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Accommodation in the USA

Hotels, motels, holiday rentals and more

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A traveler's guide to discovering the United States

Index : Hotels and motels Lodges, inns, spas Camping and RVs

Accommodation choices

Looking for accommodation in the USA ? If so  jump straight to the accommodation finder .
    With almost five million rooms available, the United States has far more hotel rooms for hire than any other country worldwide. China, the runner-up, has less than two million rooms available, and no European country comes remotely near either of the two leaders in terms of absolute number of hotels rooms. However when populations are taken into account,  there is not actually any great difference in the overall provision of hotel accommodation between the USA and Europe; but there are some real differences.
The US hotel sector is characterized by very large hotels and plenty of luxury brands..
    The first big difference is in the size of the hotels. With an average capacity of 93 rooms, hotels in the USA are on average over twice the size of hotels in Europe. The second big difference is the domination, in the USA, of large hotel chains, which account for two thirds of the hotels in the USA, and an even larger proportion of the rooms. Throughout Europe, most hotels are independent or belong to voluntary and franchised -chains, and even in France, where hotels chains control a larger share of the market than in any other country of Europe, they still account for under half the hotels..
    The US hiotel marked is thus very concentrated, homogenized, and dominated by nationwide chains offering the same brands, the same kinds of services in or outside towns and cities across the from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It is also a market in which brands are highly marketed, which is one of the reasons for the constant fall in the proportion of independent hotels in the USA.

Luxury hotels and mid-range hotels

At the upper end of the market, brands such as Hyatt or Marriott, Hilton or Radisson are names that are known worldwide for their luxury hotels. However these brands also own other chains of less expensive hotels, to which they add their brand name, such as Country Inn by Radisson, or AC Hotel by Marriott; there are lso a considerable number of  mid-range chains such a Holiday Inn or Day's Inns or Comfort Hotels which have also developed internationally. Hotels belonging to the luxury  chains are generally sited in or near downtown locations and at airports, or in large leisure resorts, while the mid-range hotels can be found in downtown locations and at strategically sited locations beside freeway exits.

Budget hotels

Hôtels and rentals throughout the USA
A great selection at best rates from  Booking.com

 Los Angeles
 San Francisco
 New York
    As for budget hotel chains, the USA has plenty of these, though the majority of real budget chains are not well known outside the US. The classic no-frills budget hotel brand in the USA is Motel 6 (actually owned nowadays by the Europe's biggest hospitality company Accor); a little bit more up-market than Motel 6 are two well established chains, Super 8 Hotels and one that is also present in Europe, Holiday Inn Express. Less well known is the Red Roof Inn chain, which remains essentially a North American brand, though they have some hotels in Japan. Red Roof hotels tend to include breakfast in the room rate.
    Budget hotels are frequently located at freeway exits and beside major highways, and many call themselves motels rather than hotels

Rental apartments

The rental apartment market in the USA has exploded since 2010, thanks to the development of OTA's (online travel agencies) led by AirBnB and Booking.com. While AirBnB specifically targeted owners and travelers looking for short term B&B or  rental accommodation, Booking.com  began life as a hotel booking platform, but today offers a whole range of accommodation choices from luxury hotels down to small private apartments. Both platforms now offer a wide choice of rental apartments and rooms for hire from private landlords in virtually every city in the USA, and in areas outside the cities too.

Generally speaking, there is no shortage of vacation or holiday accommodation in the USA, except in popular locations and/or holiday periods.

Hotels and motels

Nowadays motels have a rather retro or old-fashioned image.
While all hotels are not motels, all motels are hotels. The word Motel is a contraction of two words motor + hotel, and the term designates a particularly vehicle-friendly form of hotel accommodation that first appeared in 1925, and was - and still is -  particularly suited to people traveling by car.
    The specific feature of the motel is that it is usually a single story or two-story building where each room or suite is entered directly from the outside, and guests can park their vehicle just outside their bedroom door. However to all intents and purposes, all American hotels that are not located in or close to compact downtown urban districts are motels, insofar as most of their guests - and in many locations all their guests - will arrive by car and expect to be able to park it on site.
    The word motel has gone somewhat out of fashion, but is used by budget chains and by hotels wanting to capitalize on their retro qualities.
    Downtown hotels, specially in cities in the East, may not have any parking – their customers, and notably their business customers – reaching town by plane and traveling on from there by taxi.

Lodges, Inns, Spas and Resorts

Visitors may be confused by the arry of terminology applied in the names and descriptions of hotels in the USA.
    The word "Inn", as found in Holiday Inn or Quality Inn, has no specific meaning. The word inn has been used in English for hundreds of years to describe a place offering accommodation; for this reason, it has a slightly homely and comfortable ring to it – like calling a bar a tavern – but there is no specific quality behind the term as applied in the world of accommodation in the USA. It just means a hotel.
    The same is  partly true of the term lodge, another old English word. This term just means a place to stay... which is about all it means in names such as in the Travellodge chain. However the word is also used to describe some up-market rural retreats, in or around national parks and other parts of the countryside.
    A "spa"on the other hand, has a definite meaning when attached to the name of a hotel. To be a spa, a hotel must provide wellness facilities, generally including a pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna and or a hammam – and in many cases qualified staff to look after the facilities.
    As for resorts, these are hotels that provide a lot more than just accommodation. Traditionally the word resort has been used to describe seaside towns or other holiday locations; more recently, particularly in the USA, it is used to describe "establishments that cater to the vacation and recreation wants of their guests without them having to leave the premises" (source: Stastia).  The classic examples of resort hotels are Disney theme park hotels, and golf-course hotels - though less elaborate resorts may include ski resort hotels or rural resorts that serve as a base for hiking, fishing and other rural activities.
Looking for accommodation in the USA ? If so  jump straight to the accommodation finder .

Campgrounds and RV parks

In Britain there are campsites, in the USA there are campgrounds... just a little difference in word use. Campgrounds are particularly associated in the USA with National Parks, State Parks and other officially designated recreational areas in the mountains and the forests. Estimates vary for the total number of campgrounds in the USA, between 12,000 and 15,000 with slightly more than half of them run as commercial businesses.
    Commercially run campgrounds are on the whole bigger, and provide more facilities than public sites. The latter may be fairly rudimentary in remote areas, where they may provide little more than drinking water, chemical toilets and camp-fire / barbecue pits... more than enough for many campers.. Campgrounds like this are often free, which is a bonus.
    People traveling in RVs (= recreational vehicles, i.e caravans or motor-homes) can also stay in dedicated RV parks, though they may prefer to stay in general campgrounds which usuall accept RVs as well as tents. RVs are accepted in most campgrounds in the USA, and may also be able to stay at some rural hotels and motels that provide electric hookups for RVs. 


For more background to the USA.....

Book / ebook     A Background to modern America -  people, places and events  that have played a significant role in the shaping of modern America. A C1-level Advanced English reader for speakers of other languages, and anyone wanting to  learn some of the background to today's USA.  Twenty-two texts, with vocabulary guides and exercises. Linguapress 2023.

For California, discover About-California.com, a short guide for visitors.

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