Whats The Difference Between A Hotel And A Motel

When planning a trip or vacation, choosing the right accommodation is a key decision. Two common options are hotels and motels. While they may seem interchangeable, there are important differences between the two. In this article, we’ll explore those differences, and help you decide which option might be best for you.

First, let’s define a hotel. A hotel is a commercial establishment that offers lodging, meals, and other services for travelers and tourists. Hotels typically have a wide range of amenities, such as fitness centers, pools, restaurants, and lounges. They also tend to have more guest rooms than motels, which can range from a dozen to several hundred. Hotels often offer upscale accommodations, and many are part of large chains.

Now let’s examine motels. The word “motel” is a portmanteau of “motor” and “hotel”. It was originally used to describe roadside accommodations for motorists on long trips. Today, motels are typically smaller than hotels, with fewer amenities. For example, a motel may offer a continental breakfast, but usually not a full-service restaurant. Motels also tend to have exterior corridors, rather than interior hallways like hotels. In terms of the number of rooms, motels usually have fewer than hotels, with some having as few as ten rooms.

So, what are the key differences between hotels and motels? Here are some to consider:


Hotels are often located in destination spots, such as city centers or near tourist attractions. They may also be part of large complexes, such as casinos or resorts. Motels, on the other hand, are often found along highways or in suburban areas. This distinction is rooted in the history of motels, which were originally built to provide accommodations for people traveling by car.


As mentioned above, hotels tend to offer far more amenities than motels. For example, a hotel may have a spa, a business center, and multiple restaurants on site. Motels may have fewer amenities, such as a small gym or a swimming pool. However, they usually offer more basic amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and parking.


Hotels are generally more expensive than motels, due to the larger rooms and more extensive amenities. Motels are often the more economical option for travelers on a budget.


Hotels generally offer more extensive service than motels. For example, hotels often have a concierge desk and room service. They may also offer valet parking, and bellhops to help with luggage. Motels, on the other hand, usually have a front desk with limited hours. Guests may have to carry their own luggage to their room.


Hotels tend to offer more privacy than motels. In a hotel, guests enter their room from an interior hallway, which can provide a sense of greater security. In a motel, guests enter their room from an exterior door, which can feel less secure. Additionally, motels may have more transient guests than hotels, due to their location along highways.

So which option is best for you? It depends on your individual needs and preferences. Some travelers may prefer the luxurious amenities of a hotel, while others may prefer the simplicity and cost savings of a motel. Here are some factors to consider:

Length of stay

If you’re planning a longer stay, a hotel may be a better option. The larger rooms and more extensive amenities can make a long-term stay more comfortable. However, if you’re only staying for a night or two, a motel may be perfectly sufficient.


If you’re on a tight budget, a motel will probably be the more economical choice. However, it’s worth comparing prices, as sometimes a hotel may offer a special deal or promotion that makes it more affordable.


Consider where you’ll be spending most of your time. If you’re visiting a city and plan to spend your days exploring museums and landmarks, a hotel in the city center may be the best option. If you’re driving along a highway and just need a place to spend the night, a motel will likely suffice.


In summary, hotels and motels both offer accommodation for travelers, but there are important differences to consider. Hotels tend to offer more amenities, larger guest rooms, and more extensive services, while motels are typically smaller, less expensive, and offer more basic amenities. Consider your individual needs and preferences when choosing between the two. Regardless of which you choose, make sure to book in advance to secure the best rates and availability.