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I've heard or seen all of them in real life situations, some of them seem to be exclusively for hostels, others only for larger hotels, but some verification would be nice.

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Usually, 酒店 = 宾馆 > 旅馆 = 旅社 = 旅舍. And it's better to follow the Chinese names that the hotel/inn/guest house is called. If you don't know the Chinese name of it, when referring a larger hotel, 宾馆 sounds a little old-styled so 酒店 would be preferred. –  Stan Aug 3 '13 at 17:42
    
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@NS.X. this question is to distinguish the words that mean "the places for stay", but not between "places for a meal" and "places for stay". I think it's different. –  Stan Aug 4 '13 at 3:01
    
What about 招待所? (I believe this is a Mainland China only term). –  deutschZuid Aug 4 '13 at 23:41
    
@deutschZuid: No. 招待所 is used in Mainland China, Taiwan, and North Korea. Since the period of 中華民國, it has appeared. See wiki. –  Stan Aug 5 '13 at 6:24
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3 Answers

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酒店 usually means restaurant only, but it refers to the hotel with restaurant advertised or the larger hotel too.

宾馆/旅馆/旅店 is hotel, same exactly meaning, including the hotel with restaurant. But you never call a restaurant only as 宾馆. And you don't call a very good hotel as 旅馆/旅店.

旅社/招待所 is often used by mid aged people in China, when they say 旅社 they meant those hotels that are nation sponsored (国营的) in the planned economics time. Mostly it is equivalent to 宾馆/旅馆, but 旅社 refers to the smaller cheap hotel on the street nowadays, 招待所 is still for the nation or organisation sponsored hotels.

旅舍 means the accommodation for travellers, mostly in country side, specifically means the small and cheaper hotel. It refers the building rather than the function of the hotel.

YHA can be translated as 青年旅馆 or 青年旅舍, rarely with other names. Bagpacker's can be translated as 背包旅馆 or 背包旅舍, nobody calls it as 背包宾馆. Hilton hotel can be translated as 希尔顿酒店 or 希尔顿宾馆, nobody calls it 希尔顿旅馆. Novotel like business hotel can be translated as 商务旅馆, 商务酒店, 商务宾馆.

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For an instance of 招待所, many universities have their own hotels on campus, which are colloquially referred to as 招待所 despite their official names such as 学术交流中心 (because departments would usually arrange invited speakers to stay there for conferences held on campus). –  user58955 Sep 20 '13 at 17:31
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Usually 酒店 refers to larger hotels. 宾馆 can have the same meaning, but some smaller hotels are also referred to as 宾馆. 旅馆 always refers to smaller hotels. 旅舍 is not very commonly used; it appears in some hotel names near tourist attractions. In most situations, 旅社 is not usually used to refer to a place for temporary accommodation; instead it refers to a travel agency.

If you don't like things to be too complicated, simply using 宾馆 is ok.

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旅社 is not 旅行社. Please do some research before answering a question, if you're not so sure about something. –  Stan Aug 4 '13 at 7:24
    
I agree with Stan here. In addition, 旅舍 (note: pronounced lǚshè), is often used as an alternative form to 旅社; both are seen more as part of hotel names than used as a noun, in which case, the word 旅馆 is used. –  deutschZuid Aug 4 '13 at 23:37
    
@Stan you are right, I live here and always think it is travel agency, I speak Chinese, I don't need research. I am sure if you say 旅社 in China, it cause same misunderstanding. –  Yang Aug 5 '13 at 5:24
    
@deutschZuid, thanks a lot! I am not quite good at English. –  Yang Aug 5 '13 at 5:27
    
@Yang: I'm Chinese too. I don't think 旅社 would cause any misunderstanding (and you're the first sample I've ever met -- I'm quite sure it's your own problem because it's a standard word). Many names of inns are "XX旅社", especially in a village or a small city. You can simply check it by a simple search in Google or Baidu. –  Stan Aug 5 '13 at 5:38
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My understanding as a Mandarin speaker:

酒店 mostly refer to multi-functional fancy hotels, or at least they want to refer themselves as fancy and pricy. Normally there are pricy restaurants attached to 酒店. You would also be expected to see conference centers, gyms, bars inside a 酒店. For example Hilton will be a 酒店 - 希尔顿大酒店。 (I feel that the word 酒店 has some relation to higher social status.)

Then after that comes 宾馆. It mainly refer to some nice hotels more or less just for sleeping. So an international conference will likely to be held in a 酒店, not a 宾馆.

旅馆 & 旅舍 seems like an inn/motel to me. 旅 in Chinese means to travel, so it translates to travel-accommodation - a Motel. I say Holiday Inn would be called a 旅馆. 旅舍 is similar in some sense, but it has the nuance of independent-organization. If my mom decide to open a hotel we might call it 旅舍, but this difference is very subtle and maybe ignored in some situation.

青年旅舍 as a phrase, means hostels.

旅舍 & 旅社 maybe used interchangeably as in "accommodation". Although 旅社 sometimes short for 旅行社, is a "travel agent".

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