I find it odd how British hotels don’t seem to be willing to advertise themselves as ‘cheap’. They do in other countries – in France they have those Formule One hotels which are basically police cells, only you don’t have to get arrested. In Japan, people are always saying, you can hire yourself what is basically a shelf in a morgue. But here, the obvious market for people who want a cheap, clean, dry, but otherwise horrible place to stay doesn’t seem to have registered with chain hoteliers. Or rather, I’m sure they will have thought of it, so their research must indicate British people are uneasy uneasy about choosing a hotel room because it’s cheap. They need euphemism. Hence the ‘Holiday Inn Express’. What the hell is that? The analogy is clearly with fast food or supermarkets, but that doesn’t work at all. ‘Express’ food works because you can kid yourself that you’re so busy, this nasty lovely horrible lovely burger is literally the only hot thing you have time to cram into your mouth between your various hectic appointments. It’s not a money thing, it’s a time thing. This is just not true of sleep. Are Holiday Inn Express saying my night’s sleep is going to be quick? Because that’s a bad thing, I don’t want it to be. The ‘expressiest’ night’s sleep is no sleep at all. The only thing I want to be ‘express’ about my hotel experience is check-in. And are the founders of Holiday Inn saying the overcrowded, cheaper off-shoot of their main chain is somehow going to be better and more efficient at processing my bank details? I doubt it, Mr Holiday. I am unconvinced, Mr Inn. What you mean by “Express” is cheap. And cheap, in this context, is good. So why not say it? Elsewhere, Travel Lodge are advertising themselves with the help of noted hotel connoisseur Lenny Henry as being… what? Again, not cheap, at least not directly. I’d say they’re positioning themselves as: ‘nicer than you’d think.’ And that’s surely an odd choice. They’re alluding to the cheapness, via alluding to the expectation of shitness. They focus on showing comfy beds, a spacious bar and a bustling restaurant – as if it was a proper hotel. Which they don’t really want people to think because their customers are people who want something cheaper and more basic than a proper hotel. Otherwise they’d go to a proper hotel. Why doesn’t one low-end chain or another take the leap and just say, ‘It’s a clean bed, it conforms to health and safety, – it’s a tenner.’ But they don’t say that. They all say: ‘It’s only £45 quid, and it’s basically got everything the Savoy’s got.’ Maybe it’s a British thing. We just can’t have a hotel without hinting at a vestigial ballroom. The adverts are persuading you that you could treat your Travel Lodge in a way you couldn’t really, and also wouldn’t want to. ‘You could have a cocktail here’, they’re telling us, (you couldn’t) but you definitely technically could, you could totally go up to the bar and ask for a cocktail, and the barman wouldn’t be surprised at all, he’d completely take it in his stride (he wouldn’t). Lenny Henry does it all the time (he doesn’t). He’s always in the bar having cocktails. Obviously he might not be in the particular day you pick, but he’s definitely been there. Basically, we’re saying this is a hotel where you might, just about, conceivably… set a murder mystery. And not a Taggart. A Poirot!’