ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hotels - Motel or Hotel | What is the Difference? And How Can It Save You Money?

Updated on April 29, 2015

Motels - A Practical and Frugal Alternative to Hotels

An often overlooked and undervalued item when traveling is a "motel".

I know motel is not a common word today, but it should be!

In this age of new found American austerity and patriotism, the motels across the United States offer a great value and supports local small business owners.

Glitzy advertising has guided us to the expensive lodging product of hotels and major hotel chains. The benefits are consistency and economics for the road warriors. Yet, there is an unspoken hero in this marketplace, the local motel. Often owned and operated locally, often with no advertising budget other than their location. This is a great option for the frugal and savvy traveler - a great option for both the business traveler and the vacationer.

What is the difference between a hotel and motel? Let's start at the beginning, motels were created just after the motor car and greater access to the motorways. Today, as Americans, we use the terms automobile rather than the term motor car and highways rather than motorways. Likewise, we have forgotten this old fashion American treasurer of a "motel". Journey with me as we explore the history complete with vintage postcards of motels to jog the memory.

Motels are a practical and frugal alternative to hotels.

Hotels Offer Luxuries - Motel Offer Convenience

Motel's sole duty is convenience. Hotels purpose is simple - the guest's experience. Hotels encourage their guests to stay. Luxury hotels often offer concierge services to assist in organizing and arranging various activities from spa services to golf, to tennis, and theater and dining. Hotels commonly offer fitness centers, whirlpool baths, indoor swimming pools, restaurants, room service, cable television, Internet connectivity, and the list goes on. Hotel parking lots are often separate, often multiple levels to conserve urban space. Convenience is not a factor for the hotel because the level of service is different and bellboys, valets and baggage handlers are commonplace. Motels, on the hand, are self-service for your luggage and no availability for room service expect for the local pizza via the phone book.

Aerial View of Motel

Dolphin Motel is an oceanfront motel located at the 16.5 Milepost in Nags Head, NC on the sparkling blue Atlantic Ocean and one of the world's most beautiful beaches is just a few sandy steps from your room.
Dolphin Motel is an oceanfront motel located at the 16.5 Milepost in Nags Head, NC on the sparkling blue Atlantic Ocean and one of the world's most beautiful beaches is just a few sandy steps from your room. | Source

Distinguishing Features of a Motel

Motels were built for the ease of access for the motor car. Often the structures would be U-shaped or square. The buildings would surround a parking lot creating a type of courtyard for the compound. All doors to the units would face the parking lot to allow quick access literally a few feet away. The theory was the ease of travel and loading and unloading luggage.

Motels Have An Eye for the Motor Car

The novelty of the car cannot be understated at this time. A motor coach or car was an expensive purchase that a family would be proud of and would want close to the motel room. The parking of the car right outside allowed the guests to literally look out their window to see their personal vehicle.

Benefits of the Motels

Motels are physically and logistically designed for the convenience of the motor car. Often located on a major thoroughfare or highway. Motels are a great value for the basic overnight accommodations and perhaps an occasion dip in the outside swimming pool. A motel is idea for a stay that entails simply a great night's sleep at a reasonable fare.

A few independent motels may feature individual cabins and balance the price and convenience with a picturesque setting in the woods or pine trees.

Etymology and Evolutions of the Words Motel and Hotel

A motel is a word derived from a portmanteau (a blending of two terms together into one new word). The motel was an answer to the consumer's need as the United State's highway system developed and traveling long distances became more feasible and therefore more frequent. Logistically located on main highway and architecturally designed for the quick, convenience of parking the car and unloading the various suitcases.


Hotel Guest Amenities

Definition:

"Hotel guest amenities are provided by the hospitality industry to enhance and provide more convenience to customers. Guest amenities can be complementary or offered for a fee. Hotel guest amenities can include everything from in-room entertainment / communication facilities, grooming / bathing accessories to laundry and dry cleaning services."

Hotel Management-network.com/glossary

Motel - Created for the Overnight Motorist

A motel was created specifically for overnight "motorists". Designed to have the motor vehicle front and center and ease of access to a room for the night. In the United States, we still have Motel 6 and Super8 motels along with a plethora of private, family-owned operations. Motels gained popularity in the 1960s when the motor car was the rage.

The common term in this vintage era, as fellow baby boomers can attest was a motel. The profitability of the motels was noted and large chains called hotels entered the market with massive advertising campaigns and a whole new venue of stay - a motel with hospitality. Hotels are best known for the amenities, gift shops and restaurants that they offer - an entire vacation package often all under one roof.

Motel Term Deemed Passe - Times Change - Terms Change

Sadly with the advent of high powered advertising and hotel chains, the term "motel" has been deemed "passe" or out of fashion. Furthermore, the use of a motor car or motor coach or even motorway is not heard frequently in the United States. While my GPS lady says motorway, I have never before hear this term.

As times change, so too our terms needed to change. To respond to new consumer sentiment, in 2000, the American Hotel-Motel Association removed the term "motel" from its name. The association that represents this industry is now called the "American Hotel and Lodging Association".

The term "lodging" was chosen to cover a variety of different style guest rooms and experiences including luxury and boutique hotels, suites, inns, budget, and extended stay."

Vintage Photos of Motels

Travel back in time and reminiscence with me on the innovation of the motel. From the very first motel - in Santa Barbara, California (leave it to the state of California to spearhead innovation) to several other scenic sites. Note the architecture and the proximity to the motor cars. The motel offers the comfort of a quiet overnight stay, safe for your motor coach and you and your family with convenience access to the highways and convenience access for luggage.

