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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 and motels, and the sole purpose of both 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, hotels and motels are successful businesses.

A motel has many terms: a motor hotel, a motor inn, and a motor lodge. It’s a hotel that is designed specifically for motorists. Moreover, motels are mostly owned individually, but there are chains of motels.

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

There is a long list if we talk about the difference between a motel and a hotel. 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 guests will see when they arrive, and it has to make a lasting impression. Conversely, motels 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 a Hotel and a 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 depending on the type of hotel. Small and low-priced hotels may only provide basic services and facilities. Still, the bigger and high-priced hotel provides many additional facilities, like a swimming pool, childcare, tennis court, and many others.

There are 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, and the highest personalized service and professional service in capital cities. These international luxury hotels are categorized as Five Star Hotels, for example, Grand Hyatt, Conrad, The Peninsula, Rosewood, and The Ritz-Carlton.

Lifestyle luxury resorts

Lifestyle luxury resorts are hotels with 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 guests a unique experience. Moreover, they are also classified with Five Star Hotel ratings. Such resorts include Taj Hotels, Banyan Tree, and Waldorf Astoria.

Upscale full-service hotels

Such hotels provide guests with a wide range of services and 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 hotel’s quality of facilities and amenities. 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.

Some hotels are small to medium-sized 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-sized 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 “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, such as 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. They have a non-traditional pricing method, meaning a weekly rate that caters to travelers who 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 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 with 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.

You can find larger rooms with kitchenettes or apartment-like amenities in many motels, but the prices will be higher for such rooms. Motels are owned individually, but there are 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 a category that includes all the establishments where you can get paid for lodging for a specified period. There are many establishments, and every one provides different facilities and services, and every one 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, on-site restaurants, etc. Since hotels are a big investment, everything is usually of high quality, from towels to food.

On the other hand, a motel 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 and 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 catering to different 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 less than both hotels and motels as it’s of an unluxurious nature. 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

  • Hotels and motels both offer lodging but exhibit notable distinctions.
  • Motels, also known as motor hotels, cater to motorists. And they are often independently owned.
  • Hotels, including luxury, boutique, and budget, offer many amenities and services.
  • Motels typically have one or two floors with direct room access from the parking lot.
  • The history of motels dates back to when there was a demand for convenient overnight accommodations. These were specifically needed along highways for travelers.
  • The term “motel” originated from “motor hotel.”
  • Hotels typically have lobbies and multiple floors. Additionally, they offer various amenities like restaurants and swimming pools.
  • Hotels are generally more expensive than motels. This is due to their extensive services and amenities.

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