What is the difference between a hotel and a motel?

The word “motel” is derived from the combination of two words, motor and hotel. Usually motel is a one or two storey building with the rooms opening to the outside of the building and surrounded by a patio or a balcony. Motels are relatively less expensive than hotels as they are located on highways, outskirts of villages, towns and cities, which is the main difference between hotel and motel. The uniqueness of motels comes from their connectivity with national road network.

 Difference between Hotel and Motel

A hotel on the other hand, has all the rooms that are towards the interior of the building, usually alongside of a hallway. It is usually multi storied and normally located within a town or a city. The hotels are unique in their own way because of their proximity to work places or tourist spots relieving the burden of commuting to its guests. Hotels are expensive in comparison to motels.



The word motel was coined in 1925. With the highway system developing in the United States in 1920, long distance travel became quite common and the need for an easy accessible overnight accommodation rose and this led to the formation of motels. They became very popular by 1960s.


The first campgrounds were created in 1910s. Till then people who could not afford hotel stay, used to sleep in their cars erected tents along the road. Such camps were known as auto camps. The first motel was constructed by Arthur Heineman in 1925. He wanted to name his hotel as “Milestone Motor Hotel” initially but changed it to “motel” for an odd reason that he could not accommodate all the letters on his rooftop which made him to combine “motor hotel” into “motel”. Several businessmen followed him and gradually the word became popular.



Another difference between hotel and motel is their layout. You would find motels in some fixed layouts based on alphabets like ‘L’, ‘U’ and ‘I’. They are equipped with guest rooms, a small diner, swimming pool and a small reception. Usually all the rooms in the motel will face the parking lot so that travelers can easily unload their luggage.

 Layout of a Motel

Motels were constructed in Canada along Hamilton Highway in 1917. Motels also started springing up in Europe and South America around 1920s.



An establishment that provides lodging and boarding on a paid basis for short time is known as a hotel. Nowadays hotels have been equipped with latest facilities that include HVAC systems, Jacuzzis, private swimming pools, Wi-fi, Television, Telephones and so on. Bigger hotels have facilities like a fitness center, conference halls and provision for social functions. Hotel rooms are numbered for the convenience of the guests and management. Some hotels offer food within the package.


Based on the facilities and quality of service, hotels are given stars, from 1 star to 7 stars. More the number of stars, indicates more the luxury. There is no national or international authority to rate the hotels. There is a need for unified global system to grade the hotels based on the facilities.