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One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog, nearly four years ago to the day, was a piece titled 3 reasons budget hotels destroy “nice” ones. It was one of my most popular posts in the early days of the blog, and the reasons are just as true today as they were back in 2014.
The so-called “nice” hotels seem to all
- Charge for parking
- Charge for breakfast / food
- Give rooms that are just as small if not smaller
It used to be that they also tacked on outrageous charges for Internet as well, but those at least seem to have gone away now, with Internet being free at most hotels (sometimes you have to be a member of their loyalty program but of course that’s not a problem for me 😀 ). I assume that one if not most of the reason for this is that many travelers at these hotels are business travelers who just charge everything to their company / client. Still, it’s annoying when I can just go to a random Holiday Inn Express or whatever and get that stuff for “free” (free in quotation marks because you’re still paying for it, just in a different way)
My stay at the Sheraton Grand Taipei
I always know a hotel is going to be a “nice” hotel if it has a ton of big conference rooms, an in-hotel restaurant or a fancy lobby. Historically I’ve tended to avoid these types of places but I’ve booked a few recently hoping for my ragtag combination of hotel statuses to get me into the executive lounge and/or upgraded
(SEE ALSO: Snagging an upgrade at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui)
It’s not all bad
I mean I know I like to complain, and I’m sure I’m going to get yelled at in the comments, but it’s not all bad. I got the room I “paid” for (with points), and was not charged extra to check-in at 5 a.m. straight off my flight from Chicago. That was appreciated as we used it to just take a quick 3 hour “nap” which synced us up with a reasonable wake-up time on Taipei time. I also got an “upgrade” that looks just like a regular room but maybe has a couch in it so it’s considered an upgrade?
But the irritating thing is that I was denied lounge access (“that’s only for Platinum status”). Also the swimming pool that my daughter was looking forward to after a long day walking around Taipei was closed for renovations, though that’s just one of those things. They did offer to pay for a 20 minute taxi ride to use the pool at their sister hotel but we declined.
I know I only have low-tier status (Gold) at Marriott (from a credit card), so I shouldn’t expect much. Though I did get an “upgrade” at the last Marriott hotel I stayed at in Copenhagen.
(SEE ALSO: Cmon Marriott – stop your lying upgrade games)
(SEE ALSO: Copenhagen Marriott hotel review)
I guess if I think about it my motley tier of similar credit-card-only statuses has been getting me lounge access pretty regularly. To the point where I have been looking for these hotels counting on my status to pick it up for me. Guess I should just stick with Holiday Inn Expresses and Hyatt Houses….
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Marriott Gold (post SPG integration) doesn’t give you lounge access. Plat or higher.
So I’m finding out… 🙂
sooo manyyyyy unfinished sentencesss lol
I think the actual nice hotels (InterContinental in Singapore comes to mind) prove their worth with service and other amenities. A lot of the “nice” hotels seem to be resting on their laurels.
Please proof your posts. You’re missing chunks of text and/or punctuation in a few places.
+1 This isn’t a hot deal that needs
to be posted immediately without proofreading 🙂
LOL – thanks for at least being funny about pointing out my mistakes, unlike others who were just mean 🙂 . Obviously I’m more jetlagged than I thought I was…
That free breakfast looks disgusting. You get what you pay for.
I enjoy top tier properties at times but more times than not they are more trouble than they are worth. You can check into a $300+ night hotel and then be charged for parking, resort fees, breakfast, no lounge access, etc. Or you can check into a low level $100’ish hotel like HIX, etc. and get free parking, no resort fee’s, free breakfast and maybe even some beer or wine in the evening at some for no extra cost. They also check people in and out faster, you have less work to get in and out. Most have pools and fitness rooms. Sure you pay for what you get but experiences vary even at top tier properties or resorts.
This is so true! I never understand why other travel bloggers post reviews of St Regis, Ritz, and other high end brands as if they’re great.
They are absolutely not!
When I book a hotel, I do not want to then be reminded of every $10-$50-$100 charge for every little act I do.
The Staybridge/Townplace suites, HolidayInn Express, rebranded modern LaQuintas and the likes have always given better quality, better service, everything included from shuttles to breakfast to parking without any hassle and are always a much more enjoyable experience. And unlike the high end options you’re not made to feel like “you’re lucky to be staying with us” holier-than-thou battitude.
Agreed! The “nicer” hotels normally charge more and give you less. We are perfectly happy in a HIX and don’t need the fancy rooms and extra fees at other places. I remember a Crowne Plaza that did not include free coffee or tea. If you wanted it, you needed to buy it in the lobby. We enjoy the hotels with free breakfast to start your day.
