Best Western Hotels – what experience to expect!

Best Western is one of the largest hotel companies in the world with over 4,100 properties and one of the oldest, having started in 1946. It is a privately held company that allows the individual properties to stay independent, charges some of the lowest brand membership fees in the industry and some of the least stringent brand guidelines. The mix of long history and management approach make the stay experience at Best Western properties one of the least consistent in my travel experience. Find out what experience to expect at a Best Western hotel before you book!

So, who are they? Best Western was founded in 1946 as a cooperative of independent owners for motels in the US and grew to 700 member properties by 1962. It started to expand internationally in 1975 and grew to more than 4,100 properties in over 100 countries covering a large price range with vastly different experiences. To better manage that portfolio, BW differentiated the brands as Best Western for midscale hotels, Best Western Plus for upper midscale and Best Western Premier for upscale properties with a recently announced BW Premier Collection at the very top. It uses design guidelines of 145 pages to distinguish the sub-brands, down to whether a pool towel hamper has a lid (Premier) or not! I’ll try to boil down the catalogue to the key differences.

First, here is how Best Western describes it:
BestWestern LogoOur timeless flagship midscale Best Western hotels offer an exceptional value with the comfort of home and the amenities to ensure a restful and productive stay.
– Breakfast always available to start the day
– Free high-speed Internet service
– Business center with copy and fax service
Our upper-midscale Best Western Plus hotels focus on providing guests with that little something bw-plus-logoextra. Here travelers will enjoy all the features and services of Best Western, along with upgraded amenities, higher-quality furnishings and enhanced style and comfort.
– Classic or contemporary exterior and welcoming lobby
– Upgraded interiors and stylish bath amenities
– Breakfast always available to start the day
Each Best Western Premier offers the guest the chance to experience Best Western in a whole bw-premier-logonew light. Our upscale hotels offer a truly refined atmosphere and style, with deluxe amenities and features, along with superior comfort and service for a truly memorable stay.
– High-end guestrooms and suites
– On-site dining and lounge/bar
– Modern amenities and features
The BW Premier Collection is a global collection of carefully selected upscale and luxury hotels that share Best Western’s rich history of providing guests with unique and local hotel experiences around the world.

That is actually one of the more down-to-earth and helpful descriptions I’ve found, describing the move from basic to upscale hotel brands as you move up.

cal-bw-drycreekinn-courtyard

BW Dry Creek Inn Courtyard

What experience can I expect? The main challenges with the Best Western experience across the different sub-brands is that BW started as motels in the US and until today has a mix of newly built hotels and conversions, with older hotels and conversion being exempt from a lot of the differentiators in the brand guidelines.
In the US (as well as Australia) you will still find many motel-style properties with exterior corridors and parking right in front of the room. This brings a number of disadvantages like security, noise or lack of privacy from windows facing the corridors, that no amount of renovation can fix. Other downsides of older hotels, like lower ceiling heights or smaller bedrooms and bathrooms, are also exempt from the brand guidelines and can hamper your experience.
In contrast, some new-built hotels, for example in Asia, can be very upscale with nice designs and upscale amenities!
Best Western properties fall into the midscale segment with an average daily rate (ADR) of $93, putting them into direct competition with Quality Inn (Choice) or Ramada (Wyndham) hotels. Many of them will be basic motels, with rooms featuring beds low headboards and with sheet & cotton blankets, showers with curtains, small TVs and limited amenities. You should find wifi internet, TV and fridge in your room. BW has done a good job in trying to bring up brand standards and has kicked out more than 1,200 hotels over the years, eliminating some of the oldest and worst properties, and I have not had any horrific stays at a BW hotel in recent years. There are some pretty nice properties than can command rates of over $200 in peak season, for example in California. Examples are a motel-style property in the US is the Best Western Dry Creek Inn, California or the modern, but basic Best Western Dom Bernardo in Faro, Portugal.

cal-bw-drycreekinn-bed

BW Dry Creek Inn, California

Best Western Plus hotels fall into the upper midscale segment with an ADR of $105, competing with Comfort Inn (Choice), Days Inn (Wyndham) or Fairfield Inn (Marriott). They generally should offer nicer public areas like breakfast room or pool, higher quality materials throughout the hotel, and larger rooms with more upscale touches. BW Plus won top customer scores in an industry study, so the differentiation appears to be paying off!

BW Plus Brochure Illustration

BW Plus Brochure Illustration

Best Western Premier are another step up and fall into the upscale segment with an ADR of $134, competing with Choice’ Ascend Collection, Courtyard by Marriott or Radisson hotels. You can expect upscale materials and furniture in public areas. The rooms should be larger with a large 50in TV, space for two luggages, multiple pieces of art work, a coffee maker and a bed with a nice comforter. BW Premier Collection properties are selected from this group and have limited Best Western branding.

BW Premier Brochure Illustration

BW Premier Brochure Illustration

I would consider Best Western less a tightly managed brand like Marriott or Courtyard that is the same from the furniture and decor to the jam packages and more a booking system with a loose classification of properties into low/medium/high categories. For any of the older properties in the US, I recommend to take a close look at online reviews and photos to get an idea of what to expect. Many of the properties seem to target an older audience who might be familiar with them for decades. Newly built hotels, for example in Asia, have to follow much tighter standards, down to furniture and equipment packages, ensuring a much more consistent experience. You’ll still want to read reviews to account for management differences.
Best Western is addressing their legacy issues with two new brands they are rolling out worldwide, the Glo and Vib brands of newly built hotels for a younger audience! I will give an overview soon!

