In a foreign city or even country, most people tend to resort to brand names they know well. It makes sense - while not all brand names are perfect, at least you can have some idea of what you're getting. This is especially true during travel. If you're starving and can't find a place you're sure you'll enjoy, you'll most likely grab a bite to eat at a fast food shack. Sure, it's not the most cultural, but there won't be any surprises either. Travelers usually feel the most comfortable sticking to what they know.
The same is often true for lodging during travel. Some travelers will book smaller boutique hotels or an Airbnb to get the full cultural experience and try something new, but when something goes wrong they tend to revert to the hotel chains they know. The catch is that not all hotel chains are created equal. Some are branded as luxurious for a reason and have earned their reputation, while you may know other hotel chains that are best skipped over. Check out these top 15 luxury hotel and resort chains as well as the 10 you'll want to avoid during your next trip!
25 1. The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (Most Luxurious): Well-Known as Incredible For a Reason
It isn't surprising that the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are some of the most luxurious in the world. This hotel chain management can take a ski lodge in Colorado and turn it into a winter dream, or create a tropical paradise in Bora Bora that literally can't be beaten. Many of these resorts are ranked #1 in their cities, for good reason.
The Four Seasons is the #1 hotel brand for leisure. Some of the chain's top attributes include impeccable customer service, the Private Jet Experience (traditionally offered at most locations), the total immersion into serenity that each resort offers, and the authenticity of the decor and activities to the city and country you're in.
24 2. Starwood Hotels (Most Luxurious): A Massive Chain of the World's Favorites
Starwood is a parent company to some of the most luxurious hotels available, such as all of the St. Regis Resorts, the W, and Aloft. Typically, Starwood hotels are known for impeccable modern design, urban vibes, and cleanliness. Many of them have tons of added perks that travelers really enjoy.
Starwood employees constantly state that their goal is to build lasting connections, and these hotels certainly do that. Their names are never forgotten and are often considered 100% worth the price, even though they routinely cost over $1,000 a night. Starwood's individual hotels are located quite numerously around the globe.
23 3. Taj Hotels, Resorts, & Palaces (Most Luxurious): Traditional Indian Luxury With Modern Amenities
Headquartered in Mumbai, the Taj Hotels, Resorts, & Palaces typically bring together India's age-old traditions with modern extravagance. Opulence is the name of the game: from urban business-focused hotels to resorts in a tropical paradise, the Taj never fails to have impeccable customer service and amenities to suit your every need.
In more barren locations, the Taj caters to the adventurous spirit of its guests by providing wild animal encounters but maintaining a serene natural paradise. The individual hotels manage to take on the flavor of the destination you're in while maintaining a nod to its roots. You'll feel comfortable but intrigued, and pampered but adventurous.
22 4. COMO Hotels and Resorts (Most Luxurious): Simple yet Upscale Gentility
There is simply no other way to describe the COMO hotels and resorts but elegant. The most well-known resorts tend to be the ones located around tropical or beach focused areas, such as the Maldives (including the overwater bungalows), Turks and Caicos, and Australia, but whichever COMO hotel you're staying at will be nothing short of pristine.
Each resort takes on the flavor of its homeland. The things that consistently tie back to COMO hotels are the customer service (the staff will go above and beyond to plan your entire itinerary for you while seeing to your every need) and sophistication, regardless of the property's theme.
21 5. The Peninsula Hotels (Most Luxurious): Chameleons for Good Reason
Originating in Hong Kong, the Peninsula Hotel chain is known for making itself over in each new city. Staying in Paris, you'll truly feel as if you're in Victorian luxury, but in Beverly Hills you might think you're a movie star. The architecture of every hotel is special. The old-school European hotels have gorgeous balconies on every floor and ornate trimmings, while the original resort in Hong Kong is sleek, modern, and new-age.
Additionally, many couples choose the Peninsula Hotels due to each property's attention to romance. There are always attributes that speak to those in pairs, whether it be the decor, the two-person amenities, or the restaurants.
20 6. The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts (Most Luxurious): World Famous Customer Service
At the Ritz-Carlton, customer service is the thing that sticks out compared to other hotels that may be just as luxurious. The Club Level rooms in each location are especially sought after. They always offer amenities like butler service, laundry service, excellent Wifi, and a club lounge complete with cozy spots to work, printers, free food, complimentary top brand wine, gorgeous views, and children's clubs.
