The word hotel originated from the French word hotel, derived from the word hote – meaning host. The term originally referred to any building that has frequent visitors. Today, a hotel is an establishment that provides lodging, meals and other services to travelers for a fee.
The earliest record of any mention about paid lodging would be during biblical times. According to the Bible, Mary and Joseph were unable to get accommodations because "there was no room at the inn."
It was during the Roman Empire that hotels began to proliferate. These were established for the purpose of encouraging visitors to the empire.
According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest hotel that is still in operation today is the Hoshi Ryokan located in the Awazu Onsen area of Komatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It was founded and is still operated by the same family for 1,292 years. The hotel has been with the family for forty-six generations since 718. The hotel was built near a hot water spring which is believed to have miraculous healing properties. Locals still claim this to be real, up to this day. The hotel has 100 rooms and it can accommodate up to 450 guests.
In America, the first inn was recorded to have been established in 1607. In 1792, the City Hotel, the first publicly held hotel, opened in New York. The Tremont opened in Boston in 1809. It was the first modern hotel in America. The Buffalo Statler, the first business hotel in America began its operations in 1908.
Throughout the years individual tastes have changed and it was inevitable that hotels changed according to what the customers wanted. These days, customers can choose from a greater selection.
Customers can choose to stay in a luxury hotel or a budget hotel, depending on their budget or available funds. Hotels can also be classified by service type:
- Full Service Upscale
- Full Service
- Select Service
- Limited Service
- Extended Stay
- Destination Club
For people who want some adventure, they can try out some unusual hotels like the Null Stern Hotel in Teufen, Appenzellerland, Switzerland which used to be a nuclear bunker that was transformed into a hotel. There are also cave hotels in Cappadocia, Turkey and Spain. Costa Rica has Treehouse hotels and Japan has capsule hotels where people sleep on top of each other in rectangular containers. Since it is cold for most of the year in Canada, Finland and Sweden, these countries have hotels that are made out of ice and snow. There are also underwater hotels in Sweden and Florida, USA.
The largest hotel according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the First World Hotel located in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. It has 6,118 rooms. The tallest hotel is the Rose Tower which is located in Dubai. It is 333 meters tall.