Want to Work in a Hotel? 100+ English Vocabulary Words to Get You There
Have you ever thought about living in New York City?
How about Boston, Los Angeles, London or Sydney?
Working in the hotel industry can help you find excellent job opportunities all over the world.
But no matter where you work, many hotel guests will speak English.
To help you out, I’ve put together a list of 100+ words that are essential for working in a hotel, plus provided some tips for learning them.
- How to Learn Vocabulary for Working in a Hotel
- English Vocabulary for Working in a Hotel: 100+ Words You’ll Need to Know
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
How to Learn Vocabulary for Working in a Hotel
1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt with Hotel Websites
Almost every hotel has its own website, so you can use them to help you learn vocabulary with a scavenger hunt!
A regular scavenger hunt is when you have a list of items to find, and you go around a house, neighborhood or town and try to gather all of the items on the list. Usually there are teams competing against each other to finish first or to get the most items within a time limit.
For this version of a scavenger hunt, you’re not actually going anywhere—just online. Print out this post, and then go on a scavenger hunt to find all of the words in the list on hotel websites.
When you find each word on a website, underline, circle or highlight the word on the list so you know you’ve found it. Read the whole sentence or section where that word appears, and make sure you understand what it means.
If you want to challenge yourself, set a timer and see how many words you can find in five minutes. Play for five or ten minutes a day until you find all of the words.
Here are some sites that will lead you to hotel websites. For most, you have to type in a location and select some dates to search for available hotels. Pick a city you want to work in, travel to or live in, to make the practice more personal.
Guests might ask you about anything on a website. That’s why it’s so useful to be familiar and comfortable with all of the words on a hotel’s site.
2. Learn from Short Videos
Before diving into the next learning method (watching full movies), it’s a good idea to start with short videos from different parts of the English-speaking world.
These will be less overwhelming, and eventually help you watch a full movie without frustration. Here are some ideas of short videos you can watch to get started:
- Hotel commercials. While these might be a bit over-enthusiastic at times, they are very visual, which will improve your understanding of the spoken words. For example, try this Marriot Bonvoy commercial or this employee video interview IHG’s Staybridge Suites.
- Travel vloggers. These “video bloggers” often talk about the hotels they’ve stayed at, restaurants, local attractions and other travel-related subjects—all the same types of topics you’re probably going to be discussing with your hotel guests. For example, check out the videos by Jessica Olivia Travels or ViaTravelers.
- FluentU videos. If you happen to be learning English with FluentU, you can search for a lot of our hotel-related videos and vocabulary by typing “hotel” into the search bar. Then you can try watching short videos with interactive subtitles (with an on-screen dictionary for unfamiliar words). After, you can study all the hotel vocabulary you found in videos with the flashcards and quizzes.
3. Watch Movies That Take Place in Hotels
The next time you want to watch a movie, watch one that takes place in a hotel. Here are two nice lists of films that happen in hotels: Wikipedia, IMDb.
Try to identify items aloud as you see them, and listen to how the employees talk with the guests.
There are some really funny hotel scenes in an episode of “Mr. Bean” where he stays at a hotel. Mr. Bean is a funny character, but he doesn’t talk a lot—most of his humor is done through actions and face expressions. But this is a great chance to fill in the silence with your own voice!
After you’ve watched the clip once, go back and watch it a second time, while saying what’s happening while it happens.
“Mr. Bean enters the room and puts his room key in his pocket. Then he turns the light switch on and off really fast.”
Pause the clip if you need to look up vocab or figure out how to say something.
Next, watch it a third time and say Mr. Bean’s thoughts aloud.
“I’ll put my room key in my pocket to keep it safe. I wonder what this switch does…ah, it turns on the lights. This is fun!”
This way you will get practice speaking in both third person (“He does this”) and first person (“I do this”). Again, don’t forget to use the pause button!
English Vocabulary for Working in a Hotel: 100+ Words You’ll Need to Know
First, we’ll start with the types of rooms and beds that are available in a standard (regular) hotel.
Types of Beds and Rooms
Mattress and bed sizes vary from country to country, and from manufacturer to manufacturer (the company who makes the mattresses). Below are the standard U.S. bed sizes:
- single bed/twin bed (around 39 x 74 inches) — A twin bed is the smallest type of bed, where one person can sleep. It’s also sometimes called a single bed.
