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Types of Hotels: Complete Glossary of 30+ Hotel Types Terms Defined


Confused about all the types of hotels there are? No longer! In this article, we give you a glossary of more than 30 hotel types and terms defined.

There are dozens of types of hotels out there.

Some you may be familiar with, such as the motel, ski resort, or villa.

But what’s an Albergo Diffuso? Or a casa particular? Is hostal the same as a hostel?

No worries.

In this post, we define all the hotel types out there, from the most common accommodations to the most obscure places to board.

Victory Hotel Room Gamla Stan Stockholm
A room at the Victory Hotel in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden.

Here are all the types of hotels and places to stay, defined:

1-Star Hotel – A one-star hotel is a designation for a hotel that meets minimum standards of service and quality, but offers just the bare essentials as far as amenities, service, and decor. Exact inclusions and exclusions vary depending on the country, government oversight, and star ranking scheme.

2-Star Hotel – A two-star hotel is a designation for a hotel property that is usually reasonably priced and offers minimal services, amenities, and decor. Good option for budget travelers that want a bit more than the no-frills scene at a one-star hotel. Exact inclusions and exclusions vary depending on the country, government oversight, and star ranking scheme.

3-Star Hotel – A three-star hotel is meant to be slightly above average as far as service, options, and amenities. Exact inclusions and exclusions vary depending on the country, government oversight, and star ranking scheme. Modern conveniences and on-site hotel staff can be expected at most 3-star properties.

4-Star Hotel – A four-star hotel offers a deluxe level of service, whether for business travelers or those on vacation. Hotel guests can expect luxury amenities, a range of hotel services, and excellent decor. Exact inclusions and exclusions vary depending on the country, government oversight, and star ranking scheme.

5-Star Hotel – A five-star hotel is the highest standard in just about every hotel ranking system. Guests at 5-star hotels and resorts can expect luxurious rooms, attentive staff, unique art, fine dining restaurants, spa services, and more. Exact inclusions and exclusions vary depending on the country, government oversight, and star ranking scheme.

7-Star Hotel – A seven-star hotel is a new, unofficial designation for a few high-end hotel properties around the world, mostly in the Middle East and Asia. Started as a marketing scheme, about a dozen hotels now exist which bill themselves as 7-star hotels and resorts. Features go way above those at “normal” hotels, with some offering a fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms, helicopter services, or a 24-carat gold iPad in every room.

Airport Hotel – An airport hotel is a property which is situated within an airport’s transit zone, on the airport’s property, or in close proximity to an airport. Known also as transit hotels when inside an international airport’s transit zone, airport hotels offer connecting travelers the convenience of nearby accommodations. Some may even offer rooms at an hourly rate to give travelers a few hours to change, shower, and nap between flights.

Albergo Diffuso – The Albergo Diffuso is an Italian hospitality concept aimed at reinvigorating small, dying towns by making several distinct places (e.g., town hall, brewery) each into a unique “room” of this dispersed hotel. The Alberghi Diffusi (plural) give guests a unique opportunity to witness the life of the small town from within.

Apartment Hotel – An apartment hotel is a hotel property located in an apartment building and offering similar decor, appliances, and amenities as renting an apartment would, but with hotel services such as reception also available. Apartment hotels are also known as serviced apartments or residential hotels and are similar to extended stay hotels.

Bed and Breakfast – A bed and breakfast is a small form of lodging which offers guests a room for the night and a communal breakfast the following morning. Many bed and breakfasts, known as a B&B or BnB, are large family homes minimally converted to allow for guests to rent out bedrooms for their stay. A host or hostess, often the owners, welcome guests, help with any needs, and provide the breakfast in the morning.

Boarding House – A boarding house is a larger house, often someone’s home, where the owner rents out a room or rooms to guests for one or several nights. Some boarding house owners may provide extra services, such as laundry and meals.

