Best Hotel Brands
Every traveler needs a place to stay at some point. Hotels comprise a significant part of the hospitality industry, one of the United States’ largest service industries, and tourism has a multibillion-dollar impact on the American economy each year.
Consequently, there are now more than 50,000 hotels, motels and resorts in the United States. With such a vast selection, travelers of all kinds will be able to find a hotel brand that meets their budget, needs and preferences.
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A subsidiary of Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels & Resorts is headquartered in Virginia. More than 500 Hiltons operate around the world. They are full service hotels with dining options onsite and spas at select destinations.
|Best Western Hotels|
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Best Western, founded in 1946 and headquartered in Phoenix, is an international hotel chain comprised of individually owned franchises. Each franchise must comply with company standards, and all offer the same rewards program.
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Choice Hotels was founded in 1939 and now owns 11 hotel chains, including Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Hotel & Suites, Mainstay Suites, Rodeway Inn and others.
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Motel 6 was founded in Santa Barbara, Calif. in 1962, and the name comes from the original cost of a one-night stay, $6.00. Today, the economy chain operates approximately 1,300 hotels in the United States and Canada.
|Extended Stay America|
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This chain is designed for travelers who need to stay for a longer period and all rooms have a full kitchen. It’s headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., and operates almost 630 hotels across the United States and Canada.
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Marriott Hotels & Resorts is the Marriott International flagship brand, with over 500 properties globally. These properties offer full service, upscale accommodations, and the brand is highly responsive to customer suggestions.
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InterContinental Hotels Group owns brands from the economy market to upscale resorts. Their chains include Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Condlewood Suites and the entire Holiday Inn family.
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Days Inn is an economy hotel chain owned by the Wyndham Hotel Group. It offers a variety of free amenities and special discounts and has hundreds of locations across the U.S. They strive to be The Best Value Under the Sun.
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Hampton Inn has more than 2,100 locations worldwide. In recent years, the properties have been revamped to appeal to younger travelers. Hampton is one of Hilton’s serve-focused brands, offering free breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
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Holiday Inn is a subsidiary of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The brand’s headquarters are in Atlanta, and there are more than 1,200 Holiday Inns worldwide.
What features should you look for in a hotel?
How long guests plan to stay at a hotel will affect what amenities they will want. Someone staying at a hotel one night before catching a flight will not care about the same things as someone traveling with a family and staying at a single hotel for multiple nights.
- Restaurants and bars onsite: Travelers staying at a location without many nearby dining options and/or those who do not want to have to find a restaurant when they are in an unfamiliar location will want to choose a hotel with an onsite restaurant.
- Pool: Guests who like to swim, those traveling with children or anyone who would like to get moving after a long day in the car or a long flight will enjoy having access to a pool. Depending on the time of year, guests should inquire about whether a hotel’s pool is inside or outside.
- Exercise facilities: Fitness gurus, or even those who just want to maintain their exercise regimen while traveling, should look for a hotel with a fitness center. This feature might be especially important to those who will be in one location for multiple days.
- Spa: Some luxury hotels and resorts have a spa onsite, which can be great for a romantic getaway, weekend with friends or anyone who could use a little pampering while on vacation.
Many travelers have a specific budget in mind when they travel. Different budget-level hotels will offer different levels of amenities, but all hotels should offer clean rooms and friendly service. Before booking, travelers should make sure they are aware of the total cost of the stay.
- Taxes and fees: Some cities, especially those with a large tourism industry, have a special tax for hotels. These taxes and fees may not be included when travelers browse websites, so they should pay special attention to any fine print.
- Online deals: Many hotel chains offer special deals on their websites, but guests may need to select that deal before booking to qualify. Guests who spend a few minutes exploring a hotel’s site before booking will be more likely to receive the best price.
- Special discounts: Members of select groups, like AAA, CAA and AARP, often get reduced rates. Travelers should check to see if they qualify for one of these discounts. In some cases, guests cannot apply a club member discount to a special promotion, so they should figure out which discount or deal will save them the most money.
When determining the overall cost of a hotel, guests should consider what free products or services are included. A slightly more expensive hotel might be more budget friendly in the long run if it offers several free items or services.
