Traveling and hotels are an essential combination for many travellers, especially those travelling for business. Depending on the location, hotels may have different types of facilities and rates. Usually, a higher rate is charged in the high season (e.g. summer holidays).
Some hotels have self-service check-in and checkout options. These are usually provided as a cost-cutting measure to reduce staff costs and enable guests to manage their own accommodation experience more effectively. The availability of such services depends on the hotel and ranges from a simple kiosk to smartphone apps that allow self-service check-in and check-out.
A common feature of hotels in many countries is the use of a rating system that compares their supposed quality with other similar properties. In the simplest case, this is done using star ratings, ranging from one-star to five-star hotels. Some systems are formally sanctioned by hotel organisations, while others may be less formal (e.g. some package tour companies give hotels their own star-like ratings).
Almost all hotels provide amenities, which are the free extras included in the room price that help make a stay more pleasant. These are often supplied by a third party provider and can be quite diverse, from the simple soap and shampoo to luxury branded toiletries. In addition to the bathroom, these can also include a hair dryer or ironing board, a mini-bar, in-room safe, tea/coffee making facilities and a telephone with voicemail.
In some cases, these amenities are also available in public areas such as restaurants and bars, or in a spa or wellness area. Most hotels offer a free or paid internet connection in their rooms, as well as a business centre with computers, printers and fax machines. Some hotels also offer wake-up calls and in-room spa services.
Many hotels have a restaurant and/or bar, while some may have more than one. A hotel with a restaurant is called a full-service hotel, and those that do not have a restaurant are known as limited-service hotels.
Some hotels have rooms suited to specific kinds of travellers, such as honeymoon suites or wedding suites. These are often larger and may have special features such as oversize beds or whirlpool baths. Some hotels also have a premium suite category that is more expensive, but offers a greater level of luxury and service.
Hotels can have a variety of rates that they offer to guests, including advance booking discounts. These are offered in order to encourage travellers to book their stays in advance, which allows the hotel to better manage its occupancy levels. Usually, these discounts are offered at some or all of the hotel’s available rooms during the desired dates of stay.
An alternative to staying in a hotel is lodging in private home rentals, such as those offered by Airbnb. This can be more economical and can provide a more local and immersive experience than a traditional hotel stay. It can also be more convenient for families or groups of friends traveling together.