What it's like to stay at the hotel that fined guests for a bad review

Simon Calder@SimonCalder
Thursday 20 November 2014 10:00

Do not pass comment, or risk a £100 penalty. Those are the house rules at Blackpool’s Broadway Hotel. After Tony and Jan Jenkinson of Whitehaven endured a disagreeable night there in August, they vented their feelings online.

“Filthy, dirty rotten stinking hovel run by muppets!” ran the headline of their review on TripAdvisor.

The wallpaper was peeling off the walls, the carpet was thin, dirty and stained. The bed was something else, it must have come out of the Ark, the base was all scuffed and dirty and the springs in the mattress attacked you in the night.

  • The TripAdvisor review

The hotel management took exception to the criticism and invoked a clause in the small print that, they claim, entitled them to debit the couple’s credit card for an extra £100.

Yesterday I booked in to the Broadway myself to see if the couple’s criticisms were fair. I reserved a single room with breakfast, through Booking.com, for £22.50. Of this, £3.75 is VAT and around £3.50 is agency commission – leaving barely £15 for the hotel.

The public areas look stranded in the Seventies, as do the prices: £10 buys six shots of Sambuca. Entertainment facilities include a snooker table, a one-armed bandit and an unusual machine for testing your skills as a boxer.

A sign posted in several locations warns “We No Longer Take Verbal Abuse As Tips”. Nor, it appears, online criticism.

Mr Jenkinson’s review complained about a lack of hot water, but the plumbing in my bathroom worked well and the room was clean and comfortable, with a television the size of a Blackpool tram. The carpet and wallpaper were jaded but clean. The wardrobe, though, looked as though it had been assembled by a six-year-old, wobbling when I opened it to reveal a Narnia-sized gap at the back.

The Broadway represented excellent value; I have paid a lot more for less, both in Britain and abroad.

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