What Is A Limited Service Hotel, Really?

What Is A Limited Service Hotel, Really?

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Odds are that most OMAAT readers are familiar with the concept of limited service hotels. When you think of the major hotel groups, you probably know many of the brands that would be considered limited service, like Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hyatt Place, Moxy, etc.

But what actually defines a limited service hotel? I thought that would be an interesting topic to discuss, in light of a hotel stay that I just completed…

What differentiates a limited service hotel?

The major hotel groups all clearly define which of their brands they consider to be limited service. As the name suggests, limited service properties typically don’t offer as many amenities or services as full service properties, and try to maximize space with as many rooms as possible.

Generally speaking, the single most common trait of a limited service property is that it doesn’t have a full service restaurant. Furthermore, most (but certainly not all) limited service hotel brands offer complimentary breakfast for guests.

That’s not the only thing that differentiates limited service properties from full service properties. These hotels also typically have fairly simple room design, they don’t offer room service or laundry services, they don’t have concierges, etc.

Now, I’d argue that in many ways the gap has narrowed between limited service and full service brands. For example, we’ve seen a ton of cost cutting at many full service hotel brands, where they’ve also cut things like room service, club lounges, etc.

I should also mention that in theory, limited service properties should be more affordable than full service properties, but that’s not always the case. After all, hotels will always charge whatever they can get away with. For example, I frequently stay at the Hyatt Place St. Petersburg, and cash rates are often $300-400 per night (I redeem points). Yes, that’s for a limited service property, and it just comes down to the limited hotel inventory in the downtown area.

Limited service properties often have few amenities

My confusing full service Hyatt Place stay

I just completed a quick stay at the Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport. I’ve recently stayed at all four properties connected directly to the airport — the Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Marriott, and Sheraton — so I figured it was time to try something new, for review purposes.

This is a Category 1 World of Hyatt property, so it’s quite a steal at 5,000 World of Hyatt points per night. However, this was totally different than any Hyatt Place property I’ve stayed at in the United States.

The room had quite a bit of personality, like cool carpet and wallpaper, while Hyatt Place properties in the United States generally just have white walls…

Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport room
Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport room

There was even a small welcome amenity, which I don’t think I’ve ever gotten at a US Hyatt Place property…

Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport welcome amenity

The hotel has a full service restaurant that’s open for dinner, and it actually looked pretty great, in addition to a nice bar area…

Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport restaurant

Unlike Hyatt Place properties in the United States, breakfast isn’t included for all guests (though it is offered to Globalist members), and the buffet was extensive…

Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport breakfast buffet

As a Globalist member, I generally don’t seek out Hyatt Places, since there’s not much incremental value to staying there, and I don’t love the plain room design. Meanwhile there was a lot I liked about this Hyatt Place, and that’s largely due to the features that make it feel like a full service hotel.

Now, admittedly it seems like Hyatt Place properties outside the United States usually more features than domestic ones. At the same time, hotel groups have so many brands nowadays, so you’d think there could be some consistency within each brand, so that people can better manage their expectations when they book.

This also raises the question of what exactly makes this property limited service? Hyatt Place is explicitly a limited service brand, yet this felt to me more like a standard Hyatt.

Anyway, none of this is in any way meant to be negative. After all, the hotel exceeded my expectations for a Hyatt Place. However, I just figured I’d share some musings about how even though we’ve seen so much hotel brand inflation in recent years, a hotel’s brand still doesn’t necessarily tell you a whole lot about what to expect.

Bottom line

Hotel branding can be confusing at times. I just stayed at the Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport, which was way nicer than your typical Hyatt Place. The hotel had a full service restaurant, nicely designed rooms, and a much better breakfast than you’d usually find at such a property.

So, that brings me to the question that I’m curious about — how do you define a limited service hotel?

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  1. Anthony Guest

    Hyatt Place Frankfurt is a nice hotel, but it is not in the airport as the other properties Ben mentions (Hiltons, Sheraton/Marriott).
    At least an €20 taxi to get there (if you have luggage) and €20 back. You can take a regional train (if you can figure out which train to take). Its only one stop, but not easy to find which one in the massive airport.

    As Ben says, it not a typical...

    Hyatt Place Frankfurt is a nice hotel, but it is not in the airport as the other properties Ben mentions (Hiltons, Sheraton/Marriott).
    At least an €20 taxi to get there (if you have luggage) and €20 back. You can take a regional train (if you can figure out which train to take). Its only one stop, but not easy to find which one in the massive airport.

