What Kind of Stay Do You Need? A Glossary of Hotel Stay Length Terms

Hotel bed

When planning an extended stay away from home (either for you or for your work team), you’re going to need to know the lingo.

What do hoteliers mean when they use terms like “long-term stay” or “short-term rental”?

Well, these are great questions.

And in this post, you’re going to learn the answers.

We know that all of these different terms sound interchangeable, so we’ve put together this guide to help you understand them.

This is the “stay-type glossary” you need to get you out of a pickle and into the perfect type of room (or stay).

Table of Contents

1. Length of Stay Definition
2. Regular Stays: A Quick Glance
3. Extended Stays: An In-Depth Look
4. One Important Difference Between Hotel And Non-Hotel Options
5. Related FAQs

Length of Stay Definition

In the hotel industry, a “length of stay” is defined as the number of nights a guest stays in a hotel room.

You can determine this number by measuring the time between the check-in date and the check-out date.

There are two types of stays:

There are what are called “regular stays,” and there are “extended stays.”

And from there, things get even a bit more complicated.

So first things first — let’s walk through all of these terms and definitions to help you understand exactly what they mean.

Regular Stays: A Quick Glance

Hotel room

There are a few different types of “regular stays” that hotels use to discuss their nightly rates for guest rooms (and that most business travelers will probably be familiar with):

  1. Overnight stays
  2. Short stays

Overnight Stay

An overnight stay lasts at least one night.

This is the type of the standard offering that people expect to purchase when booking a room. It’s what you’ll look for if you need a room for the night while traveling away from home.

You’ll research prices. You’ll find one you like at a price that works for you. You’ll reserve it, pay for it, then arrive on your check-in date and leave on your check-out date.

This is a fairly standard and well-known procedure. Your booking may or may not come with a range of services and amenities.

For example:

Short-Stay (Transit Hotel Option)

Short stays don’t necessarily include an overnight stay.

For instance, some hotels near airports offer “transit hotel” options.

With this option, a traveler who’s laid-over for eight hours could book a six-hour block of room time to take a nap during their layover — without spending the entire night or paying for an entire overnight stay.

Short-stay room reservations are selectively useful but can be helpful in situations like the example above.

Hotel Engine gives you access to corporate hotel discounts. Click the link to learn more.

Extended Stays: An In-Depth Look

Not surprisingly, the term “extended stay” refers to a particular type of hotel rental.

(It’s not just used to describe a reservation at a specific hotel chain, like Extended Stay America.)

Here’s the reason for why extended stay options are useful.

Nowadays, there’s a pretty big difference between regular stay hotels and long-term housing.

There are all kinds of workers (construction workers, professionals in emerging tech and energy fields, traveling nurses, disaster relief workers, etc.) who need to stay in certain locations for extended periods of time without making a permanent move or relocation to those areas.

This is partly why extended-stay hotels and corporate housing options are increasing in popularity.

6 Types of Extended Stay Terms You Need to Know

The various terms used to describe long-term lodging options can get confusing.

Let’s say you’re a traveling nurse who plans to work at a hospital in Minneapolis for a four-month contract, but you don’t want to relocate from your hometown in Nebraska.

Should you book an extended stay hotel?

Should you look for corporate housing?

Do you need temporary housing?

The simple answer is:

It depends.

This is why it’s so important to understand the different terms and your various extended-stay options when working away from home for prolonged periods of time.

Understanding such terms will help you find the right type of housing for your needs and budget.

1. A Standard ‘Extended Stay’

An extended stay is a type of stay that offers longer-term accommodations.

Extended-stay hotels are usually labeled as such because they provide the type of amenities and perks that help guests feel at home for several weeks or months.

Here are some examples of amenities that an extended-stay hotel might provide:

  • Guest laundry facilities
  • Television
  • Fully furnished rooms
  • Built-in kitchens (with stoves and other appliances)
  • Multi-room suites

Most extended-stay hotels also provide discounts for stay guests who reserve longer stays.

These stays tend to range from several days to several months.

2. Long-Term Stay

A “long-term-stay” hotel is really just another term for an extended-stay hotel. As with extended-stay hotels, long-term-stay hotels are designed for stays of a week or longer.

They’re great for long vacations, business trips, or travelers who need more permanent lodging away from home for a temporary period of time.

3. Short-Term Rental

A short-term rental is a furnished living space that’s available to rent for short periods of time (a few days up to a few weeks, but sometimes more).

These rentals are also sometimes called “vacation rentals,” though these terms aren’t generally used to refer to hotel rooms.