As part of my research into Choice, Wyndham and Best Western, I found BW to be positioned comparable to Choice and somewhat above the many economy properties in the Wyndham group. I will review a number of their properties in the near future for you to compare – so stay tuned for examples of the experience you can expect! some of the least stringent brand guidelines. The mix of long history and management approach make the stay experience at Best Western properties one of the least consistent in my travel experience. Find out what experience to expect at a Best Western hotel before you book!

So, who are they? Best Western was founded in 1946 as a cooperative of independent owners for motels in the US and grew to 700 member properties by 1962. It started to expand internationally in 1975 and grew to more than 4,100 properties in over 100 countries covering a large price range with vastly different experiences. To better manage that portfolio, BW differentiated the brands as Best Western for midscale hotels, Best Western Plus for upper midscale and Best Western Premier for upscale properties with a recently announced BW Premier Collection at the very top. It uses design guidelines of 145 pages to distinguish the sub-brands, down to whether a pool towel hamper has a lid (Premier) or not! I’ll try to boil down the catalogue to the key differences.

First, here is how Best Western describes it:

Our timeless flagship midscale Best Western hotels offer an exceptional value with the comfort of home and the amenities to ensure a restful and productive stay.
– Breakfast always available to start the day
– Free high-speed Internet service
– Business center with copy and fax service

Our upper-midscale Best Western Plus hotels focus on providing guests with that little something extra. Here travelers will enjoy all the features and services of Best Western, along with upgraded amenities, higher-quality furnishings and enhanced style and comfort.
– Classic or contemporary exterior and welcoming lobby
– Upgraded interiors and stylish bath amenities
– Breakfast always available to start the day
Each Best Western Premier offers the guest the chance to experience Best Western in a whole new light. Our upscale hotels offer a truly refined atmosphere and style, with deluxe amenities and features, along with superior comfort and service for a truly memorable stay.
– High-end guestrooms and suites
– On-site dining and lounge/bar
– Modern amenities and features

The BW Premier Collection is a global collection of carefully selected upscale and luxury hotels that share Best Western’s rich history of providing guests with unique and local hotel experiences around the world.

That is actually one of the more down-to-earth and helpful descriptions I’ve found, describing the move from basic to upscale hotel brands as you move up.

What experience can I expect?

The main challenges with the Best Western experience across the different sub-brands is that BW started as motels in the US and until today has a mix of newly built hotels and conversions, with older hotels and conversion being exempt from a lot of the differentiators in the brand guidelines.

In the US (as well as Australia) you will still find many motel-style properties with exterior corridors and parking right in front of the room. This brings a number of disadvantages like security, noise or lack of privacy from windows facing the corridors, that no amount of renovation can fix. Other downsides of older hotels, like lower ceiling heights or smaller bedrooms and bathrooms, are also exempt from the brand guidelines and can hamper your experience.

In contrast, some new-built hotels, for example in Asia, can be very upscale with nice designs and upscale amenities!

Best Western properties fall into the midscale segment with an average daily rate (ADR) of $93, putting them into direct competition with Quality Inn (Choice) or Ramada (Wyndham) hotels. Many of them will be basic motels, with rooms featuring beds low headboards and with sheet & cotton blankets, showers with curtains, small TVs and limited amenities. You should find wifi internet, TV and fridge in your room. BW has done a good job in trying to bring up brand standards and has kicked out more than 1,200 hotels over the years, eliminating some of the oldest and worst properties, and I have not had any horrific stays at a BW hotel in recent years. There are some pretty nice properties than can command rates of over $200 in peak season, for example in California. Examples are a motel-style property in the US is the Best Western Dry Creek Inn, California or the modern, but basic Best Western Dom Bernardo in Faro, Portugal.

BW Plus hotels fall into the upper midscale segment with an ADR of $105, competing with Comfort Inn (Choice), Days Inn (Wyndham) or Fairfield Inn (Marriott). They generally should offer nicer public areas like breakfast room or pool, higher quality materials throughout the hotel, and larger rooms with more upscale touches. BW Plus won top customer scores in an industry study, so the differentiation appears to be paying off!

BW Premier are another step up and fall into the upscale segment with an ADR of $134, competing with Choice’ Ascend Collection, Courtyard by Marriott or Radisson hotels. You can expect upscale materials and furniture in public areas. The rooms should be larger with a large 50in TV, space for two luggages, multiple pieces of art work, a coffee maker and a bed with a nice comforter. BW Premier Collection properties are selected from this group and have limited Best Western branding.

I would consider Best Western less a tightly managed brand like Marriott or Courtyard that is the same from the furniture and decor to the jam packages and more a booking system with a loose classification of properties into low/medium/high categories. For any of the older properties in the US, I recommend to take a close look at online reviews and photos to get an idea of what to expect. Many of the properties seem to target an older audience who might be familiar with them for decades. Newly built hotels, for example in Asia, have to follow much tighter standards, down to furniture and equipment packages, ensuring a much more consistent experience. You’ll still want to read reviews to account for management differences.
Best Western is addressing their legacy issues with two new brands they are rolling out worldwide, the Glo and Vib brands of newly built hotels for a younger audience! I will give an overview soon!

As part of my research into Choice, Wyndham and Best Western, I found BW to be positioned comparable to Choice and somewhat above the many economy properties in the Wyndham group. I will review a number of their properties in the near future for you to compare – so stay tuned for examples of the experience you can expect!


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