- Free Internet: Some hotels charge for any Internet access, while others offer free wired access but charge for Wi-Fi. Guests who need online access should inquire about the charge for Internet usage and plan accordingly.
- Kids stay free: Those traveling with children may save a significant amount of money by choosing a hotel at which children stay for free. Different hotels define “kids” differently, so guests should make sure they understand the policies before booking.
- Continental breakfast: Many hotels offer a free breakfast, which can offer a small savings for travelers. The quality and offerings of the free breakfast vary widely, so if a free breakfast is important to guests, they should ask what foods are typically offered at breakfast before booking.
The reasons for staying in a hotel will be important for determining what kind of location guests should consider.
- Airport: Staying close to an airport will make it easy to get to the airport if the guest has an early flight. These hotels might be noisier, with guests arriving late and leaving early, and they might be located under a flight path.
- Business district: Those traveling for business may wish to stay close to the area where they will be working. Depending on the city, there might not be many restaurants or entertainment venues open after normal business hours, so guests should look for a hotel with an onsite dining option.
- Destination: Hotels in exotic locations or near major attractions will be appealing for those planning a multi-day vacation to a single area. Guests choosing one of these hotels should consider what amenities will make their vacation most enjoyable.
Most hotels have some kind of rewards program. Some rewards programs offer perks just for joining, while others mainly benefit frequent travelers. Before making any hotel reservation, travelers should learn about the hotel’s reward program so that they can get the best value.
- Free rewards program: Free loyalty and rewards programs allow guests to earn points when they stay at certain hotels or shop at select businesses. Anyone can sign up for these.
- Credit card rewards: Many hotel chains have a credit card that is associated with them. Cardholders can earn points for shopping everywhere, and the hotel often gives away a large number of bonus points when someone initially receives their card. Not everyone will qualify for these cards, and the card fees and interest rate may outweigh the benefits.
Many travelers have special requirements or unique needs. These travelers should be able to find what they’re looking for, but they should specifically ask about a hotel’s options and/or policies before booking.
- Pet friendly: Anyone traveling with pets should ask about the hotel’s pet policy before arriving. The policy may vary from location to location if a hotel is a franchise, so it is best for travelers to call the specific hotel they plan to stay at.
- Long term parking: Some hotels, especially those near airports, offer long term parking after a traveler’s qualifying stay. If a guest would like to leave their car at a hotel while they go on vacation, they should inquire about the hotel’s parking policy.
- Kitchenette: Travelers who want to save money on food costs should consider booking a room that has a kitchenette. These may be more readily available at hotels that offer suites or extended stay hotels.
What are the different types of hotel chains?
Full service hotels and resorts have one or more onsite dining options. They usually have fitness and business centers as well as pools and may also have spas and adult-only lounges. Full service hotels usually fall into the luxury category and have a four or five star rating.
Many hotel corporations include some franchised locations. Franchises offer a wide variety of amenities, which vary from location to location. Guests should check the hotel’s website for an accurate list of amenities. Different companies have different ownership models, so a franchise could be in the economy, mid-market or luxury range.
Many chains have hotels and resorts, with the resorts located in places where travelers want to stay for several days, such as tropical islands, cities with amusement parks or exotic destinations. Hotels in this category will likely be full service but will also have amenities that are unique to that destination. Some destination hotels are adults-only while others cater to families.
These hotels provide inexpensive rooms that meet guests’ basic needs. Hotels in this category are unlikely to have onsite dining options and may or may not have a pool or fitness center. Many economy hotels are franchises, so amenities may vary. Because they offer fewer amenities, economy hotels are often budget friendly.
Hotels that offer all-suite rooms frequently cater to families or those looking to share a room but maintain some privacy. These properties usually have a broader range of amenities, like a pool, but may or may not have onsite dining. They may fall in the mid-market or full service category.
Hotels in this category offer more amenities than an economy hotel. They may have a restaurant onsite as well a pool, fitness center and/or business center. Properties that fall into this category often have a three or four star rating.
Who frequents hotels?
Those traveling for business should determine whether their company has a preferred hotel brand. They should make sure the hotel provides high speed Internet and has a business center where they can print.
Couples looking for a romantic getaway may want to choose an adults-only destination hotel for a longer trip. For a shorter trip, a full service hotel may offer them more amenities to make their stay enjoyable.
