A recent review on the The Higher Flyer has prompted a few to ask:  “what’s wrong with DoubleTree hotels?” and as a follow up:  “why do you hate them?”  Well, despite what my review of the DoubleTree in Madrid may imply, the answer is a resounding “nothing.”   Nothing is wrong with Hilton’s business-traveler-centric brand and I’d gladly stay in one if presented the opportunity.  That said though, these hotels don’t really lend themselves well to scenes of higher flying; they don’t evoke visions of luxury like Waldorf Astorias do, nor do they offer the incredible value that Hampton Inns do.  DoubleTrees instead are synonymous with bland-yet-practical accommodations for the well-paid road warriors of the world.

In the introduction of the review of theDoubleTree Madrid-Prado, I bemoan the “generic corporateness” of the typical DoubleTree and then, over the course of the next 5,000 or so words, illustrate how this particular location is unlike so many of its peers.  The last sentence of the first paragraph —  “While ‘DoubleTree’ might not evoke images of boutique luxury, the one in Madrid should very well challenge your assumptions” — specifically introduces this conflict as an implicit-yet-recurring theme.  Quite simply, there’s a disparity in quality between the average property, which would not be considered “aspirational,” and this one in Spain, which exemplifies higher flying.  In highlighting all the things that the Madrid DoubleTree does right — especially when it comes to the hard product — I indirectly (but not intentionally) critique its brand at large.

To reiterate:  there’s nothing wrong with DoubleTree hotels, they’re just not very interesting.  In a hotel family that boasts Waldorf Astorias, Conrads, and Curios — all of which are uniquely luxurious — DoubleTrees are a distant afterthought.  Hilton classifies all four brands as some variant of “upscale,” but in no universe is this…

DoubleTree Boring Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
The Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam
DoubleTree Boring Amsterdam Interior
A standard room at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

…remotely comparable to this…

DoubleTree Boring Denver Exterior
The DoubleTree in Denver
DoubleTree Boring Denver Room
A standard room at the DoubleTree in Denver

The differences in quality between those two are visibly obvious and to-be-expected, but then there are some surprises like…

The DoubleTree in Madrid
2019 hilton doubletree madrid 03 sleeping area
A standard room at the DoubleTree Madrid-Prado

The last two photos depict the DoubleTree Madrid, and it’s far more charming than its Coloradan counterpart pictured in the preceding two.  The Madrid property punches above the weight class of its peers — most of its brand brethren look a lot more like the DoubleTree Denver whereas this one looks more like the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam — and indeed, it offers a far more luxurious experience.  The review, which you can read here, merely highlights some of those differences.

2019 hilton doubletree madrid 05 shower tub
A marble bathroom at the DoubleTree Madrid

The review shouldn’t be read as a condemnation of the DoubleTree brand, but rather as heaping praise on Madrid’s DoubleTree.  The location goes way above and beyond what would initially be expected of it, and that starts with the overall feel of the property.  From the moment that you first walk in, you can’t help but feel as if you are at a tiny boutique and not at some character-less cookie cutter.  That’s a rare sensation at a DoubleTree, especially when you consider that a typical room elsewhere looks like this:

DoubleTree Boring Washington Room
A standard room at the DoubleTree in Crystal City, Virginia

Notice the visual similarities that this room has with the one at the DoubleTree in Denver.  In fact, if it weren’t for the Washington Monument visible out the window, this could very well be in Denver (and vice versa).  The same goes for so many other of its peers too, all of which boast remarkably similar designs.  To further illustrate this, Upgraded Points has a guide to DoubleTrees with a subsection devoted to five unique properties that are worth the attention of higher flyers… but most of them are just as average looking too!

DoubleTree Boring Niagara Falls
A purported “awesome” DoubleTree that looks quite similar to its peers.

The thing to remember about most DoubleTrees is that while they’re not usually glamorous, they are consistent.  There’s a lot of value to be had in knowing exactly what you’re getting when you book a hotel room; after a long day of working and/or traveling away from home, the last thing you want when you go to turn in for the night is an unwelcome surprise.  DoubleTrees are exceptional at preventing those mishaps and, on a more positive note, ensuring that guests have clean, comfortable rooms, that they receive kind service (highlighted by warm cookies at check-in), and that they can enjoy a number of amenities (like a gym, a pool, a comfortable public work area).  While it’s far more stylish than its peers, the DoubleTree Madrid still has these basics down.

2019 hilton doubletree madrid 06 welcome cookie close up
The famous DoubleTree cookie, shown here in Madrid.

In late-2019, former United States President Barack Obama quipped:  “If I was just in the Hampton Inn… I’m good.”  He explains that his preference for a room in that Hilton brand is rooted in the simple-yet-functional designs of the former.  Among other things, he hates how complicated light switches can be in presidential suites, and really, all he wants to do is watch TV in bed before going to sleep.  The Hampton Inn consistently delivers on that, even if it isn’t flashy.

The potential appeal of DoubleTrees is similar.  If you’re someone who just wants a comfortable bed and a decently spacious room and a strong internet connection all with breakfast in the morning, a DoubleTree will more-than-likely exceed your expectations.  Something more traditionally “higher flyer” might look cooler, but, uh, that doesn’t always make for a good sleeping environment…

Obama Hampton Inn Circular Bed
Sure, this is cool, but is it practical?

The DoubleTree Madrid-Prado delivers on those promises of the DoubleTree brand, but it just so happens to look a whole lot better than its peers do.  No one party is in the wrong, but the management in Madrid did a fantastic job to separate itself (visually) from the pack.  It deserves all the praise given to it in the review, but not to the detriment of its comparatively-boring counterparts elsewhere in the world.

What do you think?  Are DoubleTrees underwhelmingly boring or are they sufficient?  Are they both?

“Another Weekend to Europe” Trip Report