Always go for the Inn & Suites

Let me tell you about picking a hotel in the US of A.

First off, you’ve got your budget hotels. Your Motel 6, your Days Inn. If that’s all you can afford, that’s what you should get.

But let’s say you have some budget flexibility. It turns out that when it comes to hotels, more expensive does not always equal better.

There is a class of hotels in the US that share a common set of features:

  • They usually have “Inn & Suites” in the name, although Holiday Inn Express is also built on the same model.
  • You can often get a room for under $100 a night, depending on the location. Not budget territory, but nowhere near the Hilton either.
  • You’ll get a decent sized room with a perfectly serviceable bed, a desk, a big TV, and a fridge. Not a minibar, a real fridge you can stick your leftovers in. Possibly a couch too.
  • Often the TV will be deliberately configured for you to be able to plug your own devices into it.
  • Unlimited Wifi will be included in the room rate.
  • A breakfast buffet will also be included.
  • There will be no valets, but you’ll get a staff that’s perfectly happy to give you a spare toothbrush or a razor from behind the counter.

These hotels are instantly recognizable to anyone who’s stayed at one before, regardless of the brand. It’s like they are all built on a common template.

Now here’s the kicker: when you move up from this level and look at fancier hotels, you often get less for your money. A smaller room. No fridge. Exorbitant daily wifi rates. Expensive breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

I’ve spent a lot of time in both of these tiers of hotel, and I’m at a loss as to what the added cost of a “luxury” hotel brand actually buys you. I’m pretty sure it’s  more about appearances than anything else.

The only practical advantage I’ve seen to the Hiltons and Doubletrees is that they usually have their own restaurant and bar. This can be nice when you find yourself exhausted but hungry at 9PM in a strange city.

And I guess the towels are a little fluffier? I dunno.

The moral here is simple: counter-intuitively, it rarely pays to pick the fanciest hotel, at least not in the States.

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