- Life and
- Tourism & travel
A traveler's guide to
discovering the United States
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
not actually any great difference in the overall provision of hotel
accommodation between the USA and Europe; but there are some real
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
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,
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
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
the upper end of the market, brands such as Hyatt
or Marriott, Hilton
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
, or AC Hotel by
; there are lso a considerable number of
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
or in large leisure resorts, while the mid-range hotels can be found in
downtown locations and at strategically sited locations beside freeway
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
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
major highways, and many call themselves motels rather than hotels
rental apartment market in the USA has
exploded since 2010, thanks to the development of OTA's (online travel
agencies) led by AirBnB
AirBnB specifically targeted owners and
travelers looking for short term B&B or rental
Booking.com began life as a hotel booking platform, but today
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
or Quality Inn
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.
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.
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
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
Campgrounds and RV parks
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
Background to modern America
people, places and
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
today's USA. Twenty-two texts, with vocabulary guides and
exercises. Linguapress 2023.
For California, discover About-California.com
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