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What’s The Difference Between a Hotel and a Motel?

What’s The Difference Between a Hotel and a Motel?

There are thousands of hotels as well as motels, and the sole purpose of both of them is to provide a room to a person who wants to stay in one, however, every little thing about both of them is different. Moreover, as there are many types of people, both hotels and motels are successful businesses.

A motel has many terms which are a motor hotel, motor inn, as well as a motor lodge. It’s a hotel that is designed for specifically motorists, moreover, motels are mostly owned individually, but there’re chains of motels.

A hotel provides paid lodging short-term. Facilities that are provided by a hotel ranges from what type of hotel it is. Most hotels will have a modest-quality mattress, but hotels that are quite big establishments have higher-quality beds.

If we talk about the difference between a motel and a hotel, there will be a long list, however, there are significant differences. A hotel is a large and enclosed building that consists of hundreds of rooms and multiple floors, whereas a motel mostly has one or two floors with fewer rooms. Moreover, hotels have huge lobbies because it’s the first room that the guest will see when they arrive, and it has to make a lasting impression. Motels on the other hand don’t have any big or fancy lobbies, even the room entrances are outdoor.

Here is a table for the differences between a hotel and a motel.

There are different kinds of hotelsA motel is a type of hotel
A hotel provides additional amenities and servicesMotel only provides basic amenities
Hotels are big and luxurious Everting in a motel is of low-quality
The difference between Hotel and Motel

Keep reading to know more.

What is a hotel?

a luxury hotel
There are different kinds of hotels.

A hotel is a huge establishment that provides paid lodging and the facilities range on what type of a hotel it is. Small and low-priced hotels may only provide basic services and facilities, but the bigger and high-priced hotel provides many additional facilities, like a swimming pool, childcare, tennis court, and many other.

There’re many types of hotels and here is a list of them:

  • International luxury
  • Lifestyle luxury resorts
  • Upscale full-service hotels
  • Boutique
  • Focused or select service
  • Economy and limited service
  • Extended stay
  • Timeshare resorts
  • Destination clubs
  • Motel
  • Micro stay

Let’s go through them one by one.

International luxury

Such hotels provide high-quality amenities, on-site restaurants, full-service accommodations, as well as the highest level of personalized service and professional service in capital cities. These international luxury hotels are categorized as Five Star Hotel, for example, Grand Hyatt, Conrad, The Peninsula, Rosewood, and The Ritz-Carlton.

Lifestyle luxury resorts

Lifestyle luxury resorts are hotels that have an appealing lifestyle or personal image in a specific location. Typically, these hotels are full-service and are classified as luxurious. The most different aspect such resorts have is the lifestyle, they focus solely on giving a guest a unique experience, moreover, they are also classified with Five Star Hotel ratings. Examples of such resorts are Taj Hotels, Banyan Tree, and Waldorf Astoria.

Upscale full-service hotels

Such hotels provide a wide range of services to the guests as well as on-site facilities. Most common amenities include on-site food and beverage (room service and restaurants), a fitness center, and a business center. These hotels range in quality from upscale to luxury, moreover, this classification depends on the quality of facilities and amenities that the hotel is offering. Examples: Kimpton Hotels, W Hotels, and Marriott.


Boutique hotels are small, independent, and non-branded establishments. Such types of hotels provide mid-scale to upscale facilities with full-accommodations. Furthermore, Boutique hotels generally have 100 or fewer rooms.

Focused or select service

A neon sign that says Hotel
Some hotels cater to a specific type of people.

There are hotels that are small to medium size and provide only limited on-site amenities that mostly cater to a specific type of people which are travelers. Many focused or select-service hotels may provide full-service accommodations, however, they might not offer amenities, such as a swimming pool. Examples of focused or select-service hotels are Hyatt Place and Hilton Garden Inn.

Economy and limited service

These hotels are small to medium size and offer only limited on-site amenities and often basic accommodations with almost zero amount of services. These hotels mostly cater to specific travelers, such as the budget-minded traveler looking for a “no-frills” accommodation. Economy and limited-service hotels lack on-site restaurants, however, they make up for it by offering complimentary food and beverage amenities, in other words, an on-site continental breakfast service. Examples:  Ibis Budget and Fairfield Inn.

