In penning my recent paean of praise to the JD Wetherspoon pub group – which attracted satisfying opprobrium from a significant number of readers – I deliberately omitted any reference to its successful (and ever-growing) chain of hotels. This might, I surmised, supply leftover material for columnar use in the future.

The opportunity for this has now arisen, as we shall see presently. Meanwhile, I must briefly digress to observe that the snobbery I detect in those who attack me for waving the Spoons banner was present in bucketloads in Marina O’Loughlin’s restaurant review in the Sunday Times this week.

“Bloody Wetherspoons,” she exploded in her animadversions in paragraph one about British pubs in general, before going on to consider two specifically, one of them in rural Kent serving Kentucky-fried grey squirrel and a salad of wood ants.

She passed – sensibly, I’d say – on the latter but found herself able to face the former. She wrote: “The squirrel? File under once is enough. Its dense paprika’d crust disguises much of its … squirreliness, but when that fights through it’s on the challenging side, sinewy and muddy.”

This struck me as odd, for how can the quality of ‘squirreliness’ be detected by one who has never previously tasted squirrel? A philosophical question, perhaps, for another day.

Now back to those hotels, for which I was delighted to see Wetherspoon has achieved top rating from the consumer group Which? in its annual rankings. It shared the honour with Premier Inns, so beloved of Sir Lenny Henry, which had been champion in the previous four years.

Guests reported the chain had “huge stylish rooms”, which earned a full five stars for bedroom quality. The chain was also the most likely to be rated value for money, with room rates as low as £39 a night.

In all this I can heartily concur, having some experience over the years of Wetherspoon stays, every one of them notable for the comfort and cleanliness of the rooms.

One of our earliest experiences of the Spoons style came five or six years ago at the Cabot Court Hotel, a handsome property – part Regency, part Victorian – on the seafront at Weston-super-Mare (speedily reached by means of the Great Western Railway). It is named, of course, for the Bristol-based explorer John Cabot.

Our room was indeed huge, being equipped for family use, and with a wide bay window – one of those you can see in the photograph above – looking directly over the resort’s golden sands, with its famous pier in the foreground.

Around the same time, on a trip back from Buxton (more on this in a minute), we put up for the night at The Portland Arms, in Chesterfield. This is a former railway hotel taking its name from a now-extinct ducal title, one of its holders being the brother of Lady Ottoline Morrell, of Garsington Manor fame. It was through the duke’s wide domains that the line from Lincoln largely travelled.

Among the people celebrated in its decoration is a former Chesterfield resident, the shot-putter Geoff Capes, twice named the World’s Strongest Man. He was strong enough to lift me on one arm, with another newspaper reporter on the other, in the days when I knew him as a policeman in Peterborough.

The historic Globe Hotel beside the Market Place in King’s Lynn, Bridport’s Greyhound Hotel, and The Foley Arms in Malvern – once home to Queen Mary – are among other Wetherspoon establishments we found it a delight to visit.

Emphatically not a delight was our stay, during the Buxton Festival, at the town’s enormous Palace Hotel. This is one of 61 properties across the UK operated by Britannia Hotels, the worst hotel chain for the seventh consecutive year in the Which? ratings .

Our room was poky and dirty, with peeling wallpaper, lights that didn’t work and a distinct smell of damp. And someone pinched the (brand new) boxer shorts I left on the floor.

We complained about the experience and were given a complimentary stay at a place of our choice. We went for the Royal Albion in Brighton, arriving in a howling gale to find its front doors had blown off. Eventually installed in our bedroom, we found that while this was clean, we might not continue to be. No hot water.