See also: Travel accommodation
Hotels provide private serviced rooms for guests. They range from very basic budget-style to extremely luxurious accommodation.
- Single rooms are for single travellers. In many hotels, a single room is actually the same as a double room.
- Double rooms are for two travellers sleeping in the same bed.
- Twin rooms have two separate single beds.
- Triple rooms have either three separate beds, or a double bed plus a single bed.
- Quads rooms are designed for 4 people or more.
- Suites are complete apartments with multiple rooms, generally intended for longer stays .
There is considerable variation and many frills within these basic types, the rule of thumb being that the more you pay, the larger your room becomes. Some business-oriented hotels offer an executive level, where a steep premium gets you access into an airline-style lounge and typically some perks like "free" Internet access or pay-per-view movies. Naming for these rooms varies, with eg. the Kuala Lumpur Hilton dubbing even its cheapest rooms as "Deluxe" and the next category up being "Executive" — but you need to upgrade one more step to an "Executive Suite" if you want to actually get the executive level perks. Some hotels are now taking an active stance on being smoke free.
Hotels may additionally offer meal service included in the price. Common terms include:
- Bed and breakfast (B&B). The morning meal is included. This may range considerably from a simple roll and coffee to an elaborate spread.
- Half board (aka half pension, demi-pension, modified American plan). A hotel rate that includes breakfast and one additional meal, typically dinner. Also called Modified American Plan and demi-pension.
- Full board (aka full pension, full American plan). A hotel rate in which three meals a day are included in the price.
- All inclusive. All meals and drinks are included. The list of "free" drinks is usually limited though: house wine is probably OK, champagne probably isn't.
Hotels may also charge a mandatory fee in addition to the standard room and board charge to provide access to additional facilities. This is typically called a Resort Fee and can include access to things such as exercise facilities, pools, and high-speed internet access.
The guide below is by necessity a generalization, as star ratings are awarded by each country according to their own rules, and the difference between a 3-star and a 4-star may be something as obscure as having a minibar in each room. It's also worth noting that star ratings are often 'sticky', in the sense that once awarded they're rarely taken away: a four-star built last year is probably still pretty good, but a four-star opened in 1962 and never renovated since may well have turned into a dump.
Note also that the ratings are weakening as marketers misuse them.
See also Rating systems.
Six and seven-star hotels
The notion is that a hotel can be six or seven stars is a joke among travel professionals since most respectable hotel rating systems do not give out a rating higher than five stars. The consensus is since so few hotels really can achieve the five star rating then there shouldn't be a rating higher than five stars.
An example of a claimed "seven star" hotel is Dubai's Burj al-Arab. It's certainly one of the most luxurious hotels in the world (as awarded earlier by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine). In reality, it is a 5 star deluxe property (the alleged seven star status is not often corrected in the media, though).
The five-star hotels is the quintessential luxury hotel, offering thrills above and beyond the actual needs of the travel. They have restaurants and night spots that are world class, with food and entertainment that draw non-guests to sample it too.
Five-star hotels also tend to have opulent and expensive decorations; fancy gyms, swimming pools and spas. Major five-star chains compete to offer the most ludicrous thrills imaginable: Loews offers dog-walking services, while Conrad will let you order from a menu of pillows. Needless to say, all this comes at a steep price, and you're unlikely to be able to justify the expense of a five-star for ordinary business travel. The other downside to five-stardom is that hotels that can jump through all the hoops to achieve the rating are likely to be large and impersonal.
Major chains: Orient-Express Hotels, Conrad (Hilton), Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts, St. Regis, Le Meridien and W (Starwood), InterContinental (IHG), JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton (Marriott), Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel (FRHI), Shangri-La, Kempinski, Mandarin Oriental, Sofitel (Accor), Four Seasons, Regent, Langham International
The four-star hotel is a good business hotel. Everything works smoothly, there's Internet in every room, a well-equipped business center, they'll arrange your airport transfer and room service is palatable and only somewhat expensive. And your boss will probably not faint when they see the bill.
