7 Surprising Differences Between Hotels and Motels

If you ask people around what is the basic difference between a hotel and a motel – about 70-80% won’t be able to give you the answer. Whether you’re traveling on business or simply on vacation, a hotel/motel stay is bound to come your way.

Such establishments have revolutionized accommodations allowing for a somewhat unrestrained lodging for all sorts of people. There’s just something about a reserved stay that can be somehow exciting no matter what you’re doing.

Nevertheless, hotels can be very different from motels, and an unplanned choice can go a long way. A lot of people use the two words interchangeably, but you’d be surprised by the stark differences between the hotels and motels.


What is a Hotel?

Hotel and motel comparison

Hotels are generally defined as “establishments that provide paid lodging”. Most people are familiar with the basic proceedings that go on in hotels as you’re more likely to encounter one that you are a motel. Hotels typically offer short-term stays, and most people reserve rooms for numbered days or months.

Hotels vary in architecture from place to place, but a basic structure can be drawn out which pretty much sets the line between hotels and motels. A Hotel is normally a building with a ground-floor reception hall that leads up to interior rooms that open up to a common hallway.

Through star ratings, hotels are set on a quality scale that determines their offers’ value and validity.

Nevertheless, all hotels provide, to a certain level, a sense of luxury that accompanies the person throughout his stay (that’s why hotels are generally more expensive than motels); aside from room service, hotels can be considered as compact communities offering numerous sites for customer comfort and entertainment (pools, business halls, gyms, arcades, clubs, restaurants, etc.) along with revolving staff attention.

Hotels are usually found near business districts, airports, downtown spaces, vacation sites, sports arenas, etc.

You may also want to read the differences between hotel and inn.


What is a Motel?

Motel photo

Both hotels and motels offer lodging, but each establishment regards offers differently. Basically, motels are considered to be less “posh” than hotels but with the standing offer of long-term stays. This view of motels can be highly perspective considering how dependent the matter is for the owner.

Motels are more convenient for meeting basic needs and are generally less expensive than hotel reservations. Due to that, motels don’t really stress on presentation as hotels do; individually-owned, motels just give it to you as it is.

Motels are known to defy the interior room concept offering rooms which open up to the outside of the building. A common hallway connects them all, and it usually overlooks a parking lot.

Motels aren’t given star ratings (except on some travel sites), and the element of luxury is normally absent or simply minimal. Room service and several others additions offered by hotels aren’t always available.

Due to its “emergency-meeting” vibe, motels are usually found along highways, town outskirts, and rural areas in general.

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Differences Between Hotels and Motels

Here is a hotel vs. motel comparison table to help you pinpoint all the key differences between those establishments:



  • Hotels offer short-term and occasionally long-term lodging.
  • Motels readily accept long and short-term lodging.
  • A sense of luxury and entertainment accompanies you throughout your stay.
  • Motels don’t really stress on luxury and entertainment.
  • Hotel ownership is usually branched, and it deals with several investments.
  • Motels are usually individually-owned although there are motel chains in some places.
  • Hotels are more expensive due to the abundance of comfort options.
  • Motels are typically less expensive due to minimal comfort options.
  • Hotels can be found next to airports, arenas, freeways, business districts, etc.
  • Motels are usually found in rural areas and on the outskirts of towns.
  • Hotels have interior rooms which open up to a common hallway.
  • Motels have rooms that open up to an exterior hallway and a parking lot.
  • Room service is essential for hotels.
  • Room service may or may not be available.


These seven differences can summarize the differences in short. Hopefully, you won’t get confused the next time you’ll decide a hotel or motel!


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