Hotel vs Motel vs Inn: What Are The Differences?

When traveling, choosing the best type of accommodation can be challenging. 

It’s helpful to understand the difference between a hotel, motel, and inn to make the right decision for your travel needs.

The differences between hotels, motels, and inns mainly lie in location and design. Hotels cater to tourists, motels are ideal for people passing through, and inns are meant for travelers looking for last-minute accommodation without a reservation.


Hotels can be very luxurious and are often large and spacious. They can have certain amenities such as gyms, spas, restaurants, pools, waterparks, etc. 

They are made for longer stays and are often found in bigger cities and nicer areas of tourist locations. 

Hotels are made to make travelers comfortable for several days and weeks.


Hotels are usually located close to popular attractions. 

In larger cities and tourist areas, there may be many hotels in one small area. 

They’re close to these spots so guests can stay near the action and won’t have to travel too far to enjoy the highlights of a given destination. 

Many people who travel for work also prefer hotels because they have on-site conference areas or are located near major conference centers.

Hotels can also be found near airports for people arriving late at night or departing on early-morning flights.


Hotels can be pricey, depending on the star rating, size, and amenities. 

Some hotels require guests to stay for a certain number of nights or even charge by the week. 

Hotels usually have higher prices on the weekends or during peak seasons. 

They may or may not offer breakfast, but some offer special deals with nearby restaurants and have discounts to help travelers save.


Hotels are larger and often more appealing than other types of accommodation. 

They can have several stories, and entry to the rooms is usually inside the building. 

Some rooms may have balconies or terraces, and hotels often have different-sized rooms, including suites and penthouses. 

Hotels are also spread vertically, meaning they are usually taller than they are wide and have elevators to help guests get to the higher floors.


Motels are smaller than most hotels and are designed for one- or two-night stays.

They are best for tourists passing through the area and just need short-term accommodations. 

Motels are usually inexpensive but don’t provide a lot of amenities. That said, many offer a continental breakfast so travelers can eat a little something before they get back on the road. 


Motels are usually located on interstates and highways and are ideal for people on road trips who need to pull over for the night. 

Many can be easily spotted from the highway and are usually right along or beside exits. 

Motels also advertise along highways so you know where to turn off to find them.


Motels are often affordable because they’re simple and don’t offer a lot of extras. 

They usually charge by the night and rarely require a minimum number of nights to stay there.

Some motels include continental breakfasts, making them a better value for customers in a hurry.


Motels are usually small but can be a few stories high, depending on location. 

The properties are usually quite minimalistic and lack amenities like on-site restaurants, room service, business centers, or fitness facilities.  

Some motels do have pools, so if you’re traveling in the summer, you might be in luck.

Parking lots at motels are usually right in front of the rooms, making it easy to access your vehicle. 

Motels are sometimes less attractive than other types of accommodation because so many people come through them daily.


Inns are simple and easy for guests to find. 

Unlike hotels and motels, which usually have specific times for checking in and out, inns allow travelers to come and go at all hours. 

They are meant for short-term stays and usually have food services on-site and a community area where travelers can socialize.

Inns are often very basic and do not provide any extras, but they’re also more affordable than other types of accommodation.


Inns are usually found in small towns and rural areas, and many are located off the beaten path. 

They’re meant to be more secluded and away from tourist activities and the hustle and bustle of a city. 

Inns are generally located in quiet areas and are intended to help guests feel at home so they can rest and relax. 


Inns are usually the most affordable lodging option because they are small, basic, and do not have a lot of amenities. 

As inns are usually used for short stays, they are fine with allowing travelers to stay just one night.

Inns may also be owned by individuals as opposed to chains, so the owners must offer lower prices to compete with other hotels and motels in the area.


Inns are usually small, and some have a lot of character. 

Since they are sometimes owned and operated by individuals and located in small towns or rural areas, they tend to have designs that reflect their surroundings and owner preferences. 

They are usually only one story high, and some only consist of a few rooms. 

The rooms usually just have the basics, and sometimes bathrooms are shared. 

Some inns also have shared kitchens and entertainment areas and do not have televisions or kitchens inside the rooms. 


Motels, hotels, and inns all serve a similar purpose but are very different in design and location. 

Each type of accommodation is designed for a different kind of traveler and their needs. 

When deciding which type of lodging is best for you, be sure to understand the differences between each kind. 

Think about the one that can best meet your needs and help you feel comfortable, rested, and revived after a long day of travel.