The earliest hotels featured just the bare necessities such as warm food, a roof and a place to rest your head in. Most of the ancient dwellings have long ceased to exist owing to the shift in customer preferences and growth of technology. However, some hotels have stood the test of time. Mentioned below is a comprehensive list of 15 such antique hotels that are still in business.
Nishiyama Onsen Keuinkan, Japan [ book here ]
The Nishiyama Onsen Keuikan was established in the year 705 and has been running for over 1300 years now. From samurais to kings and now the common folk, the hotel has welcomed everyone with open arms. It is even recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest hotel in the world. The place is run by the same family all these years (currently the 52nd generation is handling the business) and is known for its natural hot springs that have many medicinal properties as well. The lodgings offer guests a simple yet exotic stay combining the best of age-old Japanese traditions and contemporary facilities.
Hoshi Ryokan, Japan [ book here ]
Another ancient dwelling set in Japan, Hoshi Ryokan was believed to be the oldest hotel in the world until Nishiyama Onsen took the crown. Only 13 years younger than Nishiyama, the place has been offering solace to weary tourists ever since the early 718! The hotel stays true to the Eastern traditions first set by the owners all those years back. The hotel has remained in the family for over 47 generations now and is a major tourist spot for people visiting Japan. The hot springs and heavenly sauna centers in the property are a major attraction that host above 450 guests every year.
The Olde Bell, Hurley, England [ book here ]
The Old Bell was established in the year 1135 and was initially intended to be a guesthouse for travelers visiting Benedictine Priory nearby. Its strategic placement in the Old English Town of Hurley also played a significant role Glorious Revolution of 1688. The place features a secret passage that was used by the revolutionaries to plot against King James III. The simple, minimalistic décor of the place features claw-foot bathtubs and wooden beams. The hotel even has its on-site restaurant that offers guests a variety of local and international cuisines.
Zum Roten Barren, Freiburg, Germany [ book here ]
Zum Roten Baren is among the oldest running hotels of Europe that were originally built as a single-family dwelling. The building has been used as a guesthouse ever since the 14th century and was later recognized as an inn. The lodging continues to maintain its beauty and charm even after the alternations made to the rooms. Set conveniently in the heart of Freiburg, the hotel features 25 rooms and a dining area.
The Beekman Arms, Rhinebeck, NY [ book here ]
A relatively new hotel when compared to the ancient dwellings on our list, the Beekman Arms has been open since 1766. Set in New York’s Hudson Valley, the building is located in the quiet town of Rhinebeck. A historical location, the property is a hit among city dwellers looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of life. Furnished as per the cozy yet luxurious Imperial style, the hotel claims to be the oldest continuously running lodging in the US.
Angel & Royal, Grantham, UK [ book here ]
Angel & Royal was built in the year 1203 on the way from London to Edinburg. The place was formerly known only as Hotel Angel and housed Brotherhood of the Knights Templar. However, later the hotel was visited by royal families and kings such as John, Richard III, Edward III, Charles I and George IV. The prefix Royal was later added to the name as a tribute to the royal visits. The name was officially adopted in the year 1866 when Edward, the Prince of Whales had stayed the night.
Sanct Peter, Cologne, Germany [ book here ]
Sanct Peter, set in the town of Cologne, Germany is said to have been the oldest inn in the country. Though, as per the historical records, the building was constructed way back in the year 600. The place got recognized as a hotel much later in the year 1246 when it became a part of the cathedral. Traveler and the clergy visiting the temple’s court often gathered at the dwelling to taste the famous Vino of Scant Peter. The property was a part of Germany’s renowned vineyards where people flocked to imbibe the delicious Ahr red wine.
Orso Grigio, San Candido, Italy [ book here ]
Orso Grigio was inspired from the lodgings in The Dolomites. The Hotel Grauer Bar (gray bear) was opened in the year 1300 in Austria. Today, the place has been shifted to Italy under a more Italian name as the country annexed the place during the Second World War. The hotel housed merchants, travelers, and noblemen who were visiting the city of Ronzone, a town then famous for its markets and trade practices. The hotel building was also used as a shelter home and hospital to house the soldiers injured during the war.
