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Unbranded hotels

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An unbranded hotel is a hotel that is not a part of a chain. In most countries, unbranded hotels, motels, and other types of accommodation can be found in urban, suburban, semi-rural, and rural areas alike. Many are family owned, and some are owned, managed, and cared for by a single person, who in many cases, lives on the premises. Some larger hotels, even though their names are not used elsewhere, are owned by large corporations.

If you travel to enough places, you may find more than one such motel that share a name (e.g. Village Motel). If this is the case, they are probably not under common ownership and have no affiliation with one another. There are some names that simply are generic and very common.

Many unbranded hotels in central business districts are quite upscale, and can easily be 4 or 5 stars. Some are quite famous, and many of them even have Wikipedia articles. Even though they are not really part of a chain, their name is still a brand of its own. In some countries, few or no hotels are part of a chain, and in order to lodge satisfactorily, one must read the rating systems and hotel reviews.

As for the more budget oriented unbranded motels, there are many stereotypes. They are commonly viewed as dirty, dilapidated, frequented by lowlifes, and altogether undesirable. There are even some neologisms that have come into our language to describe these conditions, such as "roach motel" or "rent-by-the-hour." For these reasons, many travelers want to avoid them.

But not all unbranded motels fit these descriptions. Some are actually of a very high quality and are extremely comfortable. Many are well cared for and attract the very best.

Each unbranded motel is quite individual. Its quality depends on its management, upkeep, clientele, and those to whom it is marketed. 

In many rural style tourist areas, many unbranded hotels and motels can be found that have a unique charm pertaining to the area. Many of these can be quite luxurious and are well kept. As they are marketed to tourists, they tend to give their guests the very best.

So how do I know?[edit]

When you stay at a chain, you have a reasonable degree of trust that you will have a decent stay. But an unbranded hotel is not part of a family of franchises that can carry its reputation. Nevertheless, by reading reviews, you can learn about the experiences of other customers of a motel with a single location, and if they sound positive, you can feel pretty confident about staying there.

On the contrary, don't always be fooled by a brand name. Many names are simply licensed to numerous franchises that have common ownership, and not all locations live up to par. All the things you would want contained to a bad dream or horror film could be found at a property hat shares a name with numerous others.

In an area where lodging services are not heavily in demand, you may be able to drop into an unbranded hotel (or a branded one) without a reservation. If you do this, you can ask the clerk on duty to see a room. Depending on who this person is, they may or may not be amenable to such a request. Then, upon seeing the room, if you are satisfied, you can pay and stay. If not, you can politely decline, thank the clerk, and move on. 

Also keep in mind, if you drop in, make sure you get a fair price, because some unscrupulous owners may jack up the price a few extra bucks if they see you haven't done your homework. Be prepared with the price that is shown in an ad, and if you can get ahold of a coupon (these are often available on the internet and at rest areas), that is even better.

Pricing[edit]

Because unbranded motels do not have to pay franchise fees, their operating costs may be reduced. Therefore, there are some bargains to be had.

There is a saying: "you get what you pay for." This is partially true in the lodging industry. But if you are looking for simply a roof over your head for the night in tolerable conditions, you may be able to get exactly what a Marriott can provide for a lot less.

Amenities[edit]

Many (but not all) unbranded motels provide quite a lot of extras that may come in handy for you, including a refrigerator, microwave oven, coffeemaker, internet access, swimming pool, and more. Read the description of what is offered. Some of these amenities may be offered in some rooms but not others, and you may or may not be able to get such a room. In some cases, these rooms come at a higher cost.

Safety[edit]

Safety may be an issue with some unbranded motels, as with some branded ones. Many but not all unbranded motels attract an undesirable crowd that may include those who drink excessively, take illicit drugs, engage in prostitution, are on the run from the law, or are simply a nuisance. This can be but is not always the case.

Before checking into a motel, observe your surroundings. Use your instinct. Don't judge people by their race, nationality, the language they speak, or other cultural elements, as these do not factor into safety, and such prejudices are generally misplaced. Judge by actual behaviors, the condition of the property, the surrounding area, and the attitude of the employees.

Dated appearances[edit]

Many but not all unbranded motels are older properties built much longer ago than chain locations, and are of an older style. To some who are used to a modern way of life, this may be bothersome. To others, this may not be so bad.

Some travelers may find nostalgia in the older styles. It could be the architecture, the neon lights found in some locations, the facilities, the furniture, or something else.

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