Different Types of Accommodation, Where to Stay?

What type of accommodation suits your travel needs?

Different Types of Accommodation, Where to Stay?

Different Types of Accommodation, Where to Stay?

Travelling would just not be possible without accommodation, and a great holiday can potentially be ruined in one that’s a nightmare. It’s no wonder why so many holiday-goers spend so much time (and sometimes money!) to choosing where to stay during their holiday, regardless of their budget. With so many different types of accommodation for all types of travellers, we explain the typical aspects of all of them.

Different Types of Accommodation


A hotel is any establishment that offers travellers and tourists accommodation for a fee. The quintessential hotel is one with a large number of rooms, and offers a wide range of facilities that typically consists of a restaurant and bar, a spa, a gym and a swimming pool.

However, the term hotel can be used to describe different types of accommodation, ranging from the lavish and spacious suites of luxury hotels, to the cramped utilitarian pods of the Japanese capsule hotel.

High-end hotels can be loosely categorised as luxury hotels; mass-affluent chain hotels; boutique hotels; resort hotels and business hotels.

Even though basic and cheaper hotels can be differentiated using terms such as motel, B&B, inn, guesthouse or hostel, they typically have their own unique set of characteristics which are explained below.

Hotel Resort and Boutique Hotel
Hotel Resort and Boutique Hotel

Hotel Resort

A hotel resort’s objective is to provide everything its guests might need in one convenient location. Hotel resorts are vast and self-contained with bars; restaurants; shops; entertainment venues; swimming pools and recreational areas all within walking distance of guest rooms.

Guests to hotel resorts appreciate the convenience of having everything in one place so they can focus on rest and recreation. In order to differentiate itself, a hotel resort might focus on one particular activity such as skiing or golfing. Beach resorts, mountain resorts, lake resorts and island resorts are also very common.

Boutique Hotel

You can recognise a boutique hotel by its size. Compared to most well-known luxury hotel chains, boutique hotels usually have only 10 to 80 rooms in total. This diminutive size enables boutique hotels to focus on creating a personalised experience for their guests.

Boutique hotels tend to be trendy with stylish features and ultra-modern décor. The best boutique hotels are located in the heart of busy urban centres and have their finger firmly on the pulse of what their city has to offer.

High-end boutique hotels will offer food and drink that is in tune with the area’s local produce and their concierge service will offer tailored recommendations to each guest.


Villa and Apartment Hotel
Villa and Apartment Hotel


A villa can be roughly defined as any detached country house or estate. The term ‘holiday villa’, in continental Europe in particular, is universally applied to any high-quality, detached accommodation in a countryside or seaside location.

Historically, villas were fortified, self-sufficient mansions but nowadays holiday villas range from small bungalows in the countryside to luxury mansions on private islands.

Families are often drawn to rental villas, as they tend to be self-sufficient and private. Families can spend time together in their private pool and dine in the villa with the use of a full kitchen.


Renting a whole apartment instead of a hotel room is a good option for those taking a long trip, travelling as a family or group, or simply looking for some privacy. Apartments are rented as vacation properties during peak tourist months in urban centres and other tourist destinations such as mountain towns and beach communities.

When you rent an apartment you have full access to the entire property and usually all of its facilities too, such as laundry facilities, gym, swimming pool and concierge. Cost will vary dramatically depending on the quality and location of the accommodation.


Yacht or Boat Hotel

Yacht or Boat

Destinations close to lakes, rivers and the sea can offer accommodation on a yacht or a boat. Online rental marketplaces such as Airbnb are seeing a rise in the number of people renting yachts and boats instead of hotel rooms. This trend is particularly prevalent in coastal cities of North America, the Caribbean and Europe where more and more people are choosing to spend a night or two out on the waves.

Yachts and boats available to rent range from the world’s most luxurious yachts, complete with full crew, to one berth fishing boats that you must man yourself.


Guest House and Bed & Breakfast
Guest House and Bed & Breakfast

Guest House

The definition of a guest house is loose. Generally, a guest house is any small accommodation, usually a private home, that lets out rooms to paying guests. A guest house might also be referred to as a bed & breakfast, a boarding house, an inn or a hotel.

Quality can range from high-end luxury to basic functionality, although the majority of guesthouses tend to be inexpensive. A guest house’s simplicity of design is usually offset by personalised attention offered by the host, homemade food and the potential for peace and quiet.

Bed and Breakfast

A bed and breakfast is very similar to a guest house and often the two terms can be used interchangeably. The only defining feature of a B&B is that the accommodation always offers breakfast in with the price of the room.

B&Bs are small establishments, usually with between four and twelve rooms available to guests and hosts usually reside in the house.

Sometimes B&Bs are private family homes with areas that are off-limits to guests. The term bed and breakfast might also be used by large hotels to describe the level of catering offered to guests.




One of the most inexpensive forms of accommodation, hostels are establishments that rent beds in communal dormitories. Beds in hostels are often bunk beds and all guests share bathrooms, lounge space and sometimes kitchen space.

Hostels that are more sociable also feature recreational spaces and their own bars. Hostels are popular with budget-conscious travellers, such as students, backpackers or long-term travellers, and in some countries hostels are a cheap alternative to renting an apartment.

Hostels are particularly successful in cities where the cost of a hotel room is high such as London or New York.


Motel and Inn Hotel
Motel and Inn Hotel


Motel is a shortened form of the term motor hotel and refers to any roadside establishment targeting motorists for short-term stays. Motels have one or two levels of rooms arranged around a central parking lot, enabling guests to park outside their room.

Motels are generally inexpensive and due to a major decline in their popularity in the 1980s they have a reputation for being low quality. However, motels that have survived to present day have modernised and there is a growing trend towards renovating historic motels to their former glory.

Modern motels offer the same amenities as larger hotels such as mini-bar, Wi-fi and AC but do not offer catering.


Inn is a general term that can refer to many different types of accommodation but is usually used to describe a small hotel located in the countryside. The word inn has its roots in Old English. Traditionally an inn was essentially a tavern, a place where travellers could stop for refreshments and rest their horses, but it also offered lodging for the night.

Today, modern inns use the term to invoke a nostalgia for these historic, rural lodgings. Chain hotels such as Premier Inn and Holiday Inn also use the term to differentiate themselves from hotels.


Camp (tents/huts/caravan/camper vans etc.)
Camper Van


Camping means spending the night outdoors in a temporary accommodation such as a tent, hut, caravan or camper van. Camping is common amongst outdoor enthusiasts who purposely vacation in remote locations to hike, mountain climbing, hunt or fish.

Back-country camping means hiking to your desired destination with a tent and living without basic amenities such as running water, toilets and electricity. However, campers can also pay a small fee to stay at a campsite where they can drive their car, caravan or motor home to their destination and enjoy communal shower and bathroom facilities, and optional electricity and water access.

If you like the idea of staying outdoors but would prefer to have some of the the basic amenities that a hotel typically offers, you may want to try glamping (short of luxury camping). As you may have already guessed, the luxury aspect of it means that it’s a lot more expensive than regular camping.

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