Blackpool’s £15 hotel rooms and the ongoing row over how cheap is too cheap

Some rooms are being advertised for as little at £20 or £15 a night

Blackpool is famous for being cheap as chips. Affordable food and hotels that have seen it turn into a holiday destination people visit time and time again.

But some hoteliers are growing concerned that hugely discounted rooms for the night might actually be harming Blackpool’s reputation. A quick look on booking websites will find you a room for as low as £15 to £20 a night; a price which some say is not high enough to run a B&B or hotel to the standard they believe it should be run.

Ian Kennedy from The Avenue Guesthouse said cheap accommodation is not a new practice in Blackpool, but by charging cheap and not delivering the standard people want, these businesses are harming the reputation of the seaside town.

He says: “It’s commonplace in Blackpool. People selling hotel rooms at those prices. Just before Covid, there was a company doing rooms at £8 a night, and that’s quite a good example because they went out of business. Reportedly, it left a lot of guests without a room to stay in. That just shows that you’re selling at ridiculously cheap rates that are actually detrimental to the hotels themselves.

“I think people who sell at those ridiculously low prices are sort of flash in the pan. They come in and they try and make a business and they fail because the quality is so so poor. And then they just got turned around. There’s such a quick turnarounds on these cheap places. I think they are detrimental to Blackpool because it gives cause for people to say it’s low quality and all the rest, when in fact there’s some fabulously good B&Bs and hotels in Blackpool.”

Ian says that people often look for cheap accommodation to save money. But he said people that do so are often stung by poor quality rooms. He says: “I find that people go for the very cheapest rooms are sort of stag and hen dos, people that use the comment ‘it’s just a bed for the night’ or people who really are trying to save so much money that it backfires on them because you see people on the street crying in tears because of the state of that accommodation.”

In recent years, LancsLive has spoken to dozens of disgruntled guests staying in Blackpool only to be let down by their accommodation. Even those who opt to stay at some of the bigger hotels have been left disappointed.

Some hotel owners say they understand why businesses are able to charge such cheap rates. Fossil Tree Hotel owner Chris Rinder told LancsLive that he understands that different people have different business models.

He says: “My view is if somebody can make a business out of it and if they can make a profit then that’s absolutely fine. Certainly the cost base we have to clean and maintain means that we can never run our businesses at the rates are they do but they may have a different business model. So it’s difficult.

“My mantra is you get what you pay for. So if somebody’s expectations are low, they pay for something cheap and that’s fine. But if standards are high and you take something cheap, you’re probably going to be disappointed.”

Denise Ward, of Barton House Bed and Breakfast, had sympathy for those who are charging cheaply, adding they must be running on an incredibly tight budget.

She says: “I kind of feel sorry for the people who are trying to do it cheaper because I’ve no idea how they can do it. They just must be running on like a shoestring budget. We’ve also got friends who have got hotels who’ve got staff that sometimes put deals on because they need to keep that staff on board. We don’t have staff, it’s just us, so we’re the only ones going without if something happens.

“But if people are doing it and they’re subsidising it themselves, which I think they must be, they can only go on for so long. They can’t continue. And I decided we’re not going down that track. We we keep our prices the same all year round. So we don’t inflate them like fireworks or summer or anything like that.

“So we’re kind cheap in the summer, but we’re expensive in the winter. But we’ve decided that’s the way it has to be and we’ve got quite a lot of regulars and they respect it. We’re trying to keep our room rates reasonable. We’re not too high. We think they’re cheap, but obviously Blackpool’s used to very cheap rooms. And we can’t go as cheap as some places but in their defence, they’ve taken everything stripped back. They might do a cheap room, but you get nothing much in it, you can’t have it all really can you.”

Steve Fazakerley of The Arthington said that he understands why people do charge cheap rates. But, he says, they need to understand that it’s not a sustainable business model. He says: “People charge what they charge. We know what you need to charge in order to be able to reinvest back into your property, as well as provide the right sort of quality of food, cleanliness, all that sort of thing.

“These standards require money and if your guests pay it then fantastic. But they’ll be the first complain when it’s not up to the standard that they want. But people will charge whatever they they charge. So, you know, the end of the day you’ve got to make a living without without overcharging but you know, charging appropriately for what you provide.”

Steve said that The Arthington is already part of accommodation scheme StayBlackpool. But even accreditation schemes such cannot stop people charging rates that are too low.

He says: “We fully believe that there should be some form of accreditation. But even if there’s accreditation, people will still charge what they charge and if they sleep well, if I can charge £40 a night for my room, I’m gonna fill all my rooms, then I’m still gonna make enough money.

“But you’re still not fill all your rooms and then all you get is £40 a night which you then got to take off the cost of the food, the bed in the gas, the electric which has all gone up as well as a living wage yourself, or are you going to say well, I’m quite happy just earn that because I can always claim I can always pay working tax credits if I don’t make the money.

“We totally understand people who want to charge cheap, totally understand what they’re doing, how they’re thinking. But at the end of the day, you can only do it for so long because you’ve got nothing to reinvest into your property and these properties need money to look after them.

“We’d rather work with this list properly. charge accordingly. Make a living, never be rich, but make a living and also not be a burden on the taxpayer at the same time.”

It is widely recognised by all hotel and B&B owners spoken to by LancsLive that the vast majority of accommodation providers strive to provide the best quality rooms, at a reasonable price, and they genuinely care about their guests, their trade and their fellow hoteliers.

The Director of StayBlackpool, Ian White, told LancsLive that he firmly believed that some form of national accreditation was needed, and that some businesses just shouldn’t be allowed to trade.

He says: “It is agreed that there is a significant issue with accommodation which is below cheap. It costs far more than £15 to clean and launder bedding and fully clean a room. Is this a problem unique to Blackpool? Absolutely not. The companies practices are common across the world. Due to their significant virtual monopoly, accommodation owners have little option but to use the site(s).”

He adds: “The comment that ‘you get what you pay for’ is very much offensive as some of these places should never be allowed to trade. It is refreshing to learn that the DCMS (Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport ) are conducting a review to decide what levels intervention and or regulation is needed at a national level for the Short Stay Visitor Accommodation Sector and recently closed a call for evidence which ran from the June 29 to September 21.

“From a basic register to a more formal yet cost effective License to Trade, something Blackpool already has with its Blackpool Approved Scheme. However while there is no legal requirement the Blackpool Approved Scheme has limited take up. To ensure a safe stay in Blackpool check out sites such as VisitBlackpool (the local Tourist board) or StayBlackpool ( the local Hotel and Guest House Association). Any where else in the UK your first port of call should be the local tourist board.”

  • 14:30, 16 OCT 2022

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