Hotels provide accommodation in private rooms, ranging from simple beds in a room to luxury suites with round-the-clock service. They are usually located in busy areas such as central business districts, city centres and airports, or in tourist destinations. Some are also function venues (e.g. for wedding receptions or corporate events).
Hotel services generally include a front desk with staff to handle check-in and check-out, concierge assistance, housekeeping/cleaning services, and sometimes laundry service. They may also have restaurants, bars or coffee shops that cater to guests. Some offer spa or wellness facilities such as a gym and swimming pool, and other amenities like free Wi-Fi or in-room massages. Many hotels charge a resort fee that includes access to certain facilities, such as fitness and pool facilities or a spa.
Traveling and hotels are a big part of the tourism industry, generating significant revenue for local communities. They are also a major employer, with some 4 million people working in the sector globally, and often represent a significant portion of a local economy’s tax base.
There are many different types of hotel, reflecting the needs and budgets of travellers as well as the priorities of hotels themselves. Star ratings are one way to classify hotels, though they are not always objective, and in some cases hotels simply give themselves a rating at will (e.g. five stars). Hotel groups, such as Leading Hotels of the World, carry out inspections of member and aspirant hotels against their own standards, and package tour companies often apply their own ratings to properties they feature in their catalogues.
Unlike vacation rental properties, most hotels offer 24 hour customer service, and their rooms are cleaned regularly by housekeeping services. They usually have set check-in and check-out times, which are the earliest and latest hours in which someone can stay in the hotel. They leave a few hours between those times to allow for housekeeping to clean rooms and prepare them for new guests.
Hotel amenities often include a fitness and wellness centre with a gym or sauna, and less commonly, a spa and beauty salon. They may have restaurant or catering facilities, and some offer food delivery or room service. Some have a business centre or meeting rooms, with equipment and staff available for a small fee. Many hotels also provide a wake-up call service, a feature that can be programmed in advance using the guest’s phone.
In the past, motels were the main option for road travellers, but today there are hotels nearly everywhere, including near major roads and airports. Some are chain-operated, but many independent hotels are also highly rated. Boutique hotels are often smaller, less expensive than traditional hotels and have a unique style or design, but they lack the brand recognition and marketing power of larger chains. This has caused them to struggle in the face of increased competition from upscale, independent, full-service hotels. Despite this, they remain a popular choice for business travelers and those on a tight budget.