Typically, this definition is used to describe something like an apartment hotel, a cabin, a home that someone has rented out for other people to live in on a short-term basis (as opposed to a long-term lease), etc.

This is an example of the type of rental you may look for if you’re a traveling nurse, a construction worker who plans to work in one place for a few months, etc.

Short-term rentals are often a good option for someone who’s going to work or live semi-long-term in one place without relocating to that place (who would rather live in a typical house, condo, or apartment than a hotel).

4. Weekly Rental

The term “weekly rental” is typically used to refer to a short-term rental, vacation rental, or corporate housing option that’s rented on a week-by-week basis.

5. Temporary Housing

Temporary housing, which also overlaps with corporate housing and some short-term rental options, is basically a type of lodging that’s fully furnished and ready for weekly or monthly stays.

This may be an apartment, a condo, a house, etc.

For all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much the same thing as a short-term rental.

6. Corporate Housing

“Corporate housing” is a term that’s used to describe fully furnished, serviced housing that’s available to rent for traveling professionals on a temporary basis.

Once again, all of the amenities are included (things like free Wi-Fi, utilities, a fully furnished living space, a stocked kitchen, potentially a concierge service, etc.).

Corporate housing is very similar to short-term rentals and temporary housing.

It could take the form of a condo, a house, an apartment, a suite, etc.

Learn more hotel industry terms in this article: Hotel Terms and Acronyms for Business Travel Planners

One Important Difference Between Hotel And Non-Hotel Options

Extended stay room with couch, coffee table, TV, and dining table with chairs

One big difference between an extended stay at a hotel and a short-term non-hotel rental is this:

Hotel rooms come with housekeeping services. They also bring you fresh towels, fresh linens, etc.

Most non-hotel rentals don’t offer these types of amenities.

This may be important to take into account. If you’re a busy professional trying to decide between a hotel and a non-hotel option, then the housekeeping, clean towels, and clean linens could make a big difference.

If you don’t think you’ll have time to wash towels, change your sheets, or clean your bathroom, then an extended-stay hotel or hotel apartment would likely be a better option for you.

Many hotels offer apartment-style options these days, which is super helpful for remote workers who don’t have time for housekeeping while out and about on the road.

Related FAQs

Here are some other frequently asked questions related to hotel stay lengths:

How Long Can You Stay in a Hotel, Anyway?

For the most part, travelers only have the option to rent traditional hotel rooms for up to 30 days.

Occupancy beyond that 30-day mark generally moves the tenant from the “hotel guest” category to the “permanent tenant”’ category.

Obviously, extended-stay hotels are an exception to this rule. But that’s why extended-stay hotels are different from other hotels.

Can You Extend a Hotel Stay After You’ve Already Checked In?

As a general rule, this doesn’t tend to work. Usually, by the time you’ve checked in, that room will already be reserved for a guest who’s planning to arrive after your scheduled check-out time.

(Note that some extended-stay hotels may have an easy process for extending your stay after check-in, depending on how that specific hotel handles bookings.)

Traditional hotels keep bookings back-to-back to ensure that they fill up all of their room nights.

But it still never hurts to ask.

If the stars align and things work out just perfectly on all fronts, it could be possible to extend your stay after checking in.

Far more likely, the hotel would offer to give you a different room. So, it would be a matter of simply changing rooms.

You could probably also expect a slightly different rate, depending on what days of the week you’re extending your stay into.

Do Hotels Give Discounts for Extended Stays?

Some hotels offer discounted weekly or monthly rates.

This is a practice that many extended-stay hotels incorporate into their pricing policies.

So yes, it’s totally possible to get discounts for extended stays — you just have to know which hotel brands to look for.

Looking for a discount on group hotel bookings? We’ll negotiate on your behalf and help you score corporate hotel discounts.

What’s the Best Way to Find an Extended Stay Hotel for an Upcoming Business Trip?

There are a few different ways to go about this.

One easy way is to simply do an internet search for “extended stay hotels New York” (or wherever you plan to travel) and to go through the options to see if you can find something that works for you.

Or, you can book through a travel management company. This can simplify the booking process and give you access to special discounts.

Hotel Engine has access to more than 700,000 hotels worldwide. So if you’re traveling for business, we can help you with your booking and save you money in the process.


There you have it

Everything you need to know about the different types of stays, where to find them, how to save some money by finding the very best options for your upcoming business trip.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is to start your search earlier rather than later, as finding the right stay to match your needs takes time.

This is why Hotel Engine has a streamlined process in place to help make hotel bookings easier for traveling professionals at no additional cost.

In any case, you’ve got this.

It’s time to hit the open road and make the magic happen.

See you on the other side. Happy travels.