Consistently Dependable Hotels: Days Inn, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Holiday Inn, La Quinta, Best Western, Or Hampton Inn

Today’s post relates to my vacation in December when I observed so many other people seem to have more money. Thank you so much for your comments on that one. I need your inputs again.

It was a road trip. We flew into Arizona and then drove around. We didn’t have a fixed itinerary except for the arriving and returning flights. Every night, we would figure out the the place to go for the next day. This also involves finding a hotel for the next night.

Over the course of about two weeks, we stayed at more than 10 hotels of different brands: Days Inn, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Holiday Inn, La Quinta, Best Western, and Hampton Inn. They were really a hit-or-miss. A Comfort Inn in one town was good but the Comfort Inn in the next town was really bad. We looked up reviews on Trip Advisor before we booked. Even that didn’t help.

I realize most of these hotels are operated by local franchisees. The franchisees make the hotels either good or bad. However, chain restaurants don’t seem to have this problem even though they are also owned and operated by franchisees. I can’t tell the difference between a meal at a chain restaurant in one town and another meal at the same chain restaurant in a different town. Somehow the restaurant chain is able to instill consistency among the franchisees.

What I really want are consistently dependable hotels for my vacation travel. They don’t have to be fancy but I want them to be consistent enough above my minimum standard. If there’s a cheap Sheraton, I’d go for it. Some Sheratons are better than others but so far I haven’t stayed at a Sheraton that’s below my standard. Too bad there aren’t as many Sheratons, especially not in small towns.

What hotels do you stay at when you travel on vacation? Is there a chain that’s more consistent than others? After a grand tour of different hotel chains, I’m leaning toward Hampton Inn. It seems to be a cut above the other leisure chains in terms of quality and consistency. It’s also more expensive than the others, somewhat above what I’d like to pay. That’s why I’m looking for inputs from all of you.

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  1. Mark says

    I think there is more consistency as you move up the price totem pole, but even then, not completely. I have had very good luck with Marriott’s Fairfield Inn franchise. Prices are usually reasonable, accomodations quite good. But you will pay more than at a Day’s Inn for sure.

  2. Vijay says

    Generally, I would try to avoid the Days Inns and La Quintas and go with hotels slightly more upscale. Considering the money you generally spend on vacations, you don’t want $20/day to ruin it. Another thing I have found is that the quality of a hotel generally goes down with its age – particularly at the lower end. Not sure why this is the case – however I use photos from and even look at google street maps to see if the hotel looks a little delapidated from the outside and inside.

  3. Clint says

    We’ve moved up to Courtyards by Marriot. I’d rather spend the extra $20 bucks and have a decent place to stay. Also breakfast is often included and quite suitable. Also, Marriot’s Fairfield Inn is better than any that you list.

    By far, Best Western takes the trophy for least consistent. We once paid a premium for a BW room with a lake view. You had to lean off the 2 x 3 foot balcony and look down the alley over the garbage cans for the lake view. On the other hand the BW in Riggins, ID is wonderful!

  4. Rip says

    If you have kids, it is best to go for the brands which is catering to you – The 2 room suite model. For this, I stayed in a Hilton Homewood Suites recently. They throw in the breakfast and Wi-fi, too. For Marriott, their brand is the SpringHill suites. Heck, even if you do not have family, it provides so much value to have a room for lounging. The Homewood even had a modern kitchen with fridge.

  5. Random Poster says

    Of the chains that you have listed, I think that Hampton Inn is generally the best choice. Those that have been built within the last 5 or so years are all, in my experience, very consistent in terms of quality and value for the dollar. I think that the Hampton Inn website tells you the year of the hotel’s construction (and I know that the paperback listing of all of the Hampton Inns did). Plus, since Hampton Inn is affiliated with Hilton, you can rack up the points and promos relatively cheaply and spend the points at more upscale Hiltons (or you used to, until all the devaluations occured).

    As an aside, I find that Sheratons outside of the US are far superior to Sheratons inside the US.

  6. nickel says

    Weird. I commented a few days ago (albeit from my phone) and it didn’t come through. Anyway, we use Hampton Inn for short stopovers, and Embassy Suites for destination-type stays. We mainly do this because there are six of us (four kids) so the extra space in the Embassy makes a single room an option for us. Plus, there is a complimentary happy hour (needed when traveling with four kids!) and a rather nice breakfast.

    Years ago, when they were all new, we used Fairfield Inn for a our short stopovers, but many of those have gotten pretty old, and Hampton’s typically offer a bit more space — plus a better breakfast (or at least better than what Fairfield used to offer).

  7. DTSC says

    If you are in the Midwest, try Drury Inns. Very clean hotels with free internet, free breakfast, free drinks, free snacks (which could be dinner if you are frugal). I have stayed at 3 of their hotels in different cities and was impress all 3 times.

