For many travellers, 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.

By understanding these differences, you can determine which accommodation option will best meet your needs. You may be wondering ‘what is the difference between a hotel and motel?’.

Well, keep reading to find out!

Related Read: The Ultimate Guide to Staying at a Hostel

What is the difference between a hotel and a motel?


According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘hotel’ was coined in 1765 and comes from the French word for an establishment that provides lodging, meals and other services.

Merriam-Webster notes that the word ‘motel’ came about much later (in 1925) and is a blend of the words ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’. It is meant to describe an establishment that provides some, but not all, of a hotel’s services.

what is the difference between a hotel and a motel
Wooden Hotel


One of the main ways that hotel and motel accommodation differs is in layout and construction. Hotels often contain hundreds of rooms across several floors; the rooms are connected via staircases, elevators and internal corridors. Motels (like these love motels in Brazil), on the other hand, generally have a one or two-floor layout and the rooms are accessed directly from the car park.


Both establishments often employ a number of different workers. In hotels, you are likely to find receptionists, concierges, bellhops, chefs, housekeepers, parking valets, doormen and elevator operators. A manager or two are also often on duty. In motels, on the other hand, you are likely to find receptionists and housekeepers. In smaller premises, these roles might cross over.


Another of the ways that these establishments differ is in the services offered. A hotel will often offer a wider breadth of services, including: room service, an onsite restaurant, laundry, indoor swimming pools, gyms and day spas. Some are quite similar to a resort with more extensive entertainment options. A motel traditionally offers fewer services, such as a swimming pool and breakfast.

what is the difference between a hotel and a motel
Hotel interior


Some of the other differences include disparities in price and, often, in the duration of stay. Hotels generally cost more per night, although their location is key in determining this. They are also designed for longer stays, from weeks through to months. Motels are generally the cheaper option per night, although they are designed for shorter days (usually a few days).

As you can see, there are a number of differences between hotel and motel accommodation – not only are they laid out differently and offer different services, they employ different amounts of staff and have big disparities in terms of price. When you’re next planning a holiday, we hope that you find this article useful in determining which accommodation option will suit your needs.

You can easily book both hotels and motels on accommodation booking websites, like and Agoda.


  • Travel Dudes

    I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.