The History of Hotels


A hotel is a building or place where people stay overnight. It has many different features. These include size, number of rooms, location, food and beverages, and special services. Hotels also have facilities such as swimming pools and mini bars. They may offer Internet access, cable TV, and basic telephone facilities.

The first American hotels were built in the 1790s in cities along the Atlantic coast. In the early twentieth century, they expanded to the mountain West and to settlements on the Pacific Coast. As a result, the hotel industry in America evolved over the next century.

The nineteenth-century American hotel system was predicated on steam-driven transportation. With the arrival of the automobile, a new hotel type emerged: the motel. This variant of the hotel was typically sited on inexpensive land. Often, these establishments offered free parking and served as rest houses for travelers.

After World War II, the hotel industry in the United States expanded rapidly. Many hotels were built near major airports. Hotel chains were also born. These allowed for increased efficiency in reservations.

During the early decades of the twentieth century, the hotel industry grew on a global scale. Increasing numbers of Americans traveled abroad, especially during the post-war years. Moreover, the success of organized labor gave millions of workers the opportunity to take paid vacations.

By the end of the century, the hotel industry in America had expanded to include a wide variety of hotels. While the first generation of American hotels was relatively small, the second was characterized by a proliferation of large, expensive, urban establishments. Throughout the nation, hotels played important roles as public forums and business exchanges.

The third generation of hotels was influenced by the rapid growth of railroads. Railroad hotels were erected at regular intervals along track lines to serve as a place to eat and rest before sleeping cars arrived. Also, the development of steam navigation greatly expanded the nation’s range of movement.

Another influence on the hotel industry was the invention of currency. When the first coins were produced in the fifth century BC, hospitality evolved into a commercial activity. Later, the advent of passenger airplanes made travel easier.

Eventually, these developments catalyzed a new generation of hotels. Urban merchant-capitalists constructed new hotels, often based on the same designs as the earlier structures. However, they aimed to attract a specific customer.

For example, the Stevens Hotel in Chicago opened in 1927 with 3,000 rooms. In the late 1960s, it held the title of “world’s largest hotel.”

The third generation of hotels continued to be developed. New hotels were built in leading commercial centers along coastal trade routes. Moreover, hotels were introduced into areas with less infrastructure, such as frontier settlements. Typically, they had whitewashed facades, tiered porches, and wood construction.

Today, the hotel industry in the United States continues to evolve. With new technologies, demographic changes, and economic shifts, the world is changing faster than ever before. Therefore, hoteliers must always keep abreast of emerging trends and opportunities.