Origins of the term
The word hotel derives from the French hôtel, which referred to a French version of a townhouse or any other building seeing frequent visitors, not a place offering accommodation (in contemporary usage, hôtel has the meaning of "hotel", and hôtel particulier is used for the old meaning). The French spelling (with the circumflex) was once also used in English, but is now rare. The circumflex replaces the 's' once preceding the 't' in the earlier hostel spelling, which over time received a new, but closely related meaning.
 Services and facilities
Basic accommodation of a room with only a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with en-suite bathrooms and, more commonly in the United States than elsewhere, climate control. Other features found may be a telephone, an alarm clock, a TV, and broadband Internet connectivity. Food and drink may be supplied by a mini-bar (which often includes a small refrigerator) containing snacks and drinks (to be paid for on departure), and tea and coffee making facilities (cups, spoons, an electric kettle and sachets containing instant coffee, tea bags, sugar, and creamer or milk).
Some hotels offer various combinations of meals as part of a room and board arrangement. These are often advertised as:
|European Plan||no meals are included, or only a minimal breakfast|
|American Plan||all meals included (full board)|
|Modified American Plan||option of breakfasts and dinners|
In the United Kingdom a hotel is required by law to serve food and drinks to all comers within certain stated hours; to avoid this requirement it is not uncommon to come across "private hotels" which are not subject to this requirement.
The cost and quality of hotels are usually indicative of the range and type of services available. Due to the enormous increase in tourism worldwide during the last decades of the 20th century, standards, especially those of smaller establishments, have improved considerably. For the sake of greater comparability, rating systems have been introduced, with the one to five stars classification being most common.
 Boutique hotels
"Boutique Hotel" is a term originating in North America to describe intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environments. Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain or branded hotels by providing an exceptional and personalized level of accommodation, services and facilities. Because of their financial successes in the most recent past, there have been attempts to create chains have adopted the "boutique" look and feel. In the US this trend was started by the "W" hotel chain in the 1990s and most recently this trend can be observed in chains as "aloft", "NYLO","Hyatt Place" and others. Through this corporate adaptation of the concept the term "boutique" also changed and more recently hoteliers prefer to use the term "lifestyle hotels" to get away from the above mentioned quirky image.
Boutique hotels are sometimes furnished in a themed, stylish and/or aspirational manner. Although usually considerably smaller than a mainstream hotel (ranging from 3 to 100 guest rooms) boutique hotels are generally fitted with telephone and wi-fi Internet connections, honesty bars and often cable/pay TV. Guest services are attended to by 24 hour hotel staff. Many of the boutique hotels have on site dining facilities, and the majority offer attractive bars as well as lounges which may also be open to the general public.
Of the total travel market a small percentage are discerning travelers, who place a high importance on privacy, luxury and service delivery. This market is typically price insensitive (made up of both high end leisure and corporate travelers), non-seasonal, high-yielding and repeat, and therefore one which boutique hotel and other high-end operators target as their primary source of income.
There is no hard and fast rule differentiating motels from other hotels, although the word motel suggests that it is aimed at motorists. This may simply mean that it is a hotel with good access to the road network (on a motorway or ring road) so that a long car journey need not be interrupted for long by town-centre traffic. In other cases the designation is simply an attempt to make the most of a poor location inconvenient for town-centre services and attractions. Classically, though, a motel is a hotel which is made convenient for people who, for whatever personal reason, wish to be able to have quick access from the outside world (especially from their parked car) to the hotel room - without passing the scrutiny of a receptionist or fellow guests. This is usually arranged by having rooms (sometimes in individual chalets or even trailers) arranged around the car park with room doors opening directly to the outside rather than to an internal corridor.
 Historic hotels
Some hotels have gained their renown through tradition, by hosting significant events or persons, such as Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam, Germany, which derives its fame from the so-called Potsdam Conference of the World War II allies Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin in 1945. Other establishments have given name to a particular meal or beverage, as is the case with the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, USA, known for its Waldorf Salad or the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where the drink Singapore Sling was invented. Another example is the Hotel Sacher in Vienna Austria, home of the Sachertorte or even the Hotel de Paris where the crèpe Suzette was invented.
There are also hotels which became much more popular through films like the Grand Hotel Europe in Saint Petersburg, Russia when James Bond stayed there in the blockbuster Goldeneye. Cannes hotels such as the Carlton or the Martinez become the center of the world during Cannes Film Festival (France).
A number of hotels have entered the public consciousness through popular culture, such as the Ritz Hotel in London, UK ('Putting on The Ritz'), the Algonquin Hotel in New York City with its famed Algonquin Round Table and Hotel Chelsea, also in New York City, subject of a number of songs and also the scene of the stabbing of Nancy Spungen (allegedly by her boyfriend Sid Vicious). Hotels that enter folklore like these two are also often frequented by celebrities, as is the case both with the Ritz and the Chelsea.
 Unusual hotels
Many hotels can be considered destinations in themselves, by dint of unusual features of the lodging and/or its immediate environment:
 Treehouse hotels
Some hotels, such as the Costa Rica Tree House in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, or Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park, Kenya, are built with living trees as structural elements, making them treehouses.
