Everyone has different needs and different interests when it comes to booking travel. You might be booking a honeymoon one week, in search of five-star resorts with spa treatments you have to Google to understand. The next week, you may be traveling on a budget for a weekend getaway with your new in-laws.
Thankfully, you have options when it comes to travel. What kind of room do you need? What kind of hotel do you want? Deciphering what is what can be tricky when it comes to picking the right types of hotels, but we are here to help you find the perfect room.
To simplify things for you, hotels loosely fall into four categories: luxury, full service (also called premium), select service, and economy. Ranging from butler service at a luxury resort to a decades-old microwave at a budget motel, the spectrum can seem wide and endless. In reality, cosmetic and monetary differences are the main distinctions between the different types of hotels. Here’s what we mean…
Luxury Hotels and Resorts ($$$$)
The elite of the elite, luxury hotels usually carry four or five stars. These labels speak for themselves, as guests expect premium luxuries and extensive dining options and services while staying at these kinds of properties. Here are some of our favorite luxury hotels and resorts:
- Many luxury hotels reside in big cities to attract both leisure and business travelers. For example, the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami Beach is ranked as one of the top resorts by Travel & Leisure and received a AAA five-diamond award in 2018.
- However, you don’t always need a big city to find upscale quality. The Jekyll Island Club on Jekyll Island, Georgia is a historic beach-front property with 40 suites, in-house dining featuring Alaskan King Crab legs, and a croquet lawn.
- Or if you’re after a more exotic location, island resorts or luxury coastal hotels are popular destinations. Take a trip to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives or the Ladera Resort in Saint Lucia if you don’t mind dropping some serious Benjamins on their luxury villas and Instagram-worthy views.
As with in-house restaurants, spa offerings play a key role in adding to the luxury experience. Spa hotels usually specialize in treatments that you won’t find at other properties. Take, for example, the Encore Spa at Wynn Las Vegas, named one of the best spa hotels in the U.S. This spa offers unique treatments made to truly pamper their guests who are paying for the luxury experience.
From spa treatments, golf courses, in-house shows and activities, and endless dining options, there’s a common theme that runs throughout luxury hotels. These properties prioritize keeping guests on site. The Venetian resort in Las Vegas is a prime example of this with 36 in-house dining options, ranging from a prime steakhouse to a massive sports bar with 100 televisions. Luxury hotels are, by inherent definition, the most expensive kind of hotel you can book, but you’ll be sure to notice all the differences that make those extra bucks worth it.
Full-Service/Premium Hotels ($$$)
It’s easy for the non-frequent traveler confuse “full-service hotels” with “luxury hotels.” In fact, sometimes they even offer many of the same amenities. Full-service hotels, also called “premium” hotels may have restaurants, spas, event spaces, fitness centers, room service, and concierge. They aim to offer an all-in-one experience. However, full-service hotels offer these amenities on a smaller scale than luxury properties do. They are more common than luxuries and are prominent in large cities, tourist destinations, and near international airports. Full-service hotels can range from vacation resorts to business properties with expansive meeting spaces.
Many boutique hotels fall into the full-service category. The Kimpton Angler’s at South Beach is one example with many luxury-type perks like a spa, pool, and upscale bar. Art and design are front and center at many boutique hotels. Hotel Fusion in San Francisco is an urban boutique that treats guests to stylish rooms, blending classic Asian design with the creative energy of San Francisco.
Brand recognition and loyalty matter with full-service hotels. Embassy Suites, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Sheraton, and Westin—all familiar names—fall under this category. Because of their broad offering, these hotels cater to business travelers and corporate events but also to vacationing families or couples who want the added comfort and reliability that full-service properties offer.
Select-Service Hotels ($$)
As the name indicates, select-service hotels have select amenities. They are mid-sized hotels, catering to a wide range of travelers who want close to a full-service experience without paying a full-service price. These hotels typically have fewer frills than full-service properties, but still provide a comfortable hotel experience.
Business travelers, empty nesters, and leisure vacationers in search of value often occupy select-service properties. You’ll find select-service hotels near airports and downtown areas of mid- to small-size cities. In bigger cities, they line the outskirts of metro areas for those willing to travel a few miles and save a few bucks. They often have in-house dining options and perks like meeting rooms and workspaces, but these are on a limited scale in comparison to full-service hotels. Familiar brands include Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, and Hyatt Place.
Then there’s Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, and TownePlace Suites, among others, that provide suites. Whereas extended-stay suites like Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites are ideal for travelers looking for week-long stays, these brands fall somewhere between select service and economy. Their quality and reputation have more in common with select-service properties, although they lack certain bonuses like dining options. Suite hotels have separate bedrooms and kitchen areas to cater to families interested in saving money by cooking in their rooms. With full-service hotels, value-per-dollar is the name of the game.
Economy Hotels ($)
Economy hotels sometimes get a bad rap for being dingy or unkempt. However, “economy” doesn’t mean you have to sleep in an uncomfortable bed in a dirty room. Many economy hotel chains offer a quality product, just at basement-level prices. Their prices are cheaper because their overhead cost of operating the building is cheaper. There are generally fewer staff members at these properties, and they don’t offer room service or on-site restaurant options. However, at almost every economy hotel, you can bank on receiving basic services like free continental breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking.
The frills are minimal, but economy hotels work for budget-friendly travelers who just need a place to rest their heads. Economy hotels are popular along our country’s interstates for this very reason. Sometimes all you need is a pillow and an air-conditioned room before you hit the road again. In this case, lavish spa treatments and expensive meals aren’t needed. Examples of economy hotels like this include America’s Best Value Inn, Econo Lodge, Knights Inn, La Quinta, Microtel, Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, and Super 8.
How to Book
We hope this has cleared some of the confusion over the various types of hotels you can book. As a next step, booking your stay directly with the hotel is always your best bet. This will get you the lowest rates via a hotel’s loyalty program. It also gives you security and flexibility in the event you need to cancel or change your reservation.
At Roomkey, we make hotel search easy. We remove the hassle of dealing with online travel agencies, those pesky sites that are famous for shady practices and gimmicks. We compare low loyalty rates from our hotel partners and make it easy to find everything you need in one place. If you see something you like, we’ll take you right to the hotel’s website to complete the booking process. It’s as easy as that.
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