30 Hotel Chains Every Traveler Should Know
Finding the perfect room abroad can be harder than mastering a foreign language, especially in places where amenities and prices vary widely. Budget Travel to the rescue: We sniffed out the hotel chains that locals rely on most—and compiled them into this handy hotel cheat sheet.
Mexico and South America
South American ratings systems tend to be fragmented (with different standards for different types of lodgings) or surface-level, taking into account only facilities, not service or quality. In Mexico, however, you'll recognize the same AAA Diamond ratings you see in the U.S.
Each of this homegrown Peruvian chain's hotels has its own style and charm—and reflects its unique location, whether it's in the Sacred Valley or on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The brand is split into Private Collection, Select and Classic hotels, with the latter being the most affordable. Choices include the rustic, village-style Casa Andina Classic in Colca, which has clay-roofed stone casitas and its own planetarium and observatory; and the Casa Andina Classic in Cusco Koricancha, set in two adjacent colonial manor houses. Sample rates: from $142 at the Cusco Koricancha in Cusco; from $120 at the Miraflores San Antonio in Lima; from $92 at the Puno Tikarani in Puno. casa-andina.com
Average Size: Medium
Typical Location: City center/Resort
There may not be much romance to Mexico's budget-friendly chain—hotels are typically located near airports or other transit hubs—but the rooms are bright and streamlined, with furnishings a step above Ikea, and man, do they pile on the perks. At most hotels, breakfast, WiFi, and parking are all free, and snack bars and coin-operated laundry stations are readily available. Rates from $50. onehotels.com
Average Size: Large
Typical Location: Airports/highways
Africa and the Middle East
Across the African continent, efforts are being made to standardize ratings. The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGSCA) revised its quality-oriented ratings system last year, resulting in lower ratings for many borderline properties; ratings will be reviewed annually.Malawi launched its first ratings system in 2010, and the East African Community (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) is currently working toward a unified ratings system. Abu Dhabi debuted a new five-star system in 2011, although a handful of super-luxe hotels in the region have declared themselves as 6- or 7-star properties.
City Lodge Family of Hotels
This South African brand's hotels are separated into four categories: one-star Road Lodge hotels, two-star Town Lodges, three-star City Lodges and four-star Courtyards. Not surprisingly, the Courtyard options are the most charming, and have studio and suite options with kitchenettes, which can help offset the higher nightly rates (a March price check at the Courtyard Cape Town revealed a promo rate of $139 per night). Still, most all hotels under the brand's umbrella have on-site restaurants and WiFi, and even the one-star spots offer 24-hour service, breakfast and, in some cases, swimming pools. Sample rates: from $146 at the Courtyard Cape Town; from $158 at the City Lodge Durban. citylodge.co.za
Average Size: Medium/Large
Typical Location: City Centers
Africa's largest hotel group, Protea has properties in eight countries—Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Malawi—plus one outpost in London.They range from country inns and mountain retreats to seaside resorts and city-chic spots. The urban hotels tend to be edgier—a purple pool table here, neon-pink lighting there—while the out-of-town properties are more likely to feature native artwork or old-fashioned canopy beds and floral-upholstered furniture. Sample rates: from $131 at the PH Thuringerhof in Windhoek, Namibia; from $165 at the PH Cape Castle in Cape Town. proteahotels.com
Average Size: Medium
Typical Location: Resort
Beginning with the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi in 1993, the Rotana group has grown to include dozens of properties in Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar and more; by the end of 2012, their roster should total more than 70 properties in a variety of price categories. The "young and fresh" Centro sub-brand is the most budget-friendly—and even those properties feel decidedly upscale, thanks to features like floor-to-ceiling windows, flat-screen TVs, and marble-topped desks. On-site dining and amenities like full gyms and rooftop pools enhance the experience. Sample rates: from $116 at the Centro Barsha in Dubai; from $81 at the Centro Al Manhal in Abu Dhabi. rotana.com
Average Size: Large
Typical Location: All