The Ritz-Carlton has locations in top areas all around the world, including Thailand, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, New York City, Hawaii, and more. While a stay will be extremely pricey, it may be worth it for the level of luxury you'll experience.
19 7. The Mandarin Oriental (Most Luxurious): Urban Yet Traditional
The original Mandarin Oriental was actually the first hotel in Thailand over 50 years ago. Since then, the chain has expanded to over 25 hotels in America, Europe, and Asia. While the chain keeps its amount of properties on the smaller side, each is impeccably managed and beautifully designed.
The Mandarin Oriental tends to have only urban locations, catering to the "fast-paced life." In the United States, properties are located in New York, Miami, Boston, and Las Vegas, to name a few. The chain is able to balance offering business, city-related amenities with holding onto the traditional oriental decor that it is known for.
18 8. The Hilton Resorts (Most Luxurious): Common Yet High End
Most people have either stayed in or heard about a Hilton resort. Many towns have them, and travelers trust Hilton because the properties are usually upscale but affordable. Hilton is the general brand, under which there are a huge array of resort chains including the Waldorf Astoria Hotels, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, the many various Hilton spin-off chains, and even timeshares.
The Waldorf Astoria Hotels and the Conrad Hotels and Resorts are the most luxurious within the Hilton brand. The Waldorf properties are generally old-school luxury, with gorgeous architecture and impeccable yet traditional customer service. The Conrad Hotels are just as upscale but tend to be more urban, hip, and youthful.
17 9. Rosewood Hotels (Most Luxurious): A Hotel For Every Style
Rosewood is a massive hotel chain that has over 60 properties around the world. The general idea is that when you're staying at one of the Rosewood Hotels, you feel like you're in a residential home that's authentic to the location you're visiting. For example, in Italy, Rosewood operates one smaller hotel that feels like a rustic Italian villa, yet just so happens to be 5 stars.
Rosewood Hotels are in a wide variety of areas and feature many different cultures. Tropical locations are common, such as Mexico, but Rosewood also has quite a few European resorts that are typical to the city and quite a few U.S. based resorts. Although each property is incredibly different, the one standard that is reflected across the brand is amazing customer service.
16 10. The Aman Hotels (Most Luxurious): A True Cultural Experience, Up Close and Personal
Typically, the focus of Aman Hotels is how unique the location is to each property. The hotels are often far outside major cities and the focus is on having an experience at the resort, rather than staying at a resort to experience a city or country. Generally, the hotels work with the local people (oftentimes from the nearby village or town) to give guests a true authentic encounter.
Most of the hotels are small (usually under 50 rooms!) so you'll feel like you're a VIP guest no matter which room you stay in. While Aman Hotels are typically expensive (in line with other 5 star resorts), the money spent is well worth it to have a seamless vacation.
15 11. Alila Hotels and Resorts (Most Luxurious): Eco-Friendly Asian Serenity
Alila Resorts are mostly located in Asia. There isn't a huge amount of properties, but there is a big emphasis on perfection at each hotel. Alila means "surprise" in Sanskrit; the idea is that the guests feel surprisingly refreshed the moment they enter and continue to have this sense of peace and tranquility throughout the stay.
Alila Hotels and Resorts put a big emphasis on eco-friendly design. You'll feel right at home if you're interested in modern, upscale innovation! Alila Resorts truly are one of a kind for travelers looking to experience real Asian tranquility with 5 star amenities.
14 12. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (Most Luxurious): Traditional Luxury in an Urban Setting
Based in Canada, the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts are located throughout the world. Generally, the majority of the most upscale properties are located in the United States and Canada. There are currently over 75 properties total, all of which are incredibly upscale. For example, The Plaza in New York City is a Fairmont. You can't get more luxurious than that!
Many of the hotels are situated in large cities and follow a traditional, impeccable customer service model. The idea is that you feel like you're pampered in a classic manner while you experience the modern city you're in. Each hotel is very unique, not just to the city it's in but to its own design, and offers special amenities.
13 13. Langham Hotels International (Most Luxurious): The Grand European Vibe
The Langham London was traditionally Europe's first "Grand Hotel," and the chain has lived up to its name since then. There are a huge amount of properties around the world that are right in the middle of large cities such as New York, Boston, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Toronto. They all have a touch of that grand European vibe that Langham first became known for.
At each location, the customer service is focused on providing traditional luxury rather than newer, eco-friendly amenities. Many rooms offer private butler service, for example. Additionally, the Langham's customer service is known throughout the world for being over the top impeccable and thorough: if you have a problem, you can be sure that it will be fixed immediately.
