From headaches at the airport to traffic jams to packing and unpacking, sometimes travel can be more trouble than it's worth. So sometimes, you just want to stay at a hotel that is familiar to you. A place that feels a little bit like home in a strange land. 

Another bonus to staying at a familiar hotel chain is that many of them have rewards programs that get you free stays. 

I travel a lot between my job as an occasional travel writer and as a hockey mom. When I'm in a new city, I love to stay at a local hotel, a bed-and-breakfast, something historical or unique. But when I'm on the road, needing a stop between towns or just a place to rest between hockey games, I go for chains. Over the past 18 months, I've stayed at nine different chain hotels. I've learned a lot about what I do like (tall ceilings, good air conditioning, refrigerators) and what I don't (windows that don't open, uncomfortable beds), so I thought I'd share what I've learned. 

Sure, it's possible that these particular examples are not great representations of the whole chain, but that's sort of the point. You expect a sameness when you stop at familiar names.  

Note: For prices here, we looked at an average king or double queen room on a weekday in late May, booked directly from the websites. 

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