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Motel Vs Hotel Vs Inn: Differences and Pros and Cons

When planning a trip, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is where you’re going to stay. There are a wide range of accommodation options to choose from. Three popular options include motels, hotels, and inns. The best accommodation for your trip depends on your travel needs, your budget, and your personal preference. To help you decide, this guide outlines the difference between a hotel and a motel. We’ll also outline some pros and cons of choosing a motel vs hotel vs inn. We’ll cover location, cost, cleanliness, amenities, comfort, security, and more. In addition, we’ll also talk about a couple of other accommodation options including hostels, lodges, and resorts. Hopefully, this guide helps you choose the perfect place to stay during your next trip.

A classic motel

What is a Motel?

A motel is a type of accommodation, specifically designed for short-term stays. Motels are usually located outside of cities near major roads and highways and along tourist routes. They cater to long-distance travelers who are just passing through.

Motels are an ideal accommodation option for those who need a place to stay overnight during their journey before continuing on the next day. They offer ample parking and are generally easier to access than traditional hotels. You simply pull off the highway and into the motel parking lot. You don’t have to drive through a city or deal with traffic to access a motel.

Motels often differ from hotels in design. Most traditional motels have 1 or 2 floors. They usually feature exterior corridors that lead to each room, with no interior hallways or passages. The door to motel rooms typically leads directly to the parking lot. You can park right in front of your room. This makes it easy to unload your vehicle and carry your luggage straight into your room.

Some motels also cater to long-term guests who live in the property for weeks or months at a time. These properties often feature a kitchenette in the room. Some motels serve a continental breakfast in the morning.

The term ‘motel’ combines the words ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’, which perfectly describes what these accommodations are all about. Motels provide those traveling by car with convenient overnight parking and rest before continuing on their journey. Motels are most common in North America but they are found in other parts of the world as well. Unlike other types of lodging like inns or hotels, motels offer an affordable alternative for those who don’t intend to stay in one area for too long.

What is a Hotel?

A hotel sign

Hotels offer short-term accommodation as well as a range of other services and amenities. Anyone can stay in a hotel including business travelers, vacationers, road trippers, luxury travelers, families, couples, and more.

In addition to rooms, hotels offer a wide range of amenities, facilities, and services. For example, most hotels offer a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a spa. Most hotels also have a bar and restaurant on-site and offer room service. Most hotels also have a gym or fitness center where you can work out. In addition, many hotels have conference rooms and event centers that you can rent for business meetings, weddings, parties, and other special events. Some hotels have a business center with printers and other basic office equipment. Higher-end hotels often have tennis courts and basketball courts. Some resort hotels even have a private golf course. 

Hotels also offer a range of services. There are valets to park your car, bellboys to move your luggage, a concierge to help you plan your trip, and room service to bring you food and drinks. Many hotels offer laundry service, limo drivers, tours, and other services.

Hotel rooms can offer higher-end amenities such as premium beds, linens, and toiletries. Suites are available with a kitchen, living area, and multiple bedrooms. Hotels are usually beautifully decorated and landscaped. They are luxurious.

Hotels can be classified by stars. One-star hotels are similar to motels. Five-star hotels are luxury resorts with all of the above amenities.

Hotels trace their roots back to inns in Medieval Europe. These establishments offered lodging for travelers who were passing through. The first modern hotels that served wealthier clients began operating in Europe during the 1700s. These days, there is a hotel in almost every town and village.

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

A double room in a hotel
A double room in a hotel

The main difference between hotels and motels is the amenities and services that are offered. Hotels offer more amenities and services than motels. When you stay in a hotel, you get more than a room to sleep in. Hotels often have a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, spa, fitness center, business center, conference room, and more. Motels offer fewer services. They don’t offer any extra amenities. They only offer a place to sleep.

The designs of hotels and motels are also different. Hotels are traditionally larger, multi-story buildings. In a hotel, guests pass through a lobby area and down hallways to get to their rooms. Large hotels can have hundreds of rooms. Motel rooms are typically accessed directly from outside of the building from the parking lot. Reception is a small room that is also accessible from the parking lot. Motels are generally much smaller establishments than hotels.