Major chains: Hilton, Marriott, Novotel (Accor), Crowne Plaza (IHG), Kimpton Hotels
Three-star hotels are solid but dull. Your room will have an attached bathroom and there's probably a restaurant downstairs and 24-hour reception service.
Major chains: Mercure (Accor), Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn (IHG), Best Western, Cyprus Hotels
Two stars means no-frills hotel. In many countries, two stars means that your room may have its own bathroom and there's almost certainly a TV and perhaps a telephone in your room, but rooms are bare-bones and you're unlikely to want to spend any more time than strictly necessary inside.
Major chains: Ibis (Accor), Comfort Inn, Motel 6, Super 8 and Etap
You don't see many of these, and with reason. One-stars are not just no-frills, but often downright dodgy: rooms are barely functional, shared bathrooms are somewhere down a corridor and the painted ladies from the all-hours karaoke bar next door dance the horizontal tango all night long in the room next to yours.
Unrated hotels are a mixed bag. Most, it is safe to say, are hotels that are either too dodgy to achieve even the meager requirements of a one-star — or, alternatively, too small and personal to be able to offer (say) 24-hour room service, although the service and amenities offered are otherwise of five-star caliber.
There are also selective hotel groups for smaller properties that generally select for high quality, boutique hotels.
Grand old hotels
In many cities, there is one famous old hotel, usually going back to the Victorian era, that was historically the place to stay. Of course, the newer luxury hotels may have better facilities, but the old place has cachet. See Grand old hotels.
International brands are a popular choice with business travellers, as they generally offer standardized predictability. The downside for leisure travel is that they are rarely very exciting or exotic, and there can still be considerable variation within the brand.
The following lists major international hotel brands only, with over 500 hotels in multiple countries. Local chains can be found in individual country articles.
- Accor  From the luxury Sofitel brand to the basic Etap, Accor has hotels in a range of economic travel segments, from luxury to budget class hotels. Accor Hotels is probably the most established company in Europe and offers great choices for the backpacker and the discerning guests. Accor's subsidiary Compagnie des Wagons-Lits  provides hotel services for trains.
- Best Western International  is the world's largest hotel brand with more than 4,200 hotels in 80 countries. In 2006, the company celebrated 60 years of providing quality customer care and dedicated service to Best Western guests across the globe. The chain also operates in growing economies (like Armenia or Eastern Europe): seriously refurbishes interior of hotels built dozens year ago, introduces western management -- and then sells it to US/Canadian/Australian travellers. This results in low rates and a good service.
- Carlson Hotels  is a leading global hotel company with more than 1,080 locations in 78 countries. Its brands include: Radisson®, Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM, Park Inn®, and Park Plaza®. Carlson Hotels is part of Carlson, a global hospitality and travel company.
- Choice Hotels International  Brands include- Comfort Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn & Suites, Clarion Hotels, Cambria Suites, Mainstay Suites, Suburban Hotels, Rodeway Inn, and Econo Lodge
- Hilton Hotels  Hotel brands include Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Waldorf-Astoria, Hampton Inn, and Homewood Suites.
- Hyatt Hotels Hyatt has over 460 hotels and resorts in more than 44 countries. The company brands include Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Resorts, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Summerfield Suites and Andaz.
- Fairmont Raffles Hotels International The company brands include Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel with 98 hotels and resorts in 27 countries worldwide.
- InterContinental Hotels Group  (IHG) hotel brands include InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Candlewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites. With more than 4,400 hotels in over 100 countries, IHG is the largest hotel group in the world by number of rooms.
- Marriott  hotels include Renaissance, J.W. Marriott, Marriott, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites, and Marriott Vacation Club International. Marriott also owns Ritz Carlton. .
- Louvre Hotels  brands are primarily located in Europe. The upper brand (Concorde Hotels ) includes Hotel de Crillon or Hotel Martinez. The economic brands include Premiere Classe  (1 star hotels) or Campanile  hotels, two very well known brands in France and Eastern Europe (more than 800 properties).
- Pan Pacific Hotels and Resortsis a hotel-management company with a portfolio of 15 hotels in 9 countries. The company is a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance, the world's largest alliance of independent hotel groups.
- Radisson  and its affiliates Country Inn, Park Plaza and Park Inn have over 1700 hotels around the world.