Boatel – A boatel is a water vessel which has been converted into a hotel for a unique form of accommodation. A boatel “room” may be as simple as a fishing boat docked at a pier with a canopy over it and a bed inside, or more extravagant, such as a large river boat offering dozens of rooms and traveling from place to place, such as a hotel barge. Boatel may also be spelled as botel.

Botel – See boatel.

Related Read: 100+ Travel Tips & Advice to Make Your Vacation a Breeze

Boutique Hotel – A boutique hotel is a small hotel property which distinguishes itself from nearby hotels and worldwide properties by offering guests unique services, features, decor, and more. Boutique hotels usually have between 10 and 100 rooms, and may host a particular theme, similar to theme restaurants. Themes may revolve around environmentally-conscious services, fitness, or just about anything, really.

Bunkhouse – A bunkhouse is one of the no-frills types of hotels where workers in small or remote towns may stay for the night when in transit. In the United Kingdom, bunkhouses are similar to hostels, though offering much less in the way of tourism services.

Capsule Hotel – A capsule hotel is a hotel type where small capsules, barely larger than a regular person, are available to host the guest for a quick nap or overnight stay. Since they are so small, capsule hotels, also known as pod hotels, may be stacked atop one another. Guests may have to climb small ladders over other capsules to reach their own.

Caravanserai – A caravanserai (or caravansary) is a defunct type of lodging situated on trading routes where caravans and single market sellers could lodge for the night en route to their next destination. They were common along the Silk Road, for example.

Casa Particular – A casa particular is a Cuban homestay concept similar to vacation rentals crossed with bed and breakfasts. A regular homeowner may rent out a room as a casa particular and offer breakfast or other meals in addition to the bed.

Casino Hotel – A casino hotel is a hotel property with a large casino as the anchor tenant on the ground floor. Casino hotels are common in gambling destinations, such as Las Vegas.

Related Read: Ca Maria Adele in Venice, Italy: A Detailed Review of the Most Luxurious Hotel

Chain Hotel – A chain hotel is a hotel which is part of a group or family of similar hotels under a single brand name.

Choultry – A choultry is a resting place for travelers, particularly pilgrims to important Buddhist, Jain, or Hindu temples in and around Asia.

Coaching Inn – A coaching inn is an all-but-defunct type of lodging once popular in Europe for hosting weary travelers between European towns and cities. A coaching inn may also be known as a coaching house or a staging inn.

Condo Hotel – Essentially the same as an apartment hotel.

Convention Center Hotel – See conference hotel.

Conference Hotel – A conference hotel, or conference center hotel, is a hotel that is connected to or part of a conference center. Visitors to conferences staying at conference hotels have the convenience of being the nearest to the scene, as well as perks offered in package deals. Conference center hotels may also be called convention center hotels.

Doss House – See flophouse.

Eco Hotel – An eco hotel is a hotel aiming to make the least environmental impact possible. Eco hotels often use sustainable materials, promote environmental consciousness, and aim to reduce and reverse climate change effects.

Extended Stay Hotel – An extended stay hotel is a hotel property offering rooms with all the amenities of modern living for guests expecting to stay longer than a typical vacationer. Rooms at extended stay hotels may offer microwaves, ovens, refrigerators, and more closet space to accommodate long-staying travelers.

Related Read: Vacation Meal Plans: 10+ Hotel & Food Plans Defined

Flophouse – A flophouse is not a particular hotel type, but rather an old slang term used to refer the worst types of accommodations. Flophouse is an American term, and the British equivalent would be a doss house.

Garden Hotel – A garden hotel is a type of hotel, usually a large residence converted into paid accommodations, notable for its large and detailed outdoor gardens, often created and designed by famous botanists.

Garni Hotel – A garni hotel is a small hotel, usually found in central Europe, which doesn’t have a restaurant attached or within, but may offer breakfast.

Gasthaus – A gasthaus is a German lodging type where a public bar, restaurant, or banquet hall includes accommodations for overnight guests in the back or upstairs.

Green Hotel – See eco hotel.

Guest House – A guest house is a type of lodging meant to accommodate an overnight sleeper. It can refer to many things, depending on the context and location, from a smaller house attached to a large estate or one of several places rented out, similar to a villa.

