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Best Hotel Brands

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Travelers can choose from more than 50,000 hotels, motels and resorts in the United States. With such a vast selection, travelers of all kinds can find a hotel brand that meets their budget, needs and preferences. Read our guide to research the best hotel company for you. We explain what to look for in hotel features at different types of hotels.

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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 cho


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.

Special requirements

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

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.

Resorts/Destination hotels

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.

Mid-market hotels

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?

Business travelers

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.

Event planners

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.

Solo travelers

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.

Hotel brands FAQ

How do you compare hotels?
To compare hotels, look at the location of properties in your destination city. Next, consider if specific amenities are essential, such as an on-site restaurant, pool, gym or business center. From there, determine which hotel has the best price for your desired location and features.
Why is it called a motel?
A motel is a combination of the words “motor” and “hotel.” Motels offer motorists a convenient roadside location with direct access to rooms from the parking lot.
Is it better to book directly with a hotel?
Yes. If you have specific needs for a room, such as double beds or handicap access, you should book a room with the hotel’s reservations department to ensure the room meets your requirements.
Are motels cheaper than hotels?
Yes, motels are often cheaper than hotels because they have fewer amenities. If you’re looking for more perks and a range of room styles, it’s advisable to book a hotel instead.
How much does the average hotel room cost?
The average hotel room costs about $180 in the United States. The price of a room depends on the room size and type, destination city, location with the city, on-site amenities, day of the week and time of the year.
How long can you stay in an extended stay hotel?
Extended stay hotels typically allow visitors to reside there for 30 days or more. Companies typically offer discounts for longer stays.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Author reviews for hotel brands

    Holiday Inn

    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.

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    Best Western Hotels

    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.

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    Hyatt Hotels

    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.

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    Days Inn

    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.

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    Hilton Hotels

    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.

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    Radisson Hotels

    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.

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    Embassy Suites Hotel

    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.

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    Hampton Inn

    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.

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    Sheraton Hotels

    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.

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    Marriott Hotels

    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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