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What is a W Hotel? Everything you need to know about the ‘coolest’ hotel brand

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2023 will be the year that W Hotels celebrates its 25th anniversary. The brand has gone from strength to strength and you can now find these luxurious style icons in many major cities around the world as the brand continues an aggressive expansion plan.

In this article – the first in a new occasional series of overviews of the major global hotel brands – we look at the history of W Hotels, what you can expect when you stay at a W, future openings and a list of all our reviews of W hotels.

The W Hotels website is here.

W Dubai entrance
W Dubai

History of W Hotels

The first W Hotel to open was on Lexington Avenue, New York City, in 1998. The brand was founded by Starwood Hotels after it spotted a gap in the market for a more lifestyle and leisure focussed luxury hotel brand aimed at younger people.

(Ironically, the original property is now no longer part of the chain. It rebranded in 2018 – the brand had moved on by that point and it no longer compared well to newer openings – and closed for good in 2020.)

The idea behind the W was to create a fun, design-focussed hotel that took its influences from fashion, music and design rather than traditional business hotels.

Like IHG’s Kimpton chain, the brand maintains the luxury of top-class hotels but delivers a more casual experience, with staff in t-shirts rather than suits and a more personal, less stuffy service style.

The original W properties were converted from existing Starwood hotels, which placed restrictions on what could be done. As the chain grew it moved towards new-build openings which gave it more flexibility. The chain also moved further upmarket, a move driven by its customer base.

The first W to open in Europe was the W Istanbul in 2008, followed by the iconic W Barcelona in 2009. Other European properties currently open include Ibiza, Verbier, Amsterdam and London (Leicester Square).

There are currently around 60 W Hotels worldwide, with many more in the pipeline.

W Ibiza pools 1200
W Ibiza

Branding

Marriott categorises W Hotels in its top bracket of brands, under ‘distinctive luxury’.

Many W Hotels also offer serviced luxury apartments under the ‘Residences at the W’ brand. These let guests enjoy hotel-style living with access to all the amenities you can expect at a W Hotel including 24 hour concierge, daily housekeeping and more. There are currently 18 W Hotels with Residences.

W Escapes is a sub-brand which is used for ‘resort’ hotels in the portfolio.

W Hotels became part of the Marriott Bonvoy family in 2016, when Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels. You can now earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points at W Hotels worldwide. Our guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program is here.

W Edinburgh
W Edinburgh – coming soon

What you can expect at a W Hotel

W Hotels share a number of unique features that distinguish them from other hotel brands.

Instead of a lobby, you can expect to find a ‘Living Room’ that acts as a natural gathering place for the hotel with a bar and seating.

W Hotels have a unique naming convention for their guest rooms. Instead of traditional naming schemes, you can expect to find ‘Cozy’ and ‘Wonderful’ rooms all the way to ‘Fabulous’ and ‘Spectacular’ suites.

The top-category room is always called the ‘Extreme WOW Suite’ and you can expect to find this in every W Hotel or Resort. The room categories are usually as follows, from lowest to highest:

  • Cozy Room
  • Wonderful Room
  • Fabulous Room
  • Fantastic Room
  • Marvellous Room
  • Spectacular Suite
  • WOW Suite
  • Extreme WOW Suite
W Hotels MOMO toiletries

W Hotels use Davines MOMO and /skin regimen/ branded toiletries, which recently replaced the Bliss brand:

The shower gel, soap and body cream are exclusive to W Hotels, although you can buy them on the W Hotels shop.

Pools at W Hotels are called ‘WET Decks’ whilst concierge is called ‘Whatever/Whenever‘.

A big emphasis is placed on live music, with W Hotels many featuring their own nightclubs and hosting club nights with celebrated DJs. Music takes more of a chill vibe during the day, although you’ll still often find DJs mixing chillout music at the WET Deck. In the evenings you can expect more of a party vibe, particularly with WET Deck pool parties.

W Barcelona
W Barcelona

Future openings

W Hotels has expanded significantly in recent years, with openings in Rome, Melbourne, Osaka and more.

In the next few years W Hotels will open new properties in Edinburgh, the Algarve, Sydney, Dubai and Toronto.

Our W Hotel reviews

We have reviewed a number of W Hotels in recent years. Our review of the W Barcelona is here, whilst our review of the newly opened W Ibiza is here. We have also reviewed the W Dubai – The Palm.


How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (May 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (39)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    Long may W’s expansion continue, and thus draw fans of ‘wet decks’ away from the kind of hotels I actually stay at. I surely can’t be alone in falling into a demographic who was too uncool when young to ever wish to stay at a W; and now find myself far too fond of understated tastefulness and practicality to still ever wish to stay at a W.

    • WaynedP says:

      Spot on, ha ha.

      I was determined to remain open-minded, right through the somewhat daft room naming convention, until I got to live music, nightclubs and celebrated DJs and made a mental note to avoid in the same way I avoid entire locations like Ibiza and Magalouf. Everyone is much better off that way.

      Very interesting and informative article though, as always, thanks Rhys.

  • aso40 says:

    Is Ibiza not in Europe?

  • TimM says:

    The “coolest” hotels have no brand. The original idea of hotel chains was to cater for U.S. business people, not known for their cultural adaptability, to remain in their comfort zone when out of the country.

    Some of the tourist franchises such as Sentido were fun in that you got branded perfumed air and piped music collated by a small office in Milan for the whole World (I would like that job).

    Overall a brand is about lack of individualism and surprise – thus a dilution of the reason most people choose to travel.

    35 years ago I could have recommended the ‘youth hostel’ in Marmaris. It was newly-built and had the standards of a 3-star hotel with wonderful Turkish breakfasts at the roof-top cafe bar made more entertaining by the feuding between the owner-managers which made no two days the same. Or the 5-star hotel where we arrived as the very first guests of the season and the skeleton staff followed us wherever we went to offer ‘full service’. The eccentricities that can only come from individual management are some of my most treasured memories of travel. You don’t get this from hotels with brands, franchises or chains.

    Today’s “cool” is tomorrow’s laughable.

    • WaynedP says:

      Indeed !

      Experience has taught me to be skeptical whenever corporations set about trying to “create fun”.

  • Gfelling says:

    I think there is a W Hotel Verbier as well?

  • Matt says:

    W hotels on the whole are excellent (I had a fantastic trip last year to W Maldives), but the brand screams “trying too hard” – It would be much better if they tone it down and simply focus on delivering a great product.

  • dst87 says:

    Nice to see Edinburgh’s golden turd featuring on HfP this morning. 😂

    (I don’t mind it at all, but it has been a bit “marmite”. It’s a prominent addition to Edinburgh’s skyline.)

    • Andrew. says:

      Not really keen, but anything is better than the old St James buildings.

      I’d love to see it on a stormy night with lightning dancing off the tip of the golden jobbie.

  • N says:

    I get the W “thing”, but I wish their primary focus was being a 5 star hotel, rather than being whatever the suits in the boardroom think is “cool”.

    Good service and a good hard product should be number 1 for any 5 star hotel. If you want to add a “cool” element to it, then go for it, but make sure you’ve NAILED the service.

    My problem with the Ws that I’ve stayed at is that service has been patchy/obnoxious which I guess I’d be OK with if the underlying product was good.

    Unfortunately “cool” comes first for the W, with “good” being an afterthought.

  • John says:

    Whenever I see a W I think it stands for “way too expensive”.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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