MSN Money just today listed the 10 worst hotel chains in America based upon reports by both Consumer Reports and J. D. Power & Associates. At one time or another I have personally stayed at most of these chains, although it has been a while for some of them. One thing that can be noted quite easily from the list is that two parent chains dominate the list.
Choice Hotels, and Wyndham are all quite prevalent on the list. The higher level hotels associated with the chains are not listed, but the budget and intermediates are. Much of the problem seems to be bad upkeep. All of the hotels in a given chain are not equal. I have stayed at some Days Inns (part of Wyndham) that are really nice. Others are just a step above the Bates Motel. My only experience with Motel 6, which appears to be the third worst on the list, was not good to say the least. Most of the hotels associated with Motel 6 in the United States appear run-down. Driving across the TransCanada Highway, however, many of the towns had a Motel 6 that looked as good or better than most of the other chains in the area.
Unless a hotel is associated with a high-end chain, it is always good to look at the reviews on Expedia.com or Trip Advisor to see what other travelers have said about a given hotel. Of course, it is probably a good idea to avoid the specific hotels listed in the 10 worst hotel chains piece, especially if the pictures are any indication of the "value" they provide.