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The Truth about UK Hotel Prices – A Shock Expose

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John Penrose

John David Penrose is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare

Not really, to be honest. But I thought I’d try to grab your attention, the better to take you on a quick whizz through something called The Hotel Price Index, an annual publication that tracks what people are paying for hotel rooms across the world.

The year in question is January to December 2011 so it’s pretty recent stuff and, yes, it does contain some rather surprising results*. Surprising, that is, if you are inclined to believe in the stereotypical view that the UK is horribly expensive, that London prices are off-the-scale diabolical, that the sole direction of travel for prices is upwards, and the only thing likely to reverse it is a natural disaster of biblical proportions, armed insurrection or both.
Witney High Street

Ebb and flow

In fact, the survey shows that the market goes up and down, that countries and cities’ popularity – and hence their price for a hotel room – ebb and flow in line with exchange rates, political changes, tax hikes, geological mishaps and one-off events just as you would expect if you stopped to think about it. So it was that hotel room prices in the UK fell by one per cent between 2010 and 2011 compared to a rise of 19 per cent in Oman, to pick another country at random**. London was the fourth most expensive UK location for rooms (behind St. Andrews, Broadway and St. Peter Port***) though prices only rose by one per cent on the previous year. And the towns showing the biggest increases in hotel prices across the UK were Witney (31 per cent) and Weston-super-Mare (21 per cent), by the way, showing perhaps the extraordinary economic potency of having a brilliant, dynamic and successful Member of Parliament.

London isn’t as expensive as you thought shocker!

The message here is twofold. Firstly we learn that the UK compares very favourably with other international destinations, and secondly that London does not particularly stand out for high hotel room prices within the UK as a whole.
So there we are. And, having got the serious stuff out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper into the HPI and indulge for a moment in the UK preoccupation with taking the mickey out of ourselves. There’s some good stuff about our national mastery of foreign languages, for example. One in five Brits can’t translate the word bonjour, while one in four don’t bother to try to speak in the local language because they ‘assume everyone speaks English.’

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The HPI also surveyed people from 24 countries to see what they thought of the Ancient and Modern Wonders of the World. Three per cent of British respondents claimed to have visited the statue of Zeus at Olympia despite it having been destroyed by Caligula in the fifth century, while a further five per cent reckoned they’d been to the Temple of Artemis, also in Olympia, and also – you guessed it – destroyed by fire in 401 AD. That said, five per cent of French tourists declared that they’d paid a visit to The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, even though it seems doubtful that they ever existed.

Free DCMS offer for the Jubilee

And finally, a quick plug for a free offer from the DCMS for all my UK readers. We have five thousand pairs of tickets to give away FREE for ringside seats facing Buckingham Palace on the Tuesday of the Diamond Jubilee weekend in June. Winners of an online ballot will have the perfect perch to witness all the pomp and pageantry of the day, the ‘balcony moment’ when the Royal Family come out to greet the waiting crowds, and a fly-past to tell your grandchildren about. You’ve only got until midnight on Friday to get your name into the hat. Best of luck.
*First the small print. Or methodology, if you prefer. The HPI (and the letters should be followed by that little symbol denoting that ‘HPI’ is a trade mark, though whether the web team can run to such typographic subtleties remains to be seen) is based on bookings made through Hotels.com with prices recorded being those that were actually paid by customers per room per night, rather than on advertised rates. It tracks these ‘real’ prices with a weighted average based on the number of rooms sold in each of the markets in which Hotels.com operates, and covers 142,000 properties in more than 19,800 locations. It picks up both chains and independent hotels.
**Only kidding. I chose Oman because they are at the top of the table in terms of price rises in 2011 with their 19 per cent rise, but Finland (up 15 per cent) or Australia (up 13 per cent) would have served to make the point just as nicely.
***St. Andrews needs no introduction. Golf and the location for a royal romance being but two of its selling points to the tourist, I suspect. Broadway and St. Peter Point may be less familiar, being a Cotswold Village and the capital of Guernsey, respectively. And very nice too, I’m sure.

Photo by Tom Bastin on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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