Hotel Rating and Classification
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis. Hotels often provide a number of additional guest services such as a restaurant, a swimming pool or childcare. Some hotels have conference services and meeting rooms and encourage groups to hold conventions and meetings at their location.
There is no hard and fast rule differentiating motels from other hotels, although a "Motel" is clearly suggesting that it is aimed at motorists. This may simply mean that it is a hotel with good access to the road network (on a motorway or ring road) so that a long car journey need not be interrupted for long by town-centre traffic. In other cases the designation is simply an attempt to make the most of a poor location inconvenient for town-centre services and attractions. Classically, though, a Motel is a hotel which is made convenient for people who, for whatever personal reason, wish to be able to have quick access from the outside world (especially from their parked car) to the hotel room - without passing the scutiny of a receptionist or fellow guests. This is usually arranged by having rooms (sometimes in individual chalets or even trailers) arranged around the car park with room doors opening directly to the outside rather than to an internal corridors.
In Australia, the word may also refer to a pub or bar. In the UK similarly, many pubs with "hotel" in their name do not offer accommodation or even food.
In India, the word may also refer to a restaurant since the best restaurants were always situated next to a good hotel.
Origins of the term
The word hotel derives from the French hôtel, which referred to a French version of a townhouse or any other building seeing frequent visitors, 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.
History of hotels and similar establishments
The practice of lodging people in specialized buildings has great antiquity and has been done by people in various cultures: the Hoshi Ryokan, currently the oldest operating hotel in the world (as far as the Guinness Book of World Records' authors know), was established in Japan in 717; in ancient Rome, inns sprang up by the various roads; Jesus was, according to the New Testament, famously born in the manger of an inn near Bethlehem due to a lack of vacancy in the lodging proper, more than seven centuries before. Hotel chains were established many hundreds of years later, and hotels today are owned by both small and large businesses.
Services and facilities
Basic accommodation of a room with only a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with en-suite bathrooms and, more commonly in the United States than elsewhere, climate control. Other features found may be a telephone, an alarm clock, a TV, and broadband Internet connectivity. Food and drink may be supplied by a mini-bar (which often includes a small refrigerator) containing snacks and drinks (to be paid for on departure), and tea and coffee making facilities (cups, spoons, an electric kettle and sachets containing instant coffee, tea bags, sugar, and creamer or milk).
Some hotels offer various combinations of meals as part of a room and board arrangement. These are often advertised as:
European Plan - no meals are included, or only a minimal breakfast.
American Plan - all meals included (full board).
Modified American Plan - option of breakfasts and dinners.
In the United Kingdom a hotel is required by law to serve food and drinks to all comers within certain stated hours; to avoid this requirement it is not uncommon to come across "private hotels" which are not subject to this requirement.
However, in Japan the capsule hotel supplies minimal facilities and room space.
The five categories can be described (loosely) as follows:
(Economy: one star) — A one-star establishment is expected to offer clean, no-frills accommodations with minimal on-site facilities for the budget traveler for whom cost is the primary concern. Guestrooms generally are small, functionally decorated, and may not have a private bathroom, in-room telephone, or amenities. On-site dining is usually not available. Public access and guest reception may not be available at all hours.
(Value: two stars) — These limited-service establishments are expected to offer clean, basic accommodations. These properties may offer some business services but generally lack meeting rooms, baggage assistance, and full fitness and recreation facilities. On-site dining is usually limited to coffee or Continental breakfast service. Guestrooms generally offer private bathroom, telephone, TV, and limited amenities.
(Quality: three stars) — Three-star establishments place a greater emphasis on style, comfort, and personalized service. They generally feature on-site dining room service, a pool and/or fitness center, a gift shop, and may provide baggage assistance. Conference rooms for meetings and extended services for business travelers are usually offered. Guestrooms offer more extensive amenities and more careful attention to decor and comfort.
(Superior: four stars) — These upscale establishments usually offer a fine-dining restaurant, lounge, and room service with extended hours. Service features usually include baggage assistance, concierge service, and valet parking. A conference center with up-to-date technology and full business services are usually offered. Public spaces and guestrooms are thoughtfully designed and constructed with high-quality materials. Guestrooms generally offer stylish furnishings, high-quality bedding and bath products, and a wide array of amenities.