Extended stay

These hotels are small to medium-sized and provide full-service accommodations for a long period of time and they have a non-traditional pricing method, meaning a weekly rate that caters to travelers that need short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Moreover, on-site amenities are limited and most extended stay hotels don’t have an on-site restaurant. Examples: Staybridge Suites and Extended Stay America.

Timeshare resorts

Timeshare is a type of property ownership, meaning a person will have to purchase a unit of accommodation for seasonal usage for a specified period of time. The amenities of Timeshare resorts are similar to full-service hotels, which means that these resorts don’t have on-site restaurants, swimming pools, and other amenities. Examples include Westgate Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Destination clubs

Destination clubs are similar to Timeshare resorts, it also includes purchasing an individual unit of accommodations. However, these clubs offer more exclusive private accommodations, for instance, private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.


A motel is a small-sized lodging building that has direct access to rooms from the car park. Motels are mostly for road travelers, quite common from the 1950s to 1960s. Such establishments are located on a major highway, moreover, motels are considered places for romantic assignations in many parts of the world. Primarily, motels are rented by the hour.

Micro Stay

Micro stay is a type of hotel that offers booking for less than 24 hours, this action allows them to resell the same room as many times as possible in a day, this way there’s an increase in revenue.

What is a motel?

a motel
Motel falls under the category of Hotel.

A motel is also known as a motor hotel, motor lodge, and motor inn. It’s specifically designed for motorists, every room is entered directly from the parking lot.

A motel is a single building with connected rooms, furthermore, motels are built in an “I”-, “L”-, or “U”-shaped layout, it includes an attached manager’s office, a small area for reception, and a small diner and a swimming pool which is rare.

In many motels, you can find larger rooms that consist of kitchenettes or apartment-like amenities, but the prices will be higher for such rooms. Motels are owned individually, but there’re motel chains.

In the 1920s, large highway systems were developed which resulted in long-distance traveling, thus there was a need for cheap, easily accessible overnight accommodation sites, which are now known by the term Motel.

After world war II, the very word motel was coined as a portmanteau of “motor hotel” originating from the Milestone Mo-Tel of San Luis Obispo, California which is now known as the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo built in the year 1925.

Why is it called a motel instead of a hotel?

A hotel is basically a category that includes all the establishments where you can get paid lodging for a specified period of time. There are many establishments and every one of them provides different facilities and services and every one of them is built differently. For instance: International luxury hotels, Focused or select-service hotels, and Boutique-hotels.

A motel is also called a motor hotel as it falls under the category of a Hotel. However, Hotels and motels are different, mostly all the hotels have lobbies, but a motel doesn’t. In a motel, you can enter a room directly from the parking area, but in a hotel, there are many lobbies and stairways.

Here is a video that dives deep into the difference between a hotel and a motel.

Hotel VS Motel

What is more expensive a hotel or a motel?

A hotel is more expensive than a motel as a hotel provides many facilities that a motel doesn’t. With a hotel, you will get to enjoy amenities like a swimming pool and on-site restaurants etc. Since hotels are a big investment, from towels to food, everything is usually of high quality.

Motel on the other hand only provides a room that is not so fancy and doesn’t have any amenities like a hotel, however, some motels do have a swimming pool and a small diner.

What is the difference between a hotel, motel, and inn?

The difference between hotels, motels, and inns is that hotels are bigger than motels as well as Inns with larger rooms and motels are bigger than Inns. The hotel provides many additional amenities and motels provide basic amenities, but Inns don’t provide any amenities. Moreover, hotel rooms are rented for a day, but motels and inns are rented for hours.

Hotels, Motels, and Inns are three different establishments that cater to different kinds of people. However, motels and Inn can be similar to each other in many aspects.

Inns like motel also provide short-term lodging services to people, mostly travelers, and offers limited food and drink services. They cost lesser than both hotels and motels as it’s of unluxurious nature. Primarily, Inns can be found in any part of the country, but mostly along the motorways.

a bed
Hotels, motels, and inns are different.

To Conclude

A hotel is a category in which all the establishments are included that offer paid lodging and a motel is also a type of hotel. Most hostels are of big rooms and are big buildings with multiple floors, motel on the other hand has only one or two floors and a building faces the parking area, meaning you can enter a room directly from the parking lot.

There are many hotels and every one of them provides different amenities and services which makes them different from one another.

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