- A motel is a hotel designed for motorists and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles
- Entering dictionaries after World War II, the word motel, coined as a portmanteau contraction of "motor hotel", originates from the Milestone Mo-Tel of San Luis Obispo, California (now called the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo), which was built in 1925
- The term referred initially to a type of hotel consisting of a single building of connected rooms whose doors faced a parking lot and in some circumstances, a common area or a series of small cabins with common parking
- Motels are often individually owned, though motel chains do exist
- As large highway systems began to be developed in the 1920s, long-distance road journeys became more common, and the need for inexpensive, easily accessible overnight accommodation sites close to the main routes led to the growth of the motel concept
- Motels peaked in popularity in the 1960s with rising car travel, only to decline in response to competition from the newer chain hotels that became commonplace at highway interchanges as traffic was bypassed onto newly constructed freeways
- Several historic motels are listed on the US National Register of Historic Places
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