The difference between a hotel and a motel

Do you know the difference between a hotel and a motel?


Whether you’re the kind of traveler who loves to relax in a luxury resort or the kind for whom a hotel is nothing more than a place to crash, the place you choose to stay can make or break your holiday experience.

But even the most seasoned travelers can’t know what the difference is between the two main types of home-away-from-home. In addition to their first letter, there is a difference between hotels and motels?

Well, there is no simple, cut and dry answer. These two types of property have the same basic purpose—a place for travelers to crash—but there are plenty of features that set them apart.

For example, they came for different reasons and at very different times. The word “hotel” dates back to the 1600’s and comes from a French word, hôtel. That word, like the English, intended to be a place that provides lodging, meals, entertainment, and other services to travelers.

Motels, on the other hand, are a much more recent and almost exclusively American accommodation option. This word dates back to the 1920s and combines the words “hotel” and “engine.” As America’s most important highway of the system has developed, so has motels, filling the need for along the way stop for motorists traveling cross-country.


There are also some more subtle differences can help you figure out which place you are. Hotels tend to be built for a longer stay, while motels are more geared for one – or two-night stops along a journey.

Because of this, hotels are much more likely to have offers such as salons, gyms, and entertainment. While the hotels generally have lobbies, you’re more likely to get access to your motel room door directly from the parking lot. Hotels are also more in general in the middle of the action in a popular tourist destination. Motels, meanwhile, may have nothing around them but a piece of the public road.

As for the cost, the hotels tend to be more expensive as a whole, but also other things such as the size, the popularity, and the location can have a greater effect on the costs, motel versus hotel distinction. If you are looking for a less expensive option, check out America’s best value hotels.

So, in the end, it comes down to what you want out of your trip and your stay. You want the place you stay is just as much a part of your travel experience as something else? Choose for a hotel. Just need a place to pop in and out to shower and sleep? A motel might be the better choice. No matter which one you choose, make sure that you know these tips for a safe and healthy stay in the hotel.

This article originally appeared on Reader’s Digest.

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