The Ariau Towers near Manaus, Brazil is in the middle of the Amazon, on the Rio Negro. Bill Gates even invested and had a suite built there with satellite internet/phone.
Another ecological treehouse hotel is in the natural reserve at Rio Claro , Antioquia, (Colombia).
 Cave hotels
Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy, South Australia and the Cuevas Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (named after the author) in Guadix, Spain, as well as several hotels in Cappadocia, Turkey, are notable for being built into natural cave formations, some with rooms underground.
 Capsule hotels
 Ice hotels
Ice hotels, such as the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, melt every spring and are rebuilt out of ice and snow each winter.
 Snow hotels
The Mammut Snow Hotel in Finland is located within the walls of the Kemi snow castle, which is the biggest in the world. It includes The Mammut Snow Hotel, The Castle Courtyard, The Snow Restaurant and a chapel for weddings, etc. Its furnishings and decorations, such as sculptures, are all made of snow and ice.
 Garden hotels
Garden hotels, famous for their gardens before they became hotels, includes Gravetye Manor, the home of William Robinson and Cliveden, designed by Charles Barry with a rose garden by Geoffrey Jellicoe.
 Underwater hotels
As of 2005, the only hotel with an underwater room that can be reached without Scuba diving is Utter Inn in Lake Mälaren, Sweden. It only has one room, however, and Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, which requires Scuba diving, is not much bigger.
Hydropolis is an ambitious project to build a luxury hotel in Dubai, UAE, with 220 suites, all on the bottom of the Persian Gulf, 20 meters (66 ft) below the surface. Its architecture will feature two domes that break the surface and an underwater train tunnel, all made of transparent materials such as glass and acrylic.
 Other unusual hotels
The Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, in Toronto, Canada is the only stadium to have a hotel connected to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. West Ham United F.C.in the UK now has a hotel with rooms that overlook the pitch and sometimes double as executive boxes for important games, as does Coventry City's Ricoh Arena.
 World-record setting hotels
The tallest hotel in the world is thought to be the Burj al-Arab in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at 280 metres, which however will soon be surpassed by the nearby Rose Rotana Suites at 333 meters (1,091 ft). The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang was intended to reach 330 meters (1,083 ft), but is unlikely to be completed; it has been under construction since 1987 and was abandoned in 1992. The Baiyoke Sky Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand has a building height of 309 meters, but rooms do not go all the way to the top.
The largest hotel in the world is the MGM Grand Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA with a total of 6,276 rooms as of December 20, 2006. On December 18, 2006 Guinness World Records listed the First World Hotel in Genting Highlands, Malaysia as the world's largest hotel. It has a total of 6,118 rooms and is part of the Genting Highlands Resort and Casino. The First World Plaza which is joined to the two hotel towers boasts 500,000 square feet (50,000 m²) of indoor theme park, shopping centres, casino gaming areas, and eateries. Previously, Guinness had listed the MGM Grand Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA with 5,005 rooms as the largest hotel in the world.
In the past, other hotels have held the title of largest hotel in the world, in terms of the number of rooms. Some of these include the Rossiya Hotel near Moscow's Red Square, and the Ambassador City Jomtien in Pattaya, Thailand. Other large hotels being considered for development that may one day take the title are in Penang, Malaysia and Macau.
 Hotel occupations
The front desk, reservations, housekeeping, security, or loss prevention, valet parking, transportation, uniformed services ( which may refer to bellmen, doormen, and even concierge) food and beverage, accounting, sales, marketing, catering, audio visual, and engineering or maintenance are common departments of a mid or large sized hotel.
The night auditor role falls within the front desk department but also carries some of the responsibilities of the accounting department.
The engineering staff takes care of building repairs and up keep of HVAC systems, plumbing, fire sprinkler systems, chillers, cooling towers, pool and spa if applicable, lights, breakers, door locks, C.P.R., laundry machines, kitchen walk ins, ice machines, building air handlers, room repairs and upkeep.
 Hotel chains
A hotel chain is a collection or grouping of hotels under one recognizable brand operated by a management company. Best Western International claims to be the largest hotel chain in the world, in terms of the number of properties.
 Living in hotels
The American billionaire Howard Hughes lived much of his life in hotels. He moved with his entourage from hotel to hotel and from Beverly Hills to Boston before deciding to move to Las Vegas and become a casino baron. Less than a month after his November 27, 1966 arrival, Hughes made a public offer to buy the Desert Inn. The hotel's 8th floor became the nerve center of his empire and the 9th floor penthouse became Hughes' personal residence. Hughes moved to the Bahamas, Vancouver, London and several other locations — always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse of the hotel. Between 1966 and 1968, he also purchased several other hotel-casinos from the Mafia: Castaways, New Frontier, The Landmark Hotel and Casino, Sands and Silver Slipper.
 See also
- Apartment hotel
- Hospitality services
- Hotel chain
- Luxury resort
- Vacation rental
- List of lodging types
- RevPAR (measurement of hotel performance)
- Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel (mathematics)