 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  42. ^ Griffiths, Niall (25 March 2020). "Hotel slammed 'for evicting homeless people that were supposed to stay' there amid coronavirus outbreak". Manchester Evening News. Reach plc. Archived from the original on 4 April 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  43. ^ Taylor, Paul R. (13 September 2007). "'Dirtiest hotel' fined £36,000". Manchester: Reach plc. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  44. ^ "Coventry's Royal Court Hotel in food hygiene fine". London: BBC. BBC News. 18 December 2014. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  45. ^ "ADELPHI IN COURT OVER DROWNING; Hotel denies two safety breaches. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  46. ^ Samuelson, Kate (22 November 2015). "Liverpool Adelphi Hotel guest 'disgusted' by £150 a night room".
  47. ^ "An embarrassment to the city'". Confidentials. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  48. ^ McMullin, Kate (2 November 2017). "Bloodied syringe and dried up vomit - couple lift the lid on Adelphi horror stay". Liverpool Echo.
  49. ^ Bona, Emilia (30 December 2017). "100 Scottish line dancers disgusted at 'nightmare' Adelphi stay". Liverpool Echo.
  50. ^ Parry, Josh (14 March 2018). "Adelphi Hotel gym to shut - as members share pictures of 'filthy' changing areas". Liverpool Echo.
  51. ^ Bona, Emilia (30 June 2019). "Bosses at The Adelphi and Pontins never respond to our questions so we turned up at their offices to demand answers". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  52. ^ "Britannia Hotels slammed over asbestos case - TheBusinessDesk.com". 5 April 2013.

External linksEdit