The locations are also different. Hotels are usually centrally located in cities, near business districts, or near tourist attractions. Motels are located near highways or other busy roadways, often on the edges of cities.

Another difference is the quality of the furnishings. Motels typically have lower-quality beds, linens, and furniture. Hotels come with premium beds, bedding, toiletries, and fixtures.

For these reasons, motels are more affordable than hotels. In addition to offering overnight accommodations for travelers, some motels also offer short-term rentals for people who need temporary housing solutions due to relocation or other reasons.

Of course, hotels and motels share many similarities. Both offer private rooms with private bathrooms. A basic hotel or motel room includes a TV, hair dryer, coffee maker, and an iron and ironing board. Both options cater to a wide range of travelers.

Both types of accommodation are widely available in the United States and Canada. Traditional American-style motels are less common in other parts of the world but they do exist. Hotels are found everywhere in the world.

A motel in New Jersey

Motel Vs Hotel

In this section, I’ll outline the main differences between motels and hotels.


Motels are usually located just off major highways and roadways, on the outskirts of towns or downtown areas, and near airports. Motels are conveniently located for people who are just passing through. You can pull off the highway, sleep for a night in a motel, and then continue your journey the next day. This makes motels ideal for long-distance travelers.

Hotels are usually located in the center of a city in a downtown area or near vacation areas. You’ll find hotels near business districts, convention centers, airports, tourist attractions, beaches, casinos, theme parks, or sports arenas. Pretty much anywhere a tourist or business traveler would need to stay, there is a hotel conveniently located nearby.

Motel vs Hotel Price

Motels are cheaper than hotels. On average, a room in a motel in the United States costs $45-$100 per night. Hotel rooms usually cost more than $100 per night. According to this article from Hotel Management, an average hotel room in the United States costs $149.90 per night. The sky is the limit for hotel rooms in terms of price. A luxury hotel might charge $300-$500 per night for a basic room. A suite in a luxury hotel can cost thousands of dollars per night.

Motels are cheaper than hotels for a number of reasons. First, they offer fewer amenities. You’re not paying for a spa or gym when you stay at a motel.

Motels also save money on labor. They don’t have a bellboy, concierge, security, or maintenance personnel. They usually only employ a receptionist and a couple of housekeepers. Oftentimes the owner works at the hotel. You might meet the owner working reception or see them cleaning rooms.

Motels also save on furnishings. They use cheaper beds, linens, toiletries, TVs, and furniture than hotels.

Motels are also located on cheaper land. Rent is lower on the edge of cities and in rural areas than in central locations.

All of this saves money, allowing motels to charge guests less per night.

Of course, the price of both motels and hotels varies greatly depending on their location. A motel room in an expensive area could cost more than a hotel room in an inexpensive area. You may pay more for a hotel room in Los Angeles than in rural Ohio.

The price of hotels also depends on the amenities available and the room you choose. A room in a 5-star resort-style hotel with a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, and private beach will cost more than a room in a 3-star budget hotel near an airport. A suite costs much more than a basic room. Budget hotels and limited service hotels are available that offer similar prices to motels.


A hotel pool
Most hotels have a pool

Hotels are known for providing a variety of amenities for their guests to help make their stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. One of the most popular amenities that can be found in most hotels is a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, and spa area. Some resort-style properties offer multiple swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) or even a private beach. A fitness center is also commonly found in most hotels, giving guests the opportunity to keep up with their workouts while away from home.

Additionally, many hotels have both a bar and restaurant with room service, making it easy and convenient to get meals without ever having to leave the property. Large hotels may offer multiple restaurants offering different types of cuisine. There may be a buffet, a steakhouse, and a cafe. Some large hotels have a casino and nightclub as well.

All hotel accommodations typically come equipped with complimentary WiFi access so their guests can stay connected. On top of these more conventional amenities, some hotels may offer conference rooms and event centers for business meetings or other special functions. Hotels that cater to business travelers may offer a business center with printers and office supplies.

Higher-end hotels offer premium beds and linens so that you can rest comfortably after a long day of activities. Hotels also offer basic toiletries as well as razors, shaving cream, bathrobes, and slippers. 

