You already know about Ace and Freehand — just two examples of cool, affordable hotel brands expanding around the U.S. But what about other affordable properties that incorporate sleek design and eccentric personality? From the academia-themed Graduate Hotels (cue pretty plaids and campy décor) to Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels, here’s where to book your next domestic getaway.
1. Graduate Hotels
Where Now: 13 college towns, including Iowa City, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; Athens, Georgia; Berkeley, California; Bloomington, Indiana; and Oxford, Mississippi, plus metropolises like Seattle, Washington; and Minneapolis; Minnesota.
Opening Next: Spring 2019: New Haven, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island. Summer 2019: Eugene, Oregon; Annapolis, Maryland; and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fall 2019: State College, Pennsylvania; Columbia, South Carolina; and Columbus, Ohio. Winter 2020: Nashville, Tennessee; 2020: Roosevelt Island, New York; Palo Alto, California; and East Lansing, Michigan.
All Graduate Hotels are within a short walk to campuses — whether it’s on Kirkwood Avenue near Indiana University in Bloomington (rates from $77 per night, depending on the season), or on E. Apache Boulevard by Arizona State University (rates from $69 per night, depending on the season). The hotels's clientele range from alumni with a special love for their former stomping grounds, to twenty-and thirty-somethings who dig cool décor and a relaxed yet funky vibe. Case in point: Graduate Madison’s rooftop terrace serves cheese curds (rates from $100 per night, depending on the season), Graduate Oxford features an array of framed bow ties (rates from $96 per night, depending on the season), and the Graduate Bloomington boasts a crossword-puzzle floor created by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz.
2. Moxy Hotels
Where Now: New Orleans; New York City (two locations); San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Tempe, Arizona; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Seattle, Washington.
Opening Next: 2019: Atlanta, Georgia; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; New York, New York (Chelsea); and Louisville, Tennessee.
In 2016— a year after the experiential-oriented brand’s launch with Moxy Milan in Italy — Moxy by Marriott arrived in the States, with Moxy New Orleans (rates from $102 per night, depending on the season). And although most Marriott properties cater to business travelers, these micro, tech-savvy boutique-like hotels attract millennials or those “young at heart.” Interior designers who are tapped — such as Rockwell Group for the Times Square location (rates from $109, depending on the season) —introduce bling and vibrancy. Food and drink offerings are 24/7 and self-service, and public spaces are in abundance. Tip: Don't check out without experiencing the selfie photo-booth elevators.
3. Virgin Hotels
Where Now: Chicago, Illinois
Opening Next: Winter 2019: San Francisco, California; summer 2019: Dallas, Texas; fall 2019: Nashville, Tennessee. Dates TBD: Palm Springs, California; New York, New York; Silicon Valley, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
At Virgin Hotels Chicago (rates from $139 per night, depending on the season) the brand's signature cherry-red hue and Richard Branson’s attention to luxury (and detail) is everywhere, including the retro-esque Smeg fridge in each of its 250 rooms. Properties tend to pop up in cities with bustling entertainment districts, whether it’s near Chicago’s theaters or, come February, San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. Commons Club, a restaurant and bar, can be found at both properties and is glam and cozy (head here for afternoon tea and post-dinner drinks, respectively). Plus, both Commons Club feature rooftop bars, perfect for admiring the views.
4. Eaton Workshop
Where Now: Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong
Opening Next: Dates TBD: Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; and Toronto, Ontario.
Last September, Eaton Workshop debuted its first property in Washington, D.C.’s K Street Corridor (rates from $170 per night, depending on the season), followed by another property in Hong Kong’s Jordan neighborhood. Each of the 209 rooms at Eaton DC feature bold, bright tapestries and rugs along with organic bed linens and mini bars stocked with healthy snacks. In addition, guests also have access to a wellness center with yoga, meditation, and alternative treatments. The company, founded by 36-year-old Katherine Lo, who observed her father’s career with Langham Hospitality Group, focuses on wellness, hospitality, and progressive social change.
5. Swire Hotels
Where Now: Hong Kong, Beijing and Chengdu, China; and Miami, Florida.
Where Next: N/A
In 2016 Swire Hotels expanded to North America with the 352-room EAST, Miami (from $300 per night, depending on the season), which is located on top of Brickell City Centre. The 11-year-old hospitality company also has properties in Beijing and Hong Kong, in addition to several other hotels throughout China. Families with children will love EAST, Miami's in-room teepees, and everyone will enjoy the private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. EAST, Miami also features Quinto La Huella, (an import of Uruguay’s famed beach bar Parador La Huella) where food is cooked over fire. Its other eatery, Sugar, serves Asian-inspired cuisine in a garden setting on the 40th floor rooftop. During the day, head to the hotel's fun pool scene to lounge in the sun and take a dip in the water.
6. Motto by Hilton
Where Now: N/A
Opening Next: 2020: London, England. Dates TBD: Lima, Peru; Dublin, Ireland; Savannah, Georgia; San Diego, California; Boston, Massachusetts; and Washington, D.C.
In late October, Hilton announced a new affordable lifestyle brand called Motto by Hilton. The properties will focus around urban neighborhoods across the globe, such as Marylebone in London (opening in 2020), as well as various other U.S. locations. Flexible room layouts — such as the ability to pull down a Murphy bed at night or put the kids in loft beds — are what make this brand a stand-out, since the accommodations you crave as a solo traveler are not the same if traveling with a group of people. In addition, connecting rooms will be widely available, ideal for families with young kids. What's more, Hilton by Motto is also promoting its Sleep Kit, which will include eye masks, a white-noise app, essential oils, and vitamin bars.
7. Delta Hotels by Marriott
Where Now: 26 properties in cities such as Daytona Beach, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Anaheim, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; and Dallas, Texas.
Opening Next: Dates TBD: Ashland, Kentucky; Orlando, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; and Burlington, Vermont.
Since 2015, Delta Hotels by Marriott have popped up in 26 U.S. cities. Some of the brand’s signature traits include free bottled water and cleverly-designed rooms, which appeal to both business and leisure travelers. Some of the hotels — like those in Detroit (rates from $89 per night, depending on the season) and Norfolk, Virginia (rates from $120 per night, depending on the season) — are close to airports, which makes for convenient, fuss-free accommodations. The brand's sustainable toiletry kits are by Soapbox, a Washington D.C.-based company that donates bars of soap to communities in need.