The Britannia Hotel is one of Manchester’s lowest raters hotels on TripAdvisor, with complaints ranging from pricey room charges to no windows.
Boasting only two and a half stars on the travel site, Manchester Evening News sent feature writer Dianne Bourne to see if the hotel really is that bad.
She began documenting her experience and said: “I'm not quite sure where to start with my visit to Manchester's Britannia Hotel.
“With the ONE HOUR queue to check in? With the bedroom without a window, stuffy and sweltering with an ageing air con that I couldn't get to work?”
Thinking that the room would be discounted for its lack of natural sun-light, Diannne shared that the room costs an “eye-watering £299".
Having come to terms with splashing the cash for the room, the writer was woken in the middle of the night by “screaming in the hotel corridors.”
Quickly realising that the stay was going to be one of discomfort instead of luxury, Dianne started to understand why the hotel is rated so badly.
She said: “It's not hard to see how The Britannia on Portland Street has become one of the most complained about hotels in Manchester on TripAdvisor right now, with a mammoth 1,871 "terrible" one star rated reviews from disgruntled customers.
“So why did I stay here? Well, I needed somewhere to bed down in Manchester on a Saturday night, which is getting to be a very expensive business now the night time economy has surged back to life.”
“With a raft of major events happening in the city centre on that Saturday (October 9), and the Manchester Marathon taking place on the Sunday, hotel room rates were at a premium when I booked via Booking.com.”
Despite usually bagging prices under £100, Dianne revealed why the room was so expensive.
She said: “Thanks to the hotel world's fluctuating price system – based on supply and demand – a budget room at the Britannia that would usually cost you a reasonable enough £45 mid-week, surges to £299 at peak times like Saturdays and when big football matches and gigs are taking place.”
“And that windowless room was the cheapest option I could find on Booking.com in central Manchester. For £299.”
It did not include any extras despite the hefty price.
Dianne would have had to fork out an extra £7.50 for breakfast and would have been set back £7 for 24 hours of WiFi, which would have brought her one night stay to £315.
Faced with a late check-in of 4pm, Dianne arrived right on time for her night at the Britannia hotel.
“I arrived at bang on 4pm at the Britannia, and my heart sank when I saw a queue already forming outside of the grand double doors for check-in.”
Despite this, Dianne was able to soak in the interior of the grand building: “Waiting around does allow you to appreciate the grandeur of this 19th century building – the sweeping staircase and huge chandelier on entrance really are impressive, while Graeco-Roman style statues dot the alcoves and windows around the lobby.
“However I became sick of the sight of the Roman Gods after staring at them for a FULL HOUR while waiting to get to the front of the queue.”
“It was just unfathomably slow, even with what appeared to be a full complement of five staff checking people in.”
Dianne was not the only one to have become tired of the slow-paced line, as she was surrounded by “groans” of other guests admitting that they had “never seen anything like it".
While waiting to get checked in, Dianne found herself in conversation with other guests and was shocked to hear what they were paying for her room.
Fellow guests “laughed” at what Dianne was paying.
Dianne said: “I was being well and truly ripped off with the £299 charge – the two women from Scotland revealed they'd booked their double room (WITH a window) for £170 just three days before their stay (they showed me their confirmation on their phone to prove it).
“A couple originally from South America revealed they were paying £185 for their double.”
She confessed: “To say I felt ripped off at this stage would be an understatement.”
“When I told them all my room was £299 with NO WINDOW I honestly think they thought I was joking.”
The couple said to Dianne: "Ah, you will be in the penthouse for that price.”
How wrong they were.
With apparently no apology for the inconvenient of the queue size, Dianne eventually reached the desk and provided her name.
She questioned the hotel staff about the wait: "Does it always take this long?"
The receptionist believed this was due to it being a busy Saturday night in the city.
However, Dianne checked TripAdvisor and discovered that there had been “numerous complaints about the hour-long check-ins for weeks now".
Having to get out the door at 6pm in time for an event, Dianne admitted: “I felt annoyed that it gave me less than an hour to get myself showered and ready to get to my event.
“But I felt even more annoyed on behalf of some shirtless males I encountered in the corridors as I made my way to my room.”
