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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.

  • Mark says:

    W don’t call their resorts “retreats”anymore, they refer to them as “escapes” and the concierge is “Whatever/Whenever”.

    I’ve just checked out of W Istanbul which was my 3rd stay. Have to say, although the hotel itself is looking a little bit tired, the service has been great. It helps that W Istanbul is very reasonably priced for a W hotel.

    Will be staying at W Koh Samui for 2nd time next month and have stayed in around 15 to 20 in the chain. As you can tell, I quite like them but the hotels in USA don’t even come close to the ones in Europe/ME/Asia.

  • modestpointscollector says:

    I’ve only been to the W Leicester Square and W Barcelona a handful of times for drinks, never stayed. London was fine (Decor fine, drinks very average) but Barcelona seems to be a magnet for a certain type of holiday maker in their 40s and 50s with a trophy wife or woman of the night or 2 in tow. Never been more delighted to be un-cool!

  • SamG says:

    I’ve only stayed at the W Singapore – which seems rather non-W, bland rooms, full of families and very quiet after about 8pm! Very nice hotel for a Sentosa “staycation” though

  • Robert says:

    I enjoyed a stay at the W San Diego in the early 00’s and they seemed ahead of the times back then. Not quite as cool as The Standard in West Hollywood though, that place took it to another level! I think they’re a chain now too.

  • Charles Martel says:

    Is this basically Moxy for people with money to burn?

    • Stu_N says:

      Yes. Spot on.

    • Track says:

      However, Moxy is a recent addition. W was there long time. The problem with Moxy I can’t balance on their single bed — the bed and mattress are too lightweight.

      Good W hotels are always purpose-built, not conversions. Same to say about any luxury hotel/resort: it has to be on their own estate, floor to ceiling windows etc. — not a building squeezed in a busy city centre.

    • Rhys says:

      Other way round – Moxy is like a W for people without money to burn!

  • Mike says:

    The W brand is a bit of a weird one and feels surprisingly dated already…
    They do have some great properties though
    W Koh Samui – has a top restaurant
    W Maldives – incredible value redemption, awesome island and snorkeling, and lovely staff

  • Jonathan says:

    Would you stay at the W in Dubai over any other Hotel for New Year?

    • Matt says:

      The Palm is a poor location for NYE – much better to stay downtown. I can recommend La Ville in Citywalk, it has a decent view of the Burj Khalifa (fireworks) from the pool/bar area.

  • Geoff 1977 says:

    “ whilst concierge is called ‘Whatever/Whenever‘.”

    The world has gone mad!

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

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