Hotel Living As A Tiny House Option

You wake up, put on your house shoes, throw on last night’s clothes that still lay in a pile on the floor, amble down to the lobby (of course stopping to speak to the college co-ed manning the front desk), grab a paper from the lobby coffee table, and stop at the occasional table behind one of the oversized couches, just long enough to get a cup of coffee and say good morning to a couple other familiar faces. And so begins life as a full-time resident in a hotel. Okay, so the hotel sounds a bit more posh than perhaps what you or I may be able to swing. But it does sound pretty amazing, no?

photo of the Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest in Baulkham Hills, Australia

I can easily think of a number of perks that living in a hotel might provide including free and reliable WiFi, on-site fitness room, access to a pool, fresh towels upon request, in-house laundry service, and even an on-site restaurant/bar! The idea of living in a hotel is not so far fetched either. In fact, a number of celebrities have called hotels home though the years.

New York’s Hotel Chelsea – a Queen Anne-style landmark that first opened as an apartment cooperative in 1883 –  served as home for the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Arthur Miller. Overlooking L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard, the Chateau Marmont has been home, sweet, home for people like Greta Garbo, Robert DeNiro, and Johnny Depp while the St. Regis in Washington, DC counts among its past residents, Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire. And those are just a few.

On a more practical note though hotel living is a style of tiny house living on its own. Most rooms available for long-term lease are only about 325 square feet according to BoardingArea.com and feature a small kitchen, a bathroom (usually with tub/shower kit), a master bedroom (2 queens or 1 king), a sitting area, and some sort of workspace be it a simple desk or a fully dedicated corner. It features the essentials; typically nothing more and nothing less. But is it feasible? Can one truly live in a hotel? Absolutely!

NOTE: The hotels talked about in this post are usually called “apartment-style” hotels. Rates are based on a minimum of a month’s stay (30 days).

POTENTIAL PERKS OF HOTEL LIVING

  • No long term commitment. Perhaps you have been bitten by the traveling bug and have a location-independent job? Maybe you don’t want to build a tiny house trailer or live in an RV or even sublet a room in a house. This might be the best arrangement. It offers privacy, small amounts of luxury, and a lot of freedom.
  • Choice. When I moved to Brooklyn some years ago I was limited to my budget in a major way. I could choose between a 7th floor apartment with only two windows and bathroom at the end of the hall or a garden apartment that literally faced The Garden; a sushi restaurant that was open 24-hours.  Luckily something else came along out of the blue. But when when you live in a hotel you can decide what you want to be close to, what kind of atmosphere you want, and how large/small you want your accommodations. Remember, this is not a long term commitment so it can be changed quite regularly with no penalty.
  • On-Site Services. While most full-time hotel dwellers don’t abuse this service there is still housekeeping and room service available. You can have fresh towels as you need/want them. You can have someone else make your bed. You can have someone replace your dirty dishes. The list goes on. It is important to note though that because you are living there you will gain some sort of reputation (be it good or bad) and tipping is STILL polite. Skipping this and doing things on your own could save you money and make you great friends in the building.
  • Free newspapers, coffee/tea and/or breakfast. This is typically included in your rate so feel free to take advantage of them. No more excuses for running late to your next appointment either!
  • Having your own kitchen. Just like a sticks ‘n bricks or your own tiny house trailer, with a hotel room/suite you have a kitchen or at least a kitchenette which – more often than not – comes with plates, bowls, silverware, glasses, mugs, strainer, chef’s knife, etc. You still have to grocery shop but at least you can cook your own meals whenever you like.
  • Front Desk Support. Looking for a donut shop in the neighborhood? Need a cab to take you to an event neighborhoods away? Waiting on a package from UPS that will arrive just moments after you leave? No worries. The desk clerk is there….24/7!
  • Handyman Support. Your coffee pot is not brewing? Your TV stopped turning on? No problem. Every hotel employs a small staff of handymen and service personnel. Call them. Tip them.
  • Security. This is huge! Between lobby cameras, hallway cameras, key card elevators, etc. security is usually top notch at a hotel.

