Let me start off with a question. Who’s better — One Direction or Taylor Swift? I mean, I know questions don’t get much tougher than that, but the answer probably varies based on a couple of things:
- If you’re in a bad mood, chances are that you prefer Taylor Swift.
- It depends on the song, no? It’s like comparing “What Makes You Beautiful” from One Direction to “I Knew You Were Trouble” from Taylor Swift. Conversely, it’s like comparing “Last First Kiss” from One Direction to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” from Taylor Swift.
In case my anecdote is causing more confusion than clarification (I can’t imagine how that would be possible, but y’all is weird sometimes), I’m trying to draw a parallel to hotels. How?
Well, I’m always fascinated by how different people perceive different luxury hotel chains. Now, since I primarily stick to hotel chains which belong to the “major” loyalty programs (in other words, whenever possible I like to redeem points for hotels which would be expensive), categorizing hotels isn’t a #firstworldproblem I have to deal with too much, personally. But for many that’s not the case clearly.
When you think of luxury hotel chains, what are the first ones that spring to mind? For me it’s probably Aman, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La, St. Regis, etc.
I’ve had the good fortune to stay at some properties of each of the above chains over the years, and the one thing I’ve learned is that the quality of each chain is very property dependent.
That’s why I find it so interesting that there are people that say “Four Seasons is much better than Ritz-Carlton,” or “Park Hyatts aren’t true luxury hotels,” etc.
I believe it’s all property dependent. For example, many consider Park Hyatts to not be “truly” competitive luxury hotels. Though would anyone argue that the Park Hyatts aren’t the best properties in Buenos Aires or Sydney, even though there are Four Seasons in both cities?
Similarly, there are lots of people that rave about Four Seasons and consider them to be a completely different caliber than Ritz-Carlton. Admittedly the Four Seasons George V Paris probably is, but if you stay at the Four Season Dublin, would you really leave with the same impression (the hotel is still a great value — I paid an average of less than $200USD per night when I stayed there)?
Contrast that to the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, which for my style is the best hotel in Hong Kong.
On the other end of the spectrum, would anyone ever think of Hyatt Regency as being a “luxury” brand? Yet the Hyatt Regency Kyoto — which should be a Park Hyatt — could give any luxury hotel a run for its money, in my opinion.
Personally, the only hotel chain I’ve stayed at that I consider to be in a truly different league is Aman. It’s not a chain I could afford to stay at with any regularity, though I splurged and took my mom to two of the Bali properties last year for her “round” birthday. As cheesy as it sounds, I find Aman properties to be truly transformative. The hotel industry is referred to as the “hospitality industry,” and I don’t think there’s any place that’s more accurate than at Aman properties.
To luxury hotel junkies, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts — is there across the board a “top” luxury hotel chain, or does it vary by property? What do you consider to be the top chains?