Motels Then - Motel 6 Vintage Post Cards

First Motel 6 - Santa Barbara The first Motel 6 opened off the Santa Barbara beach in 1962 (and is still in operation today). This is Motel 6 #2, also still in operation, and also in Santa Barbara, but uptown. Two story motel with white railings
First Motel 6 - Santa Barbara The first Motel 6 opened off the Santa Barbara beach in 1962 (and is still in operation today). This is Motel 6 #2, also still in operation, and also in Santa Barbara, but uptown. Two story motel with white railings | Source
Motel with 111 units, TV, Pool, Phone, Air-conditioned
Motel with 111 units, TV, Pool, Phone, Air-conditioned | Source
Motel post card photo with green roof on the single story motel
Motel post card photo with green roof on the single story motel | Source

Motels Now - Super 8 Delavan, Wisconsin

front facade of a Super 8 located in Delavan, Wisconsin
front facade of a Super 8 located in Delavan, Wisconsin | Source

Motels Then and Now

Just as times have changed and terms have changed, so too, the motel has kept pace with consumer demands.

Many motels now offer indoor swimming pools and spas, wireless Internet connections and video game rooms. A perfect example is the Super 8 Motel at the Chicago-O'Hare Airport in Illinois. Fitness rooms typically remain absent from the motel. The price is generally the least expensive of all accommodations in the area.

True to its history, motels remain dedicated to convenience. For a good night's rest, convenient access at an affordable fare, the motels in the United States offer a great rate and a great service to the weary traveler.

Next time you are considering an overnight stay, look beyond the hotels, check out the motels in the area, the prices and the convenience might be a pleasant surprise.

Motels Now - Super8 Motel Madison, Wisconsin

photo of the front facade of a Super 8 Motel, Madison, Wisconsin
photo of the front facade of a Super 8 Motel, Madison, Wisconsin | Source
interior view of a Super 8 Motel
interior view of a Super 8 Motel

Super 8 Motel - Chicago-O'Hare Airport, Illinois

Photo of the front facade of the Super 8 Motel - Chicago - O'Hare Airport, Illinois
Photo of the front facade of the Super 8 Motel - Chicago - O'Hare Airport, Illinois | Source

Motels - A Practical and Frugal Alternative to Hotels

Motels Now Offer More!

Motels have changed throughout the ages and now offer more to the traveler. Still fulfilling a basic service and need with the goal of convenience, the motels in America offer a great travel value that is often over looked when making travel plans.

Seeking to book a trip and want to share an economical alternative to a hotel - the motel. Send this article off to that friend with one of our many share buttons provided below - from email to Facebook and more...

Had a good experience at a motel? Share with us your story in the comments below:

Your Opinion Counts

Would you now consider a motel for your lodging needs?

See results

Enjoy this website? Not a member yet?

JOIN HUB PAGES TODAY!

© 2010 Ken Kline

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I used to work at the Magnolia in downtown Dallas. . . .used to be Dave Rockefeller's Mobil or Gulf oil hq. . . .I forget.

      I'll take a 6 or an 8 any day.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Wesman Todd Shaw,

      I think the Motel 6 and the Super 8 offer some great values. I know I live in a resort and the economical options for lodging is a value many a family, I feel cannot afford to pass up.

      I agree the 6 or 8 is a great option.

      I'd like to see a greater appreciation for the locally owned motels. I know they are a hard sell given the competition but there are some great values overlooked.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I guess I am out of date. Generally I don't distinguish and I use the term motel generally. However, i don't use either if I have an alternative.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      dahoglund,

      You mention the item that I found interesting during my research, for the state of Wisconsin, the most expenditures are made 1.) from those with second homes and 2.) those that stay with friends and family.

      Thanks for contributing - greatly appreciate it.

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 6 years ago from > California

      Hi Goldie,

      Excellent Hub describing the distinct features of both the "Hotel" & "Motel"...To be honest I haven't stayed in a Motel in a while, more the Hotel kind of person but it looks like the Motel might be making a comeback...They actually look more appealing in your pictures, adding additional amenities for a more pleasurable and convenient stay. Thanks for sharing.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Alternative Prime,

      I too had shied away from the motels but you nailed it they are making a comeback - they sometimes have all the amenities of the hotel without the restaurant and without the high fees.

    • profile image

      Jasmine JellyBaby 6 years ago

      I used to work in a Motel and it really was a shitty job until I got a job at a Hotel then I knew the difference. Motel is for the cheap and Hotel is for the Rich. Nice hub, now i'm thinking of going to a HOTEL for the weekend!

    • profile image

      DavidLivingston 6 years ago

      This is a good post. Thanks for sharing.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      @Jasmine JellyBaby,

      There is a big difference but I think there is a time and place for both. Families need to save money and yet the Motel is often overlooked. Yes, I agree, for the most part, it is the Hotel is the first choice but the checkbook often rules.

      @DavidLivingston,

      As Jasmine as concisely stated, there is a big difference. It is helpful too look at all the possibilities when shopping. I felt the post was needed and some of the Motels are a fantastic value, especially if you are just passing through to your final destination.

    • businessesforsale profile image

      businessesforsale 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Motels are usually occupied by passing traffic, like truck drivers, business trips, etc. Great hib with great info!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      businessesforsale,

      You are right, it is a short term stay just to meet the needs of the human body - sleep. A great and frugal alternative for business and families seeking to keep on track with their budget.

    • profile image

      Escape Hunter 5 years ago

      Motels have always had that "Route 66 feel" and they give me a sense of adventure. Not that I don't like hotels, but there is a "thing" in motels that attracts me in a special way.

      thank you for this great article!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Escape Hunter,

      You make a good point - motels have a corporate culture or a feel that is unique and very flavorful.

    Click to Rate This Article