Heritage Hotel – A heritage hotel is a hotel that often has historic importance, such as converted castles. Many decorate the hotel rooms in a manner similar to the era that the hotel originates.

Heuhotel – A heuhotel, a German word meaning “hay hotel,” is a type of hotel where guests pay to sleep on hay bales or beds formed from hay. Some heuhotels have private rooms with beds made of hay, while others are shared rooms, like a hostel. Many hotel proprietors complete the experience by establishing the hotel in a converted barn.

Holiday Cottage – A holiday cottage, sometimes known as a vacation property or a holiday home, is a small house (or sometimes an apartment) used specifically for vacation housing. Usually, the property’s owner rents out the holiday cottage to guests for a fee (such as on Airbnb), but sometimes the owners use it as their own holiday home, which makes it in this case a second home.

Homestay – A homestay is usually a private residence offering accommodations to paying guests. However, when referring to volunteering abroad opportunities or similar situations, homestays may refer to the fact that the volunteer will be hosted by a local family for the duration of their volunteer duties, rather than at a central headquarters.

Hostal – A hostal is a cheap type of hotel found in Spain and Latin America, offering perhaps a small cafe or bar and private room for rent. A hostal differs from a hostel in that it is usually family-run, similar to a bed and breakfast.

Related Read: 25+ Types of Hotel Rooms from Singles to Presidential Suites & More

Hostel – A hostel is an inexpensive lodge for budget travelers where people from different parties can stay in shared dormitories on bunk beds, usually.

Hotel – A hotel is any establishment primarily offering multiple rooms for overnight guests. Hotels may include much more than just rooms and a reception, such as spa services, restaurants, bars, and more.

Hotelship – A hotelship is a large boat, river ferry, or cruise liner which serves as a water-based hotel. While a boatel is often meant to hold just one party of guests, a hotelship can accommodate dozens or hundreds of passenger guests and may go from one place to another during the stay.

Hotel Barge – A hotel barge is a popular type of lodging in Western Europe, mainly France and the United Kingdom. A trend from the 1960s, commercial river barges put out of service were converted into accommodations for travelers seeking a unique form of lodging. The hotel barge is often referred to as a péniche hôtel in French.

Ice Hotel – An ice hotel is a hotel constructed of ice blocks and packed snow, usually a seasonal novelty rather than a year-round place of accommodations. While most of the construction is made of ice and snow, such as the walls, furniture, and bars, some fixtures and parts, such as doors, are of regular, non-ice construction.

Independent Hotel – An independent hotel is a hotel not affiliated with any hotel chain or other hotel property.

Inn – An inn is usually considered to be a rural or suburban lodge accommodating travelers for overnight stays. The inn concept may have started as far back as the Roman Empire, where inns were set up along the via Romana (the Roman roads along the Roman Way).

Love Hotel – A love hotel is a short-stay hotel meant to give guests a private room designed for sexual encounters. Guests at love hotels, sometimes called sex hotels, can often book by the hour or by the night.

Luxury Hotel – A luxury hotel is a hotel which aims to offer guests a luxurious lodging experience. Luxury hotels are usually 4-star and 5-star hotels (and those 7-star hotels).

Microstay – A microstay is not really a type of hotel (though there are some microstay hotels), but rather it is a booking type where a guest stays less than 24 hours, usually in 3-hour increments. Some guests book a microstay for long layovers to just get a brief nap, while others use it for trysts, but these are usually at love hotels specifically made to accommodate short sexual encounters.

Motel – A motel, short for “motor hotel,” is a hotel designed primarily for travelers by car. Motels often offer doors directly on the parking lot, for easy access to personal vehicles.

Patient Hotel – A patient hotel is a hotel specifically designed to accommodate medical patients who need to be near a hospital but don’t necessarily need to have a hospital room. A patient hotel is also great for housing friends and relatives of a hospital patient. These are common in the Scandinavian countries.

Péniche Hôtel – See hotel barge.

