Every day in America, 1.8 million people check into hotels--ostensibly to sleep, but also to swim, watch sunsets, watch TV, work, work out, meditate, recuperate, recreate, deviate, get married, get divorced, write briefs, write postcards, write novels, read novels, take whirlpool baths, wear fluffy robes, steal fluffy robes, eat French toast on satin sheets, or track beach sand all over the carpet and not give a damn. Hotel guests are as disparate and distinct as the places they stay. We met guests at hotels and motels from coast to coast and asked:

Some are here for inspiration.
NATALJA WAGNER is a singer/dancer/actor/writer from Ukraine who has lived in hotels for 10 years. She's now at the legendary Chelsea Hotel in New York, which she calls "a 3-D trip without drugs." She likes the energy of the Chelsea, and especially the people--"some hotels are so impersonal."

Some are here to work.
HENK HOFLAND, a journalist from Amsterdam, is staying for three weeks at the Chelsea, a place "unlike any other." He spends half the year in hotel rooms, preferring the "freedom and anonymity" of hotel life. "I allow myself a certain degree of decent but undisciplined behavior."

Some are here on spring break.
KIRK JOYCE and EMMA LEE WOODARD, high school students from Dearborn, Michigan, came with Kirk's parents to the Marriott Harbor Beach in Fort Lauderdale "to enjoy life." They say the food at the Marriott is better than it is at home (sorry, Mom), though the beds aren't as comfortable. So, will you be taking the shampoos with you? "Yup." They'd also like to take home the pool.

Some are here to tie the knot.
SCOTT and ANA SUMMERS, both teachers from Coral Springs, Florida, chose the Marriott Harbor Beach for their wedding ceremony "because it's a beautiful place, with a perfect location." But they're not spending the night--they'll be off on their honeymoon.

Some are here with friends.
BONITA SEMAN, JENNIFER JALABA, SAHAR YALDOO, RENÉE NAJJAR, JEANENE LOSSIA, and JANINE SHAMAN traveled together from Michigan to the Delano in Miami Beach, where they're indulging in massages and eating healthful meals ("healthier than we eat at home"). What would you take back with you? "The bathrobes," says Janine. "And the plants." Chic minimalism goes only so far, however: "There's not enough bedding!"

Some are here with family.
TIM and HELEN LEE SCHIFTER and their daughter, STOREY, have come from New York to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a vacation, a little business, and Oscar parties. Tim is president and CEO of Le Sportsac, the luggage and handbag company. Helen likes the Beverly Hills Hotel for its spacious grounds and stylish design--"and my favorite colors, pink and green." What would you take home? "The tiny Sony Watchman TV in the bathroom. And Storey loves the scented soaps."

Some take their beds with them.
CHARLIE WILLIAMS of Oklahoma City usually sleeps in his rig ("the condo," he calls it) during long hauls, though sometimes he checks into a Super 8 or Econo Lodge. Tonight he's pulling in at Jerry's Restaurant, a truck stop in Mojave, California. What do you miss when you're not at a motel? "A private bathroom."

Some are here to escape.
PATRICIA MALONE, president of Gucci America, in New York, takes her 10-day spring vacation at the Delano in Miami Beach. Why this hotel? "For the atmosphere, the international clientele, the terrific spa, the gym, the restaurant, the service." And what can you do here that you can't do at home? "Relax."