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Hotel vs Motel vs Inn: What’s the Difference?

Hotel vs Motel vs Inn: What’s the Difference?

Your decision of hotel vs motel vs inn can have a dramatic impact on your adventure, vacation, or business travels. Here is a distinct guide to help you understand the differences between all three.

You are about to set off on an adventure, which means that you need to plan where you are going to stay during your travels. These days, there are many options for accommodation.

Plan for the right sleeping accommodations for your adventure. Hotels, motels, and inns offer distinct characteristics.

You can stay at a hotel vs motel vs inn! What are the key differences between a hotel, motel, and inn?

What are the pros and cons of staying at each one?

With travel hacking, you need to know what hotels are best for your stay, location, and price.

Hotels

What is a hotel? A hotel is a location that provides accommodation, meals, and other services to travelers.

Hotels are a place where travelers can create a home base while they sightsee or conduct business.

What is a Hotel?

A hotel is paid lodging for travelers or tourists on a short-term or long-term basis up to a few weeks.

They provide a comfortable home-like environment with basic amenities as well as luxurious services such as restaurants, swimming pools, a spa, gym, casinos, etc.

Hotels range from one to five-star ratings, with five-star offering the most luxurious facilities and services. Some hotels also accommodate conferences and meetings for business officials.

The charges of a hotel depend on its amenities, ratings, location, and the popularity of its brand name. You can expect to pay more for your stay at Marriott than at the Holiday Inn.

Travelers tend to stay at one hotel for the entire duration of their stay, but what are the pros and cons of a hotel?

Image of a Hotel Room

Pros of a Hotel

  1. Proximity

One of the biggest appeals of staying in a hotel is its proximity to other locations. Most hotels are located downtown or in metropolitan areas, often next to airports, business districts, or tourist destinations.

Their proximity makes it easy for travelers to get to where they want to go without the hassle of driving or taking public transportation.

In addition, they are prime locations for travelers who are attending conferences or public events.

  1. Extensive Amenities & Staff

Travelers looking to enjoy their accommodation as much as their destination can find pleasure in staying in a hotel. Hotels tend to be much larger than a motel or inn, which means that they have the resources to hire well-qualified staff and supply luxurious amenities.

Plus, there are a ton of different types of hotel rooms out there that you can book to enjoy your stay.

Depending on how large the hotel is, it can include personnel such as a concierge, event planner, bellhops, valets, and more.

Again, depending on the size of the hotel, their amenities can include pools, gyms, spas, high-speed internet, shuttles, in-house restaurants, and more.

One of the Hotel Rooms at Pulitzer
  1. Variety of Service

Hotels have many options available to fit the needs of every traveler. They offer a variety of room styles, from simple to luxurious, depending on your budget.

Besides, hotels provide the ability for long-term service.

While most accommodations have a short maximum stay, hotels can be booked for months, which is terrific for people attending training, relocating, or conducting extensive business.

Beyond service, there is also a massive variety of types of hotels such as:

  • Boutique hotel
  • Luxury hotel
  • Budget hotel
  • Extended stay hotel
  • Sustainable hotel

The list goes on. There’s even more micro-niche types of hotels beyond the above as well.

See Related: Where Should You Travel For Your Birthday

Cons of a Hotel

  1. More Expensive

Hotels can be grand, offering many fantastic amenities, but this means that they are often expensive.

Hotels can easily range from hundreds to thousands of dollars a night. Given their high demand, they may also book out far in advance or become more expensive as the number of rooms available decreases.

As well, most hotels do not have a cooking space; this means that you are forced to eat out all the time, which drives up the cost of your vacation even more.

Lastly, there can be hidden costs that you aren’t expecting, such as the mini-fridge stocked with goods that you need to pay for at the end of your stay.

Think you’ve seen expensive? Check out these famous hotels in Paris (you’ll be surprised at how much they charge).

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  1. Large & Noisy

Hotels can be huge, with many rooms lined up in long hallways. This can mean lots of walking if you are placed on the far side of the hotel. These long hallways also allow for noise to travel.

If you are a light sleeper, it means that you may hear the dinging of the elevator, the crunching of an ice machine, or guests walking heavily in the hall.

Plus, hotels allow for some degree of anonymity, which can lead to noisy neighbors who may stay up late into the night.

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  1. Less Culture

With the fancy and all-encompassing amenities that hotels frequently provide, you may find yourself lacking culture on your vacation.

Hotels are generally culture neutral, which likely means that the food will be familiar to tourists, the decorations are modern, and the space similar to every other hotel.

If you spend a lot of time in your hotel, you won’t get to experience the traditions and the unique culture of the place you are visiting.

This is clearly location-specific as the Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam was one of the most cultural and unique experiences we’ve had at a hotel.

I used my American Express Platinum card to book with Fine Resorts & Hotels at that hotel.

Hotels likely won’t accept cash whereas motels are more likely to accept that as a form of payment.

I suggest you start building rewards balances to reduce the burden on your wallet for traveling. These are some of the best credit cards for travel.

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Motels

What is a motel? A “motel” is short for a “motorists hotel.”

Here is some more background on motels.

What is a Motel?