- full-size bed (around 54 x 74 inches) — Nowadays, a full-size bed is usually for one person, but two people could sleep in it (very close together). These are also called double beds.
- queen-size bed (around 60 x 80 inches) — A queen-size bed is bigger than a full bed, and usually shared by two adults.
- king-size bed (around 76 x 80 inches) — A king-size bed is the largest size of standard beds, and can comfortably sleep two people.
Now that we know the bed sizes, let’s take a look at standard hotel room types. Be careful though, because these terms are used differently by different hotels. Check at your hotel to see what each type of room contains.
- single room — A single room is for one person, and usually has a full-size bed (double bed).
- double room — A double room usually has space for two guests, with a double bed (full-size) or queen-size bed.
- twin room — A twin room usually has space for two guests, but in two separate beds (twin/single beds).
- triple room — A triple room can sleep three guests, either in one double bed and a single bed, or a different combination of three.
- suite — A suite is bigger than your normal hotel room. In fancy hotels, suites could even have multiple rooms. You might also see an executive suite or a family suite.
- connecting rooms — This means that two rooms are connected together by a door going from one room directly into the other. Large groups of people or families might ask to be put in connecting rooms.
- adjoining rooms — Rooms that are next to each other but not connected by a door.
Here are various features that hotel rooms might offer.
- amenities — Amenities is just another way of saying “features,” often used in the hotel business.
- AC — Air conditioning (usually shortened to “AC”) keeps rooms cool when the weather is hot.
- heating — When the weather is cold, heating will keep the rooms and hotel warm.
- bathroom — This is the room where you’ll find a toilet, sink and shower. Most hotel rooms have their own bathroom attached.
- internet access — If a hotel has internet access, it means guests can use the internet somewhere inside. They might have Wi-Fi (wireless internet), which could be free, require a password to access or cost money to use.
- wireless printing — This allows guests to print from their own computers to a printer somewhere else in the hotel (without being connected to the printer with a wire).
- fan — Some rooms might have ceiling fans or electric fans to move air around in a breeze and stay cool.
- balcony — A balcony is a platform outside that’s enclosed by some type of railing, connected to the hotel room. Balconies are on floors higher than the ground level (second floor and higher).
- patio — A patio is a paved area outside (on ground level) that usually has an outdoor table and chairs.
- smoke-free — If rooms are smoke-free, it means that smoking is not allowed. Smoking and non-smoking are two other terms used to describe if smoking is allowed or not.
Inside a Hotel Room
Here are some words that you might need to use when talking about the inside of a hotel room.
- complimentary — This word means “free.” Often hotels will serve a complimentary breakfast (included in the cost of your room), or have complimentary shampoos and soaps in the bathroom.
- bathtub — A bathtub is in the bathroom, where people can clean themselves by taking a bath.
- shower — Showers allow people to wash themselves while standing up. The shower head is the part that sprays water, and the drain is on the floor, where the water leaves. Most bathtubs have showers in them, but a standing shower is in a smaller space by itself (without a bathtub).
- towel — People use towels to dry themselves off after taking a shower or a bath. There are also hand towels, which are smaller, and a bath mat—a towel you put on the floor to stand on.
- robes — Some hotels provide robes for guests to wear after they shower. They are also called bathrobes.
- toiletries — Toiletries are small personal items you might use in the bathroom, such as shampoo/conditioner (for washing hair), soap, toothbrush and toothpaste (for brushing teeth).
- hair dryer — Most hotels will have an electric hair dryer for guests to use to dry their wet hair after washing it. In standard hotels, hair dryers are attached to the walls with a cord. These are also called blow dryers.
- sink — The sink is where people wash their hands. It has a faucet, where the water comes out, and a drain, where the water leaves.
- soap — Soap is used to kill germs and bacteria when you wash your hands. It can be either liquid (stored in a soap dispenser) or a solid bar. Some hotels have both hand soap and body soap.
- lamp — Lamps provide extra light somewhere in the room. Guests might tell you that a light burned out in their lamp, meaning it needs a new light bulb.
- executive desk — Some rooms might come with a desk to sit and write or work. These are sometimes called executive desks (just a fancier name, often used in business suites).
