Hotel jargon – a guide

When you are booking a holiday in the UK, you might come across certain pieces of hotel jargon or phrases that you don’t understand. They will be common enough within the industry, and after you have been in a few hotels they will be commonplace to you too. So here’s some of the most common phrases and terms you might hear when booking and staying at hotels and accommodation venues across the country. 

A tourist at a hotel window

General phrases

Front of House: These are staff members who deal directly with guests. They include those working at reception, taking orders in a restaurant and the concierge. Conversely, back of house staff include those with minimal or no customer contact. They could be office staff, maintenance workers and chefs. 

Covers: In the context of a restaurant, a cover is a single serving of a meal to one person. The more covers you have, the more people you will need to serve. 

Eco-tourism: Having a holiday in the most green and sustainable way possible. For example, cycling instead of driving, and using environmentally friendly toiletries.

Room Types

Single Room: A room for one person.

Double Room: A room with a double bed, typically for two people.

Family Room: Suitable usually for two adults and two children.

Suite: A larger and more luxurious room with a separate living and sleeping area.

Single surcharge or a single supplement: Are you travelling alone? Then you might also come across something called a single surcharge or a single supplement. This is when you a person stays in a room on their own but which can accommodate two or more people. The hotel may charge you an extra amount of money to do so.

Receptionists at a hotel desk

Types of accommodation in the UK

Hotel: A large building with individual rooms and a central reception area. May or may not have dining facilities on-site.

B&B: Bed and Breakfast. Often family-run, these are usually converted houses which offer a room for the night and a cooked or continental breakfast in the morning on-site.

Self-catering: Usually an entire apartment, cabin or building with bedrooms, living area and kitchen. Guests are usually expected to cook for themselves although some five-star venues offer the the use of a chef for an additional cost. 

Hotel services

Turndown Service: This is an evening service to prepare the bedroom for sleep. When a guest is out for dinner, the turndown service is performed in their room. Upon return to their room, the lights are dimmed and the bedding is prepared so that guests can feel relaxed and homely and ready for sleep. 

En Suite: A bathroom which is connected directly to a bedroom. In some older bed and breakfasts, you may find that toilets are situated in a main hall and are shared with other guests although this is not common. 

These are just a few of the most common terms and hotel jargon you might come across. However do remember that those who work in hospitality tend to be friendly, so if you don’t understand something – just ask!