12 14. Omni Hotels and Resorts (Most Luxurious): Business Amenities in a True Resort
Omni Resorts are located in the heart of their respective cities, and the goal of each property is to cater to business associates while providing true upscale amenities. Convenience is the key: everything is usually seamless, from the Wifi and business amenities to the check-in (which is known to be quick and painless).
Omni Hotels will often offer amenities catered to relaxation in order to provide a balanced stay. Spa and wellness packages are common, and the facilities are generally highly rated. Omni's fitness centers are typically amazing as well. Whether you're traveling on business or simply looking for a quick and easy upscale hotel, Omni Resorts are a great choice.
11 15. Viceroy Hotel Group (Most Luxurious): Boutique Resorts With Architectural Excellence
While the Viceroy is a boutique hotel chain, its properties are located in ultra-upscale destinations and are decked out to fit their surroundings. At each location, there is a huge emphasis on design. World-renowned architects will be flown in to conceptualize a new property. The design of each hotel is constantly being refined to stay modernized yet true to the original vision.
Additionally, there is a huge emphasis on intuitive customer service. Staff members and hoteliers are trained to anticipate every need of the guest and provide individualized amenities based on what they intuit the guest may want to do next.
10 16. America's Best Value Inns (Avoid!): Consistently Ranked the Worst in America
According to reviews and yearly polls, you'll only want to stay at America's Best Value Inn locations if you're okay with unwashed linens, a dirty bathroom, and unfriendly staff. America's Best Value Inns consistently have the absolute lowest score on Consumer Reports, and little effort has been put in to change this. Travelers complain of a huge variety of issues, from credit cards being overcharged (and never refunded!) to the party crowd that the hotel attracts (without doing anything to enforce a quiet policy).
Unfortunately, uncleanliness is the biggest complaint. Many travelers report bed bugs, waste-stained carpets, roaches, dirty sheets, and foul odors. The price of the hotel is definitely within (almost) any budget, but beware: this comes at a cost.
9 17. Quality Inns (Avoid!): A Good Reputation Gone Downhill
While Quality Inns used to be considered a great bang for your buck, their reputation continues to go downhill. Guests complain of plugged toilets (that management does nothing to fix over the course of many hours), inflexible employees, a lack of available night staff, water puddles in the rooms, broken air conditioners, and dirty pools. One woman even reported that the manager pushed her husband when they requested new towels.
At most of the properties, it seems like the rooms are out of date and the electronics and utilities continually break without any repair efforts put forward. If Quality Inn managers want to get back to the original reputation that made the properties popular, changes will have to be made soon!
8 18. Days Inns (Avoid!): Unfriendly Staff, Crazy Strict Rules
With practically non-existent customer service and a history of overcharging then being unreachable, Days Inn is best avoided. While there are many locations that travelers tend to flock to (just because of the brand name), the problems that will result from a stay seem far from worth it. They also tend to overbook the hotel and double book rooms, so you could have a set in stone confirmation only to find that you no longer have a place to sleep.
The front desk employees are notoriously unfriendly, and at many locations, the policy is that you can't be present in the lobby unless you physically have a room. If you arrive a half-hour before check-in, you'll have to wait outside regardless of the weather.
7 19. Motel 6 (Avoid!): A Lack of Employees, a Lack of Amenities
Surprisingly, Motel 6 is not known for bad customer service, but rather a severe lack of employees. The chain tends to employ less than half of the needed employees for any given property! Many reviews feature complimentary words about the person at the front desk, but talk about a lack of security and housekeeping and constantly busy phone lines due to a lack of staff.
Generally, it seems to be hard to ask for anything. Towels are not provided (and are notoriously difficult to get ahold of), the room appliances are often broken, and the hotel can get a little crazy late at night with almost no one to keep visitors in line.
6 20. Britannia (Avoid!): Expensive but Not Worth The Cost
Named Britain's worst hotel group for 5 years in a row, it is no surprise that Britannia is quickly becoming less popular, despite offering (somewhat) affordable rates. The tiny rooms, dirty coverlets, run down facilities, and moldy smells leave a lot to be desired for most travelers. In fact, Britannia has not been able to garner more than 2 stars in any single category (customer service, cleanliness, facilities, etc.) for the past 5 years.
Another problem for Britannia is that the nightly rates are quickly climbing. In some cases, travelers could stay in a much nicer, larger hotel for the same price without experiencing the issues that are said to be at Britannia.