You and many of the commentators obviously don’t travel often to nice hotels in Asia. I’ve never once been hit with a resort fee, or parking fee, or any of the other garbage fees charged by US hotels. I travel to Asia 2-3 times a year and stay at both resorts and downtown hotels and have only paid for the nights(cash or points). I have always gotten free breakfasts and happy hour at all the places I stay at, with no extra charge. I just stayed at the Tokyo Hilton and got everything free, including a suite upgrade and 5th night free, and the whole stay was booked on points. I’m getting the same treatment at all of the other hotels in the different countries I am staying at(Intercontinental and 2 boutique hotels).
Wow, I am surprised by the sense of entitlement in this post.
The hotel gave you an extremely early check in (basically a free extra night) and what appears, from your description, to be a two category upgrade (which looks like it costs about 15% more) and you “hate” it because they didn’t give you lounge access to which you were not entitled?
Your gold status is bottom of the barrel and anything that you received was more than you were entitled to. Like you, I have patched together a ragtag batch of hotel statuses, however, unlike what appears in this post, I am grateful anytime I am shown any kind of generosity due to my status. Based on what you have written, I would have been writing a glowing review of how well I was treated by this hotel, not writing that I hated it.
By the way, Sheratons are not “nicer” hotels. They are mid level, business/conference hotels.
Stay at an RC, a St Regis, a WA, a Conrad, or similar in East Asia and then try to explain to me how the local HIX in the US is a superior experience. To be fair, this level of hotel is kind of the worst of both worlds. They have all the extra charges of the really nice hotels, without the higher level of service and superior amenities that usually come with those hotels.
I thought a bit about what you said and in one sense, you’re absolutely right that I am acting self-entitled, perhaps too much so. On the other hand, I feel I’m right to make my decisions based on how I’m treated. So in the future I will be avoiding Sheratons, Marriotts and the like. Instead I’ll stay with Hyatt (where I have better status) and Hilton (where Gold status gets you more).
As for “nice” hotels, I’ve stayed at the Conrad Centennial, the Conrad Palmer in Chicago and at the Hyatt Regency in Nice (25K Hyatt points / Category 7) and never felt blown away by any service or amenities. With no Hyatt status in Nice, I got shoved into a broom closet and then charged a la carte for everything
Absolutely, you are right to make your decisions based on how you feel you are treated and what is important to you. I just didn’t see how this particular stay set you off to declare a hate for them.
In your case, breakfast (and/or lounge access) seems to be pretty vital to your overall impression of a hotel. While it doesn’t color my perception of a hotel, with a crew of 6 myself, I happen to be in the same boat in terms of seeking out and really appreciating a free breakfast, especially in high cost locations. We were just in Iceland and I managed to get free breakfast for 6 out of 7 mornings, but the other morning, we were in a little fishing village, so we either paid $17 a person for continental breakfast or we went without (there were literally no restaurants in town). For one person, maybe not that big a deal, but for 6, $102 is a hefty price. It didn’t change my perception of the value of all boutique hotels and if the price was right or the location was what I needed or wanted (this hotel had a suite for all 6 of us and we looked right out on the fjord), then I would still book, even without free breakfast.
I would apply the same logic to stays with the large hotel chains. While I will usually stay at Hiltons if I can because of the benefits of our diamond status, I will stay elsewhere if the total package seems to be better, after accepting that I will need to pay for breakfast.
I agree that some of the objectively nicest hotels have also been less than welcoming to us, however, on balance, I have been able to really appreciate some great hotels in great locations. At least 5 of our top 6 hotel stays have been in Conrads or Waldorf Astorias, although none in the US. On the other hand, we have been treated pretty shabbily at the Park Hyatt Paris and indifferently at best at the Grand Hyatt Berlin and the Park Hyatt Vienna and we were diamonds for two of those three stays. We got our free breakfast, but that didn’t make up for the service. I still don’t hate Park Hyatts, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to stay at one. We also got treated very poorly at a Le Meridien (for example, our “upgrade” was from a suite that we paid for to a regular room) and I most definitely would never return to that hotel, but I would also not swear off all Le Meridiens everywhere.
In my experience, you are probably right to avoid Marriott and former SPG brands, especially mid level and above chains. While limited service brands are pretty much interchangeable between the major programs (so you can just pick the cheapest one for where you want to be), there is definitely a difference for mid level and above. Although SPG was much beloved by those with platinum status, if you didn’t have the highest level, it was a really crappy program and I don’t think Marriott has done much to improve it.
I’d also mention the crappy workout/gym facilities at the $300+ hotels are generally no better than the facilities at the $100 hotels. I recently stayed at the Domes Elounda in Crete for $400 per night. The workout facilities was abyssal. A few dumbells, a bench, a treadmill and a bike. Why they even bother to mention it as an amenity is a mystery. (I won’t even bother going into how irate I was that you couldn’t enter the sauna or the steamroom without an appointment).
They also wanted to charge $1 for each coffee pod you used.
(BTW anyone going to Crete, Domes at Chania is excellent, the Dome Elounda should be skipped)