What is the Motel?
A motel or motor lodge is a hotel designed for motorists and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles. Entering dictionaries after World War II, the word motel, coined as a portmanteau contraction of “motor hotel”, originates from the Milestone Mo-Tel of San Luis Obispo, California (now called the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo), which was built in 1925. The term referred initially to a type of hotel consisting of a single building of connected rooms whose doors faced a parking lot and in some circumstances, a common area or a series of small cabins with common parking. Motels are often individually owned, though motel chains do exist.
As large highway systems began to be developed in the 1920s, long-distance road journeys became more common, and the need for inexpensive, easily accessible overnight accommodation sites close to the main routes led to the growth of the motel concept. Motels peaked in popularity in the 1960s with rising car travel, only to decline in response to competition from the newer chain hotels that became commonplace at highway interchanges as traffic was bypassed onto newly constructed freeways. Several historic motels are listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.
Motels differ from hotels in their location along highways, as opposed to the urban cores favored by hotels, and their orientation to the outside (in contrast to hotels, whose doors typically face an interior hallway). Motels almost by definition include a parking lot, while older hotels were not usually built with automobile parking in mind.
Because of their low-rise construction, the number of rooms which would fit on any given amount of land was low compared to the high-rise urban hotels which had grown around train stations. This was not an issue in an era where the major highways became the main street in every town along the way and inexpensive land at the edge of town could be developed with motels, car dealerships, fuel stations, lumber yards, amusement parks, roadside diners, drive-in restaurants, theaters, and countless other small roadside businesses. The automobile brought mobility and the motel could appear anywhere on the vast network of two-lane highways.
The first campgrounds for automobile tourists were constructed in the late 1910s. Before that, tourists who couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel either slept in their cars or pitched their tents in fields alongside the road. These were called auto camps. The modern campgrounds of the 1920s and 1930s provided running water, picnic grounds, and restroom facilities.
What is the difference between hotel and a motel?
Hotels can contain hundreds of rooms and several floors; they generally have staircases, elevators and internal corridors that lead to the rooms. Motels commonly have a one- or two-floor layout and guests access their rooms directly from the parking lot. … Motels typically have a more utilitarian construction.
What exactly is a motel?
A motel or motor lodge is a hotel designed for motorists and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles.