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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Péniche Hôtel – See hotel barge.

Pod Hotel – See capsule 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.

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.

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.

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.

Well, that’s all we have for our glossary of hotel types! What did you think? 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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