Hotels also offer more in-room amenities. Most hotel rooms come with a TV, iron and ironing board, coffee maker, and a hair dryer. Most hotels also offer a safe in the room to keep your valuables secure while you’re away.

Motels offer fewer services and amenities than hotels. Amenities can vary greatly from one property to another. Most motels only offer basic amenities such as rooms with no frills and free parking. However, some motels have started to offer more amenities in order to compete with hotels.

These days, many motels have a swimming pool. Motels that are designed for longer stays might include a mini fridge and microwave in the room or a kitchenette. Depending on the motel, guests may also be provided with basic toiletries such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, though not all motels provide these items.

Some motels serve a complimentary continental breakfast in the morning. This may include a variety of foods such as cereal, waffles, muffins or pastries, toast, coffee or tea, and juice. Additionally, most motels now offer complimentary Wi-Fi access so that travelers can stay connected while they are away from home.

Variety of Services Offered

Hotels offer a variety of services. Most hotels offer room service from their on-site restaurant. Many hotels offer spa services if you need some rest and relaxation. Concierge services are available if you need help booking a tour or sightseeing. Many hotels offer valet parking. There is a bellboy to help you with your heavy luggage. Sometimes a shuttle service or a driver is available to help you get around. Laundry service is usually available as well. Some resort hotels offer childcare. This is nice if you want to have a date night with your partner.

Hotels may also provide packages for special occasions that include additional services. For example, resorts may host weddings, parties, or large group gatherings. Some hotels offer special services for honeymoons and romantic getaways. Many larger hotels also offer conference and event venues. These are perfect for business meetings or other events. There are even conference hotels that specialize in hosting large events.

Motels offer fewer services than hotels. Oftentimes, there is some basic luxury such as laundry service and wake-up service. Motels don’t offer room service but you can order delivery from local restaurants through various food delivery apps such as Doordash or Uber eats. Of course, there is a housekeeping service. You will have a clean room every day when you stay in a motel.

Motel Vs Hotel Size

Hotels are larger than motels. According to Statista, an average upscale chain hotel has 313 rooms. An average economy chain hotel has 75 rooms. To compare, an average motel has less than 25 rooms. Some small roadside motels only have 8-15 rooms.

Design and Appearance of Hotels and Motels

Motels and hotels differ in design and appearance. Traditional motels have one or two floors with rooms that open directly to the outside. The rooms usually open toward the parking lot. There are no interior halls.

Motels are often built in I, L, or U shaped buildings with ample parking lots. This design gives guests the convenience of parking right in front of their room. This makes it quick and easy to unload your luggage at night and load up again in the morning.

Hotels are usually large structures with multiple stories and hundreds of rooms connected by long halls and elevators. You enter a hotel through the lobby. Hotel rooms open up to the hotel’s interior halls. Many hotel rooms offer private balconies for guests to enjoy the view and get some fresh air. Inside, hotels offer luxurious lobbies, lounges, in house restaurants, and spas.

Not all hotels are large. A boutique hotel is a small hotel that offers unique design touches. Boutique hotels typically range from 10 to 100 rooms. They focus on personalized services and high levels of comfort for guests. They often have distinct designs that set them apart from typical hotels, such as custom furniture, unique decor and art pieces, modern amenities, and even themed rooms. Boutique hotels offer a cozy atmosphere, attention to detail, and an exclusive feel.

A boutique hotel
A boutique hotel

Safety and Security at Hotels and Motels

Generally speaking, hotels are considered to be safer than motels. Hotels tend to feature more security measures. For example, most hotels have 24-hour reception staff, electronic key card systems, and CCTV monitoring of the entire property.

Plus, there are usually more people present at a hotel compared to a motel. There are door attendants, receptionists, bellboys, housekeepers, parking valets, managers, maintenance staff, cooks, bartenders, and more. Having so many people around can act as an added safety measure in case of any suspicious activity. Larger hotels have their own private security staff.

In addition, most hotel rooms have a built-in safe where you can lock your passport, cash, and other important documents as well as your valuable electronic devices such as your laptop, camera, and phone.