Initially, the term motel referred to a hotel located near a major highway route, with rooms facing a parking lot for easy coming and leaving.

Today, most motels have inward-facing doors that open in common areas, usually a parking lot.

Motels are meant for short-term stays as they have fewer amenities and services for guests. However, they provide easy access to a major road network, which makes it ideal for travelers wanting to hit the road at any moment.

Although motels rarely offer specialized service, some have an outdoor swimming pool for guests.

They also have internet access, which might not always work due to the location.

Why is it Called a Motel?

The term “motel” came from a blend of “motor” and “hotel” and entered the dictionaries after World War II. Motels began as inns along the countries’ major motorways, offering rest places to travelers and families on the road.

With developing highway routes in the 1920s, long-distance journeys increased the need for inexpensive and easily accessible lodgings near the main routes.

This led to a growth in the concept of motels that provided a place to stay overnight.

Today, a motel refers to a building that provides some services of a hotel, minus the luxuries. Only a handful of motels in big cities have additional facilities such as an on-site swimming pool or an eatery for guests.

What are the differences from a hotel vs a motel?

Hotel vs Motel: What’s the Difference?

While hotels are designed for people who are on vacation, motels are created for people who are merely passing through the area.

Motels fall within the subcategory of hotels, so the difference is not very striking. The primary differences between hotels and motels are in the price and the duration of stay.

The hotels located at ideal locations cost more than a motel in a less expensive area of the country. However, motels situated in big cities such as New York or Los Angeles will cost similar to a four-star hotel.

When it comes to the duration of stay for guests, hotels are for longer stays. They are mostly located in cities with a wide range of attractions, so the guests stay for an extended duration.

Some hotels are even known as “extended-stay hotels”, as they are built for guests who want to stay for weeks or even months.

Since hotels are usually for longer stays, they offer a wider range of services, including room service, on-site restaurants and bars, spas, and gyms.

A few hotels even offer more extensive services usually found in resorts, including casinos and theaters.

Motels are better for shorter stays of up to a week and provide travelers a place to spend a night or two. Some guests stay at motels for several weeks while looking for permanent accommodation in a new city or town.

Traditionally, motels offer fewer services than hotels, but there are exceptions. Some motels have swimming pools and provide complimentary breakfast during your stay.

Typically, motels are located alongside significant roads where travelers stop for the night before continuing on.

Image of a Motel
Motels tend to have standardization

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What is Cheaper a Motel or Hotel?

Hotels usually offer more than just a place to sleep. As they are a kind of “getaway” for travelers, they are likely to provide at least some basic luxury such as on-site restaurants, swimming pools, spa, and gyms.

With luxurious services and comforts, the cost of a hotel room averages at $180 per night.

While you can get an idea from this, the costs can vary widely based on the hotel’s location and amenities. Apart from a place to sleep, the more luxurious you want, the longer your bill will be.

On the other hand, motels don’t offer such a wide range of facilities, which is why they are less expensive. They are only designed to meet guests’ basic needs, which is providing a place to rest and wash.

An average motel with very basic amenities costs anywhere between $45 to $100 per night.

Proper motels are solely made to provide a resting place for travelers, so luxuries are not an important factor in most of them.

Still, the final costs will depend on the location and quality of services of the motel.

Pros of a Motel

  1. Low Budget

Motels are excellent for budget travelers. They are a cheap and easy way to get a good night’s sleep. In addition, most motels come with a continental breakfast. This means that you can get up and grab a decent bite to eat before heading on your way.

  1. Vehicle Convenience

Motels are usually only one or two stories high, extending lengthwise instead of by height. This is fantastic for motorists because it means that they can usually park right outside of their door.

This means that they don’t have to take a lot of time to lug in all of their stuff, and they can keep an eye on their car.

  1. Road Tripping

Motels are perfect for people who are road tripping given their convenient location along major roads, the ability to park your car right next to the door, and lower prices.

They almost always have availability, meaning you can walk right in and get a room for the night.

Most road trippers tend to stay in motels because they can arrive in the evening, grab a cheap room, get some rest, eat a light breakfast, and then head off without the worry of booking in advance or hidden costs.

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Cons of a Motel

  1. Few Amenities

Motels are cheap; therefore, they do not have as many amenities as other locations. Generally, there will be only a couple of staff present to help you with your needs.

Usually, they have breakfast, occasionally a pool, but that is it. If you are looking for a tourist destination, you will not find what you are looking for in a motel.

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  1. Dirty

As we have said before, motels are cheap, which means that they aren’t always 100% clean. The training of the cleaning staff may not always be perfect, and sometimes they are overloaded with work.

While many motels are perfectly clean, there is the possibility of coming across one where you won’t even want to take your shoes off.

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  1. Unsafe

Given that the location of motels are often alongside major roads, they are not always the safest. The difference between hotels and motels is that entry doors are placed on the exterior walls, meaning that anyone could come up to your door or car.

It is always wise to make sure your room is securely locked and that all of your belongings are inside of the room, instead of being left in the car.

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Inns

Coming across an inn is not as common as it once was. Inns are generally older houses or buildings that have been converted into lodging fit for a small number of people.

