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Perhaps you like to cook while you’re on vacation, or maybe you’re planning on staying in a hotel for the long-term while things are worked out in your current living condition. Or maybe you really want to rack up your hotel rewards points. Either way, you’ve arrived at this article looking for your new (temporary) kitchen. And I’m here to help!
As a certified pro in the hotel kitchen world, I’ll be breaking down the best of the best options if you’re looking for a solid hotel kitchen. I’ve been consistently traveling the United States, and I’ve stayed in more hotels than you can count.
The good, the bad, and the ugly. In this article, I’ll be breaking down what to look for in a hotel kitchen, the best hotel chains with kitchens, and answering some frequently asked questions.
Let’s get cooking!
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re looking for a top-tier hotel with a built-in kitchen, Element by Westin is my best recommendation. Featuring all the amenities of a normal hotel kitchen (refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, heating range,) this hotel has it all.
My absolute favorite part is that all of their gear is sustainable, and uses low-energy solutions in an attempt to save the planet! Thus, I can feel good about where I’m staying and cooking!
Selection Criteria for Hotel Kitchens
Before we get into any specifics here, I want to outline some of the things I look for in a hotel kitchen. Obviously, this will be slightly different for everyone, but I want to provide some perspective on what is worth the extra money, and what isn’t.
Kitchen vs Kitchenette
The first thing you’ll notice when searching is the term “kitchenette,” which is, unfortunately, a vague term for “smaller kitchen.”
There’s no exact definition of what this universally entails, so you’ll have to dig a little deeper. Usually, this means you’ll get a sink, mini-fridge, and microwave, at the bare minimum. But don’t expect a full kitchen with a stove, heating range, dishwasher, and full-sized fridge.
I’d say the number one most important thing to look for in a hotel kitchen is a sink. Without a sink, you can’t do dishes, and without dishes, there’s no food. Obviously, you could use the bathroom sink, but I wouldn’t rely on it.
They can easily get clogged, and often times the faucet is low enough that filling pots/pans with water or doing dishes is terribly inconvenient. Prioritize the sink, everything else can be improvised.
The next most important component is a fridge. The fridge is used to store all of your fruits, vegetables, or frozen/cold meals. It’s also helpful in storing leftovers if you make too much or eat out and want to save some food for later.
Without a fridge to store cold items, you’re going to have to go shopping every time you want to eat… Which can become a time issue. It’s also important for items like meat, chicken, or seafood, which shouldn’t be left out.
The next most important item on your list should be a microwave. It’s probably the most basic way of heating something up, but it opens an entire world of microwavable food. You can also use microwaves in a variety of creative ways to heat up veggies, meat, and even pasta if you have the right tools.
Check out some of the “As Seen on TV” product lines… You’ll see all sorts of gadgets and gimmicks that allow you to cook seemingly exotic foods with a simple microwave.
The cornerstone of any kitchen is a heating range. If you can find a hotel that supports one of these, you can basically make anything. I love a good heating range for making eggs and bacon, frying up some veggies in the afternoon, and cooking chicken/steak meals for dinner.
One thing to keep in mind is that if your hotel features a heating range, it will most likely come with some basic pots and pans to use it. Don’t worry about bringing your own until you check out what they have!
Since hotels are all about convenience, it’s hard to find a hotel that features a kitchen and doesn’t include a dishwasher. They want to make your stay as pleasant as possible, which generally doesn’t mean doing dishes. (Although I do sometimes wonder if the dishwasher is more to help out the maids than the customers…)
One pro-tip is to remember to set your dishwasher on during the day while you’re out and about… That way you don’t have to hear it running all night! Most of the dishwashers in hotels aren’t “top of the line,” and they can be quite loud at times.
An oven is the “over the top, but not necessary” kitchen component. Almost everything that can be made in an oven can be made on a heating range, so it’s often seen as a “luxury” in the hotel cooking world. However, if you can find one, you’re in luck. I’d imagine these suites become a higher priority around Thanksgiving.
I wanted to include a note on kitchen gadgets. Things in the likes of toasters, blenders, fancy stirring devices… These are really heavily dependent upon the actual hotel brand that you are going with. The more features the kitchen comes with, the more likely you will see some of these more “premium” gadgets.
It’s also worth noting that it might be cheaper to simply purchase cheap versions of these gadgets if you use them often, instead of paying a higher monthly amount for a higher-status kitchen. You can find cheap blenders and toasters at department stores for under $20.
Best Hotel Chains with Kitchens
Alright, now that we know what we’re looking for in a hotel kitchen, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this article. I’m going to list the best hotel chains featuring kitchens (or kitchenettes,) but not in any particular order.
The Staybridge Suites are a great option for a hotel if you’re looking for a kitchen. I actually lived in one for several months while waiting to move into a new home, and it was a very pleasant experience. They come with a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, heating range, and even a dishwasher, ice maker, and toaster.
It felt exactly like a second home to me. The best part is that Staybridge Suites all have free continental breakfasts in the morning and often have an evening “social hour,” where you can get all sorts of breakfast items and snacks if you don’t want to cook for every meal!
This creates a great community setting, which I found perfect for the transition period until I found a new home. Nothing like meeting a couple of friends along the way!
Homewoods Suites have almost 500 locations across North America, which means they’re easy to find if you’re in a rush for a hotel. These suites all come with full-sized refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, and stovetops.
