Battle of the Hotels: Why I think Hyatt is the best
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Editor’s note: It’s no surprise that TPG writers and editors are loyal when it comes to travel. So we decided to do a battle that covers the top four U.S. hotel groups. Check out the episode of the Talking Points podcast to hear us defend our picks. And click on the links below to read which hotels we chose and why.
Further reading: Podcast: Battle of the Hotels: Points and Miles experts help you decide where to invest your loyalty
Further reading: Battle of the Hotels: Why I think Marriott is the best
Further reading: Battle of the Hotels: Why I think Hilton is the best
Further reading: Battle of the Hotels: Why I stay most often with IHG
Related: Take our "Talking Points" listener survey.
TPG's Zach Griff explains why he’s sticking with Hyatt — which according to Griff was "designed with the frequent traveler in mind."
Arguing why Hyatt is the best hotel chain is really easy. Hyatt’s loyalty program, World of Hyatt, is leaps and bounds better than the competition. The points you earn are the most rewarding and the program has a great suite (pun intended) of benefits that recognize loyalty. Furthermore, the Hyatt co-branded credit card is actually useful for spend and does a great job complementing the loyalty program.
Let's start with the best perk of staying with Hyatt -- free (or cheap) access to suites. Even if you're not a top-tier elite, securing a standard suite is cheap and easy. Hyatt has award charts for free nights in suites at a 60% premium from a standard room. At Category 6 and 7 hotels, you'll pay an additional 15,000 and 18,000 points respectively for a standard suite. If you're low on Hyatt points, you can also pay a modest points upgrade to standard suites of just 6,000 points per night on eligible paid rates.
If you spend 50 nights a year with Hyatt, you earn two suite-night awards which can be used to confirm an upgrade to a standard suite at time of booking for stays of up to seven nights. (You get two more of these certificates after spending 60 nights in one year with Hyatt). There’s no other chain that offers confirmed suite upgrades at time of booking. Knowing that I’ll have a suite for a special anniversary stay or family trip is invaluable to me.
The best part? Hyatt hotels publish what suite qualifies as a standard suite. And if there's one available for purchase, then it's also available using points or upgrade certificates.
Rewarding top-tier status
In my experience as a top-tier Globalist member, I feel valued and appreciated when staying at Hyatt hotels. I’m always greeted with a smile and thanked for my loyalty. But it’s not just the personalized treatment that makes Globalist status the best top-tier hotel status.
In addition to the four confirmed suite-night awards Globalists earn each year, you’re also promised a room upgrade to a suite, based on availability at check-in. I save my suite-night awards for memorable stays with family and loved ones and rely on the promise of space-available suite upgrades for the remainder of my stays. Unlike my experience as a Hilton Diamond member (where I’m also promised space-available suite upgrades), I find that hotels do a great job of assigning suites to Globalist members at check-in.
Furthermore, as a Globalist, I’m always well-fed in the mornings. Unlike other chains (cough cough, Marriott), there are no exclusions on the free breakfast benefit. If a hotel has a club lounge, you’re entitled to breakfast there. If the hotel doesn’t have a lounge or the lounge is closed, you’ll get full breakfast for up to two adults and two children in the hotel restaurant. Some hotels even let you order room service.
Dreaded resort fees are popping up at hotels all over the world. Some people think Congress should ban them and others are lobbying hotels to abolish them. But as a Globalist member, I don’t care. Why? Because resort fees are waived on all eligible paid and award stays for Hyatt’s top-tier elites. This benefit has saved me hundreds of dollars this year and may just be the most underrated perk of Globalist status. You’ll also get free parking on award stays which adds tons of value to your points redemptions when staying in city hotels where parking can cost $75 or more.
Free night certificates
Through the Milestone Rewards program, Hyatt does a great job of incentivizing more stays throughout the year. For every 10 nights spent at a Hyatt hotel, you’ll earn a different perk. My favorite thresholds are at 30 and 60 nights, when you’ll earn a free-night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 and Category 1-7 property, respectively. These certificates are valid anytime there’s a standard-room award available, and I’ve never had an issue using the certificates.
You can also earn free-night certificates by staying at different Hyatt brands. For every five unique Hyatt brand stays, you’ll earn a Category 1-4 free-night award. I often choose a different Hyatt brand in a city with multiple options just to earn the Category 1-4 award.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Not only is Hyatt the best hotel chain but the World of Hyatt Credit Card is perhaps the best hotel co-branded credit card too. The sign-up bonus of up to 60,000 points (30,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spend on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening) is worth up to $1,020, according to TPG’s latest valuations. But once you have the card, it’s useful for spend too. You’ll earn 4 points per dollar on Hyatt spend (making it my card of choice when paying for Hyatt stays) and 2 points per dollar on fitness club and gym memberships (among other categories). No other credit card earns a bonus for fitness, so I also use the card for my SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp classes.
You earn a Category 1-4 free-night award on your card anniversary, easily making the $95 annual fee worthwhile. You can earn another Category 1-4 certificate if you spend $15,000 a year on the card.
Aside from the free-night certificates, the card is great for helping you earn status. By holding the card, you automatically receive Discoverist (first-tier) status and five elite nights. For every $5,000 spent on the card, you’ll earn an additional two elite-qualifying nights. Therefore, this is the perfect card to help bump you up to the next elite tier. You could even earn top-tier Globalist status exclusively through credit card spend.
Hyatt critics will often point to the brand’s limited footprint as a reason to avoid the chain. It’s easy to find a Marriott or Hilton hotel in a given city, so those chains don’t need to be nearly as rewarding for your loyalty. Hyatt recognizes that travelers choose the brand despite the relatively small footprint and rewards you accordingly.
Even though Hyatt may be the most rewarding hotel chain, I fully recognize that there are cities without Hyatt hotels. But Hyatt’s trying. With the recent acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality and partnership with SLH hotels, the footprint is growing. It’s still not perfect, but it’s much better than it was two years ago. The icing on the cake is that many of the new properties joining Hyatt are upscale and luxury hotels.
Between the abundant suite-night upgrades, rewarding top-tier status and endless free-night certificates, World of Hyatt was designed with the frequent traveler in mind. The World of Hyatt Credit Card is great for spend and can help catapult you to top-tier status. Sure, Hyatt has many fewer hotels than other large chains, but they’ve done a good job growing the number of available beds by acquiring Two Roads Hospitality and partnering with SLH.
So give Hyatt a try. It won’t take too many nights to realize why Hyatt is best hotel chain.