Faced with a list of room options with rates assigned by class, the choice of a standard or superior room could depend on your budget and whether you're just looking for a comfortable bed or full turn-down service. Since room definitions vary by property, start with a general baseline of expectations and check with the hotel to see just what's included for the price.

Standard Accommodations

The room rating of "standard" is entirely subjective, but you can generally deduce the establishment's meaning by the class and location of the hotel. A standard room at a budget motel in a one-horse town won't be as nice as a standard room at a posh Lake Tahoe resort. Anywhere you go, this base-line room should include clean sheets and towels, drinking cups and packaged soap or other toiletries. As your hotel climbs in rating, the sheets may get upgraded in thread count, down pillows may adorn the bed, a plush robe may hang in the bathroom and the shampoo may be a prestige brand. Location and view generally define a standard room, too. It may be on a lower floor, near a source of noise such as the elevator or facing the street while more expensive rooms face the beach.

Superior Upgrade

Like taking the base model of a new car and adding on luxury options, an upgrade to a superior room means that whatever is being offered has advantages compared to the standard room. Perhaps the room offers complementary bottled water, coffee and tea or a minibar, or entrance to a hotel wine and cheese reception. You could simply be dwelling in more square feet in a room that adds a couch or plush chair in which you can spread out. You may be on a higher room with a better view and could even be eligible for special concierge attention.

More Room Categories

Terms used to describe the grade of a hotel room often extend beyond the standard and superior varieties. There could be a mid-level choice between the two, with moderate upgrades that don't meet the definition of superior. Maybe the floor is a little higher, the room is a little larger or the view gets a little better, but not to the extent of a superior room. Beyond a superior room, you'll likely move into the deluxe categories where complementary items such as flowers, cookies or fruit may be delivered. Executive rooms could have business conveniences such as a fax machine or more luxurious accouterments. Remember that hotels are free to name room levels as they wish; they may even brand a standard or superior room a "deluxe."

Getting Upgraded

It could take as little as signing up for a hotel chain's guest program to get a courtesy bump from standard to superior when rooms are available. The Huffington Post recommends starting with a polite, discreet request to the front desk to ask if an upgrade is available, something you may have more luck with if you booked a bit better than a rock-bottom room to begin with. Newer properties looking to build a loyal customer base may be more amenable to floating a favor your way. If you're celebrating a special occasion on your trip, let the front-desk clerk know. The policy may all depend on how rooms have filled up that evening and what could be remaining as an upgrade for you.