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  • Writer's pictureAnubhuti @hotelitout

Blog 4: Ancient Hotels

Time for a small history lesson on the evolution of hotels and the hospitality industry. Rented accommodations for travellers and guests was first documented in the Colonial times when the Greeks started building thermal baths and the Romans built mansions to host guests. In the Middle Ages, monasteries and abbeys offered refuge to travellers and more religious orders built inns, hospices and hospitals for those coming in for a few days. With the industrial evolution and after the World Wars, travelling recreationally became the fad and more hotels and inns were built to cater to the growing demand of tourists.

Here are my picks of some of the oldest (and still liveable) hotels in the world. It is amazing to see how the architecture is still intact and there is so much culture and history oozing out of these properties.

1- The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan Hotel has been welcoming guests since 705AD. With the backdrop of Mount Fiji in Japan, this hotel has 37 rooms that have housed politicians, military commanders, ruling families and even samurai. There are hot water springs in the vicinity that relieve aching muscles, which made the hotel very famous during the wars.

Postcard image of the world's oldest hotel

2- The second oldest hotel in the world, Hoshi Ryokan, is also in Japan and was inaugurated in 718AD. Built with Japanese perfection, it offers traditional dishes and accommodation. Another fact about the hotel is that it is also the oldest active family business in the world, having been passed down 46 generations.

The traditional architecture of the Hoshi Ryokan Hotel

3- The oldest European hotel, Zum Roten Baeren, is nestled near the famous Freiburg Concert Hall in Freiburg, Germany. The building, despite multiple renovations, has withstood the era of witch hunts, the plague, the 30 Years War and both the World Wars. The hotel till date continues to be fully booked and makes for a great immersion in Germany's history.

The exterior of Zum Roten Baeren

4- In England, the oldest hotel, The Olde Bell Hotel, opened its doors in 1135 in Hurley. Started as an inn, the hotel has been renovated and expanded over time, as its location is the midpoint between Edinburgh and London, made it very famous with highwaymen. Historians note several accounts of the hotel, particularly, for being the meeting point for Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill during World War II.

One of the oldest photos of The Olde Bell Hotel

5- Originally built in Austria, the Orso Grigio Hotel, now belongs to San Candido, Italy after the province's annexation. The hotel features a mix of both the cultures and a beautiful postcard view of the mountains from its windows. The hotel was established in 1300 and now offers top-notch hospitality and luxury to its visitors.

Orso Grigio Hotel before Christmas

6- Established in 1323 and received its own coat of arms in 1491, The Interlaken Hotel, is Switzerland's oldest hotel. Initially a guesthouse and used for administrative purposes, after renovations in 1491, this hotel gained more popularity among tourists and became a hotspot. For long, the property enjoyed being the only hotel in Interlaken.

Spot the coat of arms on the foyer of The Interlaken Hotel

7- The other side of the world, America, joined the party late with hotels opening only in the late 1700s. The most notable of them is New York's Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, where George Washington has spent a night and many other politicians have concluded successful campaigns from the inn's front porch. Many revolutionaries during the American War of Independence have also used the inn as a safe haven.

The front porch of the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn

Get going, it's time to book a stay at one of these hotels before they outlive you as well. You'll be sure to take in lots of culture, history and traditional food at these spots. Look out souvenirs you can bring back from there- maybe even a branded paper napkin will do. It'll definitely be a memory to cherish!

Hope you liked this blast from the past and see ya later,


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