- Starwood Hotels  Starwood hotel brands include Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Westin, W Hotels, Four Points, Element, and Aloft.
- Wyndham  has 6,500 hotels, concentrated mostly in North America and the Caribbean. Its vast constellation of brands includes Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8 and Travelodge. Wyndham Hotels are the upscale brand of this corporate hotel chain.
Hotel Loyalty Programs
Hotel Loyalty Programs are corporate sponsored membership clubs for hotel frequent guests and are similar to airline frequent flyer loyalty programs. Membership is free in most hotel chains. The purpose of Hotel loyalty programs are to ensure that a hotel company retains its clients as frequent guests by offering added value benefits for staying as a guest or booking conference rooms and facilities at their hotels. The basic idea is every eligible hotel night or every dollar you spend at hotel brands participating in the corporate hotel loyalty program earns points, which can be exchanged for rewards like hotel rooms, room upgrades and airline miles.
Some hotel chains, particularly in the luxury segment, operate programs that do not award points, but offer frequent guest recognition with added value benefits such as complimentary room upgrades, restaurant and spa discounts, and additional amenities in recognition of the loyal guest.
Hotel co-branded credit cards are a common strategy for earning hotel loyalty points and benefits when not staying at hotels.
An additional incentive for a hotel frequent guest is premium membership. Each corporate hotel loyalty program has its own criteria for elite membership. Hotel loyalty program elite membership is generally earned by a frequent guest when certain thresholds are met for the number of hotel stays, hotel nights, or money spent. A hotel stay is defined as consecutive nights at same hotel under same name, regardless of the number of different reservations.
Elite membership in a hotel loyalty program is generally based on activity within a calendar year. Sleep at the loyalty program member hotels for sufficient nights or stays, or spend enough money and you'll get a silver/gold/platinum/diamond hotel program membership card entitling you to various perks, such as hotel points bonuses, lounge access, free upgrades, guaranteed rooms, etc. High level elite membership in the major hotel chain loyalty programs, generally with the benefit of complimentary room upgrades, takes between 25 and 75 hotel nights in a 12-month period.
Some of the better-known hotel loyalty programs are:
- 1865, for Langham Hotels International. 
- Choice Privileges, for Choice Hotels properties including some international destinations. 
- Fiesta Rewards, the frequent guest program for Grupo Posadas at their following hotel brands: Live Aqua, Fiesta Americana Grand, Fiesta Americana, Fiesta Inn and One Hotels in Mexico as well as Caesar Park and Caesar Business in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina .
- Swissotel Circle, at Swissotel Hotels & Resorts. Swissotel Circle members enjoy exclusive privileges, complimentary upgrades and stays as well as special rates for Weekend Breaks. Formerly known as Club Swiss Gold. 
- Hilton HHonors, at Hilton hotels. Allows guests to "double dip", earning both hotel points and airline miles for the same stay. 
- Hyatt Gold Passport is a rewards and privileges program associated with the entire Hyatt hotel chain. Beginning with the first stay, a Hyatt Gold Passport member can earn and redeem free nights with no blackout dates in over 470 locations worldwide. For information visit 
- Kimpton InTouch, is a rewards program for the Kimpton Group collection of boutique hotels. Members get free wi-fi, earn a complimentary night's stay after every 7 eligible visits or 20 eligible nights, and other perks. 
- Marriott Rewards, for Marriott owned hotels. 
- Pan Pacific Privileges, for Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts 
- Priority Club, for InterContinental chain hotels (including Holiday Inn). 
- Starwood Preferred Guest, for all Starwood hotels and resorts. Le Meridien's Moments program has been rolled into this. 
- Shangri-La Hotel Golden Circle, at Shangri-La and Traders. The program is unusual for having no points of its own; instead, you can choose to credit miles into various airline programs. Nights and stays are still tracked for premium levels. 
- MaS Rewards, for Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts. Allows guests to earn points for their hotel stays and to get open access to exclusive special offers in solmelia.com 2 days before non-members. 
- Wyndham Rewards, for Wyndham branded hotels. Allows guests to earn hotel points for their stays.