UPS DeliveryUsing the desk services at a hotel will keep you from ever missing one of these again. 

POTENTIAL PRATFALLS OF HOTEL LIVING

  • Nowhere to call “home”. While it is true that home is where you park it or home is where you hang your heart or a number of other cliches living in a hotel means you won’t have a physical address. While hotels will allow you to have mail delivered there in care of their direct address they – nor the government – will allow you to claim the location as your permanent address.
  • Loneliness. Like living in a campground or other community-type setting there are in-seasons, off-seasons, perk weekends, and quiet times. On normal days and nights it is likely that you won’t see many guests at a hotel so you’re interaction will be limited. Living in a hotel may also keep you at some distance from friends and family unless you are huddled down in your home town.
  • Lack of personality. Don’t like the artwork on your bedroom walls? Does that picture over your bed make you think of clowns parading through lollipop factories singing a chorus of degenerate laughter? Too bed. Without causing damage to the room there is nothing you can do about the overall appearance. The colors, pillows, comforters, and dishware are there to stay. This is however a good exercise in adding personality to your surroundings. You can use colorful scarves, small houseplants, live flowers, digital photo frames, etc to add a personal yet portable comfort to your accommodations.
  • Space. A hotel room/suite is usually a standard, corporate design with furniture designed or purchased to fit in an exact spot. There are few options, if any. If you feel cramped with the desk in a certain spot chances are you can’t move it anywhere because there is nowhere to move it. The space is laid out for you. You are the guest in this situation. The furniture is there for good.

Living in a hotel room or suite is not conventional at all. It is not part of the American Dream so many of us grew up to understand and look forward to. But it is an adventure like no other and could possibly make your next tiny house. Don’t ever be afraid to hang your heart anywhere there is a good cup of free coffee!

 

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

 

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Mari InShaw - October 16, 2014 Reply

“Round here people who live in hotel rooms long term are government bureaucrats on detail or homeless put up in hotels/motels by the city because the shelter is full.
I’m aware of people who live in motels long term and create community with other long-termers but there is nothing glam about that.

    Andrew M. Odom - October 16, 2014 Reply

    This topic truly is an issue of location. Obviously the more “glamorous” hotel living situations are found in metropolitan areas or destination locales. I, for one, would not be happy long-terming in a Motel 8 off of I-95.

traci - October 16, 2014 Reply

I WOULD LOVE THIS! I’m 58, widow, no children, no pets! To me it stands for freedom! It would also limit my ” too much stuff ” problem!

Nicole - October 16, 2014 Reply

It’s also possible to buy rooms. They can be rented when you don’t need them, at a fee of course, or you can rent them out yourself. This one for example is very cheap as a foreclosure. It was listed for $27,500 last week.
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1909-S-Atlantic-Ave-601-Daytona-Beach-FL-32118/67191387_zpid/

Joy - October 16, 2014 Reply

I actually live similar to this in my new senior apt. 12 x 23 plus small kitchen and bathroom. It’s pretty nice, cept I used to be a homesteader, and now I call it my Highrise homestead. I am lucky, with a magnificent view. I have a plant tower and make sprouts for my garden now. It’s safe and inexpensive, but I miss homesteading.

olida moore - October 16, 2014 Reply

Please send a price list to me at 9603 Ripley rd thonotosassa fl 33592 thank you

    K - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Mod, please take this guy’s personal info down

    Barbara Kvistad - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Andrew, I love everything you write, but how could you leave out the major issue of pricing? Or is hotel living so expensive that it falls into the category of, “If you have to ask the price, then you can’t afford it”?

      Andrew M. Odom - October 16, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for your warm words Barbara. I truly appreciate that. Hotel living is one of those things where the location dictates both the market and the pricing structure. What is affordable in Hollywood, CA may not be affordable in Bangkok, Thailand. It is all about location, location, location. There is no standard at all.

