Mon, October 3rd, 2011 - By

Chain Hotels vs Independent: How to Choose


Here’s a question I get asked a lot: when it comes to chain hotels versus independents, when the price is the same, how do you choose?.

Well, let’s first talk through the pro’s and con’s of this choice. I think they’re self-apparent, but stating them for clarity nonetheless:

Chain Hotels can be better because:

  • You know what you’re getting. Maybe you like their free breakfast policy, or maybe they never charge you for children. Or simply maybe you think they always have nice people. That’s why it’s a chain: it’s consistent. This is a personal preference – some people like consistency, and other people would prefer something new every time.
  • Not always, but often, chains are cheaper. Again, not always, but often. You always have to check the details.
  • You can sign up for rewards or points accounts to get bonuses and free hotel nights if you stay often enough (or spend enough!) This may be a chain hotels number one benefit! Even if you only go on hols once or twice a year, it’s still worth getting these accounts – sometimes I don’t use the account but take advantage of options where they’ll just put miles into my airline account. Lots of options here.

Independent hotels can be better because:

  • You get a local flair and experience.  If it’s the only hotel in the world that is ____________, then that’s bragging rights. This is probably the number one benefit for an independent hotel is that it isn’t consistent, it is unique. Quirky decor, locally-influenced amenities and furnishings can help really give you a vacation that feels 100% like the destination.
  • Often the foods served are local, special, unique. Some of the best independent hotels I’ve been in have everything from the shampoo to the mini-bar sourced from a local vendor or friend of the family. And of course, the products are superb.
  • You may have an opportunity, especially in smaller properties, to interact with locals. It depends on the property but so often independent hotels are staffed by the owners, so it’s the person who runs the place shows me to my room, points out the balcony for good photographs, suggests a cafe in town for afternoon coffee, that kind of thing.

not all hotels are the same...

How to Choose

Ha – so now the hard part.  You know the benefits to each, how do you choose?

  • Reviews:  I always check the reviews first. This trumps all my decisions pretty much.
  • Price:  Which option is more in your price range?
  • Convenience: Are both options equally convenient? I mean, you don’t need to stay half an hour away from the attractions or the beach just for the “right” kind of hotel, do you?

Bottom line for me, after reviewing those factor, is the gut feeling. Which place just feels right? Go for it – and enjoy it, without regrets. (Because, if you checked the reviews, surely it won’t be *that bad.*)

Do you like chain hotels or independent?  Why?

Photo by Julian Burgess, Love My Tours

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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