A hotel is an establishment that provides lodging, usually on a short-term basis. Hotels often provide a number of additional guest services such as a restaurant, a swimming pool or child care. Some hotels have conference services and encourage groups to hold conventions and meetings at their location.
The word Hotel derives from the French hôtel, which originally referred to a French version of a townhouse, not a place offering accommodation (in contemporary usage, hôtel has the meaning of “hotel”, and hôtel particulier is used for the old meaning). The French spelling (with the circumflex) was once also used in English, but is now rare. The circumflex replaces the ‘s’ once preceding the ‘t’ in the earlier hostel spelling, which over time received a new, but closely related meaning.
Hotels differ from motels in that most motels have drive-up, exterior entrances to the rooms, while hotels tend to have interior entrances to the rooms.
“Boutique Hotel” is a term originating in North America to describe intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environments. Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain or branded hotels by providing an exceptional and personalized level accommodation, services and facilities.
Typically boutique hotels are furnished in a themed, stylish and/or aspirational manner. Although usually considerably smaller than a mainstream hotel (ranging from 3 to 100 guest rooms) boutique hotels are fitted with telephony and wifi internet, air-conditioning, honesty bars and often cable/pay TV. Guest services are attended to by 24 hour hotel staff. Many boutique hotels have on site dining facilities, and the majority offer bars and lounges which may also be open to the general public.
Of the total travel market a small percentage are discerning travelers, who place a high importance on privacy, luxury and service delivery. As this market is typically corporate travelers, the market segment is referral rich, non seasonal, high yielding and repeat custom and therefore one which boutique hotel operators target as their primary source of income.
The cost and quality of hotels are usually 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, standards, especially those of smaller establishments, have improved considerably. For the sake of greater comparability, rating systems have been introduced, with the one to five stars classification being most common.
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