Why choose major hotel chains?
We nearly always choose major hotel chains for our accommodation when travelling. Large international hotel chains make up more than ten thousand of properties all over the globe. For travellers, chain hotels offer reliability and known standards.
Whereas many people start their shopping for a hotel at Agoda.com or Booking.com we always start with the hotel chains. The first reason is that just like McDonalds you know what you will get and the second is that the hotel chains have meaningful ways to recognise customer loyalty.
Our current preferences are
- Accor Hotels – Mecure, MGallery, Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Adagio, Ibis
- Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) – Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Indigo, Holiday Inn
- Club Carlson – Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inn
- Starwood Hotels – Sheraton, Westin, W, Le Meridien, Four Points
As you can see these chains offer a range of standards and prices and in any one city will usually offer a choice of properties unlike other major players: Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott. Here are some of the benefits of chain hotels:
Reliable and Comfortable Room Size
On the website, Accor, IHG, Club Carlson and Starwood will normally state the size of the room. Our rule of thumb is that 25m2 (270 ft2) is comfortable and bigger than that heads towards luxurious.
Particularly in Europe but also in some Asian destinations like Japan hotel rooms of 15m2 (160 ft2) are common. Small rooms will have a dismal bathroom that you can’t turn around in and that has nowhere to put your stuff. They also won’t have a couch or table and chairs – although that isn’t as a big a concern.
Happily in our preferred chains, we find that the rooms almost never go below 25m2 and are very often bigger.
Chain Hotels maintain good standards of service, cleanliness, hygiene and service no matter where they are in the world. Of course any place is only as good as its staff, so when they do occasionally let you down, tell them and they will be quick to rectify.
Booking with no payment
Another reason that we choose major hotel chains is that they accept bookings with just a credit card guarantee and the room can be cancelled either a day or two beforehand or sometimes the same day. This only happens when booking direct with the chain website. If you book through a 3rd party provider you will be asked to pay in full – although there may be a refund option offered (with some delay). Naturally, the hotel chains also offer prepayment for a discount but by booking far in advance you can get flexible bookings for excellent rates.
At chain hotels you can count on a pretty good buffet breakfast including western selections no matter what country you are in. Of course, buffet breakfasts are the scourge of waistlines while travelling but I’m sure you already know that!
Chain hotels always have one or more restaurants and will always have western food on offer at least one. The restaurants are rarely top class but they are pretty good and sometimes all you want to do after a big day is grab a meal and go back to your room to veg out.
Executive Club and Club Rooms
Although called by different names, a number of the chain hotel brands offer an executive club and club rooms that gain you access to the club. The executive club is a very pleasant venue with nice comfy chairs and tables open to you all day to site and read the paper (or a book) or catch up on your email while enjoying complimentary food and drink. In the evening complimentary canapés and cocktails are served for a couple of hours usually from around 5:30pm. Cocktail “hour” is a good time to regroup from the day over a glass or two and either recharge for the evening’s activity or to wind down for an early night.
Brands that often (but not always) offer an executive club include: Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, Novotel, Pullman, Sofitel and Sheraton as well as Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott. Club rooms cost more but are always a bit nicer. Guests also enjoy complimentary breakfast in the club and that saving along with evening cocktails tends to offset the extra cost.
Choose major hotel chains for loyalty programs that earn points for future stays. This is valuable and saves us a lot of money. But it doesn’t stop there. There is always a whole range of extra benefits for loyal customers – so much so that it deserves a separate blog: Hotel Loyalty Programs
Photo: View from Hyatt Hotel, Tokyo