Over the past few years I’ve realized that the luxury hotel typically doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer than a quality limited service property. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the occasional luxury stay. I’ve enjoyed stays at places like the Fairmont Banff Springs, Park Hyatt Milan, and St. Regis Rome. I also love the Grand Hyatt at SFO. But these aren’t the norm for our travels. Most of the time I gravitate toward limited or select service hotel brands, especially when traveling with kids. The best limited service hotel brands offer all the amenities you need for a quality stay and typically come at a much cheaper price point in either cash or points.
What Are Select Service Hotels?
As the name implies, select service hotels offer a reduced set of amenities compared to full service or luxury properties. There is a distinction between limited service and “select service” that you should know as well. Limited service hotels offer just the essentials. Select service properties offer more amenities, yet still fall short of your full service business or leisure brand, such as Hilton or Marriott. In reality, hotels exist on a spectrum, so clearly demarcating limited-service, select-service, and full-service can get slightly tricky. But here is my best shot.
Limited service hotels typically offer the following amenities:
- Accommodation for a reasonable price
- Staffed front desk and daily housekeeping (at least pre-COVID)
- TV and internet
- Potentially an in-room fridge, microwave, and/or coffee, at least in the U.S.
Select service hotels may offer some or all of the following additional amenities:
- Fitness center
- Self-service laundry
- Mini-market of grab-and-go food and beverages
- Computer or two as a “business center”
- Meeting room or two
- Additional dining options, but not a full restaurant
Full service properties, on the other hand, offer much more by definition. Some or all of the following will be included:
- Restaurant offering all-day dining
- Room service
- Pool and/or fitness center
- Business center
- Morning newspaper
- Business center
- Laundry/dry cleaning service
- Bell service
- Turn-down service
- Club lounge
- Meeting, banquet, and/or conference facilities
Limited or select service hotels near airports typically offer a shuttle service. However, their shuttle is likely combined with other similar hotels and does not run as frequently, at least in my experience at a handful of domestic airports.
Best Select Service Hotel Brands
So what makes a good select service hotel? The best select service hotel brands must have all the amenities you need and offer an excellent level of quality and cleanliness. Here are my favorites:
#5 – Aloft
Aloft hotels are a concept developed as a select service spinoff of the W Hotels brand back in the SPG days. My first Aloft stay was at a hotel near SFO, followed by the original Aloft hotel at Montreal Trudeau Airport. I’ve stayed at a couple more over the years, even one that surprisingly offered free breakfast. This isn’t a typical amenity.
Some may not like the colorful style, but I found it appealing. With a lobby bar and pool table providing a social atmosphere, grab-and-go food options, and typically a pool and fitness center, the hotel provides a number of amenities for travelers.
#4 – Hotel Indigo
I’ve had two Hotel Indigo stays, but both were nice. The select-service upscale boutique brand has over 100 properties around the world that each try to reflect the neighborhood in which they are located. If you like variety within a chain, Hotel Indigo should appeal.
Next on my list is the Hotel Indigo Traverse City. It’s located across the road from the lake in beautiful upstate Michigan, a place I’ve been itching to explore.
#3 – Hilton Garden Inn
Hilton Garden Inn might be the most balanced hotel chain I’ve every stayed with. It isn’t truly upscale, yet it certainly isn’t budget. Each has a restaurant that offers a cooked-to-order breakfast (free for Hilton Gold or Diamond members), bar, coffee in the (usually) large lobby, and a fitness center. Rates are usually affordable in terms of either cash or points.
Hilton Garden Inn is also ubiquitous. The chain has over 800 hotels worldwide, so you are likely to find one where you plan to travel.
#2 – Fairfield Inn & Suites
It took work travel to really open my eyes to Fairfield Inn & Suites. Over 2018 I stayed at several. The best Fairfield Inn & Suites of the bunch was the brand new one in Salem, Virginia where I stayed for several days. It offered excellent, comfortable rooms and all other essential services I needed for the week.
I don’t find Fairfield to be particularly competitive, unfortunately, when it comes to pricing. But I do appreciate the quality the brand offers.
#1 – Hyatt Place
Hyatt Place is my reigning favorite among the best select service hotel brands. With large, comfortable rooms that often sleep up to 6 people, a consistent breakfast spread that includes some regional U.S. variation, a pool, and even a tiny lobby bar and restaurant, they have everything you need for an excellent stay. Hyatt Place is one of the most upscale limited service offerings out there. I’ve stayed at nine different Hyatt Place hotels across the country (some multiple times) and have always had an excellent experience.
The rates generally reflect the brand’s quality, however. You’ll often find that Hyatt Place hotels come at a premium over some of the others on this list. However, award stays are often the way to go. There are many Category 1 Hyatt Place hotels across the U.S. where you can easily get 2 cents or more per Hyatt point. If you’re not a World of Hyatt Visa credit cardmember, I highly recommend you take a look at this product. The World of Hyatt Visa (personal referral link) offers enough points for up to 10 free nights and an array of perks that are easily worth the $95 annual fee.
Best Select Service Hotel Brands: Final Thoughts
I’m not surprised that select service hotel brands represent most of the hotel pipeline under construction (at least a few years ago). Unless you’re one of those dead set on luxury, an upscale property with clean and comfortable rooms, decent décor, and the essentials is satisfactory. Consistency is also key when it comes to the best select service hotel brands, which is why I really appreciate Hyatt Place and Fairfield Inn, although I also appreciate the variety of a chain like Hotel Indigo.
I excluded a few brands that I really like from this analysis, such as Hyatt House, Residence Inn and Staybridge Suites. These are more typically viewed as extended-stay properties and offer a number of amenities that cater to guests who will be there for weeks at a time.