HostGator is also a the-world-for-a-buck host albeit possibly the best one. If you aren't pushing many hundreds of Gigabytes transfer per month I'd choose a host with a set, realistic (= low) transfer limit or else you'll end up in between users who may now and then tear down the server with their high usage sites.
I have not had a virtual account for ages.
Liquidweb is supposed to have superb always-on support but I never used them personally.
Cyberwurx.com had the best support I experienced personally but that was for a server. Cyberwurx has also a very good reputation and has been around since 10 years or so.
all-inkl.com has a very good reputation in Germany in case you speak German
Make sure you get mod_deflate or gzip enabled on web server level so you don't have to deal with it. Also a PHP cache such as XCache improves speed considerably. Short geographical distance between server and website visitors also helps, as well as a non-oversold quality network with good troughput rates. You can test this by asking the provider for a test download link. They'll provide a 10 or 100 MByte file which you download at different times of the day over and over and let others in other countries (where you visitors are from) also download them, or use test sites which offer speed test services such as http://internetsupervision.com/
(try to compare pages with lots of text or html or else short pages will have an advantage at internetsupervision and appear to be faster)