The best part is since they are owned by Hilton, they have a complimentary grocery shopping service if you’re not in the mood to go to the grocery store. I love getting late-night snacks delivered straight to my room, especially if it’s been a long day and I’m ready for a movie night! Homewood Suites also have free continental breakfasts and social hours on certain nights of the week.
The Candlewood Suites is a brand owned by IHG, and they are great because they allow you to “rent” out different appliances for your room, depending on your needs.
For example, you can borrow a waffle maker, crock pot, blender, or any other mainstream gadget you can think of. I always take this as an opportunity to rent out some gear I’ve never owned before and cook some new recipes. The first time I stayed at Candlewood Suites I tried out a crock-pot for the first time, and ended up loving it so much I bought one when I left!
On top of this, their units come with a microwave, dishwasher, heating range, and full-sized fridge. Out of all the brands, I would say Candlewood Suites seems to have the most pots/pans in their suites as well, which is a nice touch.
Homes and Villas by Marriot International
Homes and Villas is a vacation rental company that features exotic houses and villas. The idea is that you’re renting out an entire home, instead of just a hotel room. Similar to how Airbnb works, except these houses, are all run by Marriot. This means that they all include some variation of a full kitchen, and come with utensils and various appliances.
It’s a nice alternative if you’re looking for a more “private” vacation. By this I mean maybe you don’t want to be in a hotel with hundreds of other guests, or maybe you want to have a party at your place that’s far enough away from the public to get a little rowdy!
The Home2 Suites is a brand owned by Hilton that has suites with a heating range, full-sized fridge, and dishwasher. They also have a variety of appliances that can be rented from the front desk. The real kicker is that some of these hotels have outdoor grills that can be used.
I always like to meet a couple of friends in the lobby area, and offer to cook up some brats and burgers for them! It’s a great way to make some new acquaintances and enjoy your time at the hotel. Not many hotels have these nowadays, and it’s a fun way to get outside for a bit and grill up some veggies or steaks.
The Element is a hotel by Westin that stands out by offering energy-efficient appliances in all their hotel kitchens. As sustainability is becoming a more popular asset of brands in today’s world, Element is one of the first companies to embrace this mindset with their kitchens. I always feel good when I stay at an Element.
They come with a full-sized refrigerator, a microwave, dishwasher, and heating range. To put the cherry on top, they come stocked with a ton of pots and pans- more than most other hotel chains on the market.
Extended Stay America
Extended Stay America is another hotel that features a full kitchen. This means it comes with full-sized refrigerators, stoves, sinks, and dishwashers. The crazy thing is that there are over 600 Extended Stay America across the United States! If you’re looking for a good deal, this is a fantastic hotel to go to especially if you join their Extended Perk$ program.
I usually stay at Extended Stay America when I’m in a time crunch. Maybe I had to make new plans at the last minute, or maybe I just forgot to book a hotel! There are so many of them across the United States that it’s convenient to show up. And I know I’m going to get a quality room!
Hilton Grand Vacations
The Hilton Grand Vacations line of rooms is similar to Homes and Villas by Marriot in that they are individual properties that can be rented out. You’ll generally find these locations in much more luxurious spots, as you’ll be renting out an entire house/villa!
Depending on the property, you’ll get various degrees of a full kitchen, but most of the time it is complete. You may even get lucky with a few spices and oils in the cabinets if you’re in a nicer one…
My favorite part about Hilton Grand Vacations is that they genuinely feel like nice homes and villas. It feels like a luxury experience, almost as if it’s straight out of a travel magazine. If you’re truly looking for a top quality place to spend your vacation and don’t have a low budget, I couldn’t recommend a Hilton Grand Vacations spot enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Generally, a full kitchen in a hotel means that it has a full-sized refrigerator, a microwave, a stove, and possibly a dishwasher. You’ll also get a number of pots, pans, utensils, and gadgets to cook with. Depending on the hotel, you may be able to “rent” additional appliances, like a waffle iron for example.
Answer: The idea is that most people come to hotels temporarily on vacation or business, and like to spend their time eating local foods. Most of the time it doesn’t make sense for hotels to include full kitchens in every room, thus you’ll find special hotels that are designed with long-term stays in mind. These hotels also generally have “social hours,” to help provide a sense of community to longer-term residents.
Answer: The main difference between a kitchen and a kitchenette is that a kitchenette usually only includes a sink and possibly a microwave and/or minifridge. It depends heavily on the location. Full kitchens usually include heating ranges, full-sized refrigerators, dishwashers, and a variety of pots, pans, and utensils.
Answer: In general, yes. You’ll find hotels that include kitchens to be a bit more expensive because they require more utilities and maintenance to keep up with. The good thing is if you’re on a hotel rewards program, you’ll be able to rack up points much faster with the additional costs! You may even get a free upgrade to a room with a kitchen if you’re loyal to a company long enough…
In my opinion, most of the hotels listed above will fit the bill for your kitchen needs. But if I had to pick one, I would say the Element by Westin is my favorite on the list. Although they can be a bit pricier, they have sustainable appliances which make me feel great when I’m cooking.
The kitchens also look and feel modern, which is a great touch. If I’m staying in a hotel for a long enough time to require a kitchen, I think it’s worth it to go out all out, especially because it’s likely you’ll be a bit on edge while you’re transitioning into your new living space.
I hope this article has been helpful to you in finding a hotel chain that can fit your kitchen needs! I can already smell the great food you’ll be cooking up…
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