Why would you stay in a Travelodge? I mean, seriously, why would you choose to stay in a Travelodge? These are the very few reasons I’ve stayed in A Travelodge:
• There is nowhere else open
• There is nowhere else with a room
• It is (on rare occasion) the cheapest room available
• I have been put up there by my sociopathic boss – who eats over a bin and reads a book called Frown Your Way To Success – won’t allow anything that costs more than £50 a night.
• I have been put up there by a client
What those reasons have in common is that the decision was essentially made for me, by circumstance or proscription. I had no meaningful choice. And that’s why people stay in Travelodges – or whatever other cheap hotel chain you choose to mention.
Staying in one of the identikit chain-hotel rooms is as enjoyable as a National Express journey, eating a microwaved curry or having a wank in the toilets at work. A thing you do that’s born of necessity – not because you actually think that it would be a nice thing to do; not something you’d regard with much sense of achievement, pride or fondness. Not one, perhaps, to tell the grandkids.
But that’s exactly what this advert suggests. Let’s take a look at the lyrics:
I’m that shrewd part of you; that likes finding value;
I’m excited to see; Travelodge’s new;
Upgraded rooms with comfy new king sized beds;
To stay anywhere else you’d need rocks in your head!
Now, this is where I have a problem: To stay at anywhere but a Travelodge, you’d have to be mentally subnormal. That’s quite a claim, no matter how much you want to dress it up in a silly song.
Just imagine an advert where someone is trying to convince you to rub one out in the bogs at work by singing ‘to wank anywhere else you’d need rocks in your head!’.
You’d be disinclined to agree – and more than likely write a stiffly-worded letter to the Advertising Standards Authority.
A bed this size; is a lovely new addition;
I can stretch out; starfish; adopt this strange position;
North, south, east and west; they’re right across the nation;
There’s even one in Colwyn Bay that’s handy for the station;
This may be true, but I’m still not going.
So when you want to stay somewhere; don’t sit on the fence;
You should stay in a Travelodge; when you hear the evidence;
Great rooms, great beds, locations; this place has it all;
And for such amazing value; that’s Travelodgical.
Is it amazing value? Is it, as the advert implies, the logical choice? That’s a subjective question but personally I think it represents neither good value nor a logical choice.
During a recent spell of work in North London – a kind of desert for hotels, pubs, restaurants and much else of any interest – I found myself staying in a variety of rather depressing hotel rooms and B&Bs. These sordid little grief hovels – in the words of Chris Morris – were invariably tiny, depressing and rarely costing anything shy of £100 per night.
So I did what any sane person would do in the circumstances and stayed at an AirBnb about a mile away from my place of work. Whenever I arrived I was greeted with a friendly smile, amiable chat and cup of tea. In the morning breakfast was waiting. WiFi was free. I could come and go as I pleased and I had a large loft room with space to work and a private en-suite. It cost me £37 a night.
I’m not blind to the inherent problems with the so-called sharing economy – AirBnb may be disruptive and inventive but it has little to do with sharing. But it does pose an existential threat to the established hotel business – especially the modular, no-frills chains including Travelodge.
Because you can almost certainly find an AirBnB room that really does ‘have it all’ – and at half the price. As I found In London and as I found when I recently travelled around New York and New England via various cheap, lovely apartments and rooms found through AirBnB and their lovely hosts.
The new Travelodge rooms look quite nice, as it goes, and I have a lot of sympathy with those finding their livelihoods threatened by disruptive marketing and new upstarts such as Uber and AirBnB.
But a double room with breakfast and WiFi staying in Wembley would cost me £95.95 as I write. And that’s Trav-illogical.
• It should also be said that while I love The Muppets – who in their right mind does not – I find the miniature puppets here utterly aggravating and I enjoy imagining them trapped in a steaming Corby trouser press.