Family vacations may be cheaper if these travelers select hotels where kids stay and eat free. This policy is more common at economy and mid-market hotels, but full service hotels often have specials that include this as well.
Older travelers may be eligible for special discounts. They should look at a hotel’s special rates and ask about an AARP discount before booking.
Anyone who needs to plan a business conference or personal event, like a wedding or family reunion, should look for a hotel with plenty of meeting space and a dedicated events manager.
Those traveling by themselves should look for a hotel located in an area they would like to and would be comfortable exploring on their own. Hotels with lounges or other late-night options may also appeal to this group.
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Holiday Inn was founded in 1952 and is now an InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) brand. There are more than 1,200 Holiday Inn hotels with 228,100 rooms worldwide, making it one of the world’s largest hotel chains.
Best Western was founded in 1946, and by 1963 the member hotels comprised the largest motel chain in America with 699 hotels. The company’s headquarters are in Phoenix, and there are over 4,000 hotels associated with the company worldwide.
Hyatt Hotels are upscale properties with full service amenities. They are part of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which includes 12 brands, and the Hyatt brand can be found primarily in large cities.
Days Inn was founded in 1970 and is headquartered in Parsippany, N.J. It is a subsidiary of Wyndham Hotel Group and is classified as one of their economy brands. Days Inn operates almost 2000 hotels worldwide and includes three brands: Days Inn, Days Hotels and Days Inn & Suites.
Hilton opened its first hotel in 1919, and it has become a highly recognized name in the hospitality industry. Hilton Hotels & Resorts is Hilton Worldwide’s flagship brand. The Hilton Hotels and Resorts brand alone has more than 500 hotels on six continents.
Radisson first opened in 1909 in Minneapolis, and the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group acquired it in 1962. The Carlson Group owns more than 1,300 hotels, nearly 200 of which are Radisson Hotels. Amenities vary by location and may include pools, fitness centers and onsite restaurants, so travelers should check the hotel’s website before booking.
Embassy Suites started in 1983 as a member of the Holiday Inn family. It was acquired by Hilton in 1999 and is one of their full service brands. There are over 200 locations in Canada, Latin America and the United States.
Hampton Inn was founded in 1984 as a member of the Holiday Inn family. Hilton Worldwide acquired it in 1999, and its name changed to Hampton by Hilton in 2007. There are currently over 2,100 locations around the world.
The Sheraton brand began in the 1930s and now has nearly 450 locations across the globe. Sheraton is one of the 11 brands owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, which was acquired by Marriott in April 2016. All Sheraton properties fall into the luxury and upper-upscale full service category.
The Marriott brand started in 1957 with a single hotel. Now, there are more than 500 Marriott Hotels & Resorts worldwide, and Marriott International includes 19 brands in over 4,400 locations.
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|Holiday Inn Express|
Holiday Inn Express is a mid-market brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group, so travelers can earn IHG rewards at these properties. It started in 1991 and has almost 2,500 in the United States and Europe.
Sandals operates 15 all-inclusive, couples-only resorts throughout the Caribbean. The brand has won the World Travel Awards’ World's Leading All–Inclusive Company for the past 20 years. The resorts offer free wedding ceremonies.
|Red Roof Inn|
Red Roof Inn was founded in 1973 in Columbus, Ohio, where its headquarters remain. The economy brand chain has over 450 locations across the United States. All locations are pet friendly, and there is no additional fee for pets.
|Super 8 Hotels|
Super 8 started in 1974 and is one of the world’s largest budget brands with more than 2,300 locations. It is a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide, so travelers earn Wyndham rewards for stays at this brand.
Quality Inn is a part of Choice Hotels International, so guests earn Choice Privilege Rewards for stays at these properties. All locations have free hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi and free coffee and tea in guest rooms.
Atlantis Resorts has locations in the Bahamas and Dubai. They are both full service resorts with a variety of restaurants and amenities, including a waterpark with an enclosed waterslide through a shark-filled pool.
The Hyatt Hotel brand stated in 1957 and became a publically traded company in 1962. The company is headquartered in Chicago and operates internationally. It provides travelers with upscale dining and accommodations.
