Trying to decide between staying at a Residence Inn or a Courtyard? This dilemma is more common than you may think!

Both chains share Marriott as their parent company and both chains are in the same general price range, so travelers often get confused over the real difference.

This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about the pros, cons, similarities, and differences between these popular hotels.

Residence Inn vs Courtyard – The Short Answer

The most important difference between Residence Inn and Courtyard hotels is that each is intended for a difference length of stay. Residence Inns are designed offer accommodations more comfortable for an extended stay, while Courtyards are designed to offer a more typical hotel experience.

That’s the short and sweet, but it takes a little more detail to figure out which one works best for your needs. There are some big differences in the layouts and features between the two.

There are plenty of people who would rather stay at a Residence Inn than a Courtyard, regardless of trip length. The same is true vice-versa. It really just comes down to preference.

It’s also worth mentioning that we’ve seen quite a few people thrown off by the use of the word “Inn” in the branding. We wrote a separate post on this topic, covering the actual differences between inns and hotels to help cut down on some of the confusion. The terminology usually amounts to marketing and little else.

Rooms

Resident Inn rooms and Courtyard rooms are quite different. Both brands have a range of room types and sizes at each location, but there are some key differences across the board that you can always expect.

Residence Inn Rooms

Side-by-side, Residence Inn rooms are always going to edge their Courtyard room counterparts in total square footage. The smallest room at an average Residence Inn will be considerably larger than the smallest room at an average Courtyard. By our own math, the size difference commonly ranges from 20% to 50% or more.

The extra space in a Residence Inn is there to accommodate the features that make it suitable as an extended-stay option, along with everything you’d find in a standard hotel room. Unlike Courtyard rooms, Residence Inn rooms come standard with a kitchen and extra living space.

The kitchen in a Residence Inn is commonly equipped with a full refrigerator, stove, microwave, and dishwasher. It will also be stocked with pots, pans, and silverware.

Along with a standard sleeper sofa, chair, and desk, Residence Inn rooms also feature an extra dining table.

Courtyard Rooms

The average Courtyard room tends to be much like what you’d expect to find at any mid-upper scale business hotel. Rooms are comfortable, clean, and come with all of the basics.

Standard Courtyard rooms feature a regular hotel room layout with a sofa, chair, and desk. Unlike Residence Inn rooms, a basic Courtyard room isn’t a suite or studio style room.

The only kitchen/food features in a basic Courtyard room are a mini fridge and a coffee maker.

In our experience, there’s a bigger variation in rooms among various Courtyard locations than what you’ll find at Residence Inn locations. Almost all Residence Inns are built with very similar room layouts. Courtyard rooms, on the other hand, will occasionally vary a bit from city to city.

Many Courtyard hotels in upscale urban areas will have at least a few high-end room options that are more luxurious than the high-end options at a comparable Residence Inn. The Downtown Atlanta Courtyard, for example, has a 1,638sqf Presidential Suite that is more than double the size of largest room at the Downtown Atlanta Residence Inn.

Amenities & Services

Residence Inns and Courtyards also have some notable differences in available amenities.

Residence Inn Amenities & Services

Like everything else at a Residence Inn, the amenities and services provided by the hotel are based upon the needs of an extended-stay traveler.

One of Residence Inn’s best features is that it generally provides a free breakfast every morning. The downside is that Residence Inns usually doesn’t have full in-house restaurants. Being that it’s an extended-stay hotel, it’s assumed that guests will be making use of their in-room kitchens for meals.

Residence Inn Common areas include a pool, business center, small convenience shop, on-site laundry and other secondary amenities. A Residence Inn is also more likely than a Courtyard to have some sort of outdoor space for grilling.

Grocery delivery is one of the most convenient extras at Residence Inn. It makes it that much easier for you to save time and money.

Courtyard Amenities & Services

Courtyard amenities are pretty much what you’d expect at any comparable hotel. The level of service is usually a step above what you’ll get at a Residence Inn, since Courtyard’s aim is to deliver a true hotel experience.

Unlike Residence Inns, a lot of Courtyards feature a full in-house restaurant called the Bistro. This may not affect many, but it’s a big deal for travelers who want a place to hang out and eat in the hotel.

A pool, business center, convenience shop, laundry, etc is standard at Courtyard just like it is at Residence Inn.

Look & Feel

It’s probably accurate to describe both the Residence Inn and Courtyard brands to be “no frills”. That said, there’s still a bit of a difference in look and feel between the two.

Residence Inn Look & Feel

In the majority of cases, a Residence Inn will be somewhat less stylish than a comparable Courtyard. Marriott has done a lot of updating across all of their brands in recent years, but Residence Inn hasn’t quite caught up in some areas.

The average Residence Inn has simple, homey decor and furnishings. It’s probably best described as “adequate”. Nothing to write home about, but it’s pleasant, clean, and it gets the job done. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of anyone being offended by the decor of a Residence Inn, but I’ve also never heard of anyone being excited by it.

Courtyard Look & Feel

The average Courtyard tends to be noticeably more stylish than the average Residence Inn. From the lobby to the bedroom, the design gets slightly higher marks.

Even the most standard Courtyard locations feel more sleek and contemporary than their Residence Inn counterparts. Even more so in urban areas where Courtyards can sometimes be housed in refurbished buildings with some extra character.

You’re not going to confuse a Courtyard for a Four Seasons, but the vibe is pretty much always a solid cut above Residence Inn’s.

The Verdict

A stay at a Residence Inn or a Courtyard is almost always going to be a good bang for your buck. Both options offer a lot of value in their corner of the market.

If your stay is more than a few days and you think you’ll make use of a kitchen, you’ll probably find Residence Inn to be the ideal choice.

If your stay is shorter, you don’t need a kitchen, and you prefer a slightly more upscale feel, Courtyard is the way to go.

The pricing between the two is often close enough that it’s not that big of a deciding factor. Make sure to shop around first though, because it’s still totally possible for one to be significantly cheaper than the other.

Personally, my preference is almost always for Courtyard. I don’t do a lot of extended-stay trips and I never cook when I’m traveling, so I wouldn’t get much use out of Residence Inn’s unique features. I also prefer the look and feel of the average Courtyard over the average Residence Inn.

Let us know if you have a personal favorite between these two! We’re always looking for extra feedback, opinions and experiences from recent trips.