Often a hotel is more than just a place to stay when traveling. Many are steeped in history, standing as classic establishments in iconic cities with rich stories to tell. Thanks to ancient heritage, there are also a select few that attract tourists from around the world based on legend alone. Here’s a look at some of the oldest hotels around the world.
Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan
A short drive away from Mount Fuji in Japan, the world’s oldest hotel has been in business for over 1,300 years and is run by 52 generations of the same family. Founded in 705 AD, this ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) has housed samurai warriors, emperors, and A-list celebrities. While it’s undergone wonderful renovations over the years, the main attractions such as the hot springs and breathtaking views are still an undeniable draw.
The Maids Head Hotel, England
Claiming to be the UK’s oldest hotel, the history of the Maids Head Hotel goes back as far as 1287. Its list of historical guests includes Edward the Black Prince, the eldest son of King Edward III who visited in 1359, and Queen Catherine of Aragon, who stayed here in 1520. Although luxury renovations have made the hotel a modern place to stay, the oldest parts of the current building, such as the wood-paneled Oak Room and Wine Press Restaurant, dating back to the 15th century.
Hotel Interlaken, Switzerland
Initially listed as a guesthouse in 1323, the first hotel in Interlaken also served as the administrative building of the Bernese Oberland area. In 1491 it then underwent a renovation receiving its own coat of arms which is still preserved to this day. The modernized hotel now has rooms named after some of its famous guests, including English poet Lord Byron and German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn.
Zum Roten Bären, Germany
Zum Roten Bären (the red bear) is the oldest hotel in Germany. It was founded by the dukes of the House of Zähringen in 1120 in the city of Freiburg. After several renovations, the floor plan remains mostly intact with 25 rooms including three suites, an inner courtyard, and an early medieval cellar. The storied history of the 50 innkeepers who have owned this hotel spans the Middle Ages and includes a time the town was conquered by enemy troops.
Angel & Royal, England
Built in 1203 as a hostel for the Brotherhood of the Knights Templar, the Angel Inn became the Angel & Royal after a visit from Edward VII in 1866. Many royal visitors over the years, including Richard III and George IV, have shaped the historic hotel into far more than just a place to stay. Although renovations have brought the Angel & Royal into the 21st century, many of the original features still remain including stone ceilings, carved wood fittings, and unique fireplaces.
Al Cappello Rosso, Italy
The oldest hotel in Italy was first built as a tavern in the 14th century and sits just minutes from Bologna’s main square. Combining a 600-year history with modern elegance, 33 themed rooms designed by contemporary artists capture the warm and welcoming essence of the city.
Gripsholms Värdshus, Sweden
The oldest working inn in Sweden opened in 1609 and was built on the foundations of the old Carthusian monastery from the 14th century. Sitting across the road from the historic Gripsholm Castle, the guesthouse has been completely renovated since 1609 with the main building dating back to 1750. Inside, the rooms are elegantly furnished with details from the bygone era.
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