Kei J. Constantinov - October 16, 2014 Reply

Alex’s “Hovel” is so intriguing, and feels so much more grounded and stable than some of the wheeled homes – something the Three Little Pigs and I share a need for! It is redolent of a hermit hut, and would probably feel very cozy with by the firelight on a snowy night. I do romanticize about a gypsy vardo, but have reservations about freedom in America going into 2015.

Corri - October 16, 2014 Reply

This is how many Jewish immigrants to NYC lived… especially many single people who were writers and artists . I’ve read about it in their stories and memoirs. I can imagine versions that are nice! I’d like to expand my ideas of an American Dream beyond nuclear family + white picket home!

Dorothy - October 16, 2014 Reply

Sounds intriguing but I can’t live without a pet!

Michele - October 16, 2014 Reply

Like Traci, I love this idea too, and for similar reasons. Especially the security aspect. I am considering a move across the country and was trying to figure out how to find a small apartment without actually seeing it in person. Especially being on a limited budget. It would give me time to familarize myself with the area, network with the staff and feel a sense of security within the building. This is for me!

David Remus - October 16, 2014 Reply

Yes, you can live free of so much stuff when money is no object. You don’t need to worry about a small kitchen for instance, when you have room service. Or where to store a vacuum cleaner when you have maids.

Why not make the lifestyle of the rich and famous a part of the Tiny House Movement? African big game hunters often live in tents, what could be lower impact than that?

Where I live there are hundreds of people living in tiny worn out motels with tiny kitchens or just hotplates and a microwave. I don’t see them as part of the Tiny Home group either.

Unless it is April Fool’s Day, I see no connection between most of the people in the Tiny Home movement deliberately and contentiously downsizing, lowering their impact on the planet, and realizing that living a full life doesn’t require a lot of space, stuff, or money and thrust of this article.

    Emma - October 16, 2014 Reply

    What the Tiny Home movement means to you is not what it means to everyone. For some people it’s just about space, and they don’t give a darn about the planet (and may even have very damaging habits). For other people it’s all about money. For others it’s about doing something different. There are lots of definitions of what living tiny means to people. Nothing in the world is once size fits all. It’s good to have choices and options, and I’ve always liked that this site reported on many different types of tiny living. Many of them would not be right for me, but I usually get some idea, inspiration, or confirmation about something I’ve decided for myself when I read the variety of articles. I don’t want someone to define what living tiny (or anything else) means to me, so I would never try to define something for someone else, or restrict their options based on my beliefs.

      Andrew M. Odom - October 16, 2014 Reply

      Well said Emma. Well said. Thank you.

      David Remus - October 17, 2014 Reply

      I was not trying to define the term ‘living tiny’ for you or anyone else, I was pointing out that this blog in particular has basically been about living simply, making do with less, building as much yourself as you can, and reducing our footprints on the planet. I don’t see living in an expensive hotel as ‘Living simply in small spaces’ as most of the readers would see it.

      It’s the difference between someone that builds a tiny house suitable to their needs and desires, solves the problems of living in small spaces in their own fashion, and shares with all of us the satisfaction of overcoming difficulties versus someone who wins the lottery and points out they don’t have to worry about all that stuff anymore.

      The pictures at the header are in line with the gist of this blog,

        sc - October 17, 2014 Reply

        DAVID REMUS you WERE trying to “define the term”. Please knock it off! there is no reason why we can have articles on tiny living at all options and price points.
        There are LOTS of folks that cant climb ladders to use the lofts, should tiny house blog stop featuring tiny houses with lofts?
        I for example, absolutely hate houses with no bathroom, but i wouldnt be so thick as to declare they shouldnt be featured in the blogs.
        The fact is there may be, for example, folks in wheelchairs that no matter how much they WANT to, will NEVER seriously be able to live in a tiny house, but hotel living might be just the thing, so try to have a little empathy.

