Best High-End Hotel: Kimpton Group
You may not have heard of the Kimpton Group, but you've probably heard the name of at least one of its 40 stylish boutique hotels that combine both affordability with personality in 15 cities across the country--such as the Hotel Monaco in Denver and Washington, DC; the Vintage Park in Seattle; the Allegro in Chicago; or any one of 17 unique boutique hotels in the chain's home town of San Francisco.
The company's M.O. is renovating and repositioning old buildings into charming hotels which feature popular restaurants. Each hotel has a cozy, living room-like lobby where guests can enjoy a free wine-tasting session each evening.
Rooms feel almost residential and even a little bit funky--but don't be fooled by their quirky design. All the rooms are thoroughly modern, with, among other things, two-line phones; high-speed Internet access; new, oversized bathrooms; large, well-lighted desks; and fully stocked mini-bars.
Affordability is yet another important key to Kimpton Group's hotel success--rates run $100 to $200 per night, and they are usually about 25 to 30 percent less than other comparable hotels nearby.
To find out more about the hotel chain, call (800) KIMPTON or log on to www.kimptongroup.com.
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Best Midpriced Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn
Once you've tried a Hilton Garden Inn, it's hard to go back to any other chain. Dipping into its deep and vast reservoir of experience in the hotel business, as well as a lot of customer research, Hilton created the Garden Inn concept in 1996 to help attract a new and growing breed of value-conscious business travelers: that is, those who are no longer willing to pay for the costly trappings of large-scale hotels but still need more than just the basic amenities the inexpensive budget hotel brands have to offer.
The 150-plus Hilton Garden Inns across the country (all newly built) deliver everything you need to conduct your business, including such amenities as an oversized desk and two-line phone, free high-speed Internet access and a convenient 24-hour business center.
If you plan on staying in the area for several days, you'll surely appreciate homey touches such as an in-room microwave, a mini-fridge and an easy chair with an ottoman. Don't feel like going out? You can swing by each hotel's 24-hour "Pavilion Pantry" for a snack, or eat at the hotel's full-service restaurant.
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The best part about the Hilton's new hotel concept, however, is its consistency: Each Garden Inn offers the same pleasant experience at reasonable rates that will keep you from blowing your travel budget (from $80 to $180 per night). Log on to www.hiltongardeninn.com or call (800) 445-8667 for further details.
Best Low-Priced Hotel: Holiday Inn Express
On any given evening, at any given freeway interchange, there are several economy hotels welcoming a mix of business travelers and vacationers. If there is a Holiday Inn Express in the area, it'll be the first to sell out of rooms for the night. That's because the chain's 1,200-plus properties consistently offer budget-minded travelers a fresh and uncomplicated hotel stay at a good price--about $65 to $85 per night, which includes a breakfast and free local phone calls.
If you're already on the Holiday Inn Express circuit, you'll be pleased to know the chain is upgrading its free breakfast offering, adding cinnamon rolls, gourmet coffee, and more protein and fresh fruit. Even better, the chain will add at least 100 new locations this year. For more information, call (800) HOLIDAY or visit www.hiexpress.com.