Faced with a list of room options with rates assigned by class, the choice of a standard or superior room could depend on your budget and whether you're just looking for a comfortable bed or full turn-down room service. Since room definitions vary by property, start with a general baseline of expectations and check with the hotel to see just what's included for the price.
This article will run through the different types of hotel rooms and compare what we call standard hotel rooms to more superior hotel rooms.
The room rating of "standard" is entirely subjective, but you can generally deduce the establishment's meaning by the class and location of the hotel.
A standard room at a budget motel in a one-horse town won't be as nice as a standard room at a posh Lake Tahoe resort. Anywhere you go, this base-line room should include clean sheets and towels, single beds or double beds (with either queen beds or king beds), drinking cups and packaged soap or other toiletries. Wi-fi is also typically included with your stay in a standard room.
As your hotel climbs in rating, the sheets may get upgraded in thread count, down pillows may adorn the bed, a plush bathrobe may hang in the bathroom and the shampoo may be a prestige brand.
You may also consider the size of the room, as larger rooms are typically preferred to small rooms with not a lot of space to put all of your belongings.
Location and view generally define a standard room, too. It may be on a lower floor, near a source of noise such as the elevator or facing the street while more expensive rooms face the beach or have excellent city views.
Like taking the base model of a new car and adding on luxury options, an upgrade to a superior room means that whatever is being offered has advantages compared to the standard room.
Perhaps the room offers complementary bottled water, coffee and tea or a minibar, or entrance to a hotel wine and cheese reception.
You could simply be dwelling in more square feet in a deluxe room that adds a couch or plush chair in which you can spread out. You may be in a room on a higher floor with a better view and could even be eligible for special concierge attention.
More Room Categories
Terms used to describe the grade of a hotel room often extend beyond the standard and superior varieties. There could be a mid-level choice between the two, with moderate upgrades that don't meet the definition of superior. Maybe the floor is a little higher, the room is a little larger or the view gets a little better, but not to the extent of a superior room.
Beyond a superior room, you'll likely move into the deluxe categories where complementary items such as flowers, cookies or fruit may be delivered.
Executive rooms could have business conveniences such as a fax machine or more luxurious accouterments.
Remember that hotels are free to name room levels as they wish; they may even brand a standard or superior room a "deluxe."
It could take as little as signing up for a hotel chain's guest program to get a courtesy bump from standard to superior when rooms are available.
As a frequent traveler, we recommend starting at time of booking with an explanation of the life event worth celebrating. Anniversaries, birthdays are good occasions. Also, if you contact the concierge to book hotel experiences like the Spa or Pool Cabana, do so before you arrive at the front desk.
Inquire with a polite, discreet request as you check-in at the front desk to ask if an upgrade is available. Again, you may have more luck with if you booked a bit better than a rock-bottom room to begin with.
Newer properties looking to build a loyal customer base may be more amenable to floating a favor your way.
If you're celebrating a special occasion on your trip, let the front-desk clerk know, but always make sure to enter online as you book.
Upgrade policy will depend on how rooms have filled up that evening and what could remaining as an upgrade for you. I will always recall getting a room upgrade at The Palms after the worst flight from Boston to Las Vegas. The front desk attendant took pity on this solo traveler and gave me an expensive suite for the first evening of my four evening stay. Politeness goes a long ways in hospitality!
You may have heard of specific types of luxury hotel rooms/suites in deluxe hotels. Suites are often categorized by being larger than the average hotel room, with separate spaces like a living room and kitchen/dining room in addition to the bedroom and bathroom.
There are many different types of suites, and some are meant specifically for special occasions. When it comes to romantic getaways, bridal suites and honeymoon suites add the perfect touch for traveling couples/newlyweds.
Other luxury suites include the presidential suite and penthouse suite.
Presidential Suite: As some of the most expensive suites a hotel can offer, presidential suites are perhaps the most impressive…and hard to come by. Oftentimes, if a hotel offers presidential suites, there are few of these available. The high price includes many accommodations of standard suites (i.e., living area, kitchen area, bedrooms, bathrooms), but at a much grander scale and extra, luxury amenities.
Penthouse Suite: Penthouse suites can be found largely in big, well-known cities, such as New York City or Las Vegas. These suites are located at the top floor of the building, sometimes taking up the entire floor. The most valued guests, or those most willing to pay the high fee, are the guests that tend to book penthouse suites.