(Exceptional: five stars) — The finest hotels in the world. Five-star lodging is characterized by luxury appointments, superlative service, and the highest standards of comfort. Five-star hotels offer originality in architecture and interior design, high-grade materials in construction and dÊcor, and such special touches as fresh flowers and plants in abundance. These properties also maintain a high staff-to-guest ratio, gourmet dining, and 24-hour room service. Guestrooms offer ample space, the finest furnishings and decor, premium bedding, and luxury bath products. Room amenities generally include high-speed Internet access and CD and/or DVD players. Five-star resorts may offer additional recreation facilities such as tennis courts and golf-course access. On-site spa services, a top-notch fitness center, and a pool are generally available, as well.
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.
"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 of accommodation, services and facilities.
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 generally fitted with telephone and wi-fi Internet connections, 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 non-seasonal, high-yielding and repeat, and therefore one which boutique hotel operators target as their primary source of income.
Some hotels have gained their renown through tradition, by hosting significant events or persons, such as Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam, Germany, which derives its fame from the so-called Potsdam Conference of the World War II allies Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin in 1945. Other establishments have given name to a particular meal or beverage, as is the case with the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, USA, known for its Waldorf Salad or the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where the drink Singapore Sling was invented. Another example is the Hotel Sacher in Vienna Austria, home of the Sachertorte. There are also hotels which became much more popular through films like the Grand Hotel Europe in Saint Petersburg, Russia when James Bond stayed there in the Blockbuster, Goldeneye. Cannes hotels such as the Carlton or the Martinez become the center of the world during Cannes Film Festival (France).
A number of hotels have entered the public consciousness through popular culture, such as the Ritz Hotel in London, UK ('Putting on The Ritz') and Hotel Chelsea in New York City, subject of a number of songs and also the scene of the stabbing of Nancy Spungen (allegedly by her boyfriend Sid Vicious). Hotels that enter folklore like these two are also often frequented by celebrities, as is the case both with the Ritz and the Chelsea. Other famous hotels include the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air and the Chateau Marmont, in California, Watergate complex in Washington DC, the Hotel Astoria in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the Hotel George V and Hôtel Ritz in Paris, Palazzo Versace hotel on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, Hotel Hermitage and Hotel de Paris in Monaco (in the French Riviera), Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong and Hotel Leningradskaya in Moscow.
Many hotels can be considered destinations in themselves, by dint of unusual features of the lodging and/or its immediate environment:
Some hotels, such as the Costa Rica Tree House in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, or Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park, Kenya, are built with living trees as structural elements, making them treehouses.
The Ariau Towers near Manaus, Brazil is in the middle of the Amazon, on the Rio Negro. Bill Gates even invested and had a suite built there with satellite internet/phone.
Another hotel with treehouse units is Bayram's Tree Houses in Olympos, Turkey.
A state hotel in Cienfuegos, CubaDesert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy, South Australia and the Cuevas Pedro Antonio de AlarcÕn (named after the author) in Guadix, Spain, as well as several hotels in Cappadocia, Turkey, are notable for being built into natural cave formations, some with rooms underground.
Capsule hotels are a type of economical hotels that are quite common in Japan.
Ice hotels, such as the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, melt every spring and are rebuilt out of ice and snow each winter.
The Mammut Snow Hotel in Finland is located within the walls of the Kemi snow castle, which is the biggest in the world. It includes The Mammut Snow Hotel, The Castle Courtyard, The Snow Restaurant and a chapel for weddings, etc. Its furnishings and its decorations, such as sculptures, are made of snow and ice.
There is snow accommodation also in Lainio Snow Hotel in Lapland (near Ylläs), Finland.
Garden hotels, famous for their gardens before they became hotels, includes Gravetye Manor, the home of William Robinson and Cliveden, designed by Charles Barry with a rose garden by Geoffrey Jellicoe.
As of 2005, the only hotel with an underwater room that can be reached without Scuba diving is Utter Inn in Lake MÄlaren, Sweden. It only has one room, however, and Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, which requires Scuba diving, is not much bigger.
Hydropolis is an ambitious project to build a luxury hotel in Dubai, UAE, with 220 suites, all on the bottom of the Persian Gulf, 20 meters (66 feet) below the surface. Its architecture will feature two domes that break the surface and an underwater train tunnel, all made of transparent materials such as glass and acrylic.
Other unusual hotels
The Library Hotel in New York City is unique in that its ten floors are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System.
The Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, in Toronto, Canada is the only stadium to have a hotel connected to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. West Ham United F.C.in the UK now has a hotel with rooms that overlook the pitch and sometimes double as executive boxes for important games.
