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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


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.

Other guides in this series

Confused about the differences between all of Marriott Bonvoy’s 30+ hotel brands? We’ve written a series of guides to explain what you can expect:

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 2023)

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is doubled to 40,000 Bonvoy points – and you get a free night voucher too! Apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 bonus points and a free night voucher – only until 30th May! 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 Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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.

  • Peter K says:

    Thanks for the info. This confirms what I suspected, that W hotels are not for me.

    Helping us know what to avoid is just as important on a travel blog as helping us know where is worth trying out.

  • BP says:

    Never stayed in one but the Sunday brunch in W Hong Kong was excellent. Very convenient for heading to the airport on the train straight after while a little drunk!

    • Stu_N says:

      I preferred gins and snacks at Ozone in the Ritz Carlton but each to their own.

  • MKB says:

    From various W hotels I have stayed at, I would say the idea for the ones that are conversions rather than new builds, is to take properties where the infrastructure doesn’t cut the mustard as a luxury brand, turn the lights down low, and hope people can’t see pass the faux trendiness.

    The ambient music is what I would call nightclub muzak: beats that no-one would actually feel moved to dance to, but airheads of the influencer/Made-in-Chelsea type think create a cool vibe.

    There are some good W hotels, but they are generally over-priced for what is essentially four-star service.

  • Red says:

    Fascinating and insightful profile of W hotels. Reminds me of a conversation with a PR guru about positioning: ‘Any business that portrays itself as being cool isn’t!’

  • Algor says:

    Good article, stayed in two W’s had similar thoughts.

    I’ve recently discovered Ned in London City and found it to be W + touch of luxury. Really loved the vibe of the place and after few visits for drinks and dinner stayed in their … cosy room.

    Would defiantly recommend to fellow HFPers who are working in the area to unwind after work or coming to London to stay in relaxed place.

    This comes from long standing Hilton loyalist who after years got bored of the ‘Hilton way’, it is good to try something else once in a while despite holding top status in a chain.

    • Rob says:

      Should have told us … we would have waved at you out of our office window 🙂

  • NorskSaint says:

    Just stayed in the W Muscat, it’s been open 3yrs I believe now.

    Couldn’t argue with anyone else’s comments. The hotel was great, service I have to say was impeccable (but was related to occupancy level I’m sure) and the rooms were well done, if you looked beyond the trying to hard statement pieces.

    Maybe that leads me on to my final thought, of does W really know what it is, and what it’s trying to be. I didn’t see any young people staying at the hotel, I was the youngest in my *cough cough* thirties and I find W hotels far too pretentious for my liking.

    Fortunately with a good deal I could look beyond it, but I certainly wouldn’t stay at W Dubai, Barcelona, Ibiza etc as I can recognise the crowd it wants to attract.

    • Rhys says:

      Actually, the W Ibiza has been my favourite so far. Very laid back – helps that it is not in Ibiza Town.

    • TJ says:

      Stayed there when it first opened…it was very quiet and low-key then even though it was during the Christmas peak period. We were hugely impressed and had some of the best food we have ever experienced in any hotel restaurant.

  • johnny_c-l says:

    I’ve only tried the W Istanbul but was left with the clear impression that W is all about style over service. I’ve not got any desire to visit other Ws.

  • shilly says:

    Stayed at the W in Koh Samui with 2 teenagers and I have to say we all loved it. The accommodation was excellent as was the service so wouldn’t mind on that basis trying a few others.

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

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