Updated: Jun 10, 2021
Know your finca from your farmhouse? What’s the difference between a hotel, motel and hostel? The first part of this vocab series can help.
From pubs and palaces to manor houses and mansions, there are a seemingly endless number of terms to describe the different forms of hotels found around the world. You are probably familiar with all the terms … but what do they all mean?
To help remove the confusion we've put together a dictionary of different hotel types. Learn more with our official definitions below, peppered alongside some of our favourite properties.
Property types: the basics
The majority of hotel properties take the form of one of these basic types.
B&B: (bed & breakfast) accommodation and breakfast provided in a guesthouse
Chambres d’hote: bed & breakfast located in France
Guesthouse: private house offering accommodation to paying guests
Hostel: establishment which provides cheap food and lodgings for students and workers
Hotel: establishment providing accommodation, meals and other services for travellers and tourists
Inn: establishment, traditionally one in the countryside, providing accommodation, especially for travellers. Food and drink may be available
The Wheatsheaf Inn, located in the Cotswolds, is a perfect example of a traditional inn.
Motel: roadside hotel designed primarily for motorists, typically having rooms arranged in low blocks with separate entrances that lead directly to outside parking (origin 1920s; blend of motor and hotel).
Restaurant-with-Rooms: establishment where people sit and eat meals that are cooked and served on the premises, which has paying accommodation on-site
Resort: place frequented for holidays or leisure activities
It doesn't get much better than Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Sante Fe.
Into the country
We now move to properties you'd find in the countryside. These are modest building types associated with the land that have, in time, been converted into hotel accommodation.
Barn: large farm building used for storage or for housing livestock
Blue Door Barns in East Sussex offers the quintessential barn experience.
Cottage: small, simple house, typically one in the country
Dovecote: shelter with nest holes for domesticated pigeons
Farmhouse: house attached to a farm, especially the main house in which the farmer lives
Grange: country house with farm buildings attached
Woolley Grange, near Bath, shows how terminology can be confusing. Described as a Jacobean Manor house, we can assume it was originally a more modern establishment.
Lodge: small house at the gates of a park or in the grounds of a large house, originally occupied by a gatekeeper or other employee or a small country house. Traditionally occupied in season for sports such as hunting and shooting
Outhouse: smaller building built onto or in the grounds of a house
Pub: establishment for the sale and consumption of beer and other drinks, often also serving food and occasionally providing lodging
We hope this has been useful in decoding some of your favourite properties around the world. Did we miss any out? Let us know in the comments. More coming soon...