Update June 2020: I am no longer a customer of Hostgator and neither do I recommend them. I prefer the smaller hosting companies, and I'll be updating my blog with my new recommendations soon.
I currently run several websites for various ventures and had been looking around for a reliable web hosting service for some time; and if I've learnt something, it's that the best web hosting companies are not always the small players or the very big players. In fact you can disregard what platform they use to host on, where they are based (it doesn't matter any more if they are European or US based) and how much free space you get. If you want to find the best web hosting package, the most important single factor to consider in my opinion is the quality of support, and I'll explain why.
Many hosting companies offer the world for $1 a month, or £1.99 for the first 2 months, but if the staff don't have their heart in the company, then the service will ultimately be poor. Many comments online tell you that if you pay next to nothing, then you should expect the same. They also say that Unlimited offers of bandwidth and space are a bad idea because it means the platform hardware is likely to be oversubscribed. However, all this means is that the support staff will get more complaints of slow service and the staff are likely to care more about what they are having for dinner than about your hosting experience.
It may be that you never intend to use the hosting company support desks, and most of us hope that we won't have to, but if the hosting company has motivated and capable support staff, it says a lot about the quality of the service itself. No one likes to be moaned at day in, day out, so a high turn over of staff = more service. Take the top 3 "best web hosting" companies that pop up all the time. Hostgator, GoDaddy and in the UK, Fasthosts. Now look at what they offer. The all offer the same sort of packages, and all of them could be considered "cheap" hosting. But look at the comments on support services, and you'll see that Hostgator are consistently praised for their support. In my book, that's good enough to recommend them. Aligned with the fact that they have some good offers on Black Friday deals, I don't think you can go far wrong. I am affiliated with them, but only because I love the product and want others to benefit from my research and experience.