what's the best hotel chain for business travel?

My job with a startup takes me to New York about once per month, as well as to Chicago and San Francisco about once every two months.

I’d like to simplify things by picking one chain for all my business travel.

Can anyone recommend a good national hotel chain for business travellers?

I’m looking for

  1. a good frequent traveller points system
  2. a desk in the room with reliable wireless internet access

In New York I’d prefer to stay on the east side, near grand central.


I can’t give you city specifics but Holiday Inn generally gives good points, has a good credit card that builds points and is working on having free in-room wi-fi in all their hotels.

Marriott has also been doing this but has less commitment to wi-fi.

Always check to see if “free wi-fi” means “in-room” wi-fi, not just, “You can sit in our lobby and surf the net, but in your room, forget it.”

That said, if you have some freedom where you can stay and a reasonable reimbursement, check out hotels that are other than chain hotels. As a road warrior, I sometimes skip chain hotels (and “points”) to stay in hotels that are funky or that are in a good location for food or booze. Many chain hotels are away from the most fun.

whistlepig, who has spent three of the last ten years living in hotels.

If you’re travelling mostly to big cities, I’d recommend the Starwood chain. St. Regis, W, and Westin are all superb, if pricey, but if you keep an eye out for deals you can stay pretty reasonably. Sheraton is a nice mid-level hotel and Four Points is their budget line. Something for everyone and you earn points at any of them.

I spend a lot of time in places like Boise and Provo and Spokane, so I did the Holiday Inn thing, but now I just use Priceline and end up in some pretty nice places for $60 a night instead of the $90 I was paying at Holiday Inn.

I’d have to say Courtyard by Marriott is the best. They have seemed to be the most reliable to me. I’ve done a lot of business travel. They tend to be located out in the most boring of suburban office parks. Yet, they have the best hotels in that price range.

Also, if you end up spending too much time out with your client, you can always go back drunk and read the Book of Mormon which they provide!

How much do you plan to spend a night? I’ve stayed everywhere from the Dorchester in London to the Econo-Lodge in who knows where.

The Westin prides itself on its trademark Heavenly Bed. The mattress, sheets, and pillows are all much better quality than what you might find at another hotel. You’ll appreciate it. Hotel beds and pillows can be awful.

Marriott have very good frequent guest programs, and a pretty consistent quality level. Hilton Hotels suck.

If you need cheap but clean with Wi-Fi, Hampton Inns all have wireless and they’re affordable and reasonably comfortable. Bed quality varies, though.

The drawback is that they don’t have restaurants.

If you need a restaurant (I like room service because I usually travel alone and I hate eating alone in restarants) most Courtyard by Marriotts have restaurants. MOST have Wi-fi but call ahead to make sure.

I agree that Starwood hotels are nice, but they’re generally vastly more expensive, even with deals, and unless you punch at a pretty high weight in your profession, who needs a weekly fight over justifying your expenses? The one exception is if you need to stay in Manhattan. Everything’s expensive there so it makes no difference. You could stay at the Hotel Pennsylvania but they have mold growing on the walls.

If you have no ethics, ask for the rate for a corporation with a big HQ nearby the hotel.

The luxury chain I worked for always required proof of employment at check-in to qualify for a specific corporation’s rate. Just an FYI.

Marriott is quite good overall, especially if you can choose which of their brands to use. They do have Internet access – often wireless – but they do charge extra for the use of it (Fairfield Inns – a part of Marriott – do have free access). But if you’re in a big city, there’s a good chance there’s an unsecured network around the hotel. :wink:

I’m partial to Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. Both are Holiday Inn, so they offer Priority Club points.

They also offer free laundry (at the ones I’ve stayed at anyway; 8 in total). They have a free hospitality dinner Monday through Friday (free grub, beer, wine-- some nights the grub is only cheese and crackers, others it’s hamburgers, hotdogs or fajitas). They also offer weekly and longer-term rates.

Good Internet offerings, a little store in every hotel (honor system), a kitchenette so you can cook, and great cable (not the typical hotel cable with only 13 channels, 3 of which are ESPN and 6 of which are cable news).

I think the closest Staybridge/Candlewood Suites to NY is in Jersey City though.

Not a big fan of the Holiday Inn Selects; Holiday Inn Express offers free continental breakfast, though. On the higher end of the scale, the Crowne Plaza is a pretty sweet stay.

Homewood Suites and Courtyards are nice too. I’m just partial to the free laundry at the Candlewoods and Staybridges.

So I guess I’d recommend a Courtyard/Homewood/Candlewood-type hotel. It feels less “hotely” and they usually offer free food, and the desk people are usually nicer.
I’ve become somewhat of a hotel snob thanks to my job. I went Platinum in the Priority Club in 4 and half months this year. Which means I spent near $6000 at Holiday Inn hotels at the state-employee rate as of mid-May. And I didn’t even stay at Holiday Inns exclusively.

Home? What’s that?


Overall I have found Holiday Inn and Marriott to be the best values.
Both have good point programs, and you can get merchandise as well as travel with points.
My Bose quiet comfort headphones came from Holiday Inn’s program, and my new TAG Huer F1 watch came from Marriott. :smiley:
I have gotten free broad band at all the Courtyards and Residence Inns I have stayed at. One Marriott I have stayed at didn’t. All of the HI I have stayed at over the last several years have had free broadband.
My only complaint about Courtyard by Marriott is the rooms are slighty small. OK for a few days, but for more than 1 week they get a little cramped.
I agree that Westin’s have the best beds, but in my experience they run 75-100% more money than a HI or Courtyard in the same town.

I hear you brother, right now I am platinum with both Holiday Inn and Marriott. I have already qualified for next year’s platinum at Marriott. :eek:
I do get so see my wife once and a while.

I would stay at this hotel chain more often just for the bed. It was a comfy bed and had a nice bedspread that wasn’t itchy which is my major complaint and the room had a desk.

The Heavenly Bed is great, but I think Westin charges for broadband access. Some other hotel brands offer something similar to the Heavenly Bed and don’t charge for broadband.

When I traveled frequently for business I always tried to stay at a Hyatt hotel. I’ve done all the major brands and quite a few minor ones, and I was never disappointed at a Hyatt. The rooms were always clean and adequate (more often than not they were beyond adequate), service was fast and friendly, “frequent stayer” points add up quickly and the complimentary breakfast was always good. I can’t vouch for wi-fi access (i haven’t had to travel in about 3 years), but every room had a free, reliable data port. They are a bit pricier than average, but my company’s negotiated rate evened things out. Hyatt also seemed more likely to upgrade my room than any other chain. Fairly often I got a suite at the regular room rate just for asking nicely.

A cousin of mine does a lot of business travel, and they’re his preferred hostelry. I stayed in one once, years ago, and have seen a few others, and they seem to be like the Marie Callender’s of hotels, as it were, because the impression I got from each is so much the same.

It’s not the Waldorf, but it’s still a full service hotel that can provide you with bed, food, and drink. When I need a hotel there’s not much I value more than having the option of not having to go out and forage for restaurants in an unfamiliar area.

My cousin did mention their points program, BTW.

I second the Courtyard by Marriott. Every time I book a business trip now, I try to go with these hotels. IMO, they’re incredibly affordable for their comfort. They’re more in the apartment-hotel type of model. Somebody like me, who likes to have a bit of a living space and kitchen set aside from the bedroom to lounge around in and cook up a frozen dinner or something appreciates their set-up. I find them incredibly comfortable and homey.