Motels are an original American invention. Their history starts at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is tightly connected with the history of automobile industry. Even the name is combined from the words "motor" and "hotel". Till the very recent time motels have been a very certain sort of accommodation. Now the borders between motels and hotels are being a little bit blurred. Both are taken as a places where travelers can stay for the night or longer. At the beginning of their history motels were small-sized and mostly family run. Now there even exist motel chains, on the other hand all the privately owned motels differ a lot one from another.
Still everyone knows what a real motel is supposed to look like. The first and the most important point is that they are situated along the highways. The main purpose of motel is to accommodate those who travel by means of auto transport. The idea is very simple - you drive all day and when the night comes you spend it in a motel. Their location makes it simple to find one exactly when you need it.
What do they look like? Even if you've never had a chance to see one in the real life you've definitely seen one in the movies. Especially in those road adventure and travel movies.
Mostly they all are one or two storied. The specific feature is that unlike hotel where all the room doors open in an inner corridor, in a motel all doors open straight on the street. So motels look like as a row (although the shape of the building can vary, they can be for example L-shaped or U-shaped) of the attached similar block-houses. A motel-keeper and a reception desk are situated in the head-office which is you'll find one of those houses.
Another feature of any hotel is the presence of a considerable parking place. Sometimes or even mostly the windows of the rooms are facing the parking so can be keeping eye on you automobile.
Some may think about motels as about something with an ill fame. Nowadays when motelsare becoming more and more like hotels and the standards of the accommodation are permanently increasing, motels' ill fame is a sort of a myth, although there are some reasons for it in the history of motels.
Once there was a principle of anonymity: "you pay for the room and we don't ask who you are". But in modern world of communication media this is hardly possible. Bonny and Clyde times are history.
One more traditional thing about motels is of course the neon lights meant to attract tired strangers in the night with the promises of comfort and hospitality. In fact motels are about the necessity not about the comfort.