  8. nickel says

    DTSC: I agree. We’ve stayed at some nice Drury Inns, including a really sweet Drury Plaza, which was more or less equivalent to Embassy Suites.

  9. Denver Todd says

    I don’t travel much, but I made some frequent trips to Oakland, CA, and stayed at the Homewood Suites there. I was instantly smitten, it became my home away from home, kitchen and all. I would live in a Homewood full time if I could.

  10. Jim says

    I have had a similar experience with the same hotels, hit or miss, and more misses than hits. My conclusion is to spend more money.

  11. Janette says

    I traveled for three years for my job. Stayed about 150 nights a year in hotels…really…still married…lol
    I found Hampton Inns to be very constant in their food and rooms. They also provide safer parking lots (and a cookie if you arrive at 5!)
    When I am on the road now- about three times a year-I pick up those “interstate”coupon books and almost always can find a Hampton in one.
    Gave up on Comfort, Quality and Days Inns long ago. Rare to find one up to speed- especially for a single traveling woman.

  12. B says

    For family vacation stays a Farifield or Hampton will do if we are planning to spend very little time in the room. I prefer Embassy Suites, DoubleTree and Homewood Suites whenever they are convenient. (All of these have free breakfast except the DoubleTree). My husband is a Marriott Rewards member and I am a Hilton Honors member. The hotel chains seem very tolerant of us using each others account to rack up stays. A good friend of mine is a Holiday Inn club member and the same works for her. So, when my husband needed to stay at a Hilton last week — he just provdided my number — no issues. I’ve done the same when I needed to stay at a Courtyard (and will again in Feb). Airlines don’t allow this. It doesn’t take very many stays to earn free rooms — and I’ve been able to use reward stays for most of our vacation hotel nights. Again, unlike airlines where it seems difficult to find flights on the days and times you want with rewards — hotels are much easier.

  13. dd says

    Internet photos and the newness of the motel are great guides for choosing. In addition to the chains mentioned, we also like Starwood, staying at Aloft hotels in large cities. Although Aloft is trendy, they have great kid perks, such as pools, resident dogs, etc.

  14. Tim says

    I travel a lot for one of my jobs. Unfortunately, they limit me to $100 including tax per night for most assignments. I also like to travel with my 2 dogs. I use Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Clarion), and La Quinta the most (occasionally Best Western) , but sometimes if there is an event in the town I am going to, the rate skyrockets and I have to end up in something at the low end. Of these three chains, I think La Quinta seems the most consistent in quality for under $100, and they have no pet fee. That makes a big difference in the overall price. Choice Hotels pet fees vary, but they are pretty flexible when they see my rewards card and usually only charge for one dog. Choice Hotels also has Rodeway and EconoLodge which I avoid as they are pretty bad, although I can find an occasional EconoLodge that is better than a Quality Inn). As prices rise and my company’s hotel allowance stays frozen at $100, I am looking at trying to add in other chains. I wonder how Days Inn and other Wyndham’s compare with the Choice Hotels brands.

    • Matthew Zhang says

      Days Inn’s are usually okay, there is nothing special about them. Generally, if I can do it, I would book a Marriott chain hotel

    • Matthew Zhang says

      Also, I have some experience with Econo Lodge and Quality Inn’s. Generally the Econo Lodge’s are really good, while the Quality Inn’s are pretty bad

  15. Mary says

    We have stayed at the Hilton and Marriott chains almost exclusively over the past 30 years. My husband is retired military and we rarely lived near family and we love to travel. After my children moved out, we adopted two dogs. This has been our long first trip with them. After looking at the deposits for our furry buddies at the Hampton,, Homewood, Fairfield Inn, and Residence Inn, we decided to check out my parents favorite chain, Drury Inn. Wow! We booked because the deposit was only $10 for both dogs and because my mom is a total hotel snob. For $120 (including taxes and deposit) we got a great room with a fridge, microwave, a sofa and very a comfortable bed, a small dinner and breakfast in the morning! The people were friendly and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. We are total converts…I just wish they would open more of them. The locations are limited, at best.

  16. Sam Seattle says

    Hmm.. It seems everyone else stays in more expensive hotels than we do. We use Priceline Express Deals and get Econolodge, Super 8, Extended Stay America. Sometimes we get Comfort Inn and Days Inn (but with only 1 bed). Hmm… are we being too frugal?

    • Matthew Zhang says

      I’m pretty sure you’re just doing the 1 star or 2 star hotels on Priceline Express Deals, some 3 stars and 4 stars are super cheap and they are a total bargain

  17. Jess says

    The value brands of high quality hotel chains seem to be the only consistent safe bets. Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton all have various value brands including Hampton Inn and Four Points. I have never run into a scary one and you get rewards points. Also buying on Hotwire with a 95-100 percent recommendation seems to be a safe bet.

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