A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a refrigerator and other kitchen facilities, upholstered chairs, a flat screen television, and en-suite bathrooms. Small, lower-priced hotels may offer only the most basic guest services and facilities. Larger, higher-priced hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre (with computers, printers, and other office equipment), childcare, conference and event facilities, tennis or basketball courts, gymnasium, restaurants, day spa, and social function services. Hotel rooms are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some boutique, high-end hotels have custom decorated rooms. Some hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. In the United Kingdom, a hotel is required by law to serve food and drinks to all guests within certain stated hours. In Japan, capsule hotels provide a tiny room suitable only for sleeping and shared bathroom facilities.
Hotel operations vary in size, function, complexity, and cost. Most hotels and major hospitality companies have set industry standards to classify hotel types. An upscale full-service hotel facility offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, an on-site restaurant, and the highest level of personalized service, such as a concierge, room service, and clothes pressing staff. Full service hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large number of full service accommodations, an on-site full service restaurant, and a variety of on-site amenities. Boutique hotels are smaller independent, non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities. Small to medium-sized hotel establishments offer a limited amount of on-site amenities. Economy hotels are small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer basic accommodations with little to no services. Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized hotels that offer longer-term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel.
The precursor to the modern hotel was the inn of medieval Europe, possibly dating back to the rule of Ancient Rome. These would provide for the needs of travellers, including food and lodging, stabling and fodder for the traveller's horse(s) and fresh horses for the mail coach. Famous London examples of inns include the George and the Tabard. A typical layout of an inn had an inner court with bedrooms on the two sides, with the kitchen and parlour at the front and the stables at the back.
Some English towns had as many as ten such inns and rivalry between them was intense, not only for the income from the stagecoach operators but for the revenue for food and drink supplied to the wealthy passengers. By the end of the century, coaching inns were being run more professionally, with a regular timetable being followed and fixed menus for food.
Lifestyle luxury resorts are branded hotels that appeal to a guest with lifestyle or personal image in specific locations. They are typically full-service and classified as luxury. A key characteristic of lifestyle resorts are focus on providing a unique guest experience as opposed to simply providing lodging. Normally, lifestyle resorts are classified with a Five Star hotel rating depending on the country and local classification standards. Examples include: W Hotels, Shangri-La, Sheraton, Oberoi, Belmond, Jumeirah, Aman, Taj Hotels, Hoshino, Raffles, Fairmont, Banyan Tree, Regent and Park Hyatt.
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited number of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool. Examples include Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn.
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that caters towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels lack an on-site restaurant. Examples include Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Residence Inn by Marriott, Element, and Extended Stay America.
A motel, an abbreviation for "motor hotel", is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to a limited service, lower-cost hotel, but typically with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Motels were built to serve road travellers, including travellers on road trip vacations and workers who drive for their job (travelling salespeople, truck drivers, etc.). Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major highway, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of freeway.
Hotel management is a globally accepted professional career field and academic field of study. Degree programs such as hospitality management studies, a business degree, and/or certification programs formally prepare hotel managers for industry practice.
A number of hotels have entered the public consciousness through popular culture, such as the Ritz Hotel in London, through its association with Irving Berlin's song, 'Puttin' on the Ritz'. The Algonquin Hotel in New York City is famed as the meeting place of the literary group, the Algonquin Round Table, and Hotel Chelsea, also in New York City, has been the subject of a number of songs and the scene of the stabbing of Nancy Spungen (allegedly by her boyfriend Sid Vicious).
Located on the coast but high above sea level, these hotels offer unobstructed panoramic views and a great sense of privacy without the feeling of total isolation. Some examples from around the globe are the Riosol Hotel in Gran Canaria, Caruso Belvedere Hotel in Amalfi Coast (Italy), Aman Resorts Amankila in Bali, Birkenhead House in Hermanus (South Africa), The Caves in Jamaica and Caesar Augustus in Capri.