Traveling and hotels have a long relationship, starting in biblical times with innkeepers offering shelter to wanderers. By the late 1800’s, hotels had sprung up in popular tourist destinations like Switzerland to cater to visitors seeking culture, natural beauty and wellness experiences. During this time of growth, luxury hotels aimed to impress guests with special amenities like palace-style architecture and thermal baths.
Today, the hotel industry has a wide variety of options to suit any traveler, from boutique luxury properties to extended stay brands for the business traveler. Many hotels also offer perks to lure travelers, including loyalty programs that reward members with free stays and other benefits.
Whether you’re looking for an all-inclusive vacation or just a place to sleep, hotel websites and apps make planning your trip easy. Some apps, such as HotelTonight and Hipmunk, highlight last-minute deals on rooms, while others like Expedia and Tripadvisor offer a wide range of search options. Many companies, such as Costco and AAA, also offer discounts on hotel rooms.
If you’re traveling for work, you can book rooms through your employer’s booking system, or take advantage of discount programs offered by professional associations or credit card companies. You can also look for deals on the websites of local tourism boards.
When you’re choosing lodging for a family or group, consider the comfort of all-suite hotels that allow for a separate living area and kitchenette. These are especially useful for extended stays and can help reduce the cost of eating out for every meal. Other accommodations like Homewood Suites by Hilton offer free meals and social events to help business travelers feel at home on the road.
Hotels have also played a role in a number of pop culture phenomena. From “The Shining” to the “Mad Men” series, a number of iconic films and TV shows have used hotel locations as backdrops. And there are a number of unique and unusual hotels that have gained a following for being both strange and intriguing, such as a hotel built in a former nuclear bunker and a hotel in the shape of a giant ice cube.
If you’re considering staying at a hotel, research the customer satisfaction ratings of different chains. J.D. Power, which also ranks airlines, airports and rental car companies, annually ranks hotels in North America based on their guest satisfaction. Its North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study includes information on room rates, location and cleanliness as well as features and amenities that contribute to a positive experience. It’s worth noting that most hotels have a distinct focus on business travel, which can affect their overall ranking. However, the top five ranked chains are all known for providing an exceptional business-traveler experience. In addition to their consistent high customer satisfaction ratings, they’re also known for quality service and convenient locations. They offer a variety of amenities to meet the needs of the modern corporate traveler, from free Wi-Fi and a business center with meeting spaces to complimentary breakfast and active “social hubs” for employees to socialize and relax during their stay.