    Andrew M. Odom - October 16, 2014 Reply

    You have to remember though David, money is an object. Room service typically comes with a 15%-25% markup from even just eating at the cafe/restaurant off the lobby. Sure, there are people who are financially blessed. But I write from a standpoint of always trying to keep budget and fiscal conservatism in mind. So the same with maid service. When I stay at a hotel I tip housekeeping for each day they service my room. If I can purchase a small canister vacuum for $25 and store it in the closet I can save $3-$5 a day on housekeeping.

    Big game hunters don’t live in tents for any extended amount of time so that negates that argument I feel. It does however bring to mind that various forms of tents are used for full-time living and can be explored from a standpoint of appealing to cross-markets INCLUDING seasonal hunters.

    I am sorry that you don’t see the relevance of this article. I welcome you to email us though with any article ideas for future publication. I’ll be happy to research them thoroughly and write about them appropriately.

      David Remus - October 17, 2014 Reply

      The hunter’s tents was a joke. I was trying to illuminate the difference between people that have deliberately downsized living space and ownership of too much stuff, reduced their energy consumption in the name of becoming frugal with energy, time, and space in the manner usually described here, and someone on vacation spending $50,000 a year for a hotel room or even more on a splurge for the rich.

jipsi - October 16, 2014 Reply

AND, another idea on ‘hotel/motel’ living: BUY the whole motel, have an income producer you can pay someone else to manage: they manage it, keep 80% of the profits, and you get 20% AND a nice suite anytime you plan to be there, as long or short as you want! In the past, most of the ‘affordable’ motels I’ve seen have been on sites like Landwatch, with quite a few going from $25,000 to $70,000, and most located in rural type places we tinyhousers typically love (Oregon, Montana, mountains, desert, Canada, Alaska, etc.).
The whole ‘buy a room’ thing (for anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000!!) is new to me, and I for one wouldn’t find it appealing. It’s just too much money for one room, and the hotels and motels that are doing that SEEM to often be too in-town, with a high turnover of transients (LOL, that word… omg, we could dissect it for hours, I guess!), and I’d never really feel it was ‘mine’, let alone safe to leave anything valuable in while out for a day or even month…
Definitely an alternative worthy of discussion, though!

I found a nice example, in Florida, of a WHOLE MOTEL you can buy for around $119,000 (25 rooms), like the old fashioned 60’s kind. For some of us, it would be ‘tiny living’ PLUS an income! AND, we could have as many people around us as we like… rent just a few rooms out (the NO VACANCY sign goes on), or invite family for a reunion and fill all the rooms up….

A place in Florida with 25 rooms, $119,000 and ready to go:
http://www.landwatch.com/Walker-County-Alabama-Land-for-sale/pid/303015524

I want THIS one: A place in Michigan named “DreamCatcher Motel” with 5 rustic log-cabin decorated units, SEPARATE 1 bedroom living quarters and on 1+ acres (the garden!), and a convenience shop, $119,000 and ready to go:

http://www.landwatch.com/Lake-County-Michigan-Land-for-sale/pid/300795472

Just a sampling, first page of (high to low) 15 pages of listings! 😉

    Rebecca - November 2, 2014 Reply

    Many years ago my uncle with a half dozen kids married a woman with five. The bought an old motel on the Oregon coast for not so much. It provided room for the family and income. As the kids left home, their income went up. Right at the beach! I admired their sense. My old boss bought a fishing cabins setup in Alaska. A good life without the McMansion expected of an attorney living in the big city.
    A friend once lived inexpensively in a local motel for nearly a year… he got a monthly rate. Didn’t use room service but mostly ate out. He saved a lot of money just not buying stuff for the house.
    Me? One cabin on five acres in the mountains.
    It’s all good.

Cathy Williamson - October 16, 2014 Reply

I worked as a desk clerk at a Holiday Inn in the city I live in, outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and we had a couple who had lived at the hotel for almost 2 years. They paid a monthly fee, that was equal to around $75 a night, our going rate for a basic room 2 queen or 1 king is $160 a night. So around $2250 a month they where paying. Houses to buy are in the $500,000 range and taxes are close to $3000 a year, and utilities are about $600 a month, gas, power, water, cable. So really they where saving money.. the did however buy a travel trailer and moved out of the hotel and are now traveling the Western hemisphere.

