Differences between a Motel and Hotel 


As a child, I have only come across the word ‘hotel’, but heard motel as an adult from a movie. A motel? I asked myself and out of curiosity, I ran to check out the meaning in the dictionary.

The English mini dictionary defines a motel as a low-cost short-stay hotel, often with hourly rates rather than daily rates and defines a hotel as an establishment that provides accommodation and other services for paying guests.

Dictionary.com also defines a hotel as “a commercial establishment offering lodging to travelers and sometimes to permanent residents and often having restaurants, meeting rooms, stores, etc. that are available to the general public. We can categorize hotels in various ways, depending on their location and size. They can be classified by stars, usually one to five stars or type of hotel that includes extended stay.

Motel is said to be a combination of two words:’motor  and hotel.’ the idea is that one can park right in front of one’s room in the motel (Quora, Inc., 2024).

Now, imagine for a second that you are on the road somewhere and need a place to spend the night. On one side of the road is a hotel and on the other is a motel. Which one will you choose? Do not be confused; the differences between a motel and a hotel are not so much but definitely not the same.

Differences between a Motel and Hotel

Hotel bellhop providing luxury service to guests entering reception lobby, concierge carrying baggage and trolley bags to room. Young couple arriving at tropical resort front desk.

1. Price

Sometimes, maybe out of emergency or necessity, we need a place to stay or spend the night and we are bothered about our pocket, motel will be in a good place to save.

Motels tend to be more budget-friendly than hotels. Motels will generally have only one or two floors, while hotels may be high-rise. Motels will also generally have fewer features and more limited food and beverage offerings. There will be fewer staff and a smaller number of specialized staff. And this generally translates to lower rates for guests and lower prices too.

Majorly, convenience and price are two important drivers for motel guests. Those who want to avoid the formality of staying at a hotel also opt for motel accommodations.

2. Amenities

The definition of motel indicates that it is  a low-cost short-stay hotel, often with hourly rates rather than daily rates. Hotels often have more extensive amenities, such as pools, fitness centers, restaurants and room service. Motels may have limited amenities or none at all.

Even small hotels generally offer a wider range of facilities and amenities, such as restaurants, room service and a swimming pool. Hotels therefore appeal to those who want to be a little more comfortable and pampered during their stay.

3. Accessibility of the rooms

From research, it is gathered that, in a motel, rooms are typically accessed directly from the outside, with a private entrance and parking nearby. In a hotel, rooms are accessed through a central lobby and hallways.

4. Parking Lodge

Another difference between a motel and a hotel is that hotels most often charge for parking and even have a separate parking garage, whereas motels usually have free parking right outside the building.

5. Location

Hotels are often situated in urban areas or tourist destinations because they can sometimes be used by permanent residents but motels are often located near highways or roads, making them convenient for road trips.

6. Room Layouts

Another difference between a motel and a hotel is that motel rooms are usually designed for short stays, with a simple layout and limited space. Hotel rooms can be more spacious and have separate living areas.

7. Services

The services rendered in a motel may not be as good as those given in a hotel. Hotels typically offer more services, such as concierge, bellhop, tour bookings, cocktail lounge, room services, on-site recreation an indoor swimming pool and spa services like massages and hot tubs. Motels may not offer these services. Motels offer fewer services, like bed-and-breakfast. Some motels also have swimming pools for their customers.

8. Workers

In motels, employees are fewer, usually receptionists and housekeepers; in some cases, housekeepers can double up as receptionists. But hotels employ various personnel with unique skills. They can hire a relatively high number of employees in a hotel, such as housekeepers, bellhops, parking valets, receptionists, chefs and door attendants.

9. Size

Most hotels are large. They  may contain several floors and more rooms. They can have over one hundred rooms with internal corridors, staircases and elevators. Motels may have only one or two floors with fewer rooms for their customers to easily access from the car park.

10. Events

Many hotels are also arranged to hold conferences and meetings, thus making them useful locations for business meetups but motels are basically for those traveling on the highway who want a break from their journey.

11. Stars

Hotels are rated with star rating for quality.1-5 stars while in motels there is no star rating considered, most are rated as 1.5–2.5 stars on travel sites.

12. Duration of Stay

A motel is targeted toward those travelling on the highway who want a break from their journey, while a  hotel is targeted at all sorts of people, such as business people, travelers, students, etc. Even so, few motels or hotels will turn away long-stay guests, and motels in particular are often amenable to extended stays.

13. Setting

Another difference between a motel and hotel is that hotel settings are usually formal, with a front desk, while motel settings are often casual, with self-check-in.


Although these are just general differences, individual motels and hotels may vary depending on their specific characteristics and target customers. These and more points are some of the differences between a motel and hotel. With these points, I believe the next time you are choosing between a motel and hotel, you will not be confused.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *