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Published April 5th 2018
Makes your travel dollar go further
One of the most expensive aspects of travel is accommodation. On a recent trip to UK local friends kept mentioning a budget chain called Premier Inn as an alternative. It was making their weekend getaways affordable.
Part of me cringed as the phrase 'budget hotel' has connotations such as holey sheets, thin toilet paper and pokey rooms.
But when it came to booking our last night, Premier Inn came up as an option. We had an early morning flight from Heathrow's Terminal 4 and we needed to book a hotel as close to our flight departure point as possible.
One close option was the Hilton, except it would have cost from £229 a night. But right across the road was the Premier Inn, which weighed in as the lightweight at £49 (or for us, Australians $85 dollars a night). This was a price that was cheaper than many of the Airbnbs we had stayed at.
We figured that even if the amenities weren't great, we were only there for one night and had to leave at 6 am in the morning in any case.
We arrived at 1 pm thinking we could stow our suitcases until the 3 pm check-in time. First pleasant surprise. Our rooms were ready and we could go in early.
I guess it sort of figured as most people who stay at an airport hotel have early morning flights and therefore check out early. But many hotels stand on ceremony and won't let guests in before an allotted time.
Check in was unusual, but a breeze. There were check-in machines rather like the ones that one uses at airports. (So this was the hotel's first observable cost-cutting measure.)
Check in was unusual, but a breeze
But there was lots of human assistance as well and pretty much all that was required was a name. None of this passport number, mobile number and so on that some hotels ask for.
We made our way up in the lifts of which there were several. My room was larger than other UK hotel rooms I had stayed in.
It was carpeted and smartly decorated. There was no wardrobe, but there was a space behind the mirror where one could hang clothes if needed. There was special noise quashing glazing on the windows and block out curtains
The bathroom had a bath and over this a powerful shower, with plenty of hot water. There wasn't a range of toiletries but there was a dispenser on the tiled walls that supplied an all in one body wash, shampoos and conditioner. I washed my hair and it was fine. I didn't end up looking like Medusa. There was even a hairdryer!
The room featured a large TV screen. No in-house movies or Netflix but the screen was huge. There was free WiFi which was fast enough for my needs which included downloading photos on Facebook and answering emails. But lightning fast WiFi was available for £5 if required.
Lighting in the room was amazing with even a purple aura you could switch on around the bed. Purple was also the colour of choice in the room. As in all Premier Inns, it was picked up in the curtains and on the bedspread. The decor was simple but smart.
The runner on the bed had a written promise of 'a great night's sleep'. In fact, if you don't have one, Premier Inn offers you your money back. You just have to speak to one of the reception team.
I slept soundly. Loved the bed. It was a super-comfy English king-sized Hypnos mattress which is endorsed as the world's most comfortable bed by British royalty.
This was higher than most so easy to get out of in the morning. The doona was soft and cuddly. There was a selection of firm and soft pillows. The exterior soundproofing was perfect as I did not hear a single plane. Interior less so. I did hear kids running in the corridor, but this stopped by 9pm.
Kids are a given here as families (up to two adults and two children under 16) pay no more to occupy a room than a couple or person on their own, while breakfast is also free for children.
The next morning our check-in for our flight was a ten-minute undercover walk away. There were luggage trolleys at the hotel near the walkway which made walking there a breeze. In the hotel foyer, you could buy a have-in or takeaway coffee at 5 am in the morning! As for check out, there was just a slot to put in our room cards.
I met a lady in the lift with her three lively children. They were using the hotel for a three-day break in London and it had only cost them £100. She said, 'It is so expensive staying in London, but this way we just get the underground in every day and I love staying in Premier Inn Hotels. Sign up with them and you can get some amazing deals on accommodation. I've had deals as low as £29 a night.'
Breakfast is a keynote at Premier Inn. Savour freshly baked croissants, sweet pastries, US-style pancakes, sourdough crumpets, bagels and a choice of thickly sliced bread with tempting spreads. For something even lighter, there's fruit, cereals, granola and creamy Yeo Valley yoghurts. Then there are hot items such as bubble 'n' squeak and black pudding, bacon, premium sausages, hash browns, closed cup mushrooms and even made-to-order poached or boiled eggs.
The full Premier Inn Breakfast costs from £8.99 or you can enjoy a lighter continental option from £6.99.
As mentioned at Premier Inn children under 16 eat for free (up to a maximum of two children eat free per adult who purchases a full Premier Inn Breakfast).
There is also a meal deal from £23.99. It includes a full Premier Inn Breakfast, plus any 2-course dinner** and a selected drink at Beefeater, Table Table, Brewers Fayre or Thyme restaurants. These are the restaurants connected to Premier Inns.
Dinner and Eats
Forever looking for fault we weren't expecting the food to be so good at the restaurant, but it was excellent. So scrumptious, in fact, we opted to have both lunch and dinner there. This particular Premier Inn had a Thyme restaurant
For lunch, we shared a platter which had cheesy garlic flatbread, sticky duck wings, Piri Piri chicken wings, pork and beef kofta, battered onion rings, tortilla chips and celery. It was served with blue cheese and Bourbon BBQ dips. Dinner included selections such as a very good surf and turf, grilled salmon, and a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries. Or at least that is what our table ordered.
Towards the end of a heavy eating holiday, I settled for the mozzarella mixed bean & quinoa salad a delicious mix of brown rice, cannellini, edamame, pinto and kidney beans and quinoa tossed in a green chilli and lemon dressing, topped with freshly sliced tomato, creamy mozzarella, spring onion and rocket.
There were deals on the gin that we took advantage of (two for almost the price one) and the desserts, which I had a taste of, were yum, including an ultimate chocolate brown sundae and a sticky pudding.
You're better off booking online (click here) rather than third-party sites. To find the cheapest rates, tick the 'Dates flexible? (Find best price)' box when booking.
Book well ahead for the best rates. The £29-per-night price usually needs to be booked at least 21 days in advance and cannot be cancelled or amended.
For Central London hotels, the beginning rate is £49.
I spent a month in the UK staying in mostly charming Airbnbs and a few hotels that were memorable because they were a bit dodgy. Premier Inn is slightly soulless with long corridors and uniform rooms, but I must say that when travelling sometimes you just want a guaranteed good night's sleep, good food and a cheap price. For all these reasons I would certainly recommend this chain and hope to stay with them again when in Britain.
Being an Australian and suffering such long-haul flights it was also interesting to find that their budget hotels have expanded to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. This means that instead of just changing flights there is an alternative to be had in spending the night or having a short break in between the two legs of the Great Australian Haul.
The purple dots are Premier Inn Hotels the other dots are tourist spots. As you can see this hotel chain has UK covered.
There are some 750 Premier Inn Hotels. You will find them all over the UK and elsewhere.
East Riding Of Yorkshire
Isle Of Wight
Tyne And Wear