A hotel provides paid lodging to tourists and may also provide a number of other services or amenities, such as a restaurant, swimming pool, and/or spa. Many hotels are also arranged to hold conferences and meetings, thus making them useful locations for business meetups. A rating system of one to five stars exists as a means to compare the quality of hotels and their amenities.

Motel is a word derived from the term "motorist's hotel." This was a term used to indicate when a hotel provided ample parking, a feature that is particularly useful to Americans and Canadians who frequently travel long distances on major highway and interstate systems. Initially, motel rooms had doors that faced the parking lot, making coming and going especially easy. Today, this may or may not be the case, as some motels now have inward-facing doors that connect to common areas.

Comparison chart

Hotel versus Motel comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartHotelMotel
Definition An establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis only and provides numerous amenities to guests which may increase their lodging satisfaction. An establishment that provides short-term and long-term lodging usually located with good access to the national road network but with less guest comforts.
Appearance Single, Multi-storied, or Varies; has rooms that open to interior of the building. Single, or double storied building with connected rooms; has open walkways, exterior entrances.
Cost Usually More expensive than Motels- however prices range with star-ratings, room types, amenities, location, nicer accommodations/rooms, etc. Often Less expensive than Hotels due to lack of amenities, basic rooms, locations, etc
Location Situated anywhere within a city or village. Often near business districts, airports, downtown areas, attractions, freeways, vacation areas, within/near casinos, sports arenas, and other places. Usually situated on highways, but can also be found near outskirts of towns, many places where you would find hotels, rural areas, and other places.
Stars Found with star rating for quality.1-5 stars. No star rating is considered, but most are rated as 1.5-2.5 stars on travel sites.
Amenities More amenities- like 1 or more pools (indoor and/or outdoor), jacuzzi, fitness center, arcade/game room, banquet/meeting facilities, business center, WI-fi, different room levels (standard, premium, family suites, jacuzzi suites, etc), among others. Minimal amenities- usually no pools (outdoor if there is one), jacuzzi, business or fitness centers, or any other amenities listed under hotels.
Brand Examples Holiday Inn, Best Western, Marriot, Comfort Inn, Sheraton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Radisson, and many more. Some may be franchises with motel-like layouts, but still have hotel features. Econo Lodge, Knights Inn, Motel 6, Super 8, and several other chains are usually motels.


Motels differ from hotels in their emphasis on largely anonymous interactions between owners and occupants, their location along highways (as opposed to urban cores), and their usual orientation to the outside (in contrast to hotels whose doors typically face an interior hallway). Motels almost by definition included a parking lot, while older hotels were not built with automobile parking in mind. Many hotels in cities may charge for parking.


Hotels generally have restaurants and room service.

In motels, room service may or may not be available. However, many motels offer free "continental" breakfasts — that is, a light morning meal of cereal, breakfast breads, fruits, juices, coffees, and teas.


Hotels can be cheap or expensive, depending upon the amenities and quality of service provided. Motels are cheaper than hotels as they offer very basic amenities.


A hotel may provide facilities for swimming, spa treatments, and other recreational needs, as well as rooms for business/conference needs. Motels are less likely to offer specialized services, but may sometimes have an outdoor pool. Both hotels and motels generally offer internet services.


Hotels are frequently targeted toward those seeking a "getaway" or at least some basic luxury. As such, hotels are often well-designed and frequently remodeled. Motels are more about meeting basic needs — providing a place to sleep and wash — and so design is not an important factor in most cases. However, this can vary a lot from place to place due to local competition.

Duration of stay

A motel is targeted toward those travelling on the highway who want a break from their journey. A hotel is targeted at all sorts of people, such as business people, travelers, students, etc. Even so, few motels or hotels will turn away long-stays, and motels in particularly are often amenable to extended stays.


With specialization of services, hotels have diversified and extended their services. There are many types of hotels these days, for example: Boutique Hotels, Garden Hotels, Underwater hotels etc. While Motels can either be short term accommodation or long term accommodation motels.


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