- kitchenette — This is a mini-kitchen where people can prepare basic food, usually with a microwave and sink. Most hotel rooms have a mini-fridge (small refrigerator) that has some beverages and snacks inside. If guests eat the snacks and beverages, they have to pay for them when they check out.
- coffee machine — Coffee machines in hotel rooms allow guests to make their own coffee in the morning. Guests might need more filters or coffee grounds when they run out.
- room service — This is a service that lets guests order food or drinks and have it delivered to their hotel room.
- turndown service — This is a service that has housekeepers go into the room and remake the beds. They might put a mint or chocolate on the pillow to show the bed has been “turned down.”
- curtains — These usually hang from a curtain rod to cover a window. Curtains can be pulled open or closed to let sunlight in or keep it out.
- TV — Most rooms have a TV with a remote control (small hand-held device used to change the channel or volume). The TV remote might need new batteries from time to time. Some hotels have a listing of the local TV channels. There are also often pay-per-view channels or movies, that guests are later charged for.
- safe — This is a small box locked with a combination or key where guests can keep valuable items locked and secure.
- cot — This is a small bed that folds up and rolls on wheels, so it can be moved into rooms when an extra bed is needed.
- pull-out sofa — This is a couch that can pull out into a sofa-bed.
- armchair — This is a more comfortable chair with rests for both of your arms.
- linens — These are cloths such as sheets on the bed, pillow cases to cover the pillows, a blanket to keep warm or a comforter (the thick blanket on top of a bed). Sheets have a thread count, which tells their quality/smoothness.
- iron and ironing board — When clothes are wrinkled, guests can get rid of the wrinkles by using an iron with an ironing board.
- private jacuzzi — This is a hot tub somewhere inside or attached to the room. “Private” is the opposite of “public,” and means that this jacuzzi is just for the people in that room.
- bar — Here’s where you can order drinks and sometimes food. Some hotels have their own restaurant where guests can order full meals.
- brochures — These are small pieces of paper that advertise local attractions, such as water parks and museums.
- airport shuttle — Some hotels have “shuttles,” or large vans that give guests free rides to and from the nearest airport.
- parking — Guests will want to know if there’s a parking lot where they can park their car, and whether or not it’s free. Fancy hotels might have valet parking, where guests drive up and get out of the car, and a hotel worker parks it for them.
- continental breakfast — This is a light breakfast, usually included with the cost of the room, and served in a common area like a dining room.
- catering — Some hotels offer catering services, meaning they can be hired to cook and serve food for events.
- buffet — A buffet consists of many different kinds of food, and guests serve themselves. For example, your hotel might offer a breakfast buffet or a dinner buffet.
- high chairs — Family-friendly hotels will have these for toddlers (very young children) to sit at tables. Booster seats are set on top of chairs/benches so younger children can sit higher up and reach their plate easier.
- ice machine — This is a machine where guests can get ice to use as they need. They’re usually in the hallways on each floor.
- vending machine — These are machines where guests can purchase candy, snacks or beverages with coins.
- wheelchair accessible — This means that people in wheelchairs can get around the hotel, usually with elevators and ramps (inclined/tilted ground instead of stairs).
- fitness/workout room — This might also be called a gym, and is a place for guests to exercise. There might be treadmills or free weights in the room.
- swimming pool — This is a place for guests to swim, and could be indoor (inside the hotel building) or outdoor (outside).
- jacuzzi/whirlpool/hot tub — This is a small, very hot “pool” of water with bubbles or “jets” that adults sit in to relax.
- spa — A spa for relaxation might offer massages or a sauna (small room filled with hot steam).
- laundry — Hotels might offer laundry service, meaning they will wash guests’ clothes (for a fee). There could also be coin-operated laundry machines, where guests can wash their clothes themselves by putting coins into the machines.
- dry cleaning — This service cleans clothes that can’t be washed. They’re marked as dry clean only.
- business center — This is a place where guests might be able to use computers, make telephone calls, send faxes or make photocopies.
- pets allowed/pet-friendly — This means that pets are allowed in the hotel. If pets are not allowed, most hotels will still allow service animals (used to help blind people).
- ski storage — Hotels near ski resorts might offer a room or place for guests to safely store their ski equipment.