The design of hotel rooms also makes them safer. In order for a thief or criminal to enter, they would need to pass through the lobby. They would also have to pass through hotel security. The rooms open to interior halls. They are not accessible from the outside.

Motels are also considered safe but they can be a bit less safe than hotels. At many smaller motels, the reception closes at night. There is usually a bell that you can ring to call the receptionist. Nobody is keeping an eye on the property during the night.

There are fewer people around when you stay at a hotel. The whole place might be run by two people. Most motel rooms also don’t have a safe for your valuables.

It is also easier for thieves or other criminals to access a motel room. Most motel rooms open to the outside. Anyone could walk right up to your motel room door. This makes it much easier for a criminal to reach your room.

The door to a motel room
A typical motel room entrance.

Hotels and motels are both safe accommodation options. At some properties, theft is an issue. If something goes missing from your room, chances are an employee took it. Theft in hotels and motels is rare but not unheard of. Particularly at lower-end properties. Most staff members are honest. Once in a while, a dishonest housekeeper or even a hotel manager may steal from a guest. 

To be safe, it’s best to store all of your valuables in your suitcase while you’re out. Lock your suitcase. If there is a safe in the room, use it. It is unlikely for a hotel staff member to break a luggage lock or open the room safe.

Motel Vs Hotel Cleanliness

The cleanliness of motels and hotels often depends on the individual property and its level of upkeep. Generally, hotels are thought to be cleaner. This is because hotels have more resources to work with. They can afford professional housekeeping services.

Hotels also often employ higher standards, such as using hypoallergenic cleaning products, laundering bedding every day, and following cleaning protocols set by management. Chain hotels set strict cleanliness standards that all locations must follow. When you stay in a chain hotel, you know it will be clean.

In addition, hotels can afford professional pest control services. You won’t find bed bugs, ants, or cockroaches in your hotel room.

On the other hand, motels may not have these same standards in place. Many motels are independent. Some are spotlessly clean while others are filthy. Most motel operators work hard to ensure high levels of cleanliness throughout their establishment.

When you check into a motel or a hotel, it’s a good idea to check for bed bugs, regardless of the cleanliness of the property. If you bring these home with you, they can be extremely difficult to get rid of. For more info, check out my guide to avoiding bed bugs while traveling.


Hotel receptionists

Hotel and motel staff can vary greatly depending on the size of the establishment and its level of service. Hotel staff are professional and well-trained. They often have a higher degree of customer service skills. Many hotel employees have been formally trained in the hospitality industry. Either in school or by the company they work for.

Hotels also tend to employ a larger staff base with designated roles for each employee. Everyone performs their own job. There are door attendants, receptionists, bellboys, parking valets, housekeepers, managers, cooks, bartenders, and more. Hotel staff members are always dressed in uniform.

On the other hand, motels usually have fewer staff members per shift and may not have the same level of professionalism or experience. Oftentimes, the employees were not formally trained in the hospitality industry. The same staff member may also perform multiple jobs. For example, at some small hotels, the person working reception may also help clean rooms and do maintenance tasks.

However, motel owners will often go the extra mile to make sure their guests have a great stay. Many motels are family businesses. Because motels are smaller, many motel owners are able to personalize the service. The owner might check you in and offer you some information on local attractions. They will do their best to make sure you have a positive experience.

Motel Vs Hotel Atmosphere

A luxury hotel

Hotel and motel environments have widely different vibes. Hotels tend to be modern, clean, and meticulously maintained. They are also active. Reception is always open. There are always people around. Hotels also tend to be more upscale. They often have higher-end furniture and appliances as well as newer and better-quality bedding and towels. Hotels are also located in better neighborhoods, such as the city centers, touristy areas, and wealthy neighborhoods. Hotels also tend to use light-colored bedding, towels, and paint. This makes the room feel bright and welcoming. This all adds to the atmosphere.

Motels are usually clean and pleasant. Some motels have a run-down and depressing atmosphere. Motels are usually located in areas with lower real estate values. The neighborhoods where motels are located can be less than desirable. Motels that are located near airports or on the edge of cities can be kind of boring. There isn’t much around.

