Here’s the central issue; you want to cut back on your travel expenses but the thought of spending the night in the large cupboard that the budget hotel chain laughingly refers to as a ‘room’ gives you hives.

Fortunately for the thrifty, but style conscious, a chain of hotels in the UK is on hand to offer an alternative experience.

The Big Sleep, which now features establishments in Cardiff, Cheltenham and Eastbourne, is the creation of Cosmo Fry, scion of the chocolate dynasty while his friend and former neighbour, the American actor John Malkovich, was persuaded to invest heavily in the project. Fry presciently, given the current economic climate, considered that the era of the high quality but low budget hostelry had arrived in the late 1990s and was sufficiently confident to buy a building in Cardiff as the site of the first Big Sleep hotel.

Fry later admitted that it was quite easy to persuade Malkovich to become his business partner. After years spent lodging in unpromising establishments while filming or participating in theatre projects, the actor and director clearly felt that he knew a thing or two. “It was quite a soft sell. Malkovich is someone who, due to the nature of his work, spends a lot of time staying in hotels all over the world. He also has strong opinions about what they should or shouldn’t be like. When I mentioned to him over lunch one day that I wanted to open a stylish but affordable hotel, he was keen to be involved.”

In fact Malkovich, who also heads his own fashion label, Mrs. Mudd, has even involved himself with the design of some of the staff uniforms.

The first Big Sleep hotel is situated in the city centre, close to Cardiff’s famous International Arena and St. David’s shopping mall but, before its radical transformation, was a visually unpromising office block. Now it contains 81 en-suite rooms with all the features that one would require of the most sophisticated hotel, but at a fraction of the price. The website describes the rooms as, “sleek, stylish and modern”, a bold claim, yet one that is confirmed by photographs.

Now, with its sister establishments in Cheltenham and Eastbourne, The Big Sleep looks set to be the budget hotel of choice for the sophisticated traveller.