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.

How to avoid scams by booking your hotel on the Internet

May, with its bridges and aqueducts, encourages some people to opt for a citytrip in Europe or more simply to set their summer holidays. And very often today, the choice of hotel is made via the Internet.

There is a new trend nowadays that users are focusing less on the number of hotel stars and more on the ratings given by Internet users on online booking sites than in the past. A rating above 8 out of 10 for a 3-star hotel will generally be considered better than a rating of 7 for a 4-star hotel!

And besides, the question arises as to what these stars are still worth. Take the case of Brussels: a 5-star hotel has even been downgraded to 4-star status for two reasons. The first is that he was saving a lot of money internally. The second is that with the crisis, many companies – austerity obliges – require their executives not to travel in 5-star hotels and to prefer a 4-star hotel to them!

But let’s go back to the online booking sites. If they are more effective than a catalogue or a travel agent – if only because of the fact that the latter cannot visit all the hotels in the catalogues – you should nevertheless be wary of the comments on some websites.

How to avoid scams by booking your hotel on the Internet

In the case of, there is no danger, because only people who have stayed in the hotel in question can give their opinion. On the other hand, other sites, which we will not name, do not always have the same ethical rule. One of them has just been condemned by the Italian courts for his local site which contained a lot of false comments – in this case completely bogus laudatory comments that were likely to mislead consumers! The fine was rather high since it amounted to 500,000 euros!

But with the Internet, the worst is never definitive. The proof, a site created by researchers at Cornell University in the United States allows to test the comments of travel sites. It’s called Review Skeptic and detects scams with nearly 90% success according to its authors. Unfortunately, only comments in English will be allowed to take the test. But well, it’s not a problem in itself, just go to the English version of the booking site. And so, if you have any doubts about some comments that are too complimentary, just insert them as they are in a small frame adapted for this purpose, click and wait for the result… with 90% success rate.

You are therefore warned and, in principle, protected against excessively crude scams.