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Hilton vs IHG: which hotel chain is better for your next vacation?

Hilton & IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) are two main hotel chains worldwide, and they may seem incredibly similar from the first sight. So how do you make the final decision on which one’s the right option for your next vacation? Let’s make that choice easier by comparing Hilton & IHG and digging deeper into what each of them offer.

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By Aistė

Published: Dec 18, 2023 min read

Hilton vs IHG: which hotel chain is better for your next vacation?

First, let’s talk location

 

Hilton Hotels operate in over 118 countries and territories, and have a strong presence in major cities such as New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo. Hilton has the strongest presence in the United States, so it may be your number 1 choice when you’re looking for a hotel there in particular. When it comes to resorts, they are found in numerous popular locations in such destinations like the Maldives, Hawaii, and the Caribbean

IHG operates in fewer countries, the actual number being a bit over 100. However, IHG has a strong presence in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region and is known for its historic and iconic properties in various European cities. IHG’s resorts are its advantage: it offers accommodation in more unique resort destinations such as Fiji, Bora Bora, and the Dead Sea. 

Hilton wins this fight for the number of hotels & for its strong presence in the US. IHG gets bonus points for accommodation in more unique destinations & plenty of properties in Europe. Doesn’t say much so far, huh? Let’s dig deeper. 

 

Brands’ characteristics

 

Hilton has a strong presence in the upper-upscale area with brands like Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Hilton is most often the name that’s associated with luxury and quality across different tiers.

IHG, on the other hand, has a broader spectrum of brands, ranging from luxury (InterContinental, Six Senses) to mainstream (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza) and budget options (Holiday Inn Express). This diversity allows IHG to cater to a wider range of customer preferences and budgets, making it one of their biggest advantages. 

Once again, the winner depends on what you’re looking for: Hilton for luxe, and IHG for a broader variety. 

 

Now, how about the pricing..? 

 

As both hotel chains offer different-level amenities (from luxe, to mid-tier, and budget-friendly), the pricing mostly depends on which one you’re choosing. 

If you’re seeking luxury and are less price-sensitive, Hilton’s premium brands might be more of an option. However, for travelers looking for a balance between cost and quality, especially in mainstream and economy, IHG's hotels offer more pricing variety. 

If so, IHG might be considered the winner for budget-conscious travelers.

 

However, any hotel can be budget-friendly if you're scoring retail prices with the free RatePunk app. We always have deals at RatePunk - you just have to take them! 

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Don’t forget the kids! Which one’s better for families?

 

Both chains have plenty of family-friendly options. To choose which one aligns with your specific needs and which brands are best for families, we put the main aspects into one easy-to-compare table. 

 

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Loyalty programs

 

Hilton Honors has four tiers - Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. 

PROS

  • Regular promotions for bonus points are a feature of the program.
  • Points can be transferred from American Express with a 1:2 ratio, enhancing the ability to accumulate points.
  • Gaining elite status is relatively easier with Hilton, especially through their co-branded credit cards. 

CONS

  • Although redemptions can start as low as 5,000 points per night, these opportunities are often not at the most sought-after locations.
  • Hilton Honors' move to dynamic pricing can make it a bit challenging to predict the number of points needed for future stays without specific travel dates. This model links points rates more closely to cash rates, potentially reducing redemption value at high-end properties.

 

IHG Rewards Club also has four tiers - Club, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, and Spire Elite. 

PROS

  • The program is known for its frequent points-earning promotions.
  • The updated elite status tiers provide additional benefits, even on award stays.
  • Points can be transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards®, with IHG points valued at approximately 0.8 cents each, offering good value.

CONS

  • With this one, achieving higher status requires more stays compared to Hilton.
  • Similar to Hilton, IHG One Rewards has adopted dynamic pricing, requiring exact travel dates for accurate point redemption planning.

And the winner is… IHG! Its regular point-earning promotions and the enhancements in its elite status program, coupled with the value provided by point transfers from Chase, gives it an edge in terms of ease of accumulating points. While Hilton Honors obviously offers valuable features, IHG One Rewards' overall structure and benefits make it slightly more advantageous. 

 

Which one’s more sustainable?

 

It’s a tie (hooray!). Both hotel chains have their own sustainability strategies. Hilton's "Travel with Purpose" & IHG's program "Journey to Tomorrow" both aim to redefine sustainable travel until 2030. 

 

Most importantly: which one’s for you?

 

You’ll hate us for this one but… it’s entirely up to you and your vacation preferences. Sorry! 

Hilton, with its strong presence in the luxury area, is particularly well-suited for travelers seeking a reliable, high-quality experience. Its straightforward loyalty program and frequent elite status benefits make it a great choice for business travelers. Having this in mind, IHG is ideal for a broader spectrum of travelers. Its wide range of choices can appeal to budget-conscious families, leisure travelers seeking unique or boutique experiences, and luxury-seekers looking for opulence and exclusivity. 

 

You may also like…:

Luxurious hotel chains. Four Seasons vs St Regis: Which one’s better? 

Marriott vs Hyatt: Which One Is Better? 

Dec 18, 2023

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