Some motels are also neglected. In such cases, the carpets may be stained or the paint may be peeling. Broken fixtures may remain unaddressed. Sometimes the design is outdated. I’ve stayed in motels that look like they haven’t been updated since the 70s. These properties feel a bit run-down. For whatever reason, many motels also use darker-colored bedding, carpeting, and wallpaper. This makes the rooms feel a bit dim and depressing.

Motels that welcome long-term guests also have a bit of a sad atmosphere. The people living there are usually down on their luck or homeless. If you’re on vacation, you may not want to put yourself in this type of environment.

Of course, not all hotels are like this. There are plenty of modern motels with a more hotel-like atmosphere.

Duration of Stay

The duration of stay in a hotel or motel depends entirely on the guests’ needs. Hotels are usually designed to provide short-term stays. At most hotels, the average stay ranges from 1 to 3 days. Hotels also welcome long-term guests. Staying at a hotel long-term gets pricey.

Motels, on the other hand, typically offer both short-term and longer stays. Motels offer basic rooms for those who just need a place to sleep for the night.

Many motels also offer weekly and monthly rates for long-term guests. For long-term guests, motels often offer rooms with a kitchenette.

How Long Can You Stay in a Motel or Hotel?

Generally, there is no limit to the number of days you can stay in a motel or hotel. Some establishments even offer weekly or monthly discounts or extended-stay packages for longer stays over several months. You can stay as long as you keep paying.

Having said this, it is important to check with the motel prior to staying to make sure their policies are suitable for your needs and that you understand any rules or restrictions regarding the length of stay. Some properties have a maximum stay. This maximum stay is often 14 nights.

Sometimes there are local regulations that limit how long you can stay in a hotel. Hotels are designated for short-term stays. They aren’t long-term accommodations. In some jurisdictions, if a guest stays more than a certain number of days, they may become a tenant. There are different sets of laws for tenants and hotel guests. Tenants may have more rights. Hotels may not want to deal with this so they set a stay limit to avoid it.

Can You Stay in a Hotel or Motel for a Few Hours?

Yes. You can stay in a hotel for just a few hours. If you’re just passing through, you might check in late at night and check out early in the morning. You may only stay in the room for a few hours. In this case, you’ll usually have to pay for the entire night. Most hotels do not offer stay options for just a few hours.

There are some exceptions. Some hotels offer hourly rates for shorter stays. For example, love hotels typically offer this option for couples. Oftentimes there are 1-3 hour packages. Some airport hotels also offer hourly accommodation options for those who need to rest during a long layover. Check with the property before booking to see what types of shorter stay options are available.

A hotel room with a balcony

Who Should Stay in a Hotel?

  • Business travelers are one of the primary target audiences for hotels, as they often need a place to stay that can provide convenience and comfort during work trips. Hotels typically include amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi, in house restaurants, conference rooms, and meeting spaces to accommodate business travelers’ needs. Many business hotel rooms have comfortable chair and desk where business travelers can work. There are often hotels located near business districts and conference centers. This makes hotels convenient for business travelers.

  • Those seeking luxurious services may prefer to stay in a hotel as opposed to other accommodation options due to the wide range of upscale amenities available. Many hotels offer suites with comfortable beds, high-end linens, room service, spa services, private swimming pools or hot tubs, fitness centers, restaurants, bars, etc. You can order food and drinks anywhere on the property. If you want to be pampered and waited on, you’re better off staying in a hotel. All hotels offer basic luxury.

  • Tourists can benefit from staying in a hotel due to their proximity to attractions and cultural sites. Additionally, many luxury hotels provide concierge services that can help guests book activities and make reservations. This makes it easier to explore the city without having to do too much research beforehand. This is nice if you’re traveling to an area you’re not familiar with.

  • Vacationers who want more space or privacy may prefer staying in a hotel since many have multiple rooms or suites that are larger than what is typically offered at a motel. In addition to providing more space for guests, these types of accommodations typically come with additional amenities such as kitchenettes or laundry facilities that make it easier for those traveling with families or groups of friends who need more flexibility while on vacation. 

