A hotel is an establishment that provides lodging on a short-term basis. Hotels often provide a number of ancillary services for their clients such as a restaurant, a swimming pool, child-minding services, etc, although these vary vastly from location to location. Some hotels have conference services and encourage groups to hold conventions and meetings at their location.
Hotels differ from motels in that most motels have drive-up, exterior entrances to the rooms, while hotels tend to have halls with interior entrances to the rooms.
The cost and quality of hotels are usually relatively 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 common standards, especially those of smaller establishments, have improved considerably. "Basic" accommodation consisting of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand only have largely been replaced by rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Other features many travellers do not want to do without today are a TV, a telephone, an alarm clock, a small refrigerator (usually referred to as "mini-bar") containing snacks and drinks (to be paid for on departure), and tea and coffee making facilities (cups, spoons, an electric kettle and sachets containing instant coffee, tea bags, sugar, and creamer).
Apart from family-run or individual hotels, there are also national and worldwide hotel chains. These include:
- Accor Hotels
- Four Seasons Hotel
- Holiday Inn
- Hilton Hotels
- Howard Johnsons
- Paradores de Puerto Rico
- Ramada Inn
- Ritz Carlton
- Starwood Hotels
Hotels in fiction
Hotels have often been chosen by authors as the setting of their literary works, e.g. The Hotel New Hampshire. It is especially true of crime fiction (Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun, A Caribbean Mystery, At Bertram's Hotel; Cyril Hare's Suicide Excepted) and farces. Hotels also feature prominently in films (Grand Hotel, Room Service, Plaza Suite), television series, and songs, e.g. Hotel California.