Difference Between A Hotel And Motel
By Laura Lee - July 18, 2021

For many travelers, the choice of where you spend the night comes down to either hotel or motel accommodation. Many people don’t see much difference between these two options, but it is important to note that they do exist.


Expensive buildings with hundreds of rooms across multiple floorsOne or two floors that open to a parking lot or central courtyard
Reception or lobby area with concierge, bellmen, and other hotel staffOften rooms are directly accessible from the parking lot without having to pass through a lobby
Restaurant and bar facilities, conference rooms, and public spaces (fitness centers, spas)sometimes feature free breakfast items and laundry machines
Room service, mini-fridges, safes, toiletries, hairdryers, WiFiBasic toiletries, bedding, and towels

Getty Images/Moment/Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo


What is a Hotel?

When the automobile became the prevalent mode of road transportation in the early 20th century and freeway networks expanded, motels started to pop up. The word motel combines the words motor and hotel.

Motels tend to be confined to locations close to roads and highways, often outside of cities but along popular tourist routes. They are typically designed for short stays. A continental breakfast is not offered, but they may have a quick, basic breakfast with foods like hard-boiled eggs, bread, and cereal. Motels can be the cheapest places to stay near popular destinations.

What is a Motel?

In addition to lodging, a hotel offers a number of other services and amenities to its guests. If you stay at a hotel, you’ll get more than just a room or suite to sleep in. You may also benefit from a restaurant, swimming pool, fitness center, and spa. A motel, on the other hand, typically doesn’t offer amenities. It is solely designed to give you a place to sleep and is free of “extras.”

Another difference is property size. A hotel is usually a large, enclosed building with hundreds of rooms across multiple floors, while a motel has one or two floors with outdoor room entrances. While you may have to go through the lobby and take an elevator to get to your hotel room, you’ll likely enter your motel room from just off the parking lot without passing through a lobby.