There are a lot of different types of lodging options out there. You’ve got luxury hotels, lodges, resorts, motels, and everything in between. One type of property that a lot of people ask about is an extended stay hotel. But what exactly makes an extended stay hotel different from a normal hotel?
In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about extended stay hotels and provide you some insight into what you can expect to experience when you stay at one.
Table of Contents
What is an extended stay hotel?
An extended stay hotel is a type of hotel that caters to guests who plan on staying at the hotel for a long duration. In some cases this “long duration” is a week but others may stay weeks or even months at an extended stay hotel. Regardless of the length of stay, the guest does not have to enter into a lease and simply makes a reservation in the same way he or she would when staying at a normal hotel.
Hotel chains have specific brands that offer extended stay experiences. For example, Marriott offers the Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, Hilton offers Home2 Suites and Homewood Suites, Hyatt offers Hyatt House, etc.
In some cities it’s not uncommon to find extended-stay brands located near each other in clusters, especially if the surrounding area has a lot to offer extended stay guests in terms of dining or entertainment.
Some examples of extended stay hotel brands include:
- MainStay Suites (Choice Hotels)
- WoodSpring Suites (Choice Hotels)
- Extended Stay America
- Hilton Home2 Suites
- Hilton Homewood Suites
- Hyatt House
- IHG Candlewood Suites
- IHG Staybridge Suites
- Marriott Residence Inn
- Marriott TownePlace Suites
- Marriott Element
- Motel 6 Studio Six
- Wyndham Hawthorn Suites
In my experience, it’s hard to generalize about extended-stay hotels when trying to find “upscale” or nice properties.
I certainly would not walk into a budget extended-stay property expecting anything high end. But when it comes to the mid-tier brands, it can get difficult.
For example, I’ve stayed in a Marriott TownePlace Suites location near Toronto that was extremely modern and in a high-rise tower which had a pretty luxurious feel to it. But I’ve also stayed in a Marriott TownePlace Suites on the outskirts of Houston that I would not be interested in returning to.
So it can be really difficult to generalize about an entire brand when searching for quality properties.
To ensure quality, I would try to find properties recently built and pay special attention to the photos and reviews you will find online.
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Who are extended stay hotels for?
Extended stay hotels can be for anyone, even if you are only staying one night. However, they are typically best suited for guests who might be in the same location for a week or longer.
Common guests who use these properties are business travelers, digital nomads, people relocating to a different area, and perhaps those affected by things like natural disasters.
There are some brands such as Studio Six that are geared towards those looking for the cheapest type of extended-stay properties and then there are brands offered by major chains that offer a more premium experience.
You should note that the quality of an extended stay property can vary a lot based on the specific location, even when we are talking about the same type of hotel brand. For example, a Residence Inn in one city may be vastly superior to another in a different city.
This is why it is really important to do property-specific research before booking an extended stay.
Extended stay hotel characteristics
You are probably wondering what distinguishes an extended stay hotel from a normal hotel. Below is a breakdown of the type of hotel characteristics you can expect during an extended stay. Take note of these as they will help you know what to expect when booking these types of hotels.
What to expect with your room
When it comes to your room, you can expect a few things from an extended stay experience.
Monthly rates and discounts
Extended-stay properties are known to offer discounts on the room rate for longer stays. This is why people tend to stay at these properties for a minimum of five nights or so.
Sometimes your stay might need to be at least one week long to unlock the discount but you can also get discounts for much longer stays such as those over one month.
Sometimes these discounts are published in the online search results but other times you have to call the hotel and inquire about them (usually only the case for the extra long discounts).
You can always play around with your booking dates online to see when the extended-stay discount applies. In some instances there may be multiple stay thresholds for different discount levels. So if you are staying seven nights you might activate the first discount level but if you are staying ten nights you might activate an even cheaper rate.
A lot of people wonder how much it will cost to stay at an extended stay hotel for a while.
We did research on a lot of different hotel chains and brands and we found the average cost for a 30 day monthly rate to be about: $2,700
However, there is a wide range in prices and quality when it comes to extended stays. You could be paying as little as $1,300 for an entire month at a lower end motel or you could be paying much more for a luxury extended stay.
One last consideration to bear in mind is that, when it comes to reward points, you might not accumulate as many at an extended-stay property as you would at a standard one. For instance, Marriott reduces the points you earn with specific extended-stay properties.
One of the main features of an extended stay hotel is that they have some sort of kitchen. The size and layout of the kitchen could vary a lot but typically you can expect to find the following:
- Garbage disposal
- Microwave or microwave oven
- Stove top
- Oven (can be hit or miss)
The appliances such as the refrigerator are typically going to be much larger than a mini fridge but may not be the same size as a standard refrigerator. (This can be a little deceiving because extended stay hotels publish photos that don’t always accurately portray the size of the appliances to an untrained eye.)
Sometimes you may have to do a bit of shopping around to find an extended stay with an oven since a lot of them only provide you with a stove top. The same thing sometimes applies to dishwashers. Once again, you can’t always trust the photos you see in the listing!
Extended stay hotels may also supply you with basic supplies like paper towels, dish washer soap, cutlery, bowls, plates, cups, mugs, and basic cookware.
However, you don’t always get all of these items so you should be prepared to head to the store like Walmart to pick up some of these items or to bring them with you in some cases. My advice would be to call ahead and inquire with the hotel before you arrive.
