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  • Sarah


Staying in hotel chains may be easy, but there is no joy to be had from staying in a soulless room with bland decoration, views over concrete and car parks, eating the same food you can eat in every other hotel, and getting woken up by the loud family in the room next door. Far better to drift off the beaten path to stay somewhere locally owned with a personality and where you can find all sorts of unexpected surprises.

The Premier Inn in Salisbury set back from the road.

This Premier Inn sits on the busiest road in Salisbury, and is right next to a huge Macdonalds, a Tesco superstore and a Park & Ride car park. It has replaced a field where horses used to graze under the trees.

The UKs largest hotel chain, Premier Inn, is owned by Whitbread, who also own several major UK restaurants. They have more than 1000 hotels with over 72,000 rooms, serving 5 million guest a year.

Each one of these rooms is exactly the same colour (purple), with exactly the same bedding, the same generic wall prints, and the same restaurants (owned by their parent company), where you can eat the same food they offer around the rest of the country. Usually in large, purpose built square blocks, with rows of small windows and surrounded by low maintenance planting that wildlife hates as much as the rest of us, these hotels often resemble prison blocks.

They do have their uses, normally if you need to stay near an airport or train station for an early departure, but otherwise they should be avoided like the plague.

Whitbread makes an absolute fortune, recently selling Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola for nearly £4 billion, their property portfolio alone is worth £6 billion. This is not a company that needs any extra money.

Far better to search the locally owned hotels, B&B's, holiday lets or glamping sites. Every building, every room, every aspect will be unlike any other accommodation you will stay in.

Often located in areas away from high traffic and high footfall, you may find they are a lot more peaceful than city centre chains. There are often gardens to explore, local dishes on the menu, interesting landlords to chat to and quirky surroundings to investigate.

What is even better though, is that your money is being spent in the local community where you are staying, not being sent off to a head office miles away.

Avoid the crowds, the noise, the billionaire owners, the dreary blandness; stay local and enrich your holiday.

Look on our Slow Travel Resources page to find alternative options to the hotel chains.


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