PARTIAL OCEAN VIEW (pov): Ahhh. You've scrimped and saved for that Hawaii vacation and finally can afford a decent hotel with a Partial Ocean View room category. Does this mean that your view is blocked by some trees? Usually not: In its most cynical definition it means that if you step out on your balcony, lean over at a 45-degree angle, crane your neck until your bones crack, you might get a glimpse of the sea between two other buildings. Or, it might mean that your room is on the side of a building and you can actually see a bit of the ocean from inside your room, but your window does not face the ocean and you don't see a lot of it.
Let's face it: No hotel is going to have a "Dumpster View" room category, and some rooms that are called "Deluxe" by a hotel simply aren't. So if these issues are important to you, check them out carefully, even going so far as calling the hotel to clarify.
OCEAN VIEW (ov): This could mean one of two things: Your room is on the side of a building and you have a full view down the beach and can see the ocean but you don't FACE the ocean, or that you are in a hotel several blocks away and on a high enough floor that you can see the ocean from your room. In the second scenario you may well be facing the water, but from a distance. In a beachfront hotel, or even one across the street from the beach, this category does not mean facing the ocean.
OCEAN FRONT (of): Here is the category that gives you a full-on ocean view. It means that the windows in your room face the ocean. Depending on the type of hotel you are in, it could mean that you are on a higher floor and have a more sweeping view.
BEACH FRONT (bf): Hotels that have access directly onto a beach often have this category available to guests; in its strictest interpretation, you should be able to walk out of your room and onto the sand. Some hotels use this category, though, for their lower ocean front rooms even if you have to go down an interior corridor and take an elevator to get outside. If what you want is to just be able to walk out, check carefully before you book.
CITY VIEW (ctv, cvw, or cty): It could mean on a higher floor with a broad view over the city, OR... it could mean a city view instead of a more desirable ocean view or mountain view etc.
MOUNTAIN VIEW (mvw, mtv): Looking out at the mountains. This is great if you're skiing; in the Caribbean it usually means "You aren't looking at the sea."
WATER VIEW (wvw, wtv): Your room looks at or has a view of a featured body of water in your destination. Sometimes this is replaced with specifics: Lake View, for example, or Lagoon View or River View.
ISLAND VIEW (isv, ivw, isl): A euphemism -used in both Hawaii and the Caribbean- for no ocean view at all. It means your room faces the opposite side of the hotel from the ocean.
POOL VIEW (plv, pvw,): Self explanatory.
GARDEN VIEW (gdn, gdv): Usually means lower floors, facing landscaping, no view except of the shrub that blocks your window.
Of course there are other room designations as well: Handicap Accessible, Smoking, Non-Smoking, Concierge (or Tower) Level, Club Level, Balcony etc. but those are pretty self-explanatory.
With this guide and some careful planning, you shouldn't end up looking at a freeway offramp in a room with one twin bed for your honeymoon.