The Problem With Chain Hotels, Part 2

I can bore you for a good half hour about why staying in a small, locally-owned hotel overseas is so much more enriching than staying at a cookie-cutter international chain hotel. For starters, your money stays in the local economy. The place is owned by a real person, not a publicly traded corporation. And you are far more likely to wake up knowing where you slept last night when you look around the room. You won’t rub your eyes wondering how you ended up in Cleveland.

If you have ever wondered why you can’t tell the difference between a Marriott and a Sheraton, or a Staybridge Suites and a Candlewood Suites, this story will give you a clue. It’s a piece I wrote today for HotelChatter on a financial news item that came to light today. It seems that a big hotel holding company that owns buildings under a whole bunch of different brands just bought a chain of…truck stops. Want some country fried steak with your “heavenly bed”? And does this mean the chain hotels will start supplementing their sucky music with some Merle Haggard? Hmmm, that might be a good thing actually…

  1. Darrin

    I can commiserate. I always seek out a tiny, local joint when I travel. Even if the bed frame looks like a rummage sale reject, or the shape of the room is bizarre, that’s OK, because at least the room has character.

    I think that the fear of the unknown keeps people from booking the locally-owned hotels. And the chain hotels pander to this fear and think that a guest will feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings, which is why the music is horribly spineless and the rooms are ugly. Ugly in the same cultureless, brainwashed, but familiar way. There are no surprises. The room sucks, and you know in advance how it will suck. It’s the enemy you know. Too bad the room hermetically seals you from the locale.

    And I’m sure that the chain hotel furniture (which seems to match McMansions perfectly) is much cheaper when the parent company buys thousands of identical pieces at once.

    I view a quirky, local hotel as part of the experience of being somewhere. And what’s better is that lots of local hotels are cheaper than the chains. Besides, it’s kind of cool chatting with the owner of the hotel when he serves you breakfast.


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