I haven’t experienced the bot / inflated visitor count issue on WP Engine, but I’ll keep an eye out for it. I currently have 2 large sites hosted there. I find WP Engine good for clients who don’t have much in house IT savvy.
If you’re looking to support a smaller shop and get more personalized support, I’ve enjoyed doing business with The Temple Host. I email them at support at thetemplehost dot com with the specs of the client project I’m working on and they always set me up with just the right amount of hosting. Prices don’t ballon each year. Great uptime. So refreshing. Heard about them through a friend. I think word of mouth might be their thing because I don’t understand how they offer such great hosting and support so cheap except for maybe the fact that they don’t have unnecessary bells and whistles on their own website hosting panel. It all works and is easy to navigate, but it’s not cPanel, they don’t offer a knowledge base, beginner tutorials, etc. They just offer solid hosting and support.