Chain hotels often get a bad rap. Admittedly, some of them, with uninspired beige decor, industrial carpeting, and airline-quality breakfasts, have earned it. But they're not all that way. Some chain hotels are building their brand as hip and stylish, with restaurants that attract foodies and rooms that look straight out of Dwell magazine. Here, we bring you eight chain hotels that may not be on your radar, but definitely should be. Let's get started.
-- Megan Wood, Oyster.com
The Buddha-Bar brand does avant-garde luxury that combines neo-Asian architecture with traditional western aesthetics. Unexpected chain traits include bold lipstick-red and black decor, resident DJs who spin trance house music, and Buddha statues -- obviously. The first property opened in Prague in 2009. Today, there are Buddha-Bar Hotels in three European cities with a fourth property set to open in Armenia soon. Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace has a trendy spa, Asian-fusion restaurant decorated with a forty-foot tall Buddha statue, and two late night bars. Location is an important part of the company's trademark, so guests can rest assured that they'll be within walking distance of high-end shopping in trendy neighborhoods. Expect a price tag to match the luxury and convenience. If you can't get to Europe, cafes and spas under the brand's umbrella are sprinkled as far afield as Mexico, Caracas and Cairo.
There are seven 25Hours Hotels in five European cities: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Vienna, and Zurich. Each takes design to the next level; the Vienna outpost has a circus theme and roll-top tubs, while the Frankfurt property has teamed up with iconic fashion brand Levis -- but our favorite hotel in the brand is the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. The theme is, stay with us here, urban jungle meets Berlin zoo. Rooms are decked out with vintage-inspired, German-made Schindelhauer bikes and can include hammocks and views of the neighboring zoo, too. Stuffed monkeys are found in both the rooms and ultra-trendy lobby, which also includes industrial pipes, a record collection, and a wall of green plants. Berliners and guests hang out at the 10th-floor Monkey Bar and listen to a DJ while nibbling snacks and admiring views of the zoo from floor-to-ceiling windows.
Joie de Vivre Hotels
Boutique-style and happiness go hand-in-hand -- sometimes with the added perk of the beach -- at Joie de Vivre Hotels. There's a surfer-chic edge at many of the brand's properties in Arizona, Hawaii and California, with pops of citrus color that evoke the sun's rays. Pacific Edge on Laguna Beach, a Joie de Vivre Hotel offers surf and beach oriented activities at the hotel's beach shack on Laguna Beach, along with chic outdoor seating and a restaurant overlooking the water. Pet-friendly perks include organic beds, water bowls, and treats for canine visitors. Overall, the vibe is young and cheery.
Room Mate Hotels
The genius marketing idea behind the international Room Mate Hotels brand is to make guests feel as though they are simply staying with a stylish, fun, and in-the-know friend in a great neighborhood. Each of the hotels, with outposts everywhere from New York City to Amsterdam to Granada, is named after a "friend." Rooms are set with notes from that fictional friend (who is usually pretty sexy -- at least on the hotel website), apologizing that they missed you but promising to meet up later. Brand standards include quality breakfasts, designer rooms, and coveted locations. At Room Mate Emma in Barcelona, guests find a funky and futuristic vibe with rooms designed in hot pink. Prices are generally low and some properties are party hot spots.
The design-forward Generator Hostels brand offers a whole lotta bang for the millenium traveler buck in nine European cities. An event coordinator curates music, art, history, fashion, and design for each property to ensure they all have a unique sense of place. They're designed to photograph well and be share-worthy on Instagram and Facebook (we know that made of lot of y'all's day). Wi-Fi is always free, but breakfast never is. Rooms range from co-ed spaces with bunk beds to stylish private rooms with outdoor spaces and en-suite bathrooms. Generator Hostel Dublin has a rad bar with a whiskey bottle chandelier, a movie theater room, and a free Dublin walking tour.
TRYP hotels are endorsed by the luxury Wyndham brand, giving a certain sense of gravitas to the hipper, younger brand that states on its website, "We want to wine you, dine you, recline you and Wi-Fi you." Each of the hotels (found everywhere from Uruguay to Australia) focuses on food, rooms with the latest technology, and helping guests feel like they're part of the city. TRYP New York City Times Square South is an excellent pick for stylish families. Some of the rooms have bunk beds and Keurig coffee machines. The Gastro Bar at 35th Street serves Mediterranean tapas and cocktails for parents, and chocolate churros for discriminating little ones.
The Hotel Indigo chain has it going on, with none of the pretension that can be found at some other cool hotels. There's a focus on neighborhood and community, with each hotel designed to emulate its surroundings. When possible, local purveyors supply ingredients at the restaurants and bars. These hotels are fresh, bright, and approachable. Wi-Fi is always free, and pets are welcome. Hotel Indigo Nashville is known for its dark-stained hardwood floors and colorful furniture in the rooms, and upscale American cuisine at The District Bar and Kitchen.
From the moment guests step into the lobby at an Andaz Hotel (the boutique offshoot of the Hyatt brand), it's obvious that these properties are very cool. Traditional reception desks have been replaced by friendly hosts who check guests into the hotel with iPads. Luxe common areas and free on-demand beverages encourage guests to mingle, as does an early evening wine reception. At Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, views from the top floors of the massive skyscraper can be downright distracting. The spa looks (and feels) out-of-this-world, with an organic blend bar and treatment rooms that overlook Tokyo. Rooms include Onsen-style soaking tubs and minibars stocked with free goodies, plus futuristic toilets and seasonally scented toiletries.