One of these rooms is just like the others

Chain hotels—You know the drill: they're styled in that bland, inoffensive cookie cutter decor; they've got a set of guaranteed amenitites; and their networks are spreading around the globe

I know: this website is devoted to options beyond hotels, but I also know that there are many peopel who appreciate the known-quantity factor of sticking with a tried-and-true chain property. Far be it from me to tell you where to sleep. I'm just here to explain all the options.

So, these are the chain hotels—Hilton, Radisson, Intercontinental, Hyatt Regency, Sofitel, Motel 6, Days Inn, Howard Johnson...

Wait. Did I just type Motel 6 and HoJo's? Yep, we've exported our low-end chain hotels to Europe just like we did our Starbucks and MickeyDs. (Actually, technically speaking, Motel 6 is now part of the French hotel conglomerate Accor—as is Red Roof Inn—but the whole standardized cheap-o furnishings, paper-thin walls, and leaving-the-light-on-for you schtick remains the same.)

With a chain you know exactly what you're going to get ahead of time. I've always felt that sucks all the fun out of the spirit of travel, but that's just me. Some folks adore the predictablity that a chain property offers them.

Major hotel chains in Europe

Best Western Home Best Western (all over; Partner) is the one (happy) exception to that cookie-cutter rule. The chain has followed a different tack in expanding abroad. For the most part, rather than building new hotels to mirror their US ones, BW has merely partnered up with existing hotels all across Europe—and we're talking four-star properties here, often historic ones to boot. So you get all the Best Western amenities you'd expect, and on the plus side the buidling might be a 17th century palazzo in the heart of the historic center, or some grand hotel ediface from the Belle Epoque era of Grand Tourists. Neat.

Partner Accor Hotels (all over; - The French company that runs Motel6 and Red Roof Inns here in teh States has a chain htoel for every price range in Europe as well. Starting at the top of the heap they offer

Sofitel (, a chain of high-end, often four- and five-star hotels around the world. The

Novotel ( brand is Accor's line of four-star hotels a bit more geared toward business traevlers.

Mercure ( is the mid-range entry for the Accor brand—a bit like a high-end Holiday Inn, with plenty of standardized comforts. Getting down into the bargain basement division, Ibis ( is the Motel 6 of Europe.

The quirkiest (and cheapest) is

Formule 1 (, a series of cheap roadside motels with achingly bland modular rooms, shared baths down the hall, and minimal service but fantastically low rates (from €25). And when I say minimal service, I mean they're only staffed 6:30–9:30am and 5–9pm. That's no problem, though, since you can check in and out at an automated machine with a credit card (MC or V)—think of it as checking yourself into a vending machine or an ATM for the night.

Etap ( is a baby step up from Formule 1, with the addition of private bathrooms (but you can still check yourself into and out of automatically).

Cendant Hotels The Wyndham Hotel Group (all over; - Parent company of a gaggle of popular hotel brands in all price ranges—

Super 8, Days Inn, Ramada, Howard Johnson, Knights InnWingate Inn, and

AmeriHost Inn . And, yes, many hotels in those famed chains are also found in Europe. There are Ramadas in Bologna, Italy and Paris, France; Days Inns in London, England and Belfast, Ireland; and (believe it or not) not one but TWO HoJos on the Mediterranean isle of Malta.

InterContinental Hotels (all over; ) - Another mighty chain of familiar names—Holiday Inn Hotels , Holiday Inn Express , InterContinental Hotels and Resorts , Crowne Plaza Hotels , Hotel Indigo , Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites hotels—with locations across Europe.

Premier Travel Inn (UK; - Combined site of Travel Inn and Premiere Lodges, which are a bit like a Motel 6, but clean, decent (thin walls, though), and the price is usually excellent for expensive spot like Great Britain. I particularly like the London Southwark, which is attached the the venerable Thameside Anchor pub.

Travelodge (UK; - 279 budget hotels throughout Geat Britain priced from just £26 per room per night.

Jurys Doyle (Ireland, elsewhere; - Some 35 inns across Ireland, from three-star moderate hotels to four- and five-star properties in Dublin and elsewhere.

Radisson EdwardianPartner (UK)

RadissonPartner (all over)

Country Inns & SuitesPartner (UK)

Park PlazaPartner (UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary)

RegentPartner (Croatia)


This article was last updated in January 2008 . All information was accurate at the time. | | |
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