When you’re planning a trip, one of the most important (and exciting) aspects to consider is where you’re going to stay. There are countless types of accommodations for tourists, and whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure your options are truly endless.
Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, you may not be aware of all the different types of accommodation available to you, and sometimes it’s just fun to try something new. If you’re new to traveling, this article is a great place to start learning all about the types of places you can rest your head while you’re away.
Business is booming in the tourism industry, and whether you’re looking for group accommodations, a luxury suite in a big city, or someplace that really feels like a home away from home, you’ll have more than enough choices. Even budget travelers will find plenty of options, and there are tons of different sizes, styles, and services offered at different accommodations. Keep reading to discover 30 different types of accommodations.
Table of Contents
- 1. Hotel
- 2. Motels
- 3. Boutique Hotel
- 4. Bed & Breakfasts
- 5. Guest Houses
- 6. Aparthotels
- 7. Vacation Rental (Airbnb / VRBO)
- 8. Home of a Loved One
- 9. Couch Surfing
- 10. Cruise
- 11. Resorts
- 12. Chalets
- 13. Cabin
- 14. Camping
- 15. RV
- 16. Yurt
- 17. Youth Hostel
- 18. Capsule hotels
- 19. Timeshare
- 20. Yacht
- 21. Eco Hotel
- 22. Tree Hotel
- 23. Overwater Bungalow
- 24. Underwater Hotel
- 25. Hotel Particulier
- 26. Parador
- 27. Castle Hotel
- 28. Ice Hotel
- 29. Farm Stay
- 30. Cave Hotel
By far and away, hotels are the most common and most recognized type of accommodation for travelers. While there are many different types of hotels, the general term usually refers to a room that you rent out for any number of nights.
Many hotels are part of a larger chain, though you will find some smaller options here and there as well. Hotels vary vastly in price and quality, and it’s possible to find one within your budget in most major cities.
Hotels are usually rated on a scale of 1-5 stars, with 1 star offering only the most basic necessities like a bed, dresser, and bathroom. The more stars you add the more perks you will get with the room, and it’s not uncommon to find TVs, coffee makers, and complimentary toiletries included in the price. At some of the more upscale hotels you may even be treated to heated toilet seats, pool and hot tub access, and multiple bars and restaurants on-site.
There are not a lot of differences between hotels and motels, though with the latter you are almost guaranteed a parking space. Motels are most common in the United States, especially with road trippers and those looking to save some money.
Motels are often more basic in their offerings, as many who stay the night are simply resting up before hitting the road again. Sometimes motels get a bad rep for being a bit seedy, but there are plenty of great chains and even some fun retro-style motels around the country. As with any accommodation, just be sure to read the reviews before booking your stay.
3. Boutique Hotel
If you’re looking for a unique hotel stay, try staying at a boutique hotel. This type of accommodation is usually characterized by a specific design theme that sets it apart from other chains and big name hotels.
Boutique hotels are all extremely unique, with themes ranging from rustic and historic to modern and even otherworldly. Sometimes the entire hotel follows one theme, while other times each room offers a unique experience. One thing that most boutique hotels have in common is their attention to detail and one-of-a-kind designs.
Unlike regular hotels, boutique hotels usually only have a few rooms, and most of the time the price reflects the hard work put in to these quirky accommodations.
4. Bed & Breakfasts
Bed and breakfasts are aptly named, and if you’re looking for a place to rest your head and get a good meal in the morning, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better type of accommodation than this.
Often referred to simply as B&Bs, bed and breakfasts are traditionally independently run establishments located outside of the city center that include breakfast in the room rate. These types of accommodations are often in old or historic houses, and the breakfast is usually home-cooked and fit for kings (or just hungry travelers).
B&Bs are a great way to chat with locals about the area you’re staying, and when you’ve had enough chit chat you can retire to the privacy of your own room.
5. Guest Houses
Similar to bed and breakfasts, a guest house is a type of accommodation where you stay in the home or on the property of a private individual. There is no overarching rule for what differentiates B&Bs and guest houses, but a guest house is usually a bit larger and may or may not offer breakfast and other meals.
Some guest houses are small buildings located outside of the main home built specifically for visitors, though sometimes you will be staying in the actual home of your hosts. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture while simultaneously enjoying comfortable accommodation.
Those who are going on an extended vacation or business trip or those just looking for some extra space to spread out should look into booking an aparthotel. This type of accommodation is basically a large hotel room with some extra additions to make it really feel like a home away from home. Most aparthotels offer a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and separate living area.
