Suspicious stains and bloody walls: How the chain behind Blackpool’s infamous hotels became the UK’s worst

It’s a title any hotelier would no doubt strive to avoid, but it was Britannia Hotels that was officially crowned the worst in the country.

Britannia Hotels have been historic holders of the label for almost a decade and for the ninth consecutive year the annual survey by consumer group Which? dubbed the channel the worst in the UK.

Britannia Hotels operates more than 60 hotels in England, but in Lancashire its Blackpool spots, including Norbreck Castle, the Grand Hotel, the Metropole and the Savoy, are the ones that regularly receive complaints – including at LancsLive from readers.

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Over the past year (and beyond), there have been damning reviews, reports and stories from disgruntled guests who have shared their experiences, urging others to avoid booking the many affordable rooms on offer.

Images and videos collected over the past 12 months show the conditions experienced by guests while staying at the hotels.

With many stories shared over the past 12 months, we look back at how the company earned its title as the worst in the country.

Nobreck Castle Hotel

In the summer of 2021, two families fled overnight after a nightmarish stay at the Norbreck Castle Hotel on Queens Promenade in Blackpool.

In July, after a “shocking experience” within hours of their arrival, a mother of four left the hotel with her children around 10 p.m.

While there, she claimed her room had “graffiti on the walls, dampness, mold, dirt, and bodily fluids, one of which was blood smeared on the walls and furniture.” .

Suspected ‘blood’ stained on the wall of the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool (Image: Hotel guest Danielle)

The mum told LancsLive: “The toilets were blocked and there was no juice in the vending machines. We ended up getting a full refund and we weren’t the only ones, there were plenty in the room. same situation.

“My friend and I were there with our kids, we were shown six different rooms between us, the place is very uncomfortable.

“The children were crying at the end of the night.”

Later that autumn, a suspicious “wet curry stain” ruined a woman and her family’s stay at the Norbreck Castle Hotel.

Speaking at the time, the Salford occupational therapist said: “We walked into our room and when I opened the door the curry hit me, but after so long it became overwhelming.

The 'curry stain' was said to have been left hanging throughout the stay
The ‘curry stain’ was said to have been left hanging throughout the stay

“Right away, right next to where you set foot in the morning, there was a stain that previous guests must have spilled it from. They had obviously tried to clean it, but it was still stained and there were pieces on it.”

Our opinion

Later in August 2021, LancsLive stayed at Norbreck to see if the barrage of claims and reviews were true.

After a 55-minute wait for check-in, the room itself was enough evidence to back up other guests’ claims – shower curtains were moldy, there was unidentifiable brown excrement in the carpet, and trash was thrown away hidden behind one of the bedside tables.

It was obvious to see the dirt and wear under the bathroom floor and the marks on the shower wall.

Mold in the bathroom (Image: LancsLive)
Mold in the bathroom (Image: LancsLive)

Concluding the stay, our reviewer said, “It’s cheap, but since people are running around the wings of the hotel and you’re woken up early in the morning by loud noises and the room doesn’t seem clean, is it worth it ?

“The Norbreck Castle Hotel has live entertainment for its guests and we were excited to see what it was but with a nice cash bar impractical for Covid we decided to go to bed, sleep a bit and leave.

“The mattress felt like a rock but after a reception of drinks I found it easy to fall asleep with the determination of an Olympic sprinter. My partner woke up several times to loud noises, and At 7am we were woken up by people talking loudly outside our door.”

It was yet another dodgy stay at the Norbreck later in November 2021 which saw a couple ask for the hotel to be condemned.

In a review of their stay, the couple listed things that shocked them about the quality of the hotel – dead flies on window sills and in lights, hairs in the bath, dirt and dust not are just some of the things they complained about.

Speaking to TripAdvisor to write their review, the couple said: “I have never stayed in such a run down, dirty and dingy place! No towels in the rooms, dirt and dust everywhere, flies dead on ledges and in lights, hairs in the bathroom, disinterested scruffy staff, squeaky beds, outdated and dilapidated furniture.

“The wind whistling through the taped windows as well as the clearly audible conversations from other guests’ rooms ensured minimal sleep and the mold and dampness on the walls is a complete health hazard! An absolute disgrace. “

The Metropole Hotel

In September 2021, Hotel Métropole welcomed asylum seekers with more than 300 men, women and children at the hotel.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have settled in the metropolis on Blackpool Promenade despite concerns raised by Blackpool Council and the police and fire service.

The Grand Metropole Hotel on Sunday evening (September 26) (Image: Bpl Bible/LancsLive)
The Grand Metropole Hotel on Sunday evening (September 26) (Image: Bpl Bible/LancsLive)

Council leader Lynn Williams said it was ‘totally inappropriate’ for vulnerable people to be housed in a high profile tourist location, while Blackpool MPs Scott Benton and Paul Maynard both considered this decision as detrimental to Blackpool.

A few weeks later, the Hotel Metropole was criticized for poor food hygiene where it received a ‘1’ – ‘Major improvement needed’ for failing to ensure that the preparation and service areas food is kept clean.

Among the list of items that led to the “Major Improvement Needs” rating, food debris in front of the second kitchen refrigerator, dirt on the kitchen radio, a soap dispenser and a can opener were noted by Blackpool Council.

Equipment for the hot drinks area.
Equipment for the hot drinks area.

The additional restaurant used for staff meals needed to be cleaned after use, as well as the dirt on the kitchen door to the staff restaurant.

The Grand Hotel

Earlier this year, around New Year’s Day, a chaotic early morning evacuation of guests staying at the Grand Hotel left guests feeling unsafe.

A family, along with “hundreds” of other guests, reportedly left the Grand Hotel on the chilly seafront at around 5.25am when a fire alarm sounded throughout the building.

Speaking to LancsLive, the mum said: “After very little sleep due to drunk people and arguments on our floor, at 5am we were woken up by the sound of the fire alarm. evacuated the hotel with everyone, there was not a single member of staff in sight, no instruction, no orientation and elderly people struggling on the stairs.

Dirty carpet at the Grand Hotel in Blackpool
Dirty carpet at the Grand Hotel in Blackpool

“We came back outside to receive no instructions or guidance. There were people using all sorts of possible exits to get out. No firefighters at all.

“We all waited outside and again no staff was in sight. After 20, 25 minutes everyone entered the hotel with the alarm still going. Nobody knew what to do. The elevators were all still in use, so [there were] huge queues for lifts and no one to indicate whether or not these should be used.”

The answer

While covering each of these stories, LancsLive received no response from Britannia Hotels, so in October 2021 we went to their Altrincham HQ to speak to them directly.

HQ: Halecroft in Altrincham (Image: Amy Fenton)
HQ: Halecroft in Altrincham (Image: Amy Fenton)

When we entered the property we explained who we were and why we were there and pointed out that Britannia hotels often refused to answer our questions.

“We sent comments to the media,” they said. “We have a lot of hotels and we also have a lot of good press.”

We then pointed out that we have rarely, if ever, received any reviews from Britannia Hotels.

“If we say we won’t comment, journalists sometimes twist things and say we declined to comment,” the manager replied.

“We always respond to our customers when they contact us.”

LancsLive contacted Britannia Hotels again regarding their reaffirmed title of the country’s worst hotel chain, but we received no response.

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