Pilgrim Haus, Soest, Germany [ book here ]
Located on the way of an important Christian pilgrimage route, the way to St. James, the Hotel Pilgrim Haus was first opened for public in the year 1304. Staying true to its name, the lodgings housed pilgrims who were on their way to the holy shrine of James the Great in Santiago, Spain. Set in the town of Soest, Germany, the dwelling features a sleek Ikea construction and surprisingly modern framework.
Hotel Interlaken, Switzerland [ book here ]
Hotel Interlaken has an absorbing story- the place was initially a hospital and then a tavern before being renovated into a full-fledged hotel. Set in the town of Interlaken, Switzerland, the site was first documented as a guest house in the year 1323. The hotel was later refurbished in the year 1491 when some significant changes were made to the overall structure and design of the dwelling. For instance, the building received its coat of arms that is still visible from all the façade. Guests can also spot some relics of the old designs in the walls of the bar, the restaurant, and the lobby.
Hotel Elch, Nuremberg, Germany [ book here ]
Hotel Elch is a building that was first mentioned in the year 1342, although no one knows its actual age and year of establishment. Situated in the quiet town of Nuremberg, Germany, the hotel is very authentic and traditional in design and construction. The wooden panels, beams, and high pillars add on to the rustic, ancient charm of the place. The interiors, however, are more at par with the modern facilities. The vibrant, chic and sophisticated décor with contemporary furnishings and rock chandeliers is very comfortable and pleasing to the senses.
Al Cappello Rosso, Bologna, Italy [ book here ]
Al Cappello Rosso is a hotel built on the edges of Bologna, Italy to provide safe lodgings for the traveling Jews. However, the Jews were allowed only a three day stay at the place as per the laws formulated by the state. The hotel was set very near to the Ufficio del Bollette, a government office that monitored the activities of the place and ensured that no visitor outlived his stay at the hotel. Ever since its establishment in 1375, the site has gone through some drastic changes and refurbishments. For instance, the modern themed suites such as American Icon suite and Typewriter room have been recent additions to the building.
Gastagwirt, Eugendorf, Austria [ book here ]
The Gastagwirt Hotel was built sometime in 1380, strategically placed near one of the steepest passages of a major trade route. The hotel provided a welcome refuge to weary travelers and prepared them for the obstacles up ahead on the way. The hotel was much bigger and grander than what we see today; more than half the property was lost in a gamble by the hotel owner. However, the ambiance and atmosphere of the place remain unchanged. Even the rooms are pretty much the same as they were some 634 years ago.
Hotel Roter Hahn, Rothenberg, Germany [ book here ]
Built in the late 14th century, 1380 to be precise, Hotel Roter Hahn was often used to capture white-collared knights and noblemen with debts to settle. The hotel is said to have housed some royalties including the king of Sweden, Gustav Adolph. Set in Rothenberg, Germany, the hotel has had a rich history. According to the local lore, Rothenberg was spared during the Thirty Years War even though it was a Protestant town thanks to the owner of Roter Hahn, Mayor George Nusch. It was he who stepped up to the challenged posed by Catholic general Czerklaz Tilly who promises to spare the town if anyone managed to drink a gallon of wine in an hour.
Goldener Adler, Innsbruck, Austria [ book here ]
Located in the old city of Innsbruck, Hotel Goldener Adler is among the oldest running hotels of Europe. Established in the year 1390, the hotel has since then housed many famous personalities and common folk alike. Drivers, travelers, and merchants would often find a comfortable place to rest on their journey between Italy and Germany. The place is even said to have welcomed Mozart, Goethe and the Von Trapp family (Sound of Music). Goldener has been renovated to match the modern standards of luxury. However, the building’s history is still visible in the thick walls, timber ceilings, and stained glass windows.