Just back from a road trip, photographing mortgaged properties in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. Very glamorous. Think I prefer Bermuda.
It’s for my brother’s business, so I was governed by the company’s expenses guidelines: Where specifically agreed by a Director an overnight stay can be arranged at a Premier Inn or similar, and this should include a “meal deal” for dinner and breakfast.
And so it came to pass that I immersed myself in the purple world of Premier Inns for 3 nights……
First stop, Norwich. 5 – yes 5 – to choose from in and around that great city. I opted for the Nelson City Centre one. Big mistake. Took me ages to find it. Never drive in Norwich unless you have to, the 1-way system is insanely confusing. £96.99 for the room, dinner & breakfast.
Next up, Ipswich. Another 5 locations. Went for the Quayside one, confronting another debilitating 1-way system – in rush hour. A whopping £104.99, for the room and meal deal. And £4 for the car park. Once you find it, hidden away down a road marked “closed”.
The final night was in Chelmsford. Just 3 choices this time, and I went for the Springfield one, rather than the city centre option. Another traffic meltdown in the late afternoon rush hour, gridlock on the A12 leading to the attractive service station area where the hotel is located, nestled between the BP garage and McDonald’s. A table-topping £108.99 for the room and meal deal.
So, what were my impressions of Premier Inn World…..
- functional: what you see is what you get no-frills overnight stays. Luxury hospitality this ain’t
- purple, purple, purple everywhere. Even on that purposeless long strip of fabric they lay at the end of the bed
- meal deals. Not bad options for dinner, but the menu still echoes to the beat of Wimpy bars and Berni Inns from the 1970s. Breakfast is an all-you-can-eat buffet, or a few healthier options. But psychology kicks in if you’ve paid for it already….
- the free wifi service was frustrating as hell. Free yes, but it took forever to get online….and then when you did, it often fell away just as you were about to send an email. There’s a paid alternative – £5 for 24 hours – for a service 8x faster than the free one. But 8x nothing is still nothing. Appalling in this digital era. Currently outsourced to Arqiva….I suggest they find another provider, pronto
- the punters: lorry drivers, salesmen, refrigeration engineers, blue-collar workers in logo’d fleeces
- the staff: well trained in smiley Premier-Inn- speak. Purple tongues
- the rooms: boxes in boxed buildings, containing everything you need for 12 hours in your hospitality capsule in over-populated, traffic-clogged 21st century England
- the beds: the undoubted highlight. Hypnos. With pillows as soft, fluffy and deep as Lenny Henry’s mellifluous voice, extolling the virtues of a night in Purple Heaven
Whitbread own Premier Inn.
With over 700 hotels in the UK and 59,000 rooms in great locations, you’ll never be far from a Premier Inn and we’ve set an ambition to have 85,000 rooms by 2020. Internationally, we have five hotels in the Middle East and three in India, with further developments in the pipeline and a target for 50 international hotels by 2018.
I can’t wait.