These serviced apartments offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to really get comfortable without having to figure out how to actually rent an apartment in the city you’re staying in. You’ll have both independence and privacy with this type of accommodation, but you’ll likely have quite a large bill, too.
7. Vacation Rental (Airbnb / VRBO)
Another great option for longer stays is a vacation rental. These have become extremely popular over the past decade, with major companies like Airbnb and VRBO being the main players in the game.
Even if you are traveling for a shorter period of time a vacation rental can be a great option, as it allows you to really feel at home – as you are often in someone’s actual home. Vacation rentals usually include a kitchen area for you to make meals, a bathroom, and a sleeping area at a minimum, and some even offer extra perks like hot tubs, pools, or other amenities to make your stay extra special.
This is a popular option for families, groups, and couples, and just like hotels you’ll find a variety of sizes, price ranges, and amenities depending on the location.
8. Home of a Loved One
If you really want that home away from home feeling, you could always stay with family or friends if you have any in the area. While you may sacrifice a bit of privacy with this option, you usually won’t have to pay to stay with your loved ones, and it’s one of the best ways to get the inside scoop of the city you are visiting.
Obviously, this option is only available in certain situations, but you could always plan a trip around visiting some family or friends in a city you’ve never seen before.
9. Couch Surfing
Another option for cheap accommodation is couch surfing. Couch surfing is a global hospitality exchange in which travelers connect with a local and stay “on their couch” for free. You’ll pay a small membership fee (around 15 USD per year) to have access to other members, and the premise is that you will host anyone visiting your city in exchange.
This type of stay is definitely not for everyone, though it is a great way to connect with locals and really learn about the place you are traveling to. This is especially popular with young backpackers and those looking to truly immerse themselves in the city they are staying in.
If you choose to try couch surfing, be sure to exercise plenty of caution – you will be staying with a stranger, after all.
Cruises are a great option for travelers looking to see multiple destinations in a single trip, but just like couch surfing, this type of accommodation is not for everyone.
You’ve likely seen commercials and advertisements for happy couples and families enjoying their cruise, and many people do enjoy this time of vacation. It’s especially popular for those who enjoy all-inclusive type stays and those who like having plenty of fun activities available day and night.
Cruises can be fairly budget-friendly depending on where you are sailing, but the cheapest options often have the smallest cabin areas. That being said, if you don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your room this shouldn’t be an issue.
If you prefer to keep both feet on solid ground, a resort may be the accommodation type for you. A resort is quite similar to a traditional hotel when it comes to the rooms, but the difference is that most resorts are a destination in themselves.
Resorts are perfect for travelers looking to relax, and many are in tropical locations where you can hang out by the beach, swim in the pools, and eat at one of the on-site restaurants. Just like hotels, resorts vary in prices and amenities, but many offer extensive guest services and all-inclusive packages.
Chalets are one of the most common types of accommodation when it comes to ski retreats, and these mountainside structures are often found within larger ski resorts. These lovely alpine-style buildings are usually made out of wood and are decorated in a mountain theme. This type of accommodation is popular with groups and families, and you’ll have plenty of space to stretch out and relax after your day on the slopes.
Many chalets are even catered, meaning you’ll have a host to cook meals for you and yours, though self-catered chalets are not uncommon. Some of the higher-end chalets even offer pools, hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas.
Especially popular in the summertime, cabins are a type of accommodation that allows travelers to enjoy the great outdoors while simultaneously providing a cozy shelter once you’re ready to turn in for the night. Sometimes referred to as cottages, cabins are usually situated in rural areas surrounded by woods and near bodies of water.
Some cabins are quite modern with all the luxurious amenities you’d find in any other vacation rental (like running water and electricity), while others are more primitive in nature. If you’re looking for a true backwoods experience this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you like your modern conveniences, be sure to check the listing thoroughly before renting.
You could also choose to ditch the four walls altogether, and camping is a great way to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with nature. Tent camping is extremely popular around the world, especially amongst families and adventurers looking to get well off the beaten path.
Tents range in price, but even the most basic structure will do so long as the weather cooperates. One of the best things about tent camping is that it is extremely cheap, though the making of s’mores is a close second. Some countries allow you to pitch a tent anywhere in nature, while others have designated sites with small fees.
There are usually both public and private sites available to campers, with the public option usually being cheaper. Most campsites offer bathroom and fire facilities, but some private campsites offer additional amenities like wifi, game rooms, and even pools.