Speaking of the incident, she said: “They were very apologetic about their state of undress and the contents of their luggage all over the floor, but explained to me they needed to get changed quickly as they were already late for an event and just couldn't wait any longer in the ridiculous queue for check-in.”
After the shirtless men encounter and queuing fiasco, Dianne reached her room.
“I arrived at my room, having noted that room numbers on the doors were in a font that might best be described as "Prisoner Cell Block H.”
“Once inside my ground floor bedroom, the first thing that struck me was the wave of heat.”
Knowing that she would not be getting a room with a window, Dianne assumed that her room would be kitted out with modern air conditioning.
Unfortunately for Dianne, she assumed wrong.
Although there was a system in place, it was not up to scratch.
“An ancient looking grid was high on the wall, with a silver switch control panel that was not exactly screaming 'digital age' at me.
“While a little blue light flickered on the temperature setting, no such light was emerging from the fan switch. I tried and tried but nothing happened…
“Naturally, my first thought was to ring reception, but, funnily enough, given the fact there was still a queue out of the door at check in, there was no answer. And there was no way in hell I was going back out to queue for another hour to speak to someone.”
Apart from the heat of the room, Dianne described the room as “pretty basic with old-fashioned dark furniture, and plain magnolia walls punctuated by two dirty round marks above the bedhead.”
Despite this, the bedding appeared to be clean and comfy.
Along with this, the room also had a TV remote wrapped in film with a “sanitised” sticker attached and also a selection of tea and coffee.
She added: “Above the skirting board appeared to be the power mains switches with the warning sign 'Danger 240 volts' above it, which I found a little unsettling.”
Although the bathroom appeared to be clean, Dianne admitted that : “When I touched pretty much anything in the shower it fell off in my hands – the soap dispenser, the shower power control and temperature ring.
She was able to put these back on eventually.
Dianne felt the temperature of the room increasing and said: “I was getting so hot now in the room that I thought I'd best just get cleaned up and changed as quickly as I could to get out into some fresh air.”
After getting back from her event, the temperature outside had dropped therefore so did the temperature of the room, giving a little bit of bliss to the busy writer.
Disturbing her sleep, Dianne reflected that a man was heard shouting: "I f***ing paid £100… for THIS?".
Sarcastically, she remarked: “Which I might have had some sympathy for, had I not forked out £299… for THIS.
“I settled back to sleep, only to be woken again around an hour later at 3.30am by what sounded like a crowd disturbance on the street outside – not having a window I was unable to check what exactly it was that was happening.”
Despite her interrupted sleep, Dianne at least found that the bed was “comfy.”
Getting up at 8am, Dianne took matters into her own ends and went to complain about the heat of the room.
However, Dianne did not get the answer she was hoping for.
She said: “The man at the front desk said immediately, ''Would you like a plug-in fan?" which gave me the impression I was not the first person to make this complaint.”
Dianne, then made her way for a bite to eat for breakfast at the hotel’s diner “Jenny's Restaurant” located in the basement of the hotel.
Luckily for Dianne, this was her “highlight” of her stay.
She said: “Fine dining it ain't, but the good old-fashioned all-you-can-eat fry up buffet was plentiful if you were after a cooked breakfast – and there was quite a pile of fresh fruit too.”
“I mean, don't get me wrong, the sausage was like a salty fat stick and the mushrooms looked like they'd long ceased their status as "vegetable", but it gets major brownie points for hosting what for me is the holy grail of hotel breakfasts – limitless fried bread.”
Thankfully, Dianne was not faced with the same long queue for checking out and only had to simply place her key in a box.
To sum up her stay at the Britannia Hotel, Dianne concluded: “My overall take away from this stay is just the sheer rip off of the pricing.
"If you get this style of room at a budget price, then it offers reasonable accommodation if you just need somewhere to bed down for a few hours and shower (if you can stand the heat and are prepared for a queue to check in)."
“But for the £299 paid for my visit, I'd have been better off booking a taxi to get me home – heck I could probably have got a chauffeur-driven limo for that price.”
The Manchester Evening News had approached Britannia Hotels for comment about room prices and the issues that Dianne had whilst being accommodated for.
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