    As Ben says, it not a typical Hyatt Place, it is nice. However the surroundings are still under construction, and the other buildings did not look occupied yet.

    A

  2. EthaninSF Gold

    Often times the Hyatt Place in a market can be a newer hotel, while there is a decades old (shoddily renovated) Hyatt Regency across town. At that point, the Hyatt Place can be the better value in terms of cleanliness and room comfort.

  3. Jack Guest

    It's not unusual for overseas outposts of US hotel brands to not conform to the paradigm. For example, there are extremely nice Best Western hotels in Florence and Venice.

  4. Jack Guest

    In fact, Andaz is a limited service hotel masquerading as something luxurious.

  5. iamhere Guest

    What you mention is quite similar to other brands such as Courtyard and Four Points where outside the US there maybe more of a full service property with laundry services, a restaurant, may be even a lounge...

  6. Christian Guest

    I had a similar experience at the Hyatt Place Krakow last year. Nice place. Tough to see it staying a category 1 for too long.

  7. John D Guest

    In April, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Rumlang, Zurich, Switzerland.

    It's a nice hotel, very modern and updated. It not only had a full-service restaurant but still offered a free breakfast buffet. The only downside was that the restaurant was not that great for dinner, with extremely slow service and notes everywhere that their credit card machines do not have a spot for tips but will gladly take them in cash...

    In April, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Rumlang, Zurich, Switzerland.

    It's a nice hotel, very modern and updated. It not only had a full-service restaurant but still offered a free breakfast buffet. The only downside was that the restaurant was not that great for dinner, with extremely slow service and notes everywhere that their credit card machines do not have a spot for tips but will gladly take them in cash (I never saw something like that anywhere else in Switzerland or France - guess they figure that most of their guests are probably Americans so try to get tips out of them).

  8. AndyF New Member

    The Hyatt Place in Managua has a nice restaurant plus full bar, and free breakfast for all guests. Breakfast is buffet and eggs to order, and is much more upscale than a US Hyatt Place. No idea why they chose to brand it as a Hyatt Place. It's easily as good as the Intercontinental in Managua.

  9. Rodrigo Becerra Guest

    I usually just assume that US hotels, even luxury ones, are below par with rest of the world. On average. Its amazing how bad it has gotten.

  10. Bob Guest

    Hyatt Place is the biggest scam.
    Crappy hotels at luxury prices.

  11. Bruno Guest

    Chiayi in Taiwan has a very nice Holiday Inn Express, with even a Happy Hour with alcohol on certain weekdays for IHG elite members.

  12. D3kingg Guest

    Typical Difference between a Hampton Inn and a Hilton; There’s free breakfast , no concierge, no bellman , no room service , no spa , no sauna , and not centrally located. There are exceptions .

    I’ve been to Hampton by Hilton Frankfurt messe near sky mall and the central station a couple times. It was fine. Staying at Hilton Berlin this upcoming week.

  13. Anthony Joseph Guest

    I stayed at Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport and was very pleasantly surprised. I have no status but I thoroughly enjoyed the welcome drink of German beer on tap. So much for Marriott Courtyard, Four Points Sheraton and candlewood Suites brands.
    I am switching my hotel loyalty to Hyatt and Hilton even though I have Lifetime Titanium with Marriott (never been happy after SPG was taken over by Marriott)

  14. magice Gold

    To be fair, I always thought of Hyatt Place as "studio suite with microwave" (and Hyatt House as "suite with kitchenette"). Other services are optional. And as far as American hotels go, "optional" means "it's not gonna be there."

  15. luiszx New Member

    Had a similar experience at the Hyatt Place Zurich near the airport, definitely tops my list for some of the best Hyatt Place breakfast.

  16. Mantis Member

    It's an arbitrary definition, and doesn't always align perfectly within and across brands. I'd say you know one when you see one. No mini bar, no concierge, probably no room service, very few amenities in the room, low end finishes. It's not like you're booking it expecting the Ritz Carlton...you get what you get.

  17. InternationalTraveler Gold

    Most of the times you don’t need all the amenities of a full service hotel - until you really do.

    I regretted booking a limited service property near the outskirts of Toronto when my flight got delayed by serval hours followed by freeway construction. I checked into my room after 11 pm and there was no place inside or near the hotel to get dinner. Even a limited room service menu would have made me quite happy that night.

  18. Bob Guest

    Generally speaker a "limited service hotel" is where you get most of the services of a regular hotel, but they are included in the rate and you don't have to pay for them.

