Back to Basics: Types of Accommodations Worldwide

Our journey back to the basics continues today, so let’s focus on accommodations. Unlike air, accommodations is a sector of the travel industry that all leisure and corporate agents must understand.

Interestingly, the expectations of what lodging should provide differ around the globe. Many Europeans, for example, might not expect a private bath but would be shocked to find no bidet. On the other hand, some Americans might be surprised to find no elevator or baggage service in some of the less expensive European lodgings. Likewise, Americans who rent a car in Europe often are frustrated to find their lodging has no garage or parking lot.

Therefore, travel counselors who are well informed about the different types of worldwide accommodations are better equipped to match their clients’ needs with an appropriate property. For a deep dive into all accommodations, enroll in The Travel Institute’s TRIPIT

Now, during the travel pause, is a great time to familiarize yourself with lodgings, so you can counsel your clients once travel rebounds. But giving good advice can be challenging, largely because (1) accommodations vary tremendously and (2) judgments about accommodations are unusually subjective. Travelers often develop expectations that can be hard to define and even harder to match. A good first step in learning to evaluate accommodations is to become familiar with lodgings that may be available.

Kinds of Accommodations

There are more than 20 different types of accommodations worldwide, and all are covered in the TRIPKit Program. Here are 10 unique worldwide accommodations:

  • Pensions (pronounced pahn-see-ohn) are usually small, family-run lodgings in Europe that may be operated much like a hotel or bed and breakfast. In German-speaking countries, a pension might be called a gasthaus; in Italy, a pensione. Other countries have different names. They usually serve three meals per day included in the price (full pension or board) while some provide breakfast and dinner (demi-pension or half-board). Similar lodgings in Japan are called minshukus and follow Japanese traditions.
  • Châteaux, castles, and villas might be described as very upscale inns. Visitors might stay in one room of a medieval castle or rent an entire villa. Villa rentals, with chef and private swimming pool, have become very popular in Italy, Mexico, and other areas and are an attractive offering for small groups of friends or extended families.
  • Paradors in Spain and pousadas in Portugal are specialized inns that may be housed in a castle, palace, or fortress. These are government-owned and -run and carry ratings from mid-priced to luxury. Puerto Rico also uses the parador designation for a limited number of its local inns, often simpler than those in Spain.
  • Ryokan are found in Japan and are local upscale inns that retain many Japanese traditions, such as sleeping on futons on the floor on tatami mats, wearing yukatas (cotton sleeping kimonos), and featuring Japanese cuisine. Beautiful gardens or natural scenery often surround the ryokan. Usually, only Japanese is spoken. Traditional baths, geisha entertainment, and massages often are available.
  • Tented camps and tree lodges are for travelers on safari. They consist of structures built on stilts, usually above an animal watering hole, and can be found in eastern Africa. Some can be simple and rustic; others are extremely deluxe, complete with oriental carpets on the floor. In southern Africa, circular lodgings known as rondavels may provide inexpensive accommodations. Some offer neither bedding nor bath; others are comfortable, air-conditioned cottages with fully equipped kitchens.
  • Boatels are motels for those who may arrive by private boat, rather than by car, obviously located on rivers, inland waterways, and so on. The lodging itself may be on boats as well.
  • Hostels are usually dorm-like accommodations and used to be called youth hostels, with rather rigid rules, hours, and the like. Today, they typically are open to those of all ages in most of the world.
  • Retreat-style accommodations are a full complex designed for organizations wishing to have a retreat for meeting. Often, they are somewhat rustic in nature, perhaps with cabins surrounding a central meeting house and dining facility.
  • Lodges often may be found in U.S. National Parks, usually historic and rustic in appearance, but not necessarily inexpensive. Examples are the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, Grand Canyon Lodge on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, or Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park.
  • Self-catering rental apartments and home rentals are furnished apartments, available in some major cities, such as London, Sydney, Istanbul, and in some beach communities, such as Spain’s Costa del Sol. They can be found anywhere around the world. They provide a good option for families and businesspeople. They can range from a furnished room in someone’s home to a private luxury estate rental. There are several companies that provide owners the opportunity to market their apartments and homes. These include Airbnb and HomeAway.

As you can see, there is a reason why hospitality is one of the largest sectors of travel, with many different options. As a travel counselor, part of your role is to identify your clients’ needs and match them to the right accommodations.