What is the difference between various accommodation types?

What is the difference between a hotel and a guest house?

Although we all like a good deal, it is imperative to consider that different accommodation types have different characteristics, values and standards they have to maintain. That is why we need to evaluate all factors when it comes to choosing a lodging for our next trip.

Below is a list of the five most popular accommodation types that cater for various budgets and guest preferences. In this article we will compare and explain in detail what are the major differences between these establishments types:


A 5 star hotel will always have very high standards of service and impeccable facilities. Understandably this comes with a higher price too. But does that mean that they are the best in the market? The answer is: “Not necessarily.” It all depends on your preferences and budget.


It is important to mention that one of the world’s most extraordinary accommodations are 5 or even 6 star hotels. Obviously these come with the widest range of fanciest and most luxurious amenities and services you could ever imagine.

  • Very high standards that you can always rely on, both from facilities and quality point of view
  • The rooms are likely to be equipped with all the essentials
  • All amenities are going to live up to the expectation of a hotel standard
  • The star rating of the hotel will reflect the quality of services and facilities they provide – which makes choosing between them much easier
  • 24 hour Reception service


Despite the higher standards and extravagant facilities (once again depending on the star ratings) these hotels usually lack a few key factors. It is just simply extremely difficult to achieve personal service in these establishments due to their sheer size and the number of guests and rooms the Staff need to look after. Most hotels are ship shape (in all aspects). Which is perfect, if that is what you are looking for.

  • Lack of intimacy
  • Lack of personal service
  • Often lack of character and individual charm of rooms

Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels are basically a bridge between enormous, fancy hotels and smaller establishments like guest houses or B&Bs, where personalized service and individually designed charming rooms and facilities are feasible. The key to their success in achieving this is a higher guest per staff ratio. Hence a limited number of rooms (and guests) enable the staff to deliver a service that pays great attention to details.


These small hotels are pretty much the perfect way to get the right mixture of endearing hotel facilities with unique room amenities and decor in each room. This is also the most favourable environment for those guests who appreciate highly attentive personal service in an intimate setting.

  • Perfect establishments for privacy and intimacy 
  • Unique character and charm of the rooms and building
  • Personalized service with great attention to details
  • High standards you can rely on (Boutique Hotels also have to adhere to the international rules and regulations)
  • 24 hour Reception service


The main shortcoming of boutique hotels derives from the same characteristic that also gives them their edge. And that is their limited number of rooms. So if you’d prefer to stay in one of these hotels, you might want to book your room months in advance to be on the safe side.

  • Limited number of rooms
  • Have to book way in advance

Guest houses

Guest houses are usually family owned properties that have been converted to accommodate guests. In most cases the owners live on the property, but not sharing the common areas or their own personal living space (like kitchen, living room, etc.) with guests. Also, guest houses are likely to provide more than one meal a day. Which are usually breakfast and dinner. Furthermore, guest houses are essentially a smaller but rather a cheaper version of Boutique Hotels.


Guest houses are more budget friendly than either of the previously mentioned establishments.

  • Budget friendly version of a Boutique Hotel
  • Also great for privacy and intimacy
  • Quirky, charming architecture style but most importantly, a homely environment
  • Personalized service and rapport with the owners
  • Home-style cuisine


  • Not all establishments get themselves star graded. Therefore choosing the right one could be a bit more tricky and time-consuming.
  • International standards are more likely to be used as guidelines. Consequently you can expect that certain standards won’t be adhered to by the owners.
  • More wallet friendly means less luxurious. Likely to be fewer facilities and services available than in Hotels.
  • Limited service hours of Reception.

Bed and Breakfasts

Bed and Breakfasts are very similar to guest houses. One of the major differences is that B&Bs usually only offer one meal, and that is breakfast. Also, these accommodation types are usually smaller and therefore has less rooms available. Additionally in most B&Bs the owners live, as well as share some of their living spaces with guests. On the other hand, you get an even more homely and cozier environment with a really intimate service this way. Similarly to guest houses, the facilities and services are not necessarily standardized in B&Bs either. And as such you never really know what you will get until you are actually at the establishment.


  • Maybe slightly cheaper than guest houses
  • Cozy and homely environment
  • Uniquely designed rooms and facilities
  • Friendly, personal service (likely by the owners)
  • Home cooked meal


  • Not likely to have a star grading. More difficult to pick the one that is right for you.
  • No set standards. Some of your expectations might not be met when it comes to facilities or service.
  • Often there is no option to get any other meals than breakfast.
  • Limited Reception / opening hours


Hostels are the perfect way of travelling on a shoe-string budget. Often these places have large rooms where you need to share your space with multiple other travelers or backpackers. Bunk beds are a very common way of sleeping arrangements at these accommodation types. As well as other shared facilities such as: bathrooms, kitchen and common living areas too.


  • Hostels are the cheapest way to travel.
  • Self-catering facilities are likely to be available – if that is something you prefer


  • The available facilities and services are very limited in Hostels.
  • You have to share your bedroom with other guests
  • Often bedrooms, bathrooms and other common living areas are also shared with travelers – Hence it is not a good accommodation for privacy.
  • Availability and the standard of facilities and services are the least luxurious of all other accommodation types.
  • Very limited opening hours of Reception.

Find out how to choose the accommodation that is right for you in our previous post.