If you want the best of both worlds while exploring the great outdoors, an RV may be the best type of accommodation you can find. An RV is basically a home on wheels, and as long as there’s a road, you’ll be able to go virtually anywhere.
Even if you don’t own a campervan, rental companies like Outdoorsy in the US allow you to rent a vehicle from private owners for a fraction of the cost of purchasing your own. This is a great way to go if you want to explore a faraway state but don’t want to go through the hassle of driving all the way there or incur the costs of purchasing your own RV.
There are countless RV campsites around the world, and just like tent camping, these sites range in size and amenities.
Those in search of a more unique camping experience can seek out a yurt – a traditional portable tent used by Mongolians and other nomadic groups. Yurts have become increasingly popular in western culture and you can find them at various campsites or being rented out by private individuals in many different countries.
Camping yurts are often associated with glamping (glamorous camping) due to the amenities they offer, including real beds, wooden floors, patios, and camp stoves. Yurts vary immensely, especially the ones rented out, so be sure to read the fine print before embarking on your glamping trip.
17. Youth Hostel
As the name suggests, youth hostels are most popular with young travelers, and they are also popular with solo travelers looking to keep their budgets low. Hostels offer dorm-type living for travelers around the world, and rather than paying for an entire room, you can book a single bed and stay with other travelers. Bathrooms are also shared, though you will usually have a locker or cubby to store any valuables you have with you.
This type of accommodation is certainly not for everyone, and it’s not uncommon for guests in youth hostels to experience disturbances like bed bugs, theft, and other rowdy travelers coming into the room at all hours of the night. That being said, there are some wonderful (and remarkably clean!) hostels around the world, you’ll just need to do your research to weed them out from the seedier options.
18. Capsule hotels
If you’re looking for a cheap place to rest your head for the night, a capsule hotel will certainly get the job done. Most common in Japan and other parts of Asia, a capsule hotel (sometimes referred to as pod hotels) is similar to a hostel but rather than renting a bed in a communal room, you’ll be assigned your very own pod.
The small capsule comes complete with a bed, a door or curtain, and if you’re lucky, somewhere to charge your devices and air conditioning. Obviously, these tiny rooms aren’t big enough for bathrooms or showers, though communal facilities are available in the building.
Capsule hotels are usually quite safe, but if you’re a female traveling solo you will likely be able to find female-only pod hotels in major cities for some extra peace of mind. This is one of the least expensive types of accommodation on our list, and if you just need a place to catch some Zs for a few hours, a capsule hotel is the way to go.
Timeshares are one of the most unique types of accommodation, and you will definitely need to do a lot of advanced planning if you hope to stay in one. A timeshare is a type of vacation property that you own, but you also share the ownership and usage rights with other individuals.
Timeshares are usually located in popular vacation destinations and can be preferable to hotels if you enjoy going to the same area year after year and want some extra perks and better value for your money.
When you own a timeshare, you usually have about a week-long window to use each year, but you will often have to lock in your dates up to a year in advance, and many people like to book the same dates each year.
Yachts are another unique type of accommodation, and if you can afford to stay on one, you’ll be treated to 5-star service and experience you likely won’t forget. Most people rent yachts out for a few days rather than owning the entire vessel, and while this certainly cuts down the price, few can actually afford this type of accommodation.
Those who do want to splurge on a yacht stay can look forward to a private chef, serving staff, and plenty of opportunities to splash around in the sea during their time aboard. Some of the most popular yachting destinations in the world include the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
21. Eco Hotel
Eco Hotels are the perfect type of accommodation for those looking to minimize their carbon footprint and stay somewhere that is environmentally friendly. Eco hotels aim to promote green living and sustainable tourism and take strides to educate guests about the local environment while using recycled materials, renewable energy sources, and organic and locally sourced ingredients.
Eco Hotels have been growing in popularity, and while they can be found all over the world, the most popular ones are usually immersed in nature to really drive home the environmentally friendly ideals.
22. Tree Hotel
As a child, you probably either had a tree house or dreamt of having one, and as an adult, you can live out those fantasies and memories in a tree hotel. Just like a tree house, this type of accommodation is built in the branches of mature trees and offers a one-of-a-kind experience to guests.
To this point, tree hotels are far from the most common type of accommodation, and most of them are located in Sweden’s northernmost region of Lapland. While it’s no easy feat to get there (and it will cost you a pretty penny to stay in one of their treetop cabins) if you’re looking for a unique experience a tree hotel certainly fits the bill.