Comfort Inn is a part of Choice Hotels International, and guests earn Choice Privilege Rewards. The brand is a franchise so amenities vary by location. All locations have free breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
Radisson Hotels, a subsidiary of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, has nearly 200 locations, primarily in the United States. The company demonstrates its commitment to customer service through the Yes I Can hospitality program.
|Country Inns & Suites|
Country Inns and Suites opened in 1957 and has over 500 locations. It is a mid-market hotel and amenities vary by location. This brand is a part of the Carlson Rezidor Group, so guests earn Club Carlson rewards for their stays.
|Choice Hotels - Econolodge|
Econo Lodge is the second largest brand in the Choice Hotels family, and guests who stay here earn Choice Privilege Rewards. The brand started in 1969 and offers lodging options to meet travelers’ basic needs.
Rodeway Inn is an economy chain that provides accommodation essentials without the cost of extra amenities. Because Choice Hotels International owns the brand, guests earn Choice Privilege Rewards for stays at any location.
RIU Hotels & Resorts started in 1953 as a small family hotel. The company now has over 100 properties around the world. RIU Hotels & Resorts vary by location, and some are all-inclusive and/or adults-only.
A member of IHG, CandleWood Suites offers guests fully equipped kitchens in every suite, making them ideal for extended stays. Guests can borrow cooking appliances, including blenders, slow cookers and waffle makers for free.
This all-suite brand is part of the Choice Hotels International, so guests earn Choice Privilege Rewards for their stays. Hotels all offer a free hot breakfast and in-room refrigerators, and the chain is 100 percent smoke free.
|MGM Grand Hotel & Casino|
Located on the Las Vegas strip, the MGM Grand is the world’s largest single hotel. It includes a large casino, an expansive pool complex, several live entertainment venues and multiple restaurants.
Sheraton is a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels, which was recently purchased by Marriott. It is a luxury hotel with more than 440 locations worldwide. Amenities include fitness and business centers as well as onsite restaurants.
|Embassy Suites Hotel|
Embassy Suites is a Hilton brand and participates in Hilton HHonors. It offers an upscale environment with over 200 all-suite locations in North America. The hotels provide guests with a free breakfast and an evening reception.
|Luxor Hotel and Casino|
The Luxor Hotel is located on the Las Vegas strip and is owned by MGM Resorts International. The resort includes a large casino, a spa, restaurants and bars and live entertainment, including the Blue Man Group and Criss Angel.
InTown Suites is an extended-stay chain with over 130 locations across the United States. The chain caters to those who need a longer hotel stay and each room has a full kitchen. The chain was founded in 1988.
Club Med’s first vacation village opened in 1954 on the western coast of Italy. There are now more than 60 all-inclusive Club Meds throughout the world, including properties designed for families, adult-only locations.
|Sleep Inn and Suites|
Sleep Inns offer a free hot breakfast and free Wi-Fi, and most locations have a swimming pool and/or fitness center. Choice Hotels International owns the brand, so guests earn Choice Privilege Rewards for stays.
|Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts|
This full-service chain caters to business travelers. It was founded in 1983 and has more than 400 locations. The brand is a part of the IHG family, and guests earn IHG rewards points for staying at these properties.
|Ramada Plaza Resort|
Ramada Plaza Resorts offer a more upscale Ramada experience and are a full service chain with onsite dining options. They are part of the Wyndham Worldwide family, and travelers earn Wyndham rewards at these properties.
|Starwood Hotels & Resorts|
Starwood owns 11 brands, including Westin, Sheraton, the Luxury collection, Four Points, W Hotels, St. Regis, Le Méridien, aloft, Element, and Tribute and Design hotels. Marriott International purchased the company in 2016.
Westin Hotels & Resorts, founded in 1930, is a part of Starwood Hotels with almost 200 locations. It’s a full-service brand with onsite dining options and amenities. The chain lends workout apparel to guests who forgot their own.
|Doubletree Guest Suites|
The first DoubleTree opened in 1969. There are now more than 400 locations, and it’s a part of Hilton. DoubleTree is a full-service chain and some locations feature eforea spas. Guests receive a warm cookie when they arrive.
Sandals Grande Antigua is a couples-only all-inclusive resort located near St. John’s. The property includes The Caribbean Grove resorts and the Mediterranean Village, an all-suite resort with a European theme.
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