There are many great economy hotels across the country that have owners and employees who are adept at making us feel good while we are on the road. The problem is finding those hidden gems among myriad options.
The most important position in a budget hotel is the front desk associate, because that is the go-to person during your stay. If front desk associates deliver great first impressions and are always ready to take care of you, then they can elevate the hotel from a budget hotel to a five-star experience. Add in some important basic amenities, such as a really comfortable mattress, hot water with excellent pressure, strong Wi-Fi and a well-balanced breakfast with great coffee, and hotels will keep 99% of travelers happy.
Some of the brands that I think are doing a great job right now are the following:
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Red Roof Inn has newly renovated rooms that are fantastic: they are everything you would expect from a room of a much higher price. The chain is also upgrading its service culture, with an emphasis on personalized experiences. Red Roof Inn of Austin, TX, is a great place to call home for a Texas football game, if you are lucky enough to get a reservation. Its front desk staff does a phenomenal job.
Super 8 is renovating its rooms across the country, but it has been renovating its service style for years. Called the “Spirit of Super 8," the brand’s campaign engages over 25,000 employees in online training, which is focused on improving the guest experience. I love its commitment to guest service, and I can feel the difference. A great choice in Las Vegas is the Super 8 on Koval Lane. It is convenient to the Strip and has comfortable rooms, and the staff is readily available to help make your Vegas experience memorable.
Ace Hotels are only in limited markets, but they offer something special. Their style, individuality and spaces are uplifting and inspiring — it’s always a unique encounter. This is not a traditional budget hotel, but its great prices continue to redefine what to expect from a budget hotel. The Ace Hotel of New York is one of my favorite places to stay in midtown Manhattan. The relaxed vibe and staff are quite welcoming after a busy day in New York.
When you want a first-class experience that is memorable and unique, your best bet is a family-run operation. I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered the River Inn Resort in Brownville: from the service to the amenities, this resort is getting everything right at budget prices! The unique experience of staying on a river cruise only added to the overall charm of this Nebraskan resort. I highly recommend it to people who like to explore quaint towns, feel like a part of the family, and see often-overlooked areas of the United States. Three generations of family members jump in and take care of the guests here, whether they are on the water or in the resort.
Hampton Inn of Sea World San Diego
Hampton Inn continues to be one of my favorite brands while I am on the road for business. The hotels’ comfortable rooms, great breakfasts and excellent Wi-Fi keep me coming back. They get it when it comes to business travel. Hampton Inn of San Diego-Sea World is a great place for your San Diego adventures. It offers easy highway access, comfortable rooms and a really friendly team.
With an outstanding customer service record, a social media score beyond repute, and an owner like Victor Patel, this Super 8 is a no-brainer. When I go to Austin, I choose this location for everything but the Texas game. It’s a restful retreat after crazy days at SXSW events and parties, and it offers a location that’s incredibly convenient for quick flights.
When you want to get on the beach around Cape May, there’s no greater option than Hotel Macomber. It offers the best location and hospitality in the area, and it is always innovating to offer new services.
When you step away from traditional brands, you will find family-run hotels all across the country that seem to go out of their way to make you feel great and to ensure that your stay is excellent. The home-away-from-home feeling is priceless to frequent travelers, and I find these hotels hark back to a day when hospitality was much simpler. It truly is about the family doing everything and truly caring in a genuine and friendly way