  • Those seeking adventure can also benefit from choosing a hotel over a motel. Hotels can offer guests unique experiences not found anywhere else. For example, if you want to go skiing, you could stay in a ski resort. If you want to go surfing, you could stay in a surf hotel. If you’re planning a safari in Africa, you could stay in a safari lodge. Some resorts offer activities such as parasailing, surf lessons, dancing, zip lining, etc. which provide an unforgettable experience for travelers looking for something out of the ordinary during their stay.

  • Those hosting a large event can choose to stay in conference hotels. These properties offer special services for large gatherings such as weddings, business conferences, and family get-togethers.

Entering a hotel room

Who Should Stay in a Motel?

  • People who are on a tight budget and need an affordable place to stay overnight can benefit from motels. They offer clean and comfortable rooms with all the basic amenities, such as bedding, towels, and toiletries, at a fraction of the cost of larger hotels. If you can’t afford to stay in luxury hotels, motels are an excellent alternative.

  • If you’re on a road trip, you may consider staying in a motel because of greater convenience. You can simply pull off the highway and into a motel parking lot without having to drive through the city. You can park right in front of your room and quickly unload your luggage. In the morning, you can load everything back up and hit the road well-rested. Motels are easy to find. While driving down the highway, you’ll see signs for them every time you pass through a town.

  • Those who don’t care about services and amenities can save money by staying in a motel instead of a hotel. If you don’t plan to use the swimming pool or gym or order room service, you might as well stay in a cheaper motel and save the money. There is no reason to stay in an expensive hotel if you’re not going to take advantage of any of the amenities. When you stay in a hotel, you’re paying for the amenities whether you use them or not. They are built into the price of the room. You might as well choose a property with fewer services.

  • Those who need a temporary place to live may consider staying in a motel. For example, those experiencing homelessness sometimes stay in motels. They pay by the week or month. Maybe you have bad credit or are unemployed. Maybe you don’t have enough money to pay first and last months rent and a deposit. In these cases, you may have trouble renting a home. A motel may be the best option for temporary accommodation until you can get back on your feet. Motels can be a lifesaver in these difficult situations.

  • Business travelers who require short overnight stays may choose to stay in a motel instead of booking into a hotel due to the lower price and less luxurious but still comfortable experience offered by motels. 

A typical hotel room

How Do I Choose a Good Hotel or Motel?

  1. Research – Before choosing a hotel or motel, do some research. Read up on reviews and see what other people have said about the properties you’re considering. Check reviews on different websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Reviews to get multiple perspectives from those who have stayed there before. Check for negative reviews regarding cleanliness, bed bugs, the location, the staff, and more. Reading reviews helps you weed out bad properties quickly and easily.

  2. Amenities – Consider the amenities offered by each hotel or motel. Determine what services you need for your stay and make sure the property offers them. Some basic amenities may include free breakfast, Wi-Fi access, a swimming pool, room service, ample parking, gym access, etc. If a property doesn’t offer the amenities you need, keep looking. If there are amenities you don’t need, you might keep looking for a cheaper property. These days, pretty much all hotels and motels offer basic amenities including Wifi, toiletries, and towels.

  3. Budget – Generally speaking hotels are more expensive than motels so consider your budget before making a final decision about where to stay. Motels might be able to offer more affordable options for those traveling on a tight budget. If you’re on a tight budget, you could also consider budget hotels and limited-service hotels.

  4. Location – Make sure that the property is close to attractions or points of interest that you need. You may look for a property near a particular tourist attraction, airport, convention center, or shopping center so that transportation won’t be an issue during your stay. 

  5. Availability- If the property has a vacancy for the dates you need, book it. If you’re traveling during the busy season or during a holiday or special event, you may need to book far in advance to ensure that you get a room.

Popular Hotel Brands

  • Mariott

  • Holiday Inn

  • Four Seasons

  • Best Western

  • InterContinental

  • Hyatt

  • Hilton

  • Sheraton

  • Comfort Inn

  • Radisson

These are some of the larger hotel chains. There are also many independently run luxury hotels, boutique hotels, and budget hotels with a single location.

