We all love to take a vacation. Whether it be with family, a significant other, or a solo trip, it provides an opportunity to relax, rest up, and return to reality more rejuvenated than we left.
Planning a trip, however, is more divisive. While some love it, others like to take a back seat and let others do the bulk of the planning.
But arguably none of these decisions is more important than where you stay. Today, I'm back to compare IHG and Hilton Hotels to help you decide which is better for your next trip.
IHG vs. Hilton Hotels
To adequately compare both of these hotel chains, we'll need to evaluate them side by side on a number of different factors, including:
1. IHG and Hilton brands
Both IHG and Hilton have a number of brands that make up their hotel portfolios. Let's look at IHG first. At this time, they own approximately 17 hotel brands, including some of the world's most recognizable, such as Holiday Inn, Candlewood Suites, InterContinental, and Kimpton.
These brands span everything from essentials up through luxury accommodations.
Hilton is a similar story.
With 18 brands, you'll be sure to recognize classics such as Hilton (of course), Hampton, Embassy Suites, and Waldorf Astoria. Just like IHG, these brands run the full gambit, from one night airport hotels, all the way up through luxury resorts.
With each offering this full diversity of accommodations, you'll likely be able to find the lodging style to meet your needs for your next trip.
Next, let's evaluate these two brands in terms of affordability. Since IHG and Hilton both offer a number of brands designed to fit traveler needs, I am going to compare comparison hotels for each brand in the same location for the same dates to help me understand which is typically more affordable.
In this first comparison, I will compare the InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C. with the Waldorf Astoria.
For the weekend of June 2nd-June 4th, the InterContinental had rates starting at $380 per night.
The Waldorf Astoria, for those same dates, had a nightly rate of $616. And while the Waldorf Astoria may be somewhat grander, I'm not sure it is worth an extra $236 per night.
Chicago O'Hare Airport
In this next example, I will compare the rates between IHG's Holiday Inn Express and Hilton's Hampton Inn at Chicago O'Hare International Airport for the same 6/2-6/4 weekend.
The Holiday Inn Express, 1.68 miles from the airport, advertises rates starting at $218, expensive for an airport hotel.
The Hampton Inn has rooms those same nights for $230, meaning that IHG is now two for two in finding more affordable rates.
In our last example, I want to compare an all-inclusive experience through each brand. IHG has a new partnership with Iberostar, and even though they don't own the resorts, we will compare their Iberostar Selection Cancun with the Hilton Cancun.
The Iberostar, again for the weekend 6/2-6/4, has rates beginning at $684.
The Hilton, on the other hand, advertises rates starting at $421 per night.
I understand that this is not a scientific comparison and that the brands I've compared may not be perfect comps for each other. Regardless, InterContinental tends to be a more affordable option in many places, especially when you consider that Iberostar is not a true IHG brand.
Oftentimes, travelers decide where to stay based on amenities offered by a hotel at their ultimate destination. Not only can they significantly improve upon the guest experience, but they can also a sense of convenience, particular after getting off a plane or dealing with exhausting cross-country travel.
So, keeping in mind that amenities are oftentimes location dependent, how do these two brands stack up?
InterContinental is well-known for offering guests a number of included amenities, such as wireless internet and fitness centers. More locations have other on-site (albeit not free) offers such as on-site restaurants and other dining facilities.
Hilton typically offers very similar amenities at average locations, though certain brands tend to be geared more towards the business traveler, meaning business centers and conference rooms may be easier to find and come by.
In my experience, I have found Wi-Fi and fitness centers to be a good incentive that leads me to choose one hotel or resort over another. Do keep in mind that due to space and financial constraints, amenities like full-service gyms are less likely to be offered in busy cities.
With all of this in mind, I believe that amenities are too location specific to truly evaluate conglomerate brands with thousands of hotels each. Therefore, I believe this category to be a draw.
4. Rewards programs
Let's face it - one of the most important parts of the experience for regular travelers are the quality of rewards programs offered. Both IHG and Hilton have them, but which is better?
IHG Rewards Club
IHG's loyalty program, known as the IHG Rewards Club, offers members different amounts of points at different tiers:
The tier that you belong to depends on the number of nights you stay at participating hotels, and your points you earn can be redeemed for free future stays, gift cards, and other benefits, such as priority check-in, complimentary upgrades, welcome perks, and early check-in.
Each tier works slightly differently, and more information can be found through the IHG website.
The Hilton Honors program also has different tiers. In order, they are Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond, and like IHG, are determined based on the number of nights you've stayed at participating hotels or resorts.
The points you earn can be used for free nights, travel benefits, and even airline points, which I think really sets itself apart from many other hotel rewards programs.
Additionally, those that achieve tiered status may also receive additional perks such as room upgrades, digital check in and room selection, and access to club level rooms.
Credit card offers
Similar to airlines, many hotel companies now offer their own credit cards which can help you further your status tier.
IHG offers a credit card through Chase, though when I checked, they are no longer accepting new cardmembers at this time.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card is available in a cobranded relationship with American Express. It carries no annual fee, which is always the first thing that I look for in a card. It also currently carries a welcome bonus offer of 80,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, which is an easy threshold to meet in my opinion.
Finally, it offers 7x points on Hilton stays, 5x points at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations, and complimentary Silver status.
With all of this reward information in mind, I am going to give the edge here to Hilton. They offer the capability to apply your points to airline reservations, and their credit card has no annual fee.
For those keeping track, I am deadlocked, with IHG winning out in affordability, but Hilton having a better rewards program.
So is IHG or Hilton better?
Unsurprisingly, whether IHG or Hilton works better for you depends on what type of vacation you're looking for. That means that, while there is no clear-cut answer, there are answers when we look at different types of trips.
I'll now look at which brand is better for:
Trips with children
Trips for couples
Trips for business travelers
Trips with children
Both InterContinental and Hilton have suitable brands for those traveling with kids.
In my opinion, IHG has a leg up for travelers with children because the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands are marketed for them specifically. These brands tend to offer free have complimentary breakfast and tend to have hotels in child-friendly areas outside of city centers and in popular tourist areas.
Vacations for couples
Couples looking for relaxing tropical vacations, maybe at all-inclusive resorts, are likely to be better off with the Hilton brand of resorts. First off, there are far more all-inclusive options in the Caribbean and Mexico.
And secondly, they tend to provide extremely similar experiences to typically higher priced Marriott, Iberostar, and other similar resorts.
Trips for business travelers
Business travelers are more likely to be satisfied with the Hilton experience, since they market and cater more specifically to these types of travelers. Remember - you are more likely to find business centers, concierges lounges, and conference rooms.
With all of this said, I believe that:
IHG is a better option for travelers with children
Hilton is better for couples vacationing together
Hilton is better for business travelers
Do you agree with this? Let me know in the comments below!
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