I Didn’t Want to Love It but I Have to Admit, Hilton Did a Solid Job With This New(ish) Brand

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There has been a trend by the major hotel chains to add hip brands, which I assume are targeted to millennials.  Every big company is trying to woo millennials, but they completely forget than millennials are known for shunning giant companies.

These brands almost always end up having all the appeal of a neon sign.  Maybe I’m a curmudgeon, but I think Marriott’s millennial brand – Aloft – is the worst.  And in the past, I only stayed there because I liked the old Starwood rewards program (which isn’t the case with Marriott Bonvoy).

Maybe it was just lowered expectations, but my first stay at Tru by Hilton, Hilton’s newer hip brand, was surprisingly pleasant.  And they generally aren’t expensive hotels with points or cash (if you are looking to book a stay with points, check out our guide to all the ways to earn Hilton points).

The breakfast at Tru by Hilton is as good as it gets for free breakfast for all

Tru by Hilton Review

If you want a truly unique experience, you’ll need to avoid the major chains or look into more expensive hotels.  But of all the hotel brands that were designed by a team sitting in a conference room on the 40th floor, Tru has a lot of features that make sense.

And it’s even a bit fun.

However, it’s not for everyone.  The biggest design failure is the absence of an in-room desk.  I get it.  It’s trying to be a cool co-working hostel-style hotel.  But if I was looking for a hostel experience, Tru would be truly (see what I did there?) disappointing.  I don’t think anyone is staying there in an attempt to make friends.

But for all its shortcomings, I think it stacks up well to your average chain hotel.


Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, although when a hotel has free breakfast included in the room rate I don’t expect much.  For the most part, the offerings are almost always the same.

But of all the free breakfasts I’ve had, I think Tru by Hilton edges out the others.  First off, they offer pretty much everything you would find at other free breakfast spreads.

The layout was nice, convenient, and seemed a bit more sanitary and clean then what I’ve come to expect.  Although that could vary depending on the specific Tru hotel.  I’ve only visited the one in Meridian, Idaho.

The breakfast now includes scrambled eggs, sausage, hard boiled eggs, apples, bananas, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, baked goods, and all sorts of cold cereals.  The quality wasn’t outstanding, but it was on par or slightly better than your typical free breakfast.

Brown eggs aren’t inherently healthier than white ones, but they do FEEL healthier.

And they also have some fun options I’ve never seen included with free breakfast, like bacon jam.  The apple butter made me especially happy because it brought me right back home to Amish-country Pennsylvania.

They also have the crown jewel of any free breakfast – a waffle iron!  And the options for waffle toppings were solid.


When it comes to hotel brands that are trying to be cool, the design can end up being annoying.  I get it that it looks nice to have 3 different colors of lights flashing in the elevator, but if I wanted that I’d go to a club.  Mercifully, Tru has mostly just standard lighting.

At first, I thought all the signs pointing out design features were hilarious and maybe a bit patronizing.  But I’m gonna be honest, without them, there might have been some useful features I would’ve missed.

I was able to deduce where to put my head, but raising the bed a few inches and creating luggage storage space is a nice touch.

The night light in the bathroom was the first one I’ve seen that was part of the light switch.  This makes so much sense.  When it’s dark the light switch is exactly the thing that should be lit up.

I’ve always felt that small individual hotel soap bars and shampoo bottle felt wasteful.  This is especially true for a one-night stay.  I feel guilty unwrapping a bar of soap to wash my hands once or twice.

Tru has hand soap, lotion, body wash, and shampoo dispensers by the sink and in the showers.  Not only does this create less waste, but it also must be easier for housekeeping.  I’m all for any win-win.

I’ve seen this in a few other hotels, but the design of Tru’s dispenser was better than most.  Just be careful with that first squeeze because it came out faster than I expected.

By far the best design feature was the outlets.  There are plenty of them, both in a room and in the shared spaces.  And almost all of them have USB plugs.

My pet peeve (first world problem) is having to adjust where or how I’m sitting so that I can charge my device.

Shared Space

Yes, the rooms don’t have desks, which for most is a deal breaker.  But if you don’t have work to do or you’re like me and prefer to not work and sleep in the same room, then Tru has better than average shared space.

The chairs are comfortable and most importantly, again, there are plenty of outlets.

I had a twinge of nostalgia for the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots but was much more interested in the USB outlets behind them.

They had a bunch of different party-style board games.  It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think Tru is a particularly good hotel for group travel or families.  So I don’t imagine they get used much.

The common areas were comfortable and well designed.

I’m a sucker for fun furniture, and I’m thinking really hard about adding one of these hanging chairs to my apartment.

Bottom Line

I enjoyed my stay at Tru by Hilton more than expected, but to be honest, my expectations weren’t very high.

It’s definitely not a hotel designed for long-term stays.  But if you’re looking for a one-night stay, you could do much worse.  And I think they’ve got one of the better (maybe best?) free breakfasts.  It’s definitely a step above what you’ll find at a Holiday Inn Express, for example.

But the rooms don’t have desks, which is a major inconvenience for most people.  Personally, I liked it better than the Aloft hotels I’ve stayed at and I’m interested to see how it compares to IHG’s new avid brand.

What are your feelings about the new hipster hotel brands (avid, Aloft, Tru)?

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