Related Read: Why do Hotels Overbook Rooms? (& How to Deal With It)

Pension – A pension is a smaller hotel, akin to a guest house or bed and breakfast, usually offering guests three full meals per day. Common in Europe, northern Africa, and in the Middle East, pensions are usually small affairs run by the owner themselves. They are usually cheaper than branded hotels, but they also offer far fewer amenities and services.

Pension Hotel – A pension hotel is a Philippines-specific pension offering bare-bones living arrangements, but at prices much lower than regular hotels. Rooms in a pension hotel are often empty except for a bed, air conditioner or fan, and maybe a chair.

Pet Hotel – A pet hotel is accommodation solely for pets requiring overnight stays, similar to a boarding kennel for pets or a pet daycare. Pet hotels will accommodate pets while owners are away from town on vacation, for example, and give the pets the grooming, food, exercise, and socialization they require. A pet hotel is not the same as a pet-friendly hotel.

Pet-Friendly Hotel – A pet-friendly hotel is any normal hotel that accepts pets along with their human guests, whether for a fee or for free. A pet-friendly hotel is different than a pet hotel.

Pod Hotel – See capsule hotel.

Pop-Up Hotel – A pop-up hotel is a temporary hotel, often set up to take advantage of seasonal events, marketing opportunities, or other fleeting moments. Pop-up hotels may set up in one place, get broken down, and reestablish itself in another location immediately after, or they may be a one-time thing.

Railway Hotel – A railway hotel is a hotel built inside or next to a train station, similar to an airport hotel.

Residential Hotel – See apartment hotel.

Resort – A resort hotel is a hotel which provides many vacation-related activities, amenities, and services, more than a standard hotel would. Resorts may include multiple swimming pools, a variety of bars and restaurants, services such as kayak rentals, and childminding areas.

Roadhouse – A roadhouse, also known as a stopping house, is similar to a rest stop along a highway which provides some entertainment, a bar, and meals. Back in the day, roadhouses often also offered guest rooms, but most now do not. A roadhouse with lodging was comparable to a coaching inn.

Ryokan – A ryokan is a type of inn in Japan which features traditional Japanese furnishings and layouts. You can expect to find tatami mats on the floors, yukata-dressed guests, and communal baths.

Fun Fact: The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a ryokan located in Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, and it is the oldest hotel in the world after being founded in 705 CE! It also may claim the title of the oldest company in operation, but some dispute this claim.

Serviced Apartment – See apartment hotel.

Sex Hotel – See love hotel.

Ski Resort – A ski resort is a resort hotel built on or near a large skiing park or mountain, established primarily for guests looking to ski or snowboard rather than regular tourists.

Staging Inn – See coaching inn.

Stopping House – See roadhouse.

Related Read: 35 Fun Hotel Facts: Interesting Facts About Hotels Around the World

Suite Hotel – A suite hotel is a hotel offering only suite-level accommodations, such as junior suites, mini suites, master suites, etc. They do not offer regular hotel rooms.

Timeshare – A timeshare is a type of property ownership scheme where multiple people buy a property and own specific weeks of the year, allowing them to visit that property or rent it out to others when their week comes each year.

Transit Hotel – See airport hotel.

Turbaza – A turbaza is a type of Soviet-era lodging, usually comprised of a large building located in a getaway location, such as a forest or secluded beach. Turbazas often have dozens of rooms, so large groups, such as family reunions or company outings, would rent it out entirely for their group. Turbazas are common still in Ukraine, Russia, and several other eastern European countries.

Vacation Home – See holiday cottage.

Vacation Rental – A vacation rental is a place that is rented out to someone for an overnight stay. Vacation rentals are often rented out by property owners, and may be a single room or the entire property. Vacation rentals are often listed on Airbnb or other similar websites.

Related Read: How to Check in Early at a Hotel?

Well, that’s all we have for our glossary of hotel types! If you want more tourism definitions and vocabulary, check out our Ultimate Travel Glossary. And, if you have any questions, feedback, or more types of hotels to add, let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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