Most of us have had the experience of traveling to a city too small to support a major hotel. And for years, the only option was staying at some really horrible small chain or local inn where the benefits of even a Marriott were clearly evident.
But over the past 3-4 years, chains like Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree Inn and Hampton Inn (all of which are owned by the Hilton empire) have taken a tip from boutique hoteliers like Ian Schrager and chains like the W, and made tremendous improvements in the quality of their hotels.
Little things matter. And so better quality sheets and towels, toiletries that don't look like they'll cause a nasty rash, free WiFi (something many five star hotels might want to emulate) and updated, modern-looking furnishings all make a huge difference. So do HVAC units that operate off a wall-mounted digital thermostat rather than a series of red and blue knobs on the actual unit. And showers with either adjustable sprays or rainwater heads or something other than the rust-stained workhorses of yesteryear.
They've turned staying at these hotels from a hardship post to a pleasure. (Okay, maybe not a full-on pleasure, but close.) It's so rare that corporate America actually does something right, that they actually listen to consumers and give them what they want, that I felt compelled to give them a shout-out. The fact that Hilton has managed to do something cool at all three chains is particularly noteworthy.