Hotels and motels in the USA what are the differences?

The articles in the OntheRoad category cover all aspects of your stay, such as how to choose motels in the USA. We list some information, tips and tricks to help you make your stay with Uncle Sam unforgettable.



Many chains exist, here are a few of them, but you will discover many more as you travel.

  • Motel 6
  • Wyndham Hotels ( Travelodge – Ramada -Days Inn, Wingate, Super 8, Baymont)
  • Red Roof
  • Econolodge
  • Quality Inn
  • Choice Hotel
  • La Quinta

There are also an impressive number of motels in the USA that are independent and therefore not part of any chain. You will find all types of motels, from the excellent, to the extravagant, to the original, to the typical of a certain image of America, but also motels that are disappointing or limited to being abandoned.

A motel is specially designed with the car in mind. Motel (motor-hotel) so you can park your car or van right in front of your room door.

Some advice before booking

  • For independent motels (but to a certain extent for chains) it may be prudent to ask to see the front room, even if the appearance of the motel and reception is often quite revealing. You may be surprised for good or for bad.
  • Check out a site like Tripadvisor to find out what customers think
  • You can find discount coupon books in large numbers at petrol stations, motorway rest areas, and visitor centres.
  • Remember that you must add taxes to get the exact room price (6 to 10%) depending on the state.
  • In some cases and with courtesy, you can try to negotiate the price by referring to another nearby motel. (it works well if there are few cars in the parking lot).
  • It is safer to book in advance for big cities and tourist sites, the easiest way is to do it via the internet (from your room, many hotels, motels offer free internet). You can also ask the reception if you are staying in a motel of the same chain. Reservations are made with a credit card.

Usually in motels in the USA you have free internet access or at a modest price, a continental breakfast is sometimes included, but ask for details about breakfast, as it is often reduced to its simplest form, namely a hot drink, a juice on the edge of the coupon and a toast or muffin. In others, it’s a pleasant surprise, with waffles to bake yourself, eggs… finally, a full American breakfast for the lucky ones!

Many establishments offer a swimming pool, it will be welcome after a long day of walking. Almost all of them have an automatic laundry, dryer, washing machine, quarter (25 cent coin) in large numbers for your laundry, count between $3 and $4 for a wash and dry.

When a sign indicates “Vacancy” at the entrance, it means that there are rooms available. And when it’s full, “No vacancy”… In principle, this sign is visible from the road.

When you compare prices, be aware that they are tax-free, they vary according to the condition, motels obviously have free parking and often so close to the room that the car’s bumper is right in front of the door. Motels are often located along major roads, but it is not uncommon to see them in downtown areas.

The independent motels of a large chain can be interesting, by the welcome, the setting, the authenticity and the charm. But be careful, many small motels die and are not at all to standard, not to mention that for cleanliness, it sometimes leaves something to be desired. Once again, do not hesitate to ask to see the room, especially if the price is unbeatable. There are often good surprises and then it changes channels that all look the same and are sometimes more expensive.

Advice: Motels are the simplest and most practical way to stay in the USA, combining economy, comfort and standard services. If you are loyal to a motel chain, you will get additional discounts, such as Super 8 and its Wyndham Rewards program (map), which provides discounts in 6,000 hotels in 12 brands in the Super 8 group.


There are a plethora of hotel chains in the USA, which are often quite expensive. Use comparators to find them and read reviews from sites such as Tripadvisor.

It should be noted that the difference between motels and hotels is not always easy to make, except by the price and the fact that in large cities there is no parking. Hotel services are often superior to motels in terms of price. The classification is done more with diamonds than with stars. A hotel in New York will also not have the same rate as a hotel lost in Texas.


Another point of clarification, whether in hotels or motels in the USA there are often two large double beds per room, so if you are a family with two children, only one room is needed. This is not insignificant in terms of budget.