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Hotel Vs Motel: What’s the Difference?

One thing that people collectively enjoy is taking vacations. And a major constituent of vacations is where one chooses to stay.

Hotels and motels have been around for more than a thousand years! While they both provide a safe place to stay, when you are visiting a place far from home, hotels and motels have plenty of differences as they serve different purposes.

This article covers the difference between hotels and motels, allowing you to make more knowledgeable choices in the future! In specific, we discuss differences in size, services, location, constraints, ratings, and price.

What Is The Main Difference Between A Hotel And A Motel?

The main difference between the two lodgings is that hotels tend to be more luxurious and less like home. Motels, on the other hand, are cheaper and do not usually have many extra services.


Hotels have fast WiFi, pools, spa and sauna, cleaning services, complimentary breakfast, room services, and countless other luxuries, motels do not.

Motels have no amenities and the rooms are not as modern as hotel rooms. So, sitting in a motel is similar to sitting in your grandmother’s house.


Hotels also normally consist of large and enclosed buildings, with a restaurant, a lounge, a bar, and several other possible halls or meeting rooms.

Motels, on the other hand, usually come in the form of a one-story or two-story building, where you can access each room from a balcony outside. Also, hotels normally have a gym while motels have a large outdoor parking lot.


Hotels are usually located near famous sites and in urban areas, whereas motels are nearer to the suburbs. Some hotels impose constraints on their visitors to ensure a certain quality for everyone inside the hotel, while motels do not ask you for much identification as they do not usually refuse a customer.

So, it is somewhat safer to sleep in a hotel, as there are some minimum requirements that visitors should have.


When it comes to price, it is easy to determine which is more expensive.

Motel rooms rarely cost above $80, whereas the average hotel room costs $100+ a night. As the stars for a hotel increase, the price increases as well.

Some incredibly fancy and luxurious hotels reach the thousand dollar mark per night and higher. Some hotels are truly fit for royalty, whereas no motel reaches this level of opulence.

Do All Countries Have Both Hotels and Motels?

Most countries have hotels and motels as they have visitors of different financial capabilities.

Hotels can cost around $350 a night for big families, so the absence of inns and motels would eliminate the possibility of a low-budget vacation. 

What Are Some of the Greatest Hotels in the World?

Some of the greatest hotels in the world include Burj al Arab in Dubai, Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, The Plaza Hotel in New York City, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, The Ritz Carlton in Singapore, Shangri-La in Paris, etc.

These are very few beautiful hotels, not ranked by top-rated or most-visited. The biggest hotel names in the world include Marriott and Fairmont, must-visits if you are able to fund such stays.

As you can see, the locations of these hotels give them a major part of their aesthetic. The Burj al-Arab lies in the middle of the water, whereas the Shangri-La faces the majestic Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous touristic sites in the world!

Investing in such areas is not cheap, to say the least. Therefore, when you see such beautiful scenery or landmarks near a hotel, expect the fees for staying there to be heavy on the pockets. 


More Information on Motels and Hotels

The word ‘motel’ is actually derived from the term ‘motorist’s hotel’.

As seen in movies and shows (you would particularly understand what I mean if you have watched ‘Breaking Bad’, the highest-rated television series of all time), motels used to be known for their wide parking for passersby in vehicles, and all doors to the rooms faced the parking to make entrance easy. 

The stat rating for motels is not really applicable.

On the internet, you can find that motels range between 1.5 and 2.5 stars, but the typical motel visitor does not necessarily care for stars.

In hotels, stars range between 1 and 5. A fun fact about Burj al Arab, an ostentatious hotel in Dubai that boasts an enormous asymmetrical building for the rich, is that it was considered the first 7-star hotel in the world.

How Is The Star Calculated?

The standards are based on the food served in the hotel, forms of entertainment present (casinos, arcade rooms, or daily shows), room views, room variations, additional amenities (laundry, room service), spas, fitness centers, location, and ease of access.

Even with set standards, different countries have different ways of rating their hotels; after all, it is all relative. Some hotels like the Shangri-La, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and so on, are found in multiple cities, each with its own character and rating.

Over the years, more standards have gained importance for alternative hotel ratings. We now have Green Key International and Green Key Global eco-classifications, awarded to hotels like the Fairmont.

The Green Globe certification deals with the sustainability of tourism. Members of the Green Globe are limited to only those companies and organizations that aim to contribute positive change to the planet.

Finally, the Salam Standard studies Muslim-friendly hotels with rooms dedicated for prayer with prayer mats and halal food in the hotel restaurant, and removing alcohol from the rooms.

What Is An Inn And How Does It Differ From Hotels And Motels?

Inns are very interesting. And if you are someone who supports small family businesses, an inn is perfect for you.

They are often owned by a single person or a single family who has decided to rent rooms in their home. Inns are very cozy and usually have home breakfasts (scrambled eggs, pancakes, tea, etc.)

And they are more expensive than motels. Inns could have some beautiful and artistic rooms and settings, very friendly staff and a range of services. Motel rooms, on the other hand, are normally dull and not suitable for a longer stay.

Inns are not necessarily shared homes. Sometimes, people find a cheap piece of land, either empty or holding up an old house. If you are on a limited budget (hotels are very expensive to construct and maintain), inns are a great investment.

Being in a strategic location adds more points. But rural areas are also great as inn-seekers tend to like the quiet and the country more than the liveliness and noise in the middle of the city. 

To Wrap It All Up

Neither of the two lodgings is always the right choice.

Sometimes, you seek a luxurious private room with amenities and services. And you are willing to pay big money for them. At other times, you seek to live in a room in the suburbs, say on a hunting trip or a one-night assignment. 

Each type is more suitable for certain expectations, and wherever you decide to go I hope you enjoy your stay!

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.