They are usually located in rural destinations and are similar to a bed & breakfast.

What is an Inn?

Similar to motels, inns provide short-term lodging services to travelers, along with limited food and drink services. However, they usually cost lesser than both hotels and motels because of their unluxurious nature.

Inns can be in any part of a country, especially along the motorways where people seek accommodation for a day or two.

Even though inns don’t have separate restaurants for food, they have small sections that offer limited cuisines.

Room service and other luxurious additions are not common to inns, and most don’t have star ratings except on travel sites that rate noticeable lodges in a country.

Image of an Inn
Inns can be quiet charming

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

Hotels and inns mainly differ in their prices and stay duration for guests. Hotels are located in the middle of cities and allow their guests to stay for more extended periods of weeks and months.

Most hotels offer enough space and extensive services to facilitate all the guests. With bigger rooms, larger restaurant sections, and more recreational facilities such as a gym, swimming pools, spas, etc., hotels are ideal for vacationers.

People also book hotels when they are in the quest for permanent accommodation in a city.

Unlike hotels, inns are smaller and more intimate settings that don’t provide luxurious services. They are meant for short-term living with limited provisions of food and drink.

Mostly built in rural locations, inns are single building locations with limited rooms and singular in-house dining options.
These days, the term “inn” is interchangeably used for branding.

For example, the well-known hotel Holiday Inn uses “inn” in their name even though it is far from a traditional inn.

Also, traditional inns don’t have star ratings like hotels.

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

Inns are older buildings that have been changed into a place for lodging a small number of people. Located in rural locations or along highways, inns offer limited food and drink facilities but no luxuries like hotels.

As inns are also built for limited stay, they are ideal for travelers on the road who are looking for a place to spend a night. They provide them with a bed to rest their weary heads before they hit the road again.

On the other hand, motels are larger, with rooms containing all basic amenities. A handful of motels also have kitchenettes and on-site pools as a luxury.

You can also find rooms with connecting doors so that they can be combined into one large room.

Due to their apartment-like facilities, some motels charge higher as their guests can prepare their own food or get a complimentary light breakfast.

Additionally, the traditional motels always have “I”, “U”, or “L” shaped buildings facing a large parking area for motor vehicles.

See Related: Best Airbnbs in Paris

Pros of an Inn

  1. Less Expensive

Much like motels, inns are less expensive than other accommodation options. They are a spectacular option for travelers who are on a budget and sometimes they come with a complimentary breakfast!

You will not be faced with tipping door attendants, being pushed towards expensive places, or discovering hidden costs after your stay.

Everything is upfront and honest so you’ll be sure that you won’t break the bank.

See Related: Best Hotels in Iceland to See the Northern Lights

  1. Culture

Located in rural settings, often in smaller country towns, inns are fantastic for getting a real taste of local culture. Inn owners tend to be friendly, treating you like one of the family, so they will likely tell you all of the best places to check out during your stay.

If they do serve food, you will get to experience local dishes with local produce. What’s better than that?

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  1. Intimate Settings

Inns are designed to feel homey. They are comfortable, spacious, and quiet. In addition, there are cozy public spaces available to socialize and relax.

You do not have to worry about rowdy neighbors given that most inns only allow a few guests at a time. Inns are peaceful and relaxed, and given their rural location, they will enable you to enjoy a tranquil vacation.

Place Setting at an Inn

Cons of an Inn

  1. Fewer Amenities

Similar to a motel, inns lack amenities. They are usually run by a family, so there are little staff.

Occasionally there are dining options but generally you will need to find most of your food and entertainment outside of the inn.

See how to plan a month-long vacation.

  1. No Ratings

Inns do not receive star ratings on sites like TripAdvisor like hotels unless they are in a prime tourist location, so you likely won’t know the quality of the accommodation until you arrive.

While the reviews might be positive, you do not have a regulated system to compare it to; what might be luxury to someone, could be the average to another.

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  1. Short-Term Service

Given the small size of an inn, they do not allow for long-term service. If you are hoping to stay there for a month, that is unlikely to be acceptable.

Most inn travelers tend to stay for one night to a week before continuing on their way.

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Conclusion: Where Should You Stay?

There are many differences between a hotel, motel, and an inn. Each accommodation provides a different set of features for its target audience.

There are no right or wrong answers, it merely depends on the kind of amenities you want during your stay.

So when you are choosing your accommodation, how will you know to choose between a hotel vs motel vs inn?

If you are looking to have quick access to town, plenty of great staff, high-quality amenities, a variety of room options, and you don’t mind having a pricier vacation, then you should stay at a hotel.

If you would prefer a cheap place to stay and a light breakfast in the morning, then a motel is the right choice for you.

Lastly, if you would like to soak up the culture of the area that you are visiting with kind staff, small-town charm, and a budget that you can afford, then inns are what you are looking for.

Now that you have had a look at the difference between a hotel vs motel vs inn, it is time to think about where you want to book your accommodation.

Take a moment to think about where you are going to be located, what kind of features you are looking for, what is within your budget, and what will make you happiest. Make sure to take a peek at their reviews and then book it!

Enjoy your adventure!

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