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This article discusses the residential establishment. For other uses of the term "hotel", see Hotel (disambiguation).
A small hotel in Mureck, Styria, Austria which has preserved its 1960s exterior and interior
A small hotel in Mureck, Styria, Austria which has preserved its 1960s exterior and interior
The lobby of the Hotel Reineldis
The lobby of the Hotel Reineldis
The 4-star Manor House Hotel at Castle Combe, Wiltshire, England. Built in the fourteenth century, the hotel has 48 rooms and 365 acres (1.5 km²) of gardens.
The 4-star Manor House Hotel at Castle Combe, Wiltshire, England. Built in the fourteenth century, the hotel has 48 rooms and 365 acres (1.5 km²) of gardens.

A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis and especially for tourists. Hotels often provide a number of additional guest services such as a restaurant, a swimming pool or childcare. Some hotels have conference services and encourage groups to hold conventions and meetings at their location.

Hotels differ from motels in that most motels have drive-up, exterior entrances to the rooms, while hotels tend to have interior entrances to the rooms, making them safer and more relaxing to people.


Origins of the term

The word hotel derives from the French hôtel, which originally referred to a French version of a townhouse, not a place offering accommodation (in contemporary usage, hôtel has the meaning of "hotel", and hôtel particulier is used for the old meaning). The French spelling (with the circumflex) was once also used in English, but is now rare. The circumflex replaces the 's' once preceding the 't' in the earlier hostel spelling, which over time received a new, but closely related meaning.

Services and facilities

Basic accommodation of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand only has largely been replaced by rooms with en-suite bathrooms and climate control. Other features found may be a telephone, an alarm clock, a TV, and broadband Internet connectivity. Food and drink may be supplied by a mini-bar (which often includes a small refrigerator) containing snacks and drinks (to be paid for on departure), and tea and coffee making facilities (cups, spoons, an electric kettle and sachets containing instant coffee, tea bags, sugar, and creamer or milk).

However, in Japan the capsule hotel supplies minimal facilities and room space.


The cost and quality of hotels are usually indicative of the range and type of services available. Due to the enormous increase in tourism worldwide during the last decades of the 20th century, standards, especially those of smaller establishments, have improved considerably. For the sake of greater comparability, rating systems have been introduced, with the one to five stars classification being most common.

Boutique hotels

"Boutique Hotel" is a term originating in North America to describe intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environments. Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain or branded hotels by providing an exceptional and personalized level accommodation, services and facilities.

Typically boutique hotels are furnished in a themed, stylish and/or aspirational manner. Although usually considerably smaller than a mainstream hotel (ranging from 3 to 100 guest rooms) boutique hotels are generally fitted with telephony and wi-fi Internet connections, honesty bars and often cable/pay TV. Guest services are attended to by 24 hour hotel staff. Many boutique hotels have on site dining facilities, and the majority offer bars and lounges which may also be open to the general public.

Of the total travel market a small percentage are discerning travelers, who place a high importance on privacy, luxury and service delivery. As this market is typically corporate travelers, the market segment is referral-rich, non-seasonal, high-yielding and repeat, and therefore one which boutique hotel operators target as their primary source of income.

Unusual hotels

The first of the Ariau towers
The first of the Ariau towers

Treehouse hotels

Some hotels, such as the Costa Rica Tree House in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, or Treetops Hotel in Aberdares National Park, Kenya, are built with living trees as structural elements, making them treehouses.

The Ariau Towers near Manaus, Brazil is a well-known hotel, in the middle of the Amazon, on the Rio Negro. Bill Gates even invested and had a suite built there with satellite internet/phone.

Cave hotels

Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy, South Australia and the Cuevas Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (named after the author) in Guadix, Spain, as well as several hotels in Cappadocia, Turkey, are notable for being built into natural cave formations, some with rooms underground.

Ice hotels

Main article: Ice hotel

Ice hotels, such as the canonical Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, melt every spring and are rebuilt out of ice and snow every winter.

Underwater hotels

As of 2005, the only hotel with an underwater room that can be reached without Scuba diving is Utter Inn in Lake Mälaren, Sweden. It only has one room, however, and Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, which requires scuba diving, is not much bigger.

Hydropolis is an ambitious project to build a luxury hotel in Dubai, UAE, with 220 suites, all on the bottom of the Persian Gulf, 20 meters (66 feet) below the surface. Its architecture will feature two domes that break the surface and an underwater train tunnel, all made of transparent materials such as glass and acrylic.

Other unusual hotels

The Library Hotel in New York City is unique in that its ten floors are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System.

Typical high-rise urban chain hotel: Westin in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Typical high-rise urban chain hotel: Westin in Cincinnati, Ohio.

World-record setting hotels


The tallest hotel in the world is the Burj al-Arab in Dubai, at 321 meters (1,053 feet). However, this title may be taken by the less illustrious Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang at 330 meters (1,083 feet), pending its (perhaps unlikely) completion; it has been under construction since 1987 and was abandoned in 1992.


The largest hotel in the world is believed to be the Ambassador City Jomtien resort, in Jomtien, near Pattaya, Thailand, at 5,100 rooms. It is a resort complex with a number of buildings, and the exact room count has not been independently verified. In 2000, the First World Hotel, in Genting Highlands, Malaysia, claimed that it was in the process of developing a 6,300-room hotel complex; however, it appears that only about 3,000 rooms have been built and opened to the public.

The largest single-building hotel is the MGM Grand Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, with 5,005 rooms. Third place belongs to the Luxor Hotel, also in Las Vegas, with 4,408 rooms. According to, 8 of the top 10 largest hotels are in Las Vegas.


According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest hotel still in operation is the Hoshi Ryokan, in Awazu, Japan. It opened in 717 CE, and features hot springs.

Hotels in fiction

Hotels have often been chosen by authors as the setting of their literary works. They are perfect for mysterious, anonymous settings where multiple characters may gather in equal positions. It is especially true of crime fiction, farces, and mysteries. Hotels also feature in films , television series, songs and even theme park rides.


Other usage

In Australia, the word "hotel" often refers to a public house, a drinking establishment which does not necessarily provide accommodations. In India, the word may also refer to a restaurant, since earlier the best restaurants were always situated next to a good hotel.

See also

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