Getting Around the Hotel
- main entrance — These are the principal (main) doors to enter the hotel.
- reception — This is where guests are greeted, which comes from the verb “to receive.” It’s often called the front desk.
- lobby — This is an area shared by all guests of the hotel, usually on the ground floor near reception. It’s a common meeting place (“Let’s meet in the lobby at 5:00”), so there are often chairs/sofas and a bathroom.
- banquet/meeting room — This is a large room used for big events, such as conferences or weddings.
- elevator — This is a small space that raises and lowers guests between floors once the doors close and they press a button. It’s called a lift in British English.
- stairs/stairway — These are steps so guests can walk up to higher floors in the hotel, or down to lower floors. In an emergency, everyone should use stairs instead of elevators.
- hall(way) — This is a long passageway with doors on either side, which open into rooms. Also called a corridor.
- emergency exit — In case of fire, or another emergency, some doors will be marked “emergency exit,” which lets you leave (exit) the hotel quickly.
- manager — The manager is in charge of many people who work in hotels. Guests don’t usually interact with the manager unless there is a severe problem.
- receptionist — This person is found at the front desk/reception. They answer the phones and greet the guests.
- concierge — A concierge assists (helps) guests with needs such as arranging travel, booking local tours, calling taxis, etc. In this well-known scene from the movie “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” you’ll hear the line, “This is the concierge, sir!”
- bellboy/bellhop/porter — These are all names for the person who helps guests carry their suitcases/luggage up to the room.
- housekeeping/housekeeper — These are the people who clean the hotel and its rooms.
- tip — This is a small amount of money (in cash) given to bellboys or left in the room for housekeepers at the end of your stay to thank them for their service.
- uniform — Most hotels will require workers to wear special clothes, which is your uniform.
- staff meeting — When staff meets at a certain time and place to talk about certain work topics, this is a staff meeting.
- booking a room — This is the same thing as reserving a room.
- making a reservation — Guests will ask to make a reservation (book a room) when they’d like to stay in the hotel.
- vacancy — This means space is available. Hotels might have a “No Vacancy” sign when they’re full, and a “Vacancy” sign when rooms are still available.
- credit card — Most hotels will ask for the guest’s credit card number to reserve the room. They may also need to provide the card’s expiration date and security code (3 digits on back of card).
- conference/convention — Often hotels host conferences or conventions, which are large meetings a day or several days long with people from all over the state, country or even world. Conferences usually include a banquet, a formal evening meal with speeches.
- wedding party — When people get married and their guests travel for the wedding, they can usually reserve many rooms for a special deal (lower price). When the wedding guests call the hotel, they should mention that they’re with the [Names] wedding party to get the lower price (and be put in the correct room).
- check-in/check-out — When guests arrive at the hotel, they check in to get their room key. On their last morning, they check out to pay their bill.
- key card — Most hotels use key cards (that look like credit cards) instead of an actual key to get into the room. Sometimes the magnetic strip on the card gets unactivated, and it won’t open the door correctly.
- deposit — This is money that is paid before guests actually stay in the hotel. It’s often used to reserve (hold/save) their place, and there are policies (rules) about what happens to the money if they cancel their reservation.
- room number — Guests need to know the number of the room where they’re staying.
- morning call/wake-up call — At many hotels, guests can ask that hotel staff call them at a certain time to wake them up, instead of relying on an alarm clock.
- noisy — You might get complaints from guests that a room near theirs is being too loud, or noisy.
- invoice — This is the piece of paper with a guest’s total charges (expenses) that they need to pay when they check out.
- tax — One line on the invoice will be for tax, a percent of the total expenses that goes to local/national government. In the USA, state tax is different from state to state.
- damage charge — If guests break or ruin something in the room, they might need to pay a damage charge. If a deposit was made, this type of expense might be paid for from the deposit.
- late charge — If guests check out later than the check-out time, they could have to pay a late charge.
- signature — Sometimes guests need to sign their name on an invoice or credit card receipt. Ask for their signature.
- customer satisfaction — If guests had a great stay and were happy with the service, they are satisfied customers with high customer satisfaction.
By learning these important hotel vocabulary words, you’ll definitely have high customer satisfaction!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)