23. Overwater Bungalow
Popular with honeymooners across the globe, overwater bungalows are one of the chicest types of accommodation you’ll find – they’re also extremely expensive. Designed after Tahititean fishing huts, overwater bungalows are, as the name suggests, built over the water on a series of stilts so as not to damage coral reefs or other underwater habitats.
The concept was first thought up in the late 1960s on an island in French Polynesia, and since then overwater bungalows have popped up around the world in varying degrees of opulence. From the Maldives and Fiji to Switzerland and Mexico, these overwater villas are the perfect way to enjoy the best of the outdoors in a magnificent indoor setting.
24. Underwater Hotel
If you liked the idea of staying in an overwater bungalow, you could always take it a step further and get up close and personal with the creatures that live beneath the sea. These types of hotels have rooms built underwater with large panoramic windows showcasing colorful marine life and beautiful blue water.
There are a few underwater hotels around the world, with prices varying from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars per night. If you suffer from claustrophobia or thalassophobia (fear of the ocean or other large bodies of water), this may not be the best type of accommodation for you, though some of the windows look more like an aquarium exhibit than a portal into the open ocean.
25. Hotel Particulier
Those spending time in France, specifically Paris, could choose to stay in a hotel particulier, a rare type of accommodation that originated in the 17th century. A hotel particulier is characterized by its historical and architectural significance, and many are situated in former noblemen’s homes.
There were once over 2,000 in Paris, but today just around 500 of those remain. Many have been converted into museums and a few are used as ultra-exclusive retreats, but the rest are now hotels open to the public (those who can afford it, anyway).
Spain has their own version of hotel particuliers, and these upscale hotels are referred to as Paradores. Paradores are also housed in historic buildings, though, unlike noble houses, these government-run hotels can be found in old castles, monasteries, fortresses, and other impressive buildings all across Spain.
Needless to say, this chain of historic hotels is extremely luxurious and exclusive, and the cost of staying in a Parador certainly reflects the novelty of it. If you do choose to stay in a Parador while in Spain, just remember that most of these buildings are very old, and may lack some of the modern splendor that you may be used to.
27. Castle Hotel
Even if you’re not in Spain it’s still possible to stay in a castle, and you’ll find plenty of these grand buildings across Europe and the Middle East. While many castles have been converted into museums or even private dwellings, there are a few that offer overnight accommodation.
These grand estates are obviously fit for kings, and they afford guests a royal-style stay along with a hefty dose of history. If you’re hoping to stay close to the city, this type of accommodation probably isn’t for you, but if you do choose to stay in a castle, the grounds are usually worth a trip all by themselves.
Depending on the castle, some stays are actually relatively affordable, while others top 1,000 USD per night.
28. Ice Hotel
Another type of accommodation that has been growing in popularity in recent years is the ice hotel, a non-permanent structure that is actually carved mostly out of ice. For obvious reasons, ice hotels can only be constructed in places where the temperature remains low for enough for a few months out of the year, and two of the most common ice hotels can be found in Canada’s Quebec City and Sweden’s Lapland.
You may be wondering why you would want to stay in an ice hotel, but upon check-in, you’re given sub-arctic sleeping bags, in addition to all the fun amenities at the hotel. Most ice hotels have a sauna and hot tub facilities, along with other fun activities you can participate in like ice carving, ice skating, an ice bar, and beautiful art installations throughout.
29. Farm Stay
Those looking to earn their keep while they’re away should consider taking part in a farm stay. This type of accommodation involves exchanging work for room and board, with most of the work being farm-related. This could be fieldwork, gardening, caring for animals, or even harvesting grapes at a vineyard.
If you’re young and looking for an inexpensive way to see the world and learn something new at the same time, you can find farm stays in almost every single country. Be sure to do your research and figure out exactly what is expected of you and what you will get in return before committing to a farm stay, as each one will differ immensely.
30. Cave Hotel
If you’re interested in finding unique types of accommodation, a cave hotel might just fit the bill. Although most common in Greece and Turkey (specifically the Cappadocia region), cave hotels can be found around the world and offer a cool place to rest your head for the night.
Cave hotels usually have quite a rich history behind them, and the ones in Cappadocia were created as a refuge for Christians being persecuted by Arabs and Persians. Today they are used as hotels for adventurous travelers, though you should be prepared to pay quite a bit to stay in one of these fascinating hotels.