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    Consumer Reports hotels surveyWhen it comes to hotel rooms, sometimes money really does buy happiness. According to the latest survey by Consumer Reports readers of 44 U.S.-based hotel chains, Ritz-Carlton is the favorite for American travelers.

    Hotels were ranked across five categories – Value, Upkeep, Comfort, Service, and Check-in – and also scored numerically from one to 100 based on reader responses. Ritz-Carlton earned an overall score of 93 and received top marks across all categories. Top scorers at the “upscale” level were Harrah’s (88) and Walt Disney Resorts (87), while Wingate by Wyndham and Drury Inn & Suites tied for first at the moderate level, with scores of 88.


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    Microtel Inn by Wyndham dominated the budget brands with a score of 78, although the chain only ranked OK in most categories and above average on Check-In. Readers’ least favorite hotels, both with scores of 64, were Econo Lodge and Americas Best Value Inn – which, ironically, ranked among the worst for Value.


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    Overall, customer satisfaction has greatly improved since 2006. Fifty-three percent of respondents rated Check-in as “excellent” this year, compared to 42 percent previously, “excellent” Service was up 7 percent to 44 percent, and “excellent” Upkeep climbed from 36 percent to 43 percent.

    Aside from the main rankings, CR readers shared other interesting tidbits about how they choose a hotel. We were surprised to learn that only 21 percent of those surveyed looked at user reviews like TripAdvisor when booking a hotel. A majority – 63 percent – base booking decisions in part on a good previous experience.

    With average room rates at $107/night in 2012 (up 5 percent from last year, according to analyst PricewaterhouseCoopers), you might want to try this trick: Of the 28 percent of readers who attempted to finagle a better room rate, over three quarters were able to score a discount or an upgrade. Those who bargained over the phone while booking were more successful than readers who tried to sweet talk the front desk agent.

    Check out the full results of the survey on the Consumer Reports website, although note you must be a subscriber to access the entire article.

    Readers, what is your favorite hotel chain?

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