  19. jb17 Member

    I really wish hotel groups would stop expanding or even try to consolidate brands. I know their true customer is the property owners but for us, the end users, it is out of control. Hyatt is probably the best at this, with the exception of its all inclusive portfolio - but it gets a pass since it was primarily result of acquisitions.

  20. pstm91 Diamond

    My two IHG free night certs were expiring so we used them for a quick stay in Dublin at the Holiday Inn Express City center a few weeks ago. Was very pleasantly surprised to have an experience much like this. We were upgraded and the room was very large, the hotel itself felt quite new, and it had a bar and large restaurant area. No full service restaurant, but breakfast was very impressive for a...

    My two IHG free night certs were expiring so we used them for a quick stay in Dublin at the Holiday Inn Express City center a few weeks ago. Was very pleasantly surprised to have an experience much like this. We were upgraded and the room was very large, the hotel itself felt quite new, and it had a bar and large restaurant area. No full service restaurant, but breakfast was very impressive for a Holiday Inn, and included. We also got two drink vouchers for the bar. We were very impressed. Not the area I'd stay in for Dublin, but can't really complain about a "free" night and I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again if we couldn't swing the Merrion or one of the other nicer hotels.

  21. Ben Guest

    The line is a little blurry. For example Moxy is limited service, but some of them don’t feel like it (other than the VERY small rooms and no Conceirge). The Moxy Williamsburg has a ton of F+B and your destination fee can be used for laundry each day. However it’s not a cheap property.

    I think Moxy is Marriott’s smartest brand… Strip out everything most people don’t value, have very small rooms and charge...

    The line is a little blurry. For example Moxy is limited service, but some of them don’t feel like it (other than the VERY small rooms and no Conceirge). The Moxy Williamsburg has a ton of F+B and your destination fee can be used for laundry each day. However it’s not a cheap property.

    I think Moxy is Marriott’s smartest brand… Strip out everything most people don’t value, have very small rooms and charge a ton. If I was a hotel investor it would be at the top of my list.

  22. Eric Guest

    The key differentiator is less staff to run the operation. No dedicated restaurant staff. No concierge.

    I personally really like my Hyatt Place stays and I like the brand. In the US - there is a ton of consistency there. The split check-in desk person / bar attendant and simple reheated food person allows the hotel to save on staffing while offering some F&B offering.

    Room sizes are similar to full service hotels. Some...

    The key differentiator is less staff to run the operation. No dedicated restaurant staff. No concierge.

    I personally really like my Hyatt Place stays and I like the brand. In the US - there is a ton of consistency there. The split check-in desk person / bar attendant and simple reheated food person allows the hotel to save on staffing while offering some F&B offering.

    Room sizes are similar to full service hotels. Some locations like NYC have tiny rooms due to cost, while more suburban locations have more generous room sizes.

    Hyatt Places are a great way to rack up nights - especially in locations like New York City where i need a bed, but not looking for a restaurant in the hotel. It's also great for suburban locations where the choices are more often similar limited service hotels.

    Full service hotels need strong conference and events demand to really support the rest of the staff. Some business or strong wedding locations work for that.

    On the Marriott side - i've been really disappointed by a Residence Inn. One particular one, didn't have a bar, didn't sell alcohol on site, and you needed to walk across the parking lot to a sister Marriott property to buy a beer from their market. On the flip side, i love Marriott's Townplace Suites concepts with plenty of two bedroom suites that work really well for families. Hyatt's Hyatt House does have two bedroom suites in some locations, but not to the same availability and same footprint as a Townplace Suites.

  23. echino Diamond

    Similar experience at Four Points by Sheraton Puebla Mexico, a limited service hotel. Redeemed 5,500 Bonvoy points for a night - a steal. It was better than many full service hotels in the US and Canada. Great room, recognition of Titatium status, great full service restaurant, etc. I guess the key is being outside the US and Canada.

  24. theebigjuan Guest

    Stayed here August 2022 for an overnight while waiting for my wife to arrive the next day. Was as surprised as you about the quality of the room and the breakfast. Good location and accessible via train. Was going to stay again on the overnight before leaving but the Hyatt Regency in Mainz was a much better venue and not really that much further away.

    While at breakfast a manager started making a ruckus toward...

    Stayed here August 2022 for an overnight while waiting for my wife to arrive the next day. Was as surprised as you about the quality of the room and the breakfast. Good location and accessible via train. Was going to stay again on the overnight before leaving but the Hyatt Regency in Mainz was a much better venue and not really that much further away.

