The words hotel chain might conjure images of lackluster decor, outdated carpeting, and unpalatable, uninspired food. And while many budget chain properties undoubtedly fall under that umbrella, others are quirky and cool, with hip amenities, affordable prices, and chic details that are worthy of a spot on your Instagram feed. Ahead, we bring you eight budget-friendly hotel chains offering properties that pack plenty of pizzazz.
1. Hotel Indigo
Spanning the globe, this hotel chain is hip without being pretentious. Guests can expect to spend the night in the company of area rugs, oversized murals, and bright pops of color. In Dallas, rooms are outfitted in bright yellows, nautical stripes, and large floor-to-ceiling pictures, while the accommodations in the Nashville property feature colorful furniture and large typography murals. Up north, the 19-story, 128-room property in Brooklyn exudes an artsy vibe, thanks to a mix of baroque, traditional, and contemporary accents. Whenever possible, local purveyors also supply the seasonal loot at restaurants and bars here, too. And to make things even more approachable, the chain offers complimentary Wi-Fi and welcomes furry friends on the grounds.
Generator, a design-forward brand that has taken up shelter in major European cities like London, Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Paris, is sure to shake up your opinion about hostels. Offering all the favorite perks of a hostel (low costs, like-minded travelers, a let’s-mingle vibe), the Generator properties swap typical windowless dorms, rickety bunks, lukewarm showers, and flimsy mattresses for stylish digs and swanky amenities. (Wi-Fi is also always free). Rooms range from co-ed spaces with bunk beds to private rooms with outdoor spaces and en-suite bathrooms. But backpackers, solo travelers, budget vacationers, and the like will all find common ground in shared spaces, like a movie room (Dublin), rooftop terrace overlooking Sacre Coeur Basilica and Montmartre (Paris), and tapas and cocktail bars (Barcelona).
3. Room Mate Hotels
The quirk factor at the properties within this international hotel brand extends far beyond the decor – although there’s are plenty of stylish touches to go around, too. As the name might suggest, each hotel carries the moniker of an imaginary friend, so guests feel like they’re bunking with a fun, in-the-know pal. Rooms are even set with notes from said fictional friend, including a list of must-see sights and activities. Room Mate Emma in Barcelona is funky and futuristic with hot pink rooms; Oscar features brightly colored digs with curvy wraparound couches; and Alicia’s all about pops of blue, yellow, or red plus Roy Lichtenstein prints. And underneath this playful façade is a price point you and your wallet can get behind.
Whether tucked away in a city like New York or situated a five-minute walk from the beach in Cancun, Aloft Starwood hotels offer a big personality for those with a small budget. In Brussels, a fun and funky vibe is broadcast from the get-go (the lobby features a foosball table and industrial exposed ceiling). Similarly, the hip Harlem location woos travelers with its stylish rooms that are packed with playful details like record player photos, vintage alarm clocks, striped pillows, turquoise work chairs, and more.
This European hotel chain cleverly combines a hip atmosphere and affordable rates. Take the New York City location, for example, which comes with an enormous rooftop terrace, funky outer-space design (think airport-style check-in machines, glass-enclosed bathrooms, and motorized beds), and Yobot, the hotel’s gimmicky robot luggage handler. Rooms here are small, but the cool factor makes this property a worthy pick among travelers. The London Heathrow Airport version was designed to feel like an aircraft, with dim purple lighting, a bright Japanese cartoonish mural on one wall, and airplane-inspired pod cabin accommodations.
Low costs and upscale design are a match made in hotel heaven at citizenM, a Netherlands-based hotel chain that now spans coveted vacation destinations like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and New York. The properties don’t have someone to check you in (service ambassadors are nearby to help with the self-service kiosks, though), but the snug rooms are filled with techy perks like iPads, and free movies and Wi-Fi. The interiors, namely the common spaces like lounges, are decked out in design-forward touches (at the Amsterdam location, the lobby features a Warhol print, bright colors, black lacquer bookshelves, and Vitro furnishings).
7. Ace Hotel
The Ace Hotel brand is known for its stylish, yet affordable, digs – often making it a popular choice among millennial travelers. Making its mark in cities like New York, Palm Springs, Seattle, and Portland, these laid-back, pet-friendly properties have a decidedly bohemian, hipster feel. You can thank the reclaimed school chairs and nightstands made out of book or suitcases (Portland); retro record players and vinyl (Palm Springs); and flea market finds and Andre the Giant artwork (Seattle) for making it that way.
“We want to wine you, dine you, recline, you and WiFi you,” says the Tryp by Wyndham hotel website. Each of the hotels, found everywhere from New York to Uruguay, puts an emphasis on comfy rooms and helping guests get connected to the city they’re visiting. And while this property might not be packed with vintage record players or funky artwork, it gets plenty of cool points for its subtly quirky decor. The Big Apple location, for example, features unique lighting and destination marker signs that mimic the feeling of its Times Square surroundings -- plus huge white columns and a striking mosaic-tiled wall. Some of the rooms here also have bunk beds.