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The new Good Hotel Guide highlights the nation’s top hotel gripes: hair in the plughole (88%), dirty shower curtains (79%), noisy guests in neighbouring rooms/thin walls (72%), and saggy, uncomfortable beds (68%) top the list. Other irritants include discretionary service charges (57%), windows that do not open (43%), dim lighting (42%), background music (34%), poor WiFi (33%) and carpets in the bathroom (32%).

Unsurprisingly, women complain than men. The only gripes which bother men more than women are poor Wifi (34% of men compared to 31% of women), and plastic cups in the bathroom (21% of men as opposed to 18% of women. One interesting difference is that double the number of men (18%) claim to have been bitten by a flea while staying in a hotel, compared with only 9% of women. However, 12% of men and women agree that too many cushions on the bed is annoying.

On the food front, buffet breakfast are unpopular. Respondents bemoaned “having to get up and down like a yo-yo” poor-quality, pre-cooked, cold food that congeals under hot lamps, and running out of food. Another issue was poor quality of tea and coffee, and the time which they take to arrive. Breakfast ending too early, especially at the weekend, was also an issue.

Other gripes included over-familiar staff, stained bedlinen, long-life milk in the bedroom for tea and coffee, a dislike of condiments in plastic packaging and feeble shower pressures. Background music condemned as ‘intrusive’ and, ‘inappropriate’. WiFi that was not free, had a feeble signal, or was complicated to set up was another irritant. Hotels with too many instructions telling guests what and what not to do are disliked. And while many hotels are now dog friendly, one sad respondent complained that too few hotels welcome cats.

The new guide has 420 main entries featuring hotels and B&Bs considered to be the best of their type. Hotels cannot pay to be included; the editors select entries based on visits by a team of inspectors and readers.

The Good Hotel Guide 2016: Great Britain & Ireland is published on 5th October 2015, priced £20.


Sans Nando

Sans Nando


Nando’s is to open in Dover, following a campaign from locals. But the news comes as a blow to Folkestone, which has missed out and continues ‘Nando-less’, despite strong support for the chain to open a restaurant in the town.

The Portuguese chicken giant will be the third and final restaurant brand at Dover’s St James development that is being anchored by a six-screen Cineworld cinema.

Nando’s will be joined at the complex by Casual Dining Group brand Bella Italia and Frankie & Benny’s, owned by The Restaurant Group.


Free the Nibble

Free the Nibble


Giggling Squid Thai Restaurant in Horsham picked up the award for ‘International Food Festival Experience’ at the ‘Big Nibble’ event. Horsham Council, Horsham Markets and Food Rocks co organised the showcase for local produce and street foods. Record crowds encouraged by glorious summer sunshine meant that several stalls sold out of stock well before the day’s end.

Giggling Squid, whose head office is soon to be based in the Sussex town, won the Horsham Chairman’s award for producing the best ‘International Food Festival Experience’ with “loads of exciting food samples, amazing demonstrations of the art of vegetable carving.”

“Giggling Squid completely deserved my winner’s award for the best experience,” said Horsham’s Chairman, Cllr Tricia Youtan, adding “They had obviously put a huge amount of thought into not just showing off their food but the culture and skills of their country’s cuisine as well.”

Giggling Squid’s tuk-tuk, more normally seen on the bustling streets of Bangkok, provided popular photo opportunities for many selfie hunters. The tuk-tuk has been imported from Thailand with a view to introducing home deliveries for Giggling Squid customers.

Held over the August bank holiday, the two-day event included a live cookery theatre which say all three of Sussex’s Michelin starred chefs demonstrate their culinary skills and share trade secrets, with a supporting a cast of top local chefs and local artisan producers.

Food Rocks also arranged a ‘Little Nibble on the Forum’ with children participating in high numbers in Sainsbury’s Crazy Food Figure Competition and food sampling with Wagamama.



Costa Fortune

Costa Fortune


The Daily Mirror newspaper has attacked Whitbread chief exec Andy Harrison, who, it claims, earned £1,000 an hour last year, whilst warning that his business will need to raise prices if the National Living Wage is introduced. It then claimed he earned £25,000 a day over a 15-month period.

“This year, on top of his £4.5m pay and bonus package, he has netted nearly £6.9m from selling tens of thousands of shares in the firm. That means he has enjoyed an income of more than £11.4m in 15 months – £25,000 a day,” reported the paper.

Harrison claimed that while Whitbread, which owns Costa Coffee, supported the minimum wage, the scale of the increase would ‘pose a challenge to the firm’, which made pre-tax profits of £464m over the past year.

Around 16,000 of Whitbread’s 39,000-strong workforce will qualify for the 70p-an-hour rise. Harrison said it would add between £15m and £20m a year to the firm’s wage bill.


Cash and Curry

Cash and Curry


The organiser of the 18th National Curry Week (12-18th October) has released figures which indicate that the UK's ethnic takeaways and restaurants have suffered a decline over the past five years.

Peter Grove says the whole curry restaurant industry is in a panic about staffing problems caused by the present immigration laws.

During this period, sales of spicy ready meal foods and ingredients in supermarkets have soared, as spice lovers eschew restaurtant visits and takeaways, in favour of preparing home made curries. he decline in evening dining visits to ethnic restaurants.

Economic pressures mean are restricting restaurant visits to treats and for special occasions.

19 million eat people dine out at least once a week compared with 17m in 2013 and total all cuisine outlets will reach 337,000 by 2018 (Allegra). The main trend remains value for money. When it comes to our favourite foods, Indian (21.2%) and Chinese (20.8%) meals out are still the most popular (Living, Social UK & IE Report).

Although Britain still goes for a spice fix, unlike the past 50 years, we are finding getting our curry kick from cusines other than going out for an Indian'. Curry is no longer the sole domain of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants with challenges from Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean and even Japanese cuisines as well as from spicy groups such as Nandos.
National Curry Week celebrates the fact that some 23 million people enjoy curry on a regular basis in Britain by generating publicity and raising considerable money for charities.


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