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An apartment hotel (also aparthotel and apartel) is a serviced apartment complex that uses a hotel-style booking system. It is similar to renting an apartment, but with no fixed contracts and occupants can "check-out" whenever they wish.
The standard zoning definition in the United States[where?] is:
"Apartment hotel means a building designed for or containing both apartments and individual guestrooms or rental units, under resident supervision, and which maintains an inner lobby through which all tenants must pass to gain access to apartments, rooms or units."
An apartment hotel complex usually offers a complete fully fitted apartment. These complexes are usually custom built, and similar to a hotel complex containing a varied amount of apartments. The length of stay in these apartment hotels is varied with anywhere from a few days to months or even years. The people who stay in apartment hotels use them as long-term accommodation; therefore, the hotels are often fitted with most things the average home would require.
Apartment hotels were first created in holiday destinations as accommodation for families that needed to "live" in an apartment rather than "stay" as they would in a hotel. The apartments would provide a "holiday home" but generally be serviced. Later, these apartments evolved to be complete homes, allowing occupants to do everything they would at home, such as cleaning, washing, and cooking.
Extended stay hotels are a type of lodging with features unavailable at standard hotels. These features are intended to provide more home-like amenities. There are currently 27 extended stay chains in North America with at least 7 hotels, representing over 2,000 properties. There is substantial variation among extended stay hotels with respect to quality and the amenities available. Some of the economy chains attract clientele who use the hotels as semi-permanent lodging.
Extended-stay hotels typically have self-serve laundry facilities and offer discounts for extended stays, beginning at 5 or 7 days. They also have guestrooms (or "suites") with kitchens. The kitchens include at a minimum usually: a sink, a refrigerator (usually full size), a microwave oven, and a stovetop. Some kitchens also have dishwashers and conventional ovens.
Extended stay hotels are aimed at business travelers on extended assignments, families in the midst of a relocation, and others in need of temporary housing.
The Residence Inn chain was launched in 1975 in Wichita, Kansas by Jack DeBoer, and acquired by Marriott Corporation in 1987. As of April 2005, there were over 450 Residence Inn hotels in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Another brand came from the merger of Extended Stay America and Homestead Hotels, which combined in 2004 to become Extended Stay Hotels with over 670 owned and operated properties in the United States.
Another hotel chain, Choice Hotels International, franchiser for brands such as Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Sleep Inn, and Quality Inn, operate the MainStay Suites brand. They acquired the Suburban Extended Stay hotel chain in 2005, with over 150 hotels open and under development.
The low-budget extended stay chain Intown Suites was founded in 1988, with 139 locations in 21 states.
Since 1999 the U.S. budget lodging chain Motel 6, owned by The Blackstone Group (previously Accor), operates Studio 6, a chain of extended stay hotels with weekly rates. The chain provides a kitchen area in its rooms, and allows pets, and operates in 18 U.S. states and Canada.
In Europe, Belgium Housing and its chain of hotels operates in 42 countries of Europe including all the major cities of the continent.
Reserving a stay in an apartment hotel differs slightly from booking a hotel room. A more personal approach is needed, as guests staying for extended periods want to ensure that the apartment is to their liking. Guests ask about view, floor plan, floor where the apartment is located, etc. Another reason a reservation agent is required to assist a guest with booking an apartment hotel is due to simple business reasons. Unlike hotels, where all bookings are short stays and check in and check out dates are confirmed at the time the reservation is made, apartment hotels often try to accommodate guests who don't know their checkout date. Such stays include guests who wait for their home to be built or renovated. For that reason it is difficult to list such apartment hotels on most common booking websites. Specialized booking companies allow the apartment hotels to accept or decline a request, rather than simply accepting a confirmed booking, and allow communication of details of the stay with the guest before the reservation is confirmed.