If you are willing to forego charm for reliability, it is not hard to find cheap UK rooms that are clean, decent and reasonably well equipped.
International and UK budget hotel chains and groups specialize in meeting the traveler's basic requirements at a predictable and acceptable level. Sure, there may be a kind of global sameness about such rooms but, looked at realistically, there are times when this kind of cheap lodging is exactly what you need.
When Price Is More Important Than Style
Say you're touring in England, Scotland or Wales. Chances are you'll want to see historic sights, castles, wonderful scenery and museums. You'll be sampling typical pubs, the best of the arts and music scenes, great ethnic food, cool shopping, buzzing cities and picturesque towns. On a trip like that, does a fancy lobby or the décor of your hotel room really matter all that much? Will you really spend time you could be out and about in the hotel pool? How much time will you be spending in your room anyway?
A room that's warm and dry, has comfortable beds with clean bed linens, reliable hot and cold running water in a clean bathroom, reliable (and free) WiFi and room to hang some clothes will probably do. Throw in a place to have coffee and a light breakfast before you hit the road and you're all set.
International Hotel Chains That Have it Down to a Science
The big international and UK hotel chains and groups have minimum standards and regular inspections.
Use them and you can probably save enough for one or two nights splurging on a quaint and charming B&B inn or a luxury boutique hotel.
These international and UK hotel chains, can be relied upon to provide good, basic, cheap or moderately-priced accommodation around England, Scotland and Wales:
- Best Western The world's largest group of independently owned and managed hotels has more than 4,000 hotels worldwide and 270 in the UK. Because this is an association of hotel owners and small hotel groups, individual and independent style isn't sacrificed to cookie-cutter sameness. The hotels are regularly inspected and meet or surpass a decent brand standard. Though not all Best Western's are cheap, the variety of price ranges includes lots of a variety of price ranges, including lots of good value rooms in the UK. The nice thing about this chain is, as they are an association of hotel owners and small hotel groups, there's a chance of some individual, independent style.
- Choice Hotels This is an enormous franchise operation with 6,500 franchised hotels and more than 500,000 rooms in 35 countries. In the UK they operate in 27 cities, under several brands including Comfort Inn (16 locations), Quality Inns (16 locations) and The Clarion Collection (7 locations). They tend to be clustered around airports, business centers and medium-sized cities.
- Days Inns Similar to Days Inns in the USA, they are franchise hotels in the classic budget basic mold. They operate 78 hotels in 65 UK cities with clusters around airports, sports venues and business centers..
- Easy Hotels began as basic London hotels owned by Stelios, the charismatic founder of EasyJet. Today they have 13 hotels in the UK as well as hotels in six other European countries and the United Arab Emirates. Rooms average about £25 and you can even stay in South Kensington in London for £15.99 (in 2016). Rooms have en suite bathrooms and air conditioning in summer but to give you an idea of how basic this place is, they list "heat" as a hotel feature. Fine if you don't mind the color orange. WiFi and television are on a pay for play basis and can add up - so try to do you online browing at a Starbucks.
- Ibis Part of the French-owned Accor group, this budget chain is well established in Europe and in 2016 had 90 hotels in England and Scotland. It operates three brands in the UK, Ibis Hotels (London rooms from £40); Ibis Styles (designer colors, family oriented, breakfast and WiFi included in prices that start at £41 in London in 2016), and Ibis Budget (London from £37).
- Holiday Inn Express Pretty standard décor but room rates include continental breakfast and start under £50 per room in parts of the UK. There are more than 30 of these in and around London but do check out the locations carefully - the cheapest may be in areas with few amenities for visitors.
- Jurys Inn This Irish-owned chain, with minimalist style, has brand new, purpose built hotels in destination cities in the UK and Ireland. These hotels are more in the mid-price range than budget but the chain offers frequent deals. The lure here is the reliability and consistent level of comfort and service whichever hotel you choose. But they are definitely not bottom dollar.
- Premier Inns The UK's largest hotel chain with more than 700 locations across the UK in 2016. Free WiFi and luxury beds are standard across the chain. Full English or Continental buffet breakfasts are offered as extras but at comparatively reasonable prices.
- Travelodge A very large, very stripped down UK chain with some, special offer family rooms as low as £35 per room. They have more than 500 hotels across the UK, Ireland and Spain. Of all the budget groups operating in the UK, this one is the riskiest. You might find a nice clean, cozy comfortable room or you might end up in one where you dare not walk on the carpets without shoes and where children or hen party crowds are carrying on all night. Useful in a pinch but I wouldn't base a tour on these.