The Burj al-Arab hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, built on an artificial island, is structured in the shape of a sail of a boat.
The RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California is the only 1930s ocean liner still in existence. Its elegant first-class staterooms are now used as a hotel.
The Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai houses an extremely expensive hotel with only 20 rooms.
World-record setting hotels
The tallest hotel in the world is the Burj al-Arab in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at 321 metres, which however will soon be surpassed by the nearby Rose Rotana Suites at 333 meters (1,091 feet). The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang was intended to reach 330 meters (1,083 feet), but is unlikely to be completed; it has been under construction since 1987 and was abandoned in 1992.
The highest hotel rooms are in the Grand Hyatt in the Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, the highest floor being at around 350 m.
The largest hotel in the world is the MGM Grand Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA with a total of 6,276 rooms as of December 20, 2006. On December 18, 2006 Guinness World Records listed the First World Hotel in Genting Highlands, Malaysia as the worlds largest hotel. It has a total of 6,118 rooms and is part of the Genting Highlands Resort and Casino. The First World Plaza which is joined to the two hotel towers boasts 500,000 square feet of indoor theme park, shopping centres, casino gaming areas, and eateries. Previously, Guinness had listed the MGM Grand Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA with 5,005 rooms as the largest hotel in the world.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest hotel still in operation is the Hoshi Ryokan, in Awazu, Japan. It opened in 717, and features hot springs.
The owner, chairman, or CEO of a hotel or hotel group is known as a hotelier.
The front desk, housekeeping, security, valet parking, restaurant, accounting department, and sales and marketing are common departments of a mid or large sized hotel.
The night auditor role falls within the front desk department but also carries some of the responsibilities of the accounting department.
A hotel chain is a collection or grouping of hotels under one recognizable brand operated by a management company.
Living in hotels
The American billionaire Howard Hughes lived much of his life in hotels. He moved with his entourage from hotel to hotel and from Beverly Hills to Boston before deciding to move to Las Vegas and become a casino baron. Less than a month after his November 27, 1966 arrival, Hughes made a public offer to buy the Desert Inn. The hotel's 8th floor became the nerve center of his empire and the 9th floor penthouse became Hughes's personal residence. Hughes moved to the Bahamas, Vancouver, London and several other locations — always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse of the hotel. Between 1966 and 1968, he also purchased several other hotel-casinos from the Mafia: Castaways, New Frontier, The Landmark Hotel and Casino, Sands and Silver Slipper.
Coco Chanel made the Hôtel Ritz in Paris her home for more than thirty years, until the day of her death, at 87, in a suite now named "Coco Chanel Suite".
King Peter II of Yugoslavia spent much of the Second World War at Claridge's, a hotel in London. His son, Aleksandar KaraÒorÒeviÖ, was born in the hotel.
Prince Felix Yusupov lived in the Hotel Vendôme in Paris.
Alois Brunner, Austrian Nazi war criminal, is believed to have lived in the Meridian Hotel in Damascus, Syria, under the name Georg Fischer.
Sultan Said Bin Taimur of Muscat lived at Dorchester Hotel in London after he was deposed by Qaboos of Oman in 1970, He died in the hotel in 1972.
Eleftherios Venizelos, Greek statesman and diplomat, lived in the Hôtel Ritz Paris while he was in exile in France from 1935-1936.
Hotels in fiction
Hotels have been chosen by authors as settings for crime fiction, farce and mystery works. A hotel is perfect as a mysterious, anonymous setting where various characters may gather. Hotels also feature in films, television series, songs and even theme park rides.
Tipton Hotel on Disney Channel's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"
The Hotel New Hampshire
White Horse Inn
Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun
Hotel Denouement from the Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket
A Caribbean Mystery
At Bertram's Hotel
Cyril Hare's Suicide Excepted
Hotel Rwanda is the name of a movie that involves a real hotel, Hôtel des Mille Collines, in Rwanda where real events portrayed in the movie took place
Hollywood Tower Hotel (ride at Disney-MGM Studios, Orlando, Florida)
The Overlook Hotel from The Shining
Hotel Trianon in Graham Greene's The Comedians
The Leaky Cauldron
The television series Las Vegas is set at the fictional Montecito Resort and Casino
Crossroads Motel, later Kings Oak Country Hotel and Crossroads Hotel from the former British soap opera Crossroads.
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