Little Chef Lodge
Little Chef Lodge was Britain's first budget hotel chain. As its name suggests, it was a spin-off of Little Chef, designed to boost the number of number of people dining in the restaurant with the offer of cheap accommodation next door.
The first Little Chef Lodge opened at Gretna in 1976. The concept was relaunched in 1985, establishing a simple design that kept design and construction costs low. Operating costs were much lower than at a normal hotel too, because Little Chef Lodges were able to share their management and resources with the Little Chef restaurant. Barton-under-Needwood was the first of two branches to open.
Prices started at £19.50 for a single room and £24.50 for a family room. Forte claimed their Little Chef Lodge "new concept" was unique because of its simplicity; tourist boards called the pricing "incredibly reasonable". The Little Chef restaurants were still the priority, with the Lodge sometimes opening at a later date.
Forte claimed that they had previously received many queries from people looking to stay near a Little Chef. The tourism industry had been calling for budget hotels to be introduced to Britain. Forte described Little Chef Lodge as a "trade up", aimed at people who would normally stay in a room above a pub.
By 1987, Forte were still following a plan to open many "key locations as pilots". They were aiming to have 100 branches by the end of the decade. However, Forte also owned the American brand TraveLodge, and had been using it as a traditional motel at their motorway sites. In 1988, Forte decided to merge both Little Chef Lodge and TraveLodge, creating a single name that would use the Little Chef Lodge business model and the name Forte Travelodge. This would allow it to work next door to other catering names, such as Welcome Break.
While the 'Little Chef Lodge' name was no more, the Little Chef and Travelodge names would continue to be closely interlinked. Many new Little Chefs and Travelodges opened together, and internally each Travelodge-Little Chef pairing was managed as if it was just one branch. In 2003 Granada sold "Travelodge Little Chef" to Permira of Canada, who then spent over a year separating the two businesses, allowing them to dispose of Little Chef. This ended what had become a famous partnership.
See also: Little Chef Lodge map
Little Chef Lodge could be found at the following branches:
- Andover (Barton Stacey) (A303)
- Alton (Four Marks) (A31)
- Barton under Needwood (A38)
- Bebington (A41)
- Bridgend (Sarn Park) (M4)
- Droitwich (A38)
- Dumbarton (A82)
- East Horndon (A127)
- Gretna Green (A74)
- Halkyn (A55)
- Mirfield (A62)
- North Muskham (A1)
- Oswestry (A5/A483)
- Penrith (A66)
- Peterborough (Alwalton) (A1)
- Skeeby (A1)
- Sourton Cross (A30)
- South Witham (A1)
- Thrussington (A46)
- Tiverton (A373/M5)
- Uttoxeter (A50)
- Winchester (Sutton Scotney) (A34)
- Wrexham (A483)
Due to its fast rate of expansion, it's possible that there were more branches which opened as a Little Chef Lodge immediately before being rebranded. Likely candidates include Lolworth, Knutsford and Halkyn.