Chain or boutique? Can YOU tell a one-off hotel from a global giant?

Is it chain or chic boutique? Bland is banished at these 10 British hotels – so can YOU tell a one-off from a global giant?

  • When it comes to decor, chain hotels in the UK are increasingly mimicking the unique style of boutique hotels
  • Three of the 10 hotels that feature in the quiz have rooms that cost less than £70 a night
  • The hotels that appear below include a former Victorian health spa and a countryside Georgian retreat

Boutique hotels are all the rage – so much so that their one-of-a-kind style is increasingly being emulated by chain hotels that are ditching identikit corporate properties and bland bedrooms. 

And the trend is set to continue. For instance, Hilton now has 189 hotels in its Curio Collection, Tapestry Collection and LXR Hotels and Resorts. ‘In Europe we expect to more than double our portfolio under these brands in the coming years,’ said a spokesman. Meanwhile IHG, which owns Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo, says it has been focusing on curating unique design and experiences in every property. And Accor’s budget label Ibis also has its Ibis Styles arm for its more individual properties.

Here are pictures of ten British hotels. Can you tell which are one-offs and which belong to a global brand? Scroll down to the bottom for the answers – you may be surprised that three of them have rooms that cost less than £70 a night.


A. Stained-glass windows and artfully mismatched furniture feature in this former glass factory on the Norfolk coast. Pick from Big, Bigger and Biggest rooms – all come with complimentary cocktails in the minibar. In the bar proper, they serve a mean lobster and samphire mac ’n’ cheese


B. A fun weather theme runs throughout this Manchester hotel, from a huge pair of sunglasses and oversized deck chair to umbrellas hanging from a deep blue ceiling. Even the bedrooms have weather-based murals on the wall. At night, sink an icecold beer in the warm atmosphere of the Jamboree Restaurant


C. This 18th Century Bath townhouse, which once hosted the likes of author Sir Walter Scott, has been brought bang up to date. Contemporary rooms have Hypnos beds and Bramley toiletries. Downstairs is a clubby bar and a restaurant specialising in wild food and game


D. It’s just a ten-minute walk from the designer shopping outlet at Bicester to this modern hotel, with bright splashes of colour in the stylish lounge. Bedrooms have black-out curtains and a pillow menu, and there are sofabeds for kids and tabletop sinks in the modern bathrooms


E. The sleek bedrooms in this London hotel reflect the East End’s textile history, with the concrete ceilings and black bathroom fittings highlighting its industrial influences. Top-floor suites have impressive city views, and in spring a rooftop bar is due to open, looking out to St Paul’s Cathedral. Borrow a hotel bike and ride to nearby Tower Bridge or Spitalfields 


F. Swim a few laps of the 18-metre pool in the swish spa at this London hotel before enjoying a massage, visiting the nail bar or hitting the hot tub. You can go shopping or visit nearby Kensington Palace before returning for a champagne afternoon tea. Alternatively, just hang out in the private garden 


G. This hotel just off London’s Trafalgar Square has a coffee house in the lobby that’s ideal for grabbing a cappuccino and croissant for breakfast. The pared-back rooms have bronze accents and marble finishes. Stay for seven days and you’ll get 25 per cent off the room rate 


H. There’s plenty of Cotswolds chic at this Georgian retreat in 12 acres on the outskirts of Gloucester. Some rooms have views of both the lawns and lake. After exploring, have afternoon tea in a sitting room with a huge woodland mural, or book an outdoor pod for a brasserie meal 


I. The tranquil courtyard restaurant overseen by chef Jason Atherton in this London property serves everything from superb seafood to perfectly cooked pasta. Bedrooms have the feel of a luxurious townhouse, with curved banquette seating, a panelled headboard mirror with Edwardian Chinoiserie influences and four-posters in the suites. All the glamour of Mayfair lies just outside 


J. Choose from a selection of Highland and island malts in the cocktail bar of this former Victorian health spa. Surrounded by glorious Perthshire countryside, the hotel is near Gleneagles golf course and has an indoor pool along with sauna and steam rooms. Bedrooms come with country views and Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries 


A – Boutique: The Harper, Langham, Norfolk, B&B from £190 ( 

B – Chain: Ibis Styles Manchester Portland Hotel, B&B from £96 ( 

C – Chain: Hotel Indigo Bath (IHG Hotels and Resorts), rooms from £155 ( 

D – Chain: Holiday Inn Express Bicester, B&B from £66 ( 

E – Chain: Canopy by Hilton London City, rooms from £141 ( 

F – Chain: Holiday Inn London – Kensington High Street, rooms from £110 ( 

G – Boutique: Page 8, London, rooms from £269 ( 

H – Chain: Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel, rooms from £62 ( 

I – Chain: The Biltmore Mayfair (Hilton), rooms from £284 ( 

J – Chain: DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro, rooms from £63 ( All prices per night.

Picture credits: A – The Harper, B – Ibis Styles, E – Hilton, F – Holiday Inn, G – Page Hotels, H – Mercure.

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