Allyson - October 16, 2014 Reply

I did this for 3 consecutive winter/springs in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It was the off-season (October-May), so one-bedrooms could be had for $650-$800/month. Housekeeping once/week; outdoor hot tub practically to myself at one place; in-room laundry at another. Great! They were all “resorts” (what most people would call motels). I stayed in one for 6 months that was in an empty campground next to a lake. Beautiful. When the rates went up in the summer, I packed all my belongings in my car and went visiting family and friends for a few months.

MJ - October 17, 2014 Reply

I really like it when my mind is changed from a preconceived first thought and this article did that. When reading the title in my email my first reaction was ‘Are you kidding me?’ By the end of the article I thought, hey, different strokes for different folks and I can see where that would be an option for some people, as we are all in unique circumstances.
Reading the comments opened me up even more; so many facets of this idea, including buying a hotel/motel in total or just buying a room.
While this kind of tiny home living would not be for me, I’m glad to have my mind opened up to how very viable it could be for others. Thanks!

Andrew Heben - October 17, 2014 Reply

Interesting analysis. Residential (SRO) hotels were a very common housing option throughout U.S. history… that is until the 1960s-1980s when almost all were either closed or demolished, largely as a result of a misunderstanding about the living conditions and because a transient, single lifestyle contradicted the morals of the suburban family. It’s interesting how the tiny house movement is kind of reinventing this lifestyle choice in a rather different form.

Copperowl - October 17, 2014 Reply

About 15-20 years ago a friend’s elderly mother lived in inexpensive motels (like Motel 6) for many years as an alternative to living in an assisted living facility. It was far less expensive and gave her the same level of help that she would have received at an official facility. She did this until the year before she died, when she finally needed actual medical assistance. At the time I thought she was crazy. After thinking it over, she was brilliant.

Gary - October 17, 2014 Reply

I have been living in Hotels for 6 months. I’ve been in the one I’m in right now the past 2 months.

jipsi - October 18, 2014 Reply

Just extrapolating on the idea of the living-tiny in a ‘hotel’ notion (think of this as an ‘epilogue’ to my previous – lengthy! – post…
There are many of us here that do fall in the niche of being maybe older, maybe disabled, maybe both – those of us who really do love the tiny house thing, but as mentioned earlier, ladders and lofts are out for us, so it’s either a ‘bigger’ tiny house, or an alternate source of simpler, smaller living… looking at the alternative, I got an idea that bugged me to share. Or not so much an idea, a fancy.
Were 5 of us similar minded/niche-ish folk to pool our resources, loosely, a 5 unit rustic lodge-cabin motel in Michigan might be haggled down to what would be about $20k each (total of $100K for the property I mentioned above), and that 1-bedroom owner cabin could be ‘leased’ (loosely, again) to someone with handyman and/or carpenter type skills who would contribute their time in those areas for us 5 ‘tenants’ in exchange for their free lodging.
So those cozy little units with their kitchenettes could be PERFECT for living year-round, and we could upgrade and customize to our heart’s content, with the free help of the onsite carpenter/handyman in putting together nooks, shelves, decks or outbuildings, even an add-on or such… well, it kind of game me a warm feeling inside and I thought I’d toss it out there. As yet another wonderful ‘possible’ for those of us looking for a way to have out ‘tiny home’, and community, at a low cost!

I challenge anyone to check out the link I posted above, and spin it with the idea I just set forth. 😉 There are SO MANY possibilities, I couldn’t stop thinking about them tonight. Lucky you, I am only posting this ONE. LOL… right now, anyways.
Hotel as (tiny) home just might be one of the greatest ideas ever offered here, once you put the right spin on it!

Jessica - October 18, 2014 Reply

I have lived in a hotel for a little more than a year now. I love it! I would happily live here for the rest of my life! It’s a one bedroom with all the amenities and a balconey. I don’t need to worry about decorating. There is a gym, a pool, a hotub, security, restaurant and many other perks. I love it!

