Hotel vocabulary ESL

Here are a set of role plays for six practical situations. These activities are designed to be used in conjunction with the accompanying picture worksheet.

First go through the vocabulary using the picture and then move on to the role plays to practice some everyday situations.

Hotels and hospitality


To ask for a room, to check in, concierge, to check out, do not disturb, date-of-birth, to fill out/ to fill in a form, housekeeping, to have a reservation, to reserve, reception, receptionist, surname, ID, passport, ID card, to sign, signature, porter.

Role plays:

The tutor is the receptionist and the student, the person checking into the hotel.

The tutor asks for information such as the persons:

  • Surname
  • Date-of-birth
  • Type of room
  • Breakfast options
  • ID
  • Signature

The student must complain to the receptionist about the following situations.

  • The room is not the size they wanted.
  • The Wi-Fi doesn’t work in their room.
  • Their neighbour has the TV on very loud and they can’t sleep.
  • They have been overcharged on their check out bill.

The student must make the following requests.

  • Ask about the best way to reach the town centre: directions, methods of transport etc.
  • Which monuments to see and how much they cost.
  • How to use the Business Centre, (login details, printer policy, opening times etc).
PDF Download: hotels

Ordering in restaurants


The bill, condiment, dish, the dish of the day, the dessert, fork, knife, meal, menu, set menu, main-course, maître d’, a taster menu, spoon, teaspoon, serviette, starter, waiter, waitress, to pay for, salt and pepper, specials, well done, medium rare, rare (meat), to tip, to leave a tip.

To order, to ask for, ‘I would like’, (not, ‘I want’), ‘could I have..?’. ‘There are four of us,’ (not, ‘we are four’).

Role plays:

For these role plays the tutor is the server or maître d’ and the student is the person ordering the food.

Ordering food. The student must:

  • Ask for a table and tell the waiting staff the number of people in their party using the correct ‘there are + number’ form.
  • Enquire about the specials, the taster menu and the dish of the day.
  • Explain how they want their steak or another dish cooked.

Making a complaint. The student must:

  • Tell the waiting staff that a dish is not to their liking and explain why.
  • Explain that there is an error on the bill.  
PDF download: Restaurants

Clothes shopping


Aisle, basket, bargain, checkout, changing rooms, customer, to discount, a discount, to exchange, hanger, item of clothing, to look for,  Totry on, to take back, size, to refund, to get a refund, receipt, to pay for, rail, sales, , shop assistant, shopping cart, trolley, till, a suit (clothing) to suit (it looks good on you!)

Role plays

The tutor is the shop assistant and the student is the shopper.

The student must:

  • Ask to try on an item of clothing and enquire about sizes.
  • Enquire about sales and discounts.
  • Take back an item because it doesn’t suit them.
  • Try to get a cash refund when the shop assistant wants to give them an exchange.
PDF download: Clothes shopping

Giving and asking for directions


Crossroad, corner, exit, to go past, to keep going straight, on the left, on the right, roundabout, traffic lights, to take a right/left, to turn, towards, zebra crossing.

Problem solving

Using the town map ask your student to give you directions to the following destinations, from the starting point. To make it harder the tutor could say ‘tell me directions to the post office, going past the church.’ The tutor follows the directions as the student explains them to check if they are correct.


  • The post office.
  • The school.
  • The harbour.
  • The hospital.
  • A client’s office.
  • The church.
  • The factory.
PDF Download: Directions

Talking about the weather


To be cloudy, to be cold, to be foggy, to freeze, ice, to be icy, to be hot, to be sunny, to be warm, a forecast, to forecast, to flood, a flood, fog, to rain, rain, to be rainy, to snow, snow, to be snowy, a thunderstorm, thunder and lightning.

Teach: ‘What’s the weather like today? What was the weather like yesterday? What will the weather be like tomorrow?’


Go to BBC weather and input various cities such as Seattle, Dublin, Madrid, Buenas Aires.  Next, ask your student to give you the five-day forecast.

At the airport


Airport: Check in desk, to check in, passport control, security check, conveyor belt, to pass through, passport, customs, customs official, baggage, luggage, suitcase.

Plane: Aisle, arm rest, to board, captain, to delay, to be delayed, to disembark, flight attendant, to fasten your seat belt, to land, the landing, luggage compartment, trolley, row, tray, to take off, the take-off,.

Role plays

The tutor is the flight attendant and the student is the passenger.

The student must:

  • Tell the flight attendant that they need to change seats due to a problem. (The flight attendant doesn’t want the passenger to change, but the passenger must insist).
  • Complain that their flight has been delayed and ask for alternative flight options.
  • Complain that their baggage hasn’t arrived.
PDF Download: At the airport