What Is a Hotel?

A hotel is a place to stay while on vacation or business travel. It is usually located in a central city area and offers a variety of amenities including restaurants, bars, conference rooms and other business facilities and a range of guestrooms. A hotel may also have a spa, pool or gym. It is possible to book a room at a hotel directly or through an online booking website. A modern hotel may be a large structure with multiple floors and a wide array of connected features, or it might be a small building with only a few rooms. A large hotel may also offer convention space and business services, while a small hotel may be more focused on providing a personal touch to its guests. A hotel is often a popular destination for business meetings and conferences, as well as social events such as weddings, parties and reunions. The modern hotel originated in Europe, where the industry was first organized during the Industrial Revolution. Hotels evolved from inns, which were often built near transportation routes and used to provide food and shelter for travelers. The development of railways and steamships, which made long-distance traveling more efficient and comfortable, contributed to the growth of the hotel. In the United States, hotel-building began in the 1790s when urban merchants replaced local taverns with capacious establishments of their own creation. These opulent public monuments were designed to valorize the merchants' commercial pursuits and promote a commercial future for America, which at that time was still an agrarian republic. By the 1840s, hotel proprietors had come to view their operations as part of a national system that was connected by railroads and governed by standardized management techniques. They established the first trade associations and published the first specialized magazines like "Hotel World" and "The National Hotel Gazette." A hotel's guestrooms typically feature a bed, bathroom and a television set. It is also common for rooms to have air conditioning and heating. Room service is available at many hotels, and some even offer an in-room kitchen. Other amenities may include a telephone with STD/ISD capability, an in-room safe and a refrigerator. Some hotels have restaurants on-site that are open to the general public as well as hotel guests. Hotel restaurants are generally more upscale than those found at inns, and they tend to have dress codes. Modern hotels may also offer a concierge, valet parking and other guest services. There are three main categories of hotel: transient, resort and residential. Transient hotels are usually located in urban areas and serve as an alternative to private homes or apartments. These hotels are usually more upscale than other types of hotels, and they cater to a clientele that is predominantly business-oriented. Resort hotels are located in resort destinations and attract leisure travelers rather than business people. These hotels are usually more upscale than business hotels and feature amenities such as pools, spas and even golf courses. Many resort hotels offer all-inclusive packages that include meals and other activities.