Popular Motel Brands

  • Motel 6

  • Super 8

  • Econo Lodge

  • Knights Inn

  • America’s Best Value Inn

Of course, there are also many independently run motels. Many are family businesses with one location.

Other Types of Accommodation

Hotels and motels aren’t your only paid lodging options. You could also stay in an Airbnb or a hostel. Another great option is camping. In this section, I’ll outline a few other accommodation options to consider.

What is an Inn?

An inn is a type of paid lodging that is usually located in a rural area or small town. You’ll often find them in the country along highways. Inns are usually smaller than hotels but larger than motels. Like motels, inns cater to travelers who are just passing through.

Inns offer fewer amenities than hotels. The Basic amenities you might find in an inn include Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a TV, toiletries, a coffee maker, free parking, and laundry facilities. Most Inns also serve a continental breakfast in the morning. Some even have a small restaurant that serves hot food items and drinks.

Inns are often family-owned and operated. They are typically decorated in the style of the local area. This creates a homey and cozy atmosphere and gives them an added layer of personal service and charm. There are also large chain inns such as Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn.

In terms of price, staying in an inn usually costs more than a motel but less than a hotel. Inns offer basic and affordable accommodation that is less luxurious than a hotel but a bit nicer than a motel.

What is a Resort?

A resort is a large, luxurious destination designed to provide guests with an all-inclusive vacation experience. Resorts offer everything a traveler could need all in one location. In addition to accommodation, resorts feature restaurants, bars, entertainment, activities, shopping, and other services all within one property. With so many services under one roof, you don’t have to leave the resort if you don’t want to. Resorts are full-service and self-contained properties.

The Las Vegas Strip
Hotels and resorts on the Las Vegas Strip

Within resorts, there are a wide range of amenities. There are often multiple swimming pools. There are spas where guests can indulge in beauty treatments like massages or manicures. Resorts may also feature fitness centers with specialized equipment and classes. There may be outdoor activities such as golf courses and tennis courts for guests to get some exercise. Many resorts also include other recreational facilities like water slides or rock climbing walls for added fun. Some resorts are connected to an amusement park. Resorts often feature shopping outlets as well. Many oceanfront resorts offer a private beach. Resorts also offer personal concierge services to take care of any needs that arise during your stay. Of course, resorts offer all of the basic amenities and services that standard hotels offer as well.

Resorts are located in popular tourist destinations around the world, from beach resorts in Mexico or Hawaii to ski resorts in Europe and North America. Resorts can also be found at more secluded spots on islands or lakes, tucked away in lush forests, or right on a city’s doorstep. There are resorts that are designed specifically for families, such as Disney resorts. Some resorts cater to couples.

What is a Hostel?

A hostel is a type of shared accommodation that is designed for budget travelers and backpackers. In a hostel, guests sleep on bunk beds in dorm rooms with other travelers. The bathrooms are also shared. Hostels cater to younger travelers. Some hostels also offer private rooms.

A hostel dorm room
A hostel dorm room

Hostels offer a number of shared facilities and amenities. In addition to dorms, there is always a common area where travelers can meet, read, talk, play board games, eat, drink, and hang out. Oftentimes, there is a separate dining area. Many hostels also offer a shared kitchen. You can buy your own food and can cook your own meals in the hostel. Some hostels have a bar and restaurant. Hostels also offer wifi. Many hostels include a simple breakfast in the morning.

Hostels are social places. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. Hostels encourage travelers to interact with one another. Many hostels host parties, communal dinners, tours, etc. Some hostels also have a travel agency where you can book tours. Hostels are a great option for solo travelers. When you stay in a hostel, you can meet fellow travelers to explore with.

For more info, check out my guide to hostels Vs Hotels.

A hotel pool with a skyline view

FAQ About Motels and Hotels

In this section, I’ll answer a few frequently asked questions about motels, hotels, inns, and other types of paid lodging.

Is a Motel or Hotel Better?

There is no definitive answer to which is better. Depending on your budget, travel needs, and personal preferences, a motel or hotel may be the better option.

Hotels are typically more expensive than motels but offer more amenities, such as a swimming pool, gym, onsite restaurant, and spa. Hotels are also more accommodating than motels. They generally have more staff available and offer additional services such as valet parking, concierge services, and room service. If you’re looking for luxurious services, stay in a hotel.