    While at breakfast a manager started making a ruckus toward a woman, who quickly scurried out of the restaurant. I saw the same woman about an hour later in the begging position at the front door of the hotel next door. There were quite a few of her ilk in the neighborhood, which was still under construction as of my stay.

  25. Alpha Guest

    Hyatt Place used to be my favorite Limited Service brand, but recently it seems to be the most inconsistent. I've stayed at Hyatt Places that are straight up run-down dumps.

  26. Santos Guest

    For me, limited service means no room service, no laundry services, no valet or bellhops. I find Hyatt to have the most disappointing consistency across their brands. This Hyatt Place and a few I've stayed at in the states have better food and beverage options than usual HPs and are quite comfortable. Some have a laundry room for guests while others have laundry pick-up done in-house. Meanwhile a property like the Hyatt Regency Dulles has...

    For me, limited service means no room service, no laundry services, no valet or bellhops. I find Hyatt to have the most disappointing consistency across their brands. This Hyatt Place and a few I've stayed at in the states have better food and beverage options than usual HPs and are quite comfortable. Some have a laundry room for guests while others have laundry pick-up done in-house. Meanwhile a property like the Hyatt Regency Dulles has the absolute bare-bones minimum a hotel of its size can get away with—room service for dinner only Tuesday through Saturday, no minibars, laundry given to an offsite 3rd party only M-F. You never really know what exactly to expect with Hyatt Place and Hyatt House, but for the property quality, standard of room, modernity of the amenities, etc., I find them to be the best among comparable brands within rival hotel companies.

  27. Alan Guest

    Surprised that the card to you was in German, not English, at a Hyatt hotel at Frankfurt Airport.

    1. Tkm Guest

      Why would a hotel write a note in English to a German guest in Germany?

    2. Christian Guest

      They gave him the amenity and note due to his status. The status holder was based in the USA. Would you expect him to get a note in Arabic if he stayed in Cairo?

  28. Tom Guest

    Here's a bit of interesting trivia. The category was invented by Sam Barshop in San Antonio when he founded the La Quinta chain in 1968.

  29. JoePro Guest

    Stayed there 2022, disappointed we had to leave before breakfast.
    Their deluxe rooms feature complimentary minibar, which amuses me.

    Some Hyatt places still get oodles of praise in spite of their limited service... Panama City Beach and Moab come to mind.

    1. jb17 Member

      I'm not a fan of the Moab Hyatt Place. Sky high rates and they weasel out of every WOH benefit by being a 'resort' (they don't make any effort to prioritize better rooms for globalists - I've faced the parking lot on the ground floor on more than one occasion, won't ever grant a late checkout, even on a Tuesday in the off season). House keeping is hit and miss, breakfast leaves a lot to...

      I'm not a fan of the Moab Hyatt Place. Sky high rates and they weasel out of every WOH benefit by being a 'resort' (they don't make any effort to prioritize better rooms for globalists - I've faced the parking lot on the ground floor on more than one occasion, won't ever grant a late checkout, even on a Tuesday in the off season). House keeping is hit and miss, breakfast leaves a lot to be desired even for a Hyatt Place. It's the only Hyatt property in Moab which makes it popular, but for what you are paying I would hope for a lot more.

  30. Ethan Guest

    Courtyard, Four Points and DoubleTree outside US sometimes can be very nice hotels, with club lounges, full service restaurant, pool and spa, usually just a tid bit lower end than their full service counterparts. These brands are actually something Hyatt missed out, especially in Asia.

    1. AD Diamond

      It is hard to believe, but the doubletree is considered and intends to compete in the full service category.

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Rodrigo Becerra Guest

I usually just assume that US hotels, even luxury ones, are below par with rest of the world. On average. Its amazing how bad it has gotten.

2
echino Diamond

Similar experience at Four Points by Sheraton Puebla Mexico, a limited service hotel. Redeemed 5,500 Bonvoy points for a night - a steal. It was better than many full service hotels in the US and Canada. Great room, recognition of Titatium status, great full service restaurant, etc. I guess the key is being outside the US and Canada.

1
Anthony Guest

Hyatt Place Frankfurt is a nice hotel, but it is not in the airport as the other properties Ben mentions (Hiltons, Sheraton/Marriott). At least an €20 taxi to get there (if you have luggage) and €20 back. You can take a regional train (if you can figure out which train to take). Its only one stop, but not easy to find which one in the massive airport. As Ben says, it not a typical Hyatt Place, it is nice. However the surroundings are still under construction, and the other buildings did not look occupied yet. A

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