Related: What Hotels Have Kitchens?
A lot of your standard extended-stay properties are relatively compact. You don’t usually see a huge high-rise extended-stay property like you would at a luxury resort, for example.
There may not be a lot of room options either. For example, you may have to choose from a studio or a one bedroom or two bedroom suite.
Every room should come equipped with a workstation and often a little seating area and a small dining table (usually for two). If you have a suite you should have a television in both the seating area and in the bedroom.
Your TV should come equipped with cable and may even have a few movie channels. Also, your Wi-Fi is typically included in your room rates and you may have the ability to upgrade to a more premium Wi-Fi speed.
A good extended-stay property should offer you amenities suitable for an extended stay.
Some of the extended stay properties have lobbies or bar areas where you can socialize in the evenings. They may even have happy hours that they put on where you can get free drinks and light snacks.
One of the most common amenities you should find is a self-service laundry room. These laundry rooms should take quarters but now you can also often utilize an app and purchase credits to use for the washer and dryer. Some of the more premium brands may offer a service to take care of your laundry.
Related: Where & How to Get Quarters
I have seen a few extended-stay properties that have a library.
These are little areas where you can get some work done and perhaps hop on a computer or check out some random book collections. Sometimes you can also rent these out for meetings or events. (Some extended-stay properties will also have traditional conference rooms available.)
Sometimes an extended stay property might even have a special room such as a theater room.
Typically, you would need to pay to rent out these rooms but if you get management on your good side you might be able to utilize amenities like these for free.
And that is yet another distinguishing factor for extended stays. You often can develop a good relationship with the staff since you are seeing them every day for so long.
That relationship can sometimes come in handy when you have special requests. So my advice would be to go out of your way to be extra friendly with all the staff when on an extended stay.
Extended-stay properties will often have a pool area. In some cases you’ll be dealing with a very basic motel style outdoor pool but others may have a bit of an upgraded pool area with grills, fire pits, and outdoor lounging areas. The hotel may or may not have a hot tub.
They should have a pretty equipped fitness center with cardio machines and weights, and I’ve also seen quite a few with half-court basketball courts. Some properties might even have special activities to offer like tennis.
You don’t typically see certain types of amenities offered that you find at other standard hotels. For example, you may not have any on-site restaurants, room service, or concierge services.
A good extended stay hotel should offer you a free breakfast even if you do not have elite status with that program. The breakfast could just be a continental breakfast that offers things like cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit, etc.
But you might be surprised that other properties will offer a decent breakfast with hot items like eggs, sausage/bacon, waffles, etc. Sometimes they even have special items like breakfast burritos.
At your basic extended stay hotel I’ve found the breakfast to be underwhelming most of the time (powdery eggs, bland sausage, etc.) but there are a few occasions where it’s not so bad.
For me personally, I start to get sick of the breakfast after eating it every day for about a week and then I feel like I need a break.
Related: What Hotels Have Free Breakfast?
While it’s not always the case, extended-stay properties are often located near many restaurants and shopping centers. In the suburbs of big cities, it’s not very hard to find a cluster of hotels located within short walking distance of many of your standard chain restaurants.
Some extended-stay properties may provide a shuttle or some other form of transportation to help you get from the airport to the hotel. If there are a lot of attractions nearby, the shuttle might even take you to some of those nearby locations.
You can occasionally discover extended-stay accommodations in tranquil areas just beyond the bustling suburbs. While you might not have an abundance of restaurants in close proximity, you’ll likely find ample peaceful spots for leisurely exploration. The areas may also be a lot safer.
Living in one
It’s very possible to live in a hotel and extended-stay properties are probably the easiest type of hotels to live in. That is because they offer the most “home like” experience with a kitchen and amenities like a laundry room. As long as you are paying your hotel bill, you should be able to stay in your hotel room as long as you would like.
Why not just stay in a regular hotel?
You might wonder why someone would choose an extended stay hotel over a regular hotel?
The decision often hinges on the additional room features typically found in extended-stay properties, such as having a kitchen, as well as convenient facilities like on-site laundry rooms.
While the cost may often be more affordable in an extended-stay property, it’s essential to note that this isn’t always the case. I have sometimes seen traditional hotels a good deal cheaper and vice versa.
Another aspect that many people may not be aware of is that certain cities have ordinances prohibiting extended stays at traditional hotels beyond a few weeks. For instance, we encountered this in the Denver area.
There, guests were permitted to stay for extended durations at extended-stay properties, while the option to book a hotel stay for more than 30 days at a standard hotel was restricted.
A lot of extended-stay properties are pet friendly and some might even have a small dog park on site.
Typically, you will have to pay some sort of pet fee which could be up to $100 for your stay. Some properties might charge you a fee per night but that is usually pretty rare.
Like other hotels, don’t be surprised if you are put in a specific wing of the hotel or on a specific floor because of your pet.
And finally, some brands may actually allow your pet to stay for free although I find these to be the properties on the cheaper end of the spectrum.
Extended-stay accommodations can enhance your stay’s homely feel with features such as kitchens and laundry facilities. The cost and quality of these properties can vary significantly, catering to a diverse audience. Therefore, it’s essential to research the specific property you intend to stay at, rather than solely relying on the brand, to ensure it provides all the necessary amenities you require.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.