True Deal Mommy Confession: I’ve become a bit of a brand snob when it comes to hotels. I blame it on Hyatt Diamond Status, which I earned last year and has spoiled me for other hotel chains in the same price range. However, many times the Hyatt option is WAY out of reach (hello, Milan!) or non-existent, as in much of Europe.
Italy is heavily on my mind as my trip is now less than 4 months away, and I’m finally nailing down my finalists among the many options I have booked. (BTW, do you do that too- book everything you like and then whittle down?) In that process 3 chains that I don’t give a second glance to in the States rise to the top. All three have rewards programs, so you can earn points while you save, and also offer either free status with sign-up or status match so you can earn faster and maybe get an upgrade to boot. You can also sometimes find them on Ebates to save a little more.
- Accor Hotels: In the states they don’t have much of a presence (except for formerly owning Motel 6), but from Ibis to Mercure to Sofitel to Adagio apartments and MGallery Boutiques, Accor is heads above some of the more common chains in Europe. From multi-night and early booking discounts to family sized rooms and apartment rentals, Accor is now my first “go-to” when I’m looking for hotels across the pond.
- Best Western: A chain that gets very little love stateside has some really offbeat (in a good way) properties overseas. The individual ownership of each hotel means you really want to check out TripAdvisor before booking, but I’m often surprised how little ol’ Best Western often outranks the big boys in major European cities such as Paris.
- Choice Hotels: Choice gets an honorable mention here not for their hotel quality, which varies widely, but for their transfer-ability to American Express Membership Rewards and their dirt-cheap last minute points deals. They pretty much open up everything at 30 days (60 days for status members) for as little as 8k points a night. $80 in points for an urban hotel room in peak could be a steal.
Are there any budget chains that have happily surprised you? Please share your experiences in the comments.