What is the difference between at a hotel and in a hotel? The NYTimes seems to be using both of them. I looked up the ngram on google and it seems in a hotel is used more often than at a hotel, which is kind of surprising to me. enter image description here

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    I think that analysis is flawed. You should have also included the verb in the search, because those matches could just be part of different phrasal verbs, and you would be then just counting what phrasal verb is the most used, and not for a given fixed verb, which preposition is mostly used. stayed in a hotel vs stayed at a hotel would be a much meaningful analysis IMO.
    – drakorg
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 7:01
  • Is it really a great question to be asked here.The user has got high reputation and that seems to be the only reason to get the question repeated Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 14:03
  • @JagathaVLNarasimharao - Reg only edited the question. There is no way to see how much reputation the “user” has (or had). Also keep in mind that that was from 2012- Things are a little different back then.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 15:16
  • @Jim I see many repeated questions here but they are not considered duplicate.But some genuine questions are considered duplicate and some are being closed Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 15:24
  • @JagathaVLNarasimharao - The “community” is the mechanism that finds and closes questions as duplicate. It takes someone to recognize a question as a duplicate to start the ball rolling. If you see questions that are duplicates you can be that person.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 15:37

8 Answers 8


In a comment responding to the original post, Eduardo advises the poster to add a verb in front of the phrases "at a hotel" and "in a hotel" to obtain a more precise idea of which phrase is more common. I ran Ngram-based Google Books searches for three pairs of verbs + the phrase "in/at a hotel" over the period 1850–2005 First, "met at a hotel" (blue line) vs. "met in a hotel" (red line):

Second, "stayed at a hotel" (blue line) vs. "stayed in a hotel" (red line):

Third, "stopped at a hotel" (blue line) vs. "stopped in a hotel" (red line):

Clearly, the choice of verb has a considerable effect on the choice of preposition, assuming that all other factors remain effectively equal. But that's a major and probably unjustified assumption.

One major further complication involves the presence or absence of a noun following "hotel" in the phrase. In all three verb phrases that I tested, the "in" phrase was likelier than the "at" phrase to draw a following noun.

For instance, in the Google Books/Ngram results for "met at a hotel" versus "met in a hotel," in the first ten results for the 1987-1998 time period, "met in a hotel" was followed by a noun—suite, elevator, bar, room (three times), or restaurant—seven times. In contrast, "met at a hotel" for the 1938-1998 had only one following noun (suite) in the first ten results, although subsequent results offered such additions as garden brunch, swimming pool, and resort.

The phrases "stayed at a hotel" and "stayed in a hotel" were far less often followed by a noun in the Google Books results than "met at a hotel" and "met in a hotel" were. In fact, I didn't see any examples of a following noun involving "stayed at a hotel"; in contrast, "stayed in a hotel" did occasionally show up as part of "stayed in a hotel room." The Google Books search couldn't find any examples of "met at a hotel room," "met at a hotel lobby" "met at a hotel bar," or "stayed at a hotel room." It found "in" versions of all of those phrases.

These results lead me to hypothesize that, overall and in everyday usage, the phrase "in a hotel" lends itself to further narrowing by a following noun (especially room) to a significantly greater extent than the phrase "at a hotel" does—and that this phenomenon muddies the waters in any effort to determine by means of a simple test which simple phrase ending in the noun hotel ("at a hotel" or "in a hotel") is more common.


I think in a hotel is more specific. It means being inside the hotel. When you use at the hotel it can be both inside our outside.

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    For many uses, that's the case. Example where that's not the case would be "stayed in/at a hotel" or "convention was held in/at a hotel". Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 8:36
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    Yes, I agree that "in" is more specific.
    – user43027
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 1:18

Well, for me, "at" and "in" have distinctive difference. You can say, "I am now in the hotel" and "I am now at the hotel entrance."

When you say "in" you are generally inside the hotel. While "at" should be more specific. At what place in the hotel you are in?


A hotel can be thought of in different ways. One way is as a building, in which case "in" is appropriate. Another way is as a location, in which case "at" is appropriate.

The choice of which to use depends on the context, there's no wrong or right answer. As others have pointed out, the hotel's location includes the outdoors and indoors parts of the hotel, and so "at" would be appropriate for the more general case.


I think hotel is a place where we can use preposition 'at' or 'in' . Examples- 1. He will have dinner in a hotel. 2. (At a hotel) So, you can use 'at' or 'in' infront of Hotel in a sentence.


I think both can be used given the sentence. They both have the same meaning. I know that some may say that "in" is more specific, I disagree. It is a hotel. Everything is "in". It is more about personal preference and sentence flow.


  1. I am staying in the DoubleTree in Times Square. (sounds like I am trapped the hotel and to me doesn't sound right although I would not say it is wrong either)

  2. I am staying at the DoubleTree at Times Square. (sounds much better to me)


More than 3 decades ago I learned that if you are accommodated in the hotel the preposition "in" is used. However, if you are visiting someone the used preposition is "at". Simple as it.

  • I'd rarely say 'We stayed in the Majestic'. Oversimple, perhaps. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 13:42

I was interested in a specific case where I would say in a dialogue that "I am staying at the hotel" (staying at the time of speaking, and the hotel is specific). Google Books/NGram search with "the" and present continuous is much different:

enter image description here

So I would agree with RyeɃreḁd, in that "at" sounds much better to me in this specific case.

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