Chad - October 19, 2014 Reply

For the last three years, I have lived in a Marriott extended stay hotel. My room contains a king sized bed, two dressers, a desk that is large enough for my desktop and printer, couch, table, kitchen, and bathroom with walk-in shower (which in my opinion is better than a bathtub). I have also added two bookcases to house my library.

The hotel offers free hot breakfast, a pool, well equipped gym, free laundry facilities, a patio with an amazing view overlooking a valley and several gas grills, a bar, and even a small market. They also allow pets.

I have plenty of room for myself and all of my belongings, even my kayak, climbing gear, and skis. The staff is friendly and helpful. Since I am longterm, a housekeeper comes in to clean and replace towels and sheets twice a week. Anytime something breaks, the maintenance man fixes it within the hour.

This lifestyle is not for everyone. It can be expensive – I pay out about $40,000 a year to live here, not counting tips. It isn’t well suited for a family. It is only slightly customizable. And you don’t get to choose your neighbors.

On the other side, a community develops among the long-termers. About 70% of those staying here are residents like myself. We have gotten to know each other over the last few years and become friends. We often have group dinners in the dining room, or sit around talking on the patio, and even go on trips together.

It’s an option for tiny living that most would not consider, but there are hidden benefits.

Keep on pushing - October 22, 2014 Reply

I must admit my initial thoughts were, like some others, a little ‘wt*’.

But I pondered this further – and wondered what if “Hotel” was substituted with a different term? For example, “Serviced Independent Living”. It struck me that the hotel idea is not really that different from other similar concepts, e.g. like retirement/rest homes (sorry team – it was the first one that came to mind! there’s probably better!).

So, perhaps recasting the notion of apartment living offers some more opportunity to build on this thinking – e.g. common services, facilities, roof gardens etc.

Anyway – good luck to everyone making a contribution to progressing these ideas and implementing their projects.

Cheers!

Laura - November 8, 2014 Reply

I have been living in a hotel since this past July due to a house fire, no insurance and runing out of other options. The staff here is wonderful and like family now. This chain also has a point system that they help me use to earn free nights. Room has a microwave, small fridge and with a crock pot and an electric skillet I can cook decent meals. Downside is I do need to switch rooms about every 3 weeks so they can go through and do a deep cleaning. Since I work night shifts make the move very early in the morning so as not to get in the way of other guests. Right now takes about an hour and half to move every thing from one room to the other. They do offer free breakfast which i use to help supplement my diet. It is not cheap but neither are the apartments around here. Free wi fi and no utility bills.

Ellis Colton - May 11, 2015 Reply

I love photos of tiny functional houses. This place is so full of inspiration! I’m searching for hunting properties nsw right now and I may just build myself a tiny house when I acquire the land.

Frankie - May 4, 2016 Reply

This is a great article. I live in a hotel too and love it. I am on a long-term construction project so hotel living made sense for me. My monthly bill is a little over 700 per month. This sounds like a lot but bear in mind I have no electric bill no cable bill no internet bill no lease. I have daily maid service A a gym pool laundry services 24/7 maintenance service. Everything I need including shopping entertainment dining banking services is within walking distance or a 5 minute drive. The staff here is very nice I have a nice quiet room and security is well-established yes the room is somewhat small but very comfortable like a small studio apartment. It is nice to come home from work and have the bed made fresh towels and the room cleaned. It is really pretty much Carefree living. While Hotel living may not be for everyone it is certainly an option for some of us. My advice is to research a potential Hotel beforehand and when you get there to speak with the manager and or owner and tell them what kind of accommodations you want. Most of them are more than happy to help you then simply negotiate a price that’s within your budget or per diem. I could live the rest of my life in a hotel and be perfectly happy.

Buzz - November 14, 2016 Reply

I’ve got to be out in the country looking at stars and not having pets would drive me crazy. Different strokes for different folks!

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