Is this the UK's cheapest hotel room?

Exclusive: Given the drab surroundings in the immediate vicinity, guests assigned to windowless rooms may feel more fortunate

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 01 March 2019 08:34
Premier Inn: Is Zip the future of budget accommodation?

At the back end of an industrial park in a suburb of Cardiff, one of Britain’s leading hotel chains believes it has created the future of low-budget accommodation.

Zip by Premier Inn is now open for business at Roath, northeast of the centre of the Welsh capital, and is offering some rooms costing less than £10 per person per night.

Around half the rooms have a window. Given the drab surroundings in the immediate vicinity guests assigned instead to windowless rooms with a “light box” (offering a variety of colours) may feel more fortunate.

Zip’s corporate slogan is: “Small rooms, small prices.” The starting price is £19 for one or two people, though The Independent estimates the average room rate will be around £30 – and significantly higher at peak times, such as when sporting events are being held at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

For what could be a prototype for ultra-low-cost hotels across Britain, aircraft interior designers have been drafted in to make the most of a room covering only 8.5 square metres. (In imperial measures, that equates to a square measuring 9ft 6in.)

Into this space have been squeezed two single beds which, if the occupants prefer, can be moved together.

Longer-stay guests can pay an extra £5 if they want their room cleaned more frequently than once every three nights.

Guests have a choice between free standard wifi and paid “ultimate” internet access. A flat-screen TV hangs from one wall.

The narrow corridors, all in grey, have something of the feel of a cruise ship. Innovative new housekeeping trolleys, designed on a modular system, have been brought in with the aim of keeping costs down.

Carlo del Mistro, head of innovation for Premier Inn, said: “We chose Roath because it was a great location for people coming in and out of the city.

“A lot of our target market actually drives to cities, so being a location with plenty of parking, easy to reach by car was one of the key features.”

The hotel has a fairly typical budget hotel check-in desk, and a ground-floor communal area with some furnishings in “easyJet orange”.

Breakfast is available for £3.95 per person. In the evenings a bar will operate, with a pint costing just £3. The hotel’s postcode, CF23 9AQ, is painted on one column for the benefit of guests who want to order takeaway food.

The second Zip property will open in Southampton, and will be much closer to the city centre.

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