A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning or climate control. Additional common features found in hotel rooms are a telephone, an alarm clock, a television, and Internet connectivity; snack foods and drinks may be supplied in a mini-bar, and facilities for making hot drinks. Larger hotels may provide a number of additional guest facilities such as a restaurant, a swimming pool or childcare, and have conference and social function services.
Some hotels offer various combinations of 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; to avoid this requirement it is not uncommon to come across private hotels which are not subject to this requirement. In Japan, capsule hotels provide a minimized amount of room space and shared facilities.
In Australia and Canada, hotel may also refer to a pub or bar. In India, the word may also refer to a restaurant since the best restaurants were always situated next to a good hotel.
The word hotel is derived from the French hôtel (coming from hôte meaning host), which referred to a French version of a townhouse or any other building seeing frequent visitors, rather than a place offering accommodation. In contemporary French usage, hôtel now has the same meaning as the English term, and hôtel particulier is used for the old meaning. The French spelling, with the circumflex, was also used in English, but is now rare. The circumflex replaces the 's' found in the earlier hostel spelling, which over time took on a new, but closely related meaning.
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 and with higher star ratings indicating more luxury. Hotels are independently assessed in traditional systems and these rely heavily on the facilities provided. Some consider this disadvantageous to smaller hotels whose quality of accommodation could fall into one class but the lack of an item such as an elevator
would prevent it from reaching a higher categorization. In some countries, there is an official body with standard criteria for classifying hotels, but in many others there is none. There have been attempts at unifying the classification system so that it becomes an internationally recognized and reliable standard but large differences exist in the quality of the accommodation and the food within one category of hotel, sometimes even in the same country. The American Automobile Association
(AAA) and their affiliated bodies use diamonds instead of stars to express hotel and restaurant ratings levels.
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 Potsdam Conference of the World War II allies Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin in 1945. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in Mumbai is one of India's most famous and historic hotels because of its association with the Indian independence movement. Some establishments have given name to a particular meal or beverage, as is the case with the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, USA where the Waldorf Salad was first created or the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria, home of the Sachertorte. Others have achieved fame by association with dishes or cocktails created on their premises, such as the Hotel de Paris where the crêpe Suzette was invented or the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where the Singapore Sling cocktail was devised.
A number of hotels have entered the public consciousness through popular culture, such as the Ritz Hotel in London, UK, 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). The luxurious Grand Hotel Europe in Saint Petersburg, Russia achieved fame with its inclusion in the James Bond film GoldenEye.
Many hotels can be considered destinations in themselves
, by dint of unusual features of the lodging or its immediate environment:
Some hotels are built with living trees as structural elements, for example the Costa Rica Tree House in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica
; the Treetops Hotel
in Aberdare National Park
; the Ariau Towers
, on the Rio Negro
in the Amazon
; and Bayram's Tree Houses in Olympos
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.
are a type of economical hotel that are found in Japan
Ice and snow hotels
The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi
, and the Hotel de Glace in Duschenay, Canada
, melt every spring and are rebuilt each winter; the Mammut Snow Hotel in Finland
is located within the walls of the Kemi
snow castle; and the Lainio Snow Hotel is part of a snow village near Ylläs
, famous for their gardens before they became hotels, include Gravetye Manor, the home of garden designer William Robinson
, and Cliveden
, designed by Charles Barry
with a rose garden by Geoffrey Jellicoe
Some hotels have accommodation underwater, such as Utter Inn
in Lake Mälaren
, Sweden. Hydropolis
, under construction in Dubai
, will have suites on the bottom of the Persian Gulf
, and Jules Undersea Lodge
in Key Largo
requires scuba diving
to access its rooms.
Other unusual hotels
A motel is a hotel which is convenient for people who wish to be able to have quick access from their parked car to a hotel room.
World record setting hotels
The hotel with the greatest number of rooms is the MGM Grand Las Vegas
in Las Vegas
, with a total of 6,852 rooms. In 2006, Guinness World Records
listed the First World Hotel
in Genting Highlands
as the world's largest hotel with a total of 6,118 rooms.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records
, the oldest hotel still in operation is the Hoshi Ryokan
, in the Awazu Onsen area of Komatsu
which opened in 718.
Burj Al Arab
is the tallest building used exclusively as a hotel. However, the Rose Tower
, also in Dubai, which has already topped Burj Al Arab's height at , will take away this title upon its opening.
Living in hotels
A number of public figures have notably chosen to take up semi-permanent or permanent residence in hotels.
- Actor Richard Harris lived at the Savoy Hotel while in London. Hotel archivist Susan Scott recounts an anecdote that when he was being taken out of the building on a stretcher shortly before his death he raised his hand and told the diners "it was the food".