Motel vs. Hotel: Accommodation differences in the San Francisco Bay Area

“What’s the difference between a motel and a hotel?” and “Is it worth it to stay in a motel?” These are questions that many infrequent travelers may ask when considering different travel options in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are considerable differences between these two types of lodging accommodations and these differences constitute reasons one might chose one over the other. Generally speaking, a motel is for a traveler that is on a smaller budget and does not need the extra amenities associated with full service hotels. Motels are often constructed with exterior corridors. This layout reduces both privacy and security; as any room can be directly entered from the outside. These room entries often directly face the parking lot. On the other hand, many full service hotels boast large check-in entry areas and rooms whose corridors are located inside the hotel itself. This layout provides stronger security to guest rooms, and a barrier between hotel rooms and the outside world. In the San Francisco Bay Area, both hotels and motels are easily available for travelers.
The largest discrepancy between a hotel and a motel in the San Francisco Bay Area is the amenities provided to guests. Motels often have very limited amenities and services that are offered, hence the reduced price. Hotels charge higher rates but offer a variety of amenities which can include breakfast, high speed internet, business center, fitness center, swimming pool, meeting rooms, spa services and more. Motel rooms will generally have the basics including a private bathroom with soap/shampoo, bed, nightstand, and a television. Hotel rooms will offer all of those items and more: iron/ironing board, in room coffee, lounge chair or sofa, work desk with hard wired internet access, and sometimes a microwave or refrigerator.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, motels will often not carry a full staff on call throughout the day. In fact, motels will usually only have a staff compromised of front desk associates and housekeeping, and those staff often are often only available for limited hours. Hotels generally have a much larger team that can provide an array of services to their guests 24 hours a day. This may include a 24/ hour front desk staff, around the clock housekeeping staff, concierge, bellhop, activities director, butler, and customer service available via phone. Once again, paying a higher rate to stay in a hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area provides a traveler with an abundance of services they may desire at any time in the day or night.
Motel Brands
People generally want to provide a negative connotation with the word “motel” but across the San Francisco Bay Area there are many motels that are clean, safe, affordable, and meet the demands of their customers’ needs. There are large motel brands available all over the Bay Area including, Motel 6, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn, etc. In fact, there are over six Motel 6 brands in the Bay Area, and one directly located in San Francisco at 895 Geary Street, (415)-441-8220. Larger well known brands generally have the ability to provide better service, but the best way to find a reliable motel that fits your needs is through substantial research via the Internet. Any reputable motel will have a website, list themselves on Expedia or other online travel agents, and be associated with the local travel bureau. All three aspects will provide recommendations on guest experiences and detailed photos so that the traveler may decide whether or not a motel is the right fit for their stay.
Making a Choice
For travelers who wish for a variety of amenities and prefer the security of interior corridors in the San Francisco Bay Area, hotels will most likely fit their accommodation needs. Motels can still be a great option for short-term travelers seeking to spend less money or travelers that do not require accommodations that provide varied amenities.
Schedule A Call
Have questions about motels or hotels in the Bay Area? Interested in growing or enhancing the brand of your hotel or motel? Piedmont Avenue Consulting, Inc. offers hospitality consulting services such as operations and marketing strategies to make your hotel business competitive. Schedule a consultation at 510-761-5895 or contact us at

David Mitroff, Ph.D. Business Consultant, Marketing Expert

David Mitroff, Ph.D. is a business consultant, marketing expert and keynote speaker who founded Piedmont Avenue Consulting (, where he advises on leveraging new technology to create brand awareness, strengthen loyalty and streamline processes with proven results.

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