There are a few construction characteristics that we look out for in medium quality used hotel furniture. We try and find more mortise and tenon joints instead of mitered joints. Mortise and tenon tend to hold up better for heavy usage but require a lot of extra manual labor. Mitered joints are typically nailed or stapled together and can loosen over time.
We will settle for rabbit joints on the drawers which will interweave the boards together. Rabbiting is a little more work than mitering but usually holds the drawers together for longer. We would also prefer to see dadoed shelves instead of metal rollers as dadoes typically do not wear out and have to be exact when cut or the shelves will not fit in. Finally, since hand nailing is expensive, for medium quality pieces we at least like to see the frames glued then stapled together over just stapled. So, check for glue on the joints.
The materials we look for are some of the lower costs woods (we are shopping on a budget!) which fall into your pines and ash woods. If we are doing a kitchen we can look into butcher block type woods which usually are a little bit used and abused and do not look perfect. Remember, perfect is more expensive. You can see some MDF (medium density fiber board) in these pieces and possibly some particle board for the backs and underneath the hotel furniture. You can even order these pieces with wood veneers to make the hotel furniture look a lot more expensive than it actually is.
Other things to look out for when buying medium quality hotel furniture is if the knobs and the drawer pulls are not of terrible quality but are adequate and not embarrassing to show off. Is the hotel furniture square and does it look like it is going to hold solid over time? Do the drawers slide in and out easily without having to jimmy the drawer back and forth? On visual inspection of the backs, generally medium quality pieces have some type of fiber board stapled or tacked to the back covering the insides.
Finally, if you place something on top of the piece it should not creak or sound like it is going to fly apart. Having a choice and a watchful eye, you can probably find a few bargains if you are looking for medium quality hotel furniture and at the minimum you can avoid paying too much for junk.