Motels are usually more basic in nature and tend to focus on affordability. Motel rooms are cheaper due to their location away from the city center, lower quality fixtures, and lack of amenities. Additionally, motels may offer special discounts for long-term stays.

The location is an important consideration as well. Hotels are usually centrally located whereas motels are usually located near highways. If you want to stay near a particular attraction, a hotel is usually the better choice. If you want to pull off the highway and sleep, motels are more convenient.

In summary, there is no single answer about whether a motel or hotel is better. It ultimately depends on your travel needs, personal preferences, and budget constraints. If you’re looking to save some money without sacrificing too much comfort then a motel might be the better option for you. If you’re seeking luxury and convenience then a hotel might be the best choice. Of course, both types of properties offer a clean and comfortable place to sleep.

Why is it Called a Motel instead of a Hotel?

The term ‘motel’ is believed to have emerged in the early 20th century as a combination of the words ‘motor’ and ‘hotel.’ Motels were originally called ‘motor hotels.’

These establishments provided lodging for travelers who were driving. They were targeted toward families and business people who were traveling by car.

The idea was that visitors driving into town could easily find a place to stay, hence why motels tended to be roadside rather than downtown. Motels were more conveniently located near highways and main roads, allowing travelers quick and easy access.

Motels were at their peak during the 1950s and 1960s. For more info on the history of motels, check out this interesting article from Smithsonian Magazine.

What’s the Difference Between an Inn and a Hotel?

The main difference between an inn and a hotel is that inns tend to be smaller and provide a more intimate experience than hotels. Inns typically have fewer rooms and fewer amenities than hotels. For example, most inns don’t have a fitness center, bar, or spa. Hotels tend to focus on providing luxurious services.

Additionally, inns are often family-run establishments. Hotels, on the other hand, are usually owned by larger corporations. Inns also tend to have a more homey or rustic decor while hotels are more corporate. The price is also different. Inns are usually cheaper than hotels.

What’s the Difference Between an Inn and a Motel?

The main difference between an inn and a motel is the location and type of accommodation offered. Inns are typically located in residential areas in smaller towns, rural areas, and in the country. Motels, on the other hand, tend to be located on the side of major roads and highways in commercial areas.

Inns are also decorated more intimately. The rooms have character. Motel rooms are usually designed for affordability. Fixtures may be cheaper.

The price is also different. Inns tend to be slightly more expensive than motels.

My Preference: Motels Vs Hotels

In my travels, I’ve stayed in plenty of motels and hotels. Personally, I prefer staying in hotels, when given the opportunity. I think everyone does. Hotels are more luxurious. They offer more amenities. They’re cleaner. The service also tends to be better. Staying in a hotel room is comfortable. It’s a vacation.

Sometimes hotels are out of my price range so I stay in a cheaper motel instead. I also tend to stay in motels while road tripping, out of convenience. Motels are usually located just off the highway.

When staying in a motel, I try to stay in a chain motel, such as a motel 6 or Super 8. These properties are usually clean and well-managed. The experience is always positive.

I have had a couple of negative experiences staying in small independently run motels. Sometimes they’re noisy. Sometimes there are shady-looking characters hanging around outside. On a couple of occasions, management has been kind of rude.

Final Thoughts About Staying in a Motel Vs Hotel Vs Inn

When deciding between a motel or hotel for your next trip, it’s important to consider your budget, travel needs, and personal preferences.

Hotels typically offer more luxury amenities while motels focus on affordability. If you need to stay near a particular attraction or in the city center, a hotel will offer a more convenient location. If you just need a place to sleep for the night, a motel may be the better choice. For those looking to stay someplace a bit nicer than a motel but don’t need the amenities of a hotel, consider an inn.

Ultimately, the choice between a motel vs hotel is entirely up to you. Both can provide a comfortable place to stay and create lasting memories of your journey. Whichever type of accommodation you choose, I hope this guide has helped you in making your decision.

Do you prefer to stay in motels or hotels when you travel? Share your experience in the comments below!

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