When I think of a hotel, in addition to recalling the historic one where I spent my childhood and adolescence during my holidays by the sea, I always remember the gargantuan Overlook Hotel from the novel, and subsequent film, The Shining by Stephen King.
Immense, ancient, with a style that has never changed over the years, with its patterned carpeting and at least questionable colors: long before motels and chains like Holiday Inn were born, these were the places where people stayed, whether for business or pleasure.
But they exist much older hotels and pensions: most of these old structures have long since disappeared, but some are still standing despite the years that have passed. It is not just old buildings converted into hotels, but rather structures that have operated continuously for hundreds of years, and in some cases, more than a millennium.
All history buffs, but not limited to, can consider a stay in one of these hotels that have truly stood the test of time.
15 - Hotel Stein, opened in 1399
Where is it: Salzburg, Austria
It may look like a fortress, but the Hotel Stein was opened as a tavern and guesthouse. In the th century it was famous for a short time thanks to their own homemade beer and from 1945 to 1950 it was occupied by American troops. Back to being a hotel after the war, today it presents itself with somewhat kitsch interiors, such as zebra patterns, leather details and shiny silk sheets.
14 - Goldener Adler, opening year 1390
Where is it: Innsbruck, Austria
Mozart, Goethe and virtually every Austrian king and noble, from Joseph II to Ludwig I of Bavaria, have stayed here. To date the rooms are furnished in a modern style, but the history of the building is visible in its thick walls, wooden ceilings and stained glass windows.
13 - Gastagwirt, opened in 1380
Where is it: Eugendorf, Austria
This hotel is located near one of the steepest steps on a major trade route and was built precisely to offer weary wanderers a place to rest before resuming their journey. Initially it was more extensive, but one of the owners, a gambling lover, lost half the building to the cards. The rooms are simple and rustic, probably just as they looked 634 years ago, while the food served remains plentiful and the atmosphere is familiar.
12 - Al Cappello Rosso, opening year 1375
Where is it: Bologna, Italy
Located just outside the city walls, Al Cappello Rosso has been opened to house and protect travelers of Jewish origin. The law required them to stay here and for up to three days. The building is in fact located near the Bills Office, a government department that was responsible for registering people passing by and making sure they did not stay longer than expected in the city. Today the hotel, despite its age, has a rather modern look.
11 - Hotel Elch, opening year 1342
Where is it: Nuremberg, Germany
The construction date of the building is not clear to date, but the first news regarding its use as a hostel dates back to 1342. Its facade it has remained completely authentic, as are the wooden beams. The rooms have been made more stylish and personalized with colorful chandeliers.
10 - Hotel Interlaken, opening year 1323
Where is it: Interlaken, Switzerland
Originally a hospital, then a convent and finally a tavern, Hotel Interlaken was for the first time listed as a guesthouse in 1323. Renovated in 1491, it was finally able to receive your heraldic coat of arms, still present on the facade. Remains of the original walls can still be seen at the entrance, at the bar and restaurant.
9 - Pilgrim Haus, opening year 1304
Where is it: Soest, Germany
The Pilgrim Haus should have been opened in 1304, the official date, but you certainly wouldn't tell from the Ikea-inspired decor or promotional material, which barely refer to its historical period. Located along one of the main Christian pilgrimage routes (the Camino de Santiago), was built to accommodate pilgrims on their way to the sanctuary of James of Zebedee, also called James the Greater, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
8 - Gray Bear, opening year 1300
Where is it: San Candido (BZ), Italy
When this Dolomites hotel was opened as Grauer Bär (gray bear) in 1300, it was in a scenic location in Austria. Today, however, it is located in Italy: the province was annexed after the First World War but the name has remained the same, it has only been translated into Italian. It was built for offer accommodation to merchants, travelers and noblemen that gathered in the city of Ronzone, then a famous commercial square which also housed a military hospital during the First World War.
7 - Sanct Peter, opening year 1246
Where is it: Cologne, Germany
The history of the building is reported to date back to the year 600, but it was not used as a hotel until 1246, when it became part of the courtyard of the nearby Cathedral. Travelers and visitors of the same often gathered here to drink the famous Sanct Peter wine, as this place was also a well-known vineyard in the Ahr region, famous for its red wines.
6 - The Old Bell Hotel and Restaurant, opening year 1220
Where is it: Malmesbury, UK
While it claims to be the oldest hotel in the UK, we know it's actually another Old Bell that is. That said, the construction of this facility is nonetheless dating back to the th century and originally served as a boarding house for visitors and dignitaries who went to Malmesbury Abbey. At that time, the abbey housed the second largest library in Europe and one of the most important learning venues in the country. The hotel has now been slightly modernized but traces of the past remain, from the ancient stone fireplace to the old wooden beams, as well as the eight stone sarcophagi which are located in the basement.
5 - Angel & Royal, opening year 1203
Where is it: Grantham, UK
Originally the Angel Inn, located on the way from London to Edinburgh, had the function of hostel for the Confraternity of the Knights Templar. It has hosted some kings including John of England, Richard III, Edward III, Charles I and George IV: the addition of the word "royal" to the name of the hotel therefore seems deserved!
4 - The Olde Bell, 1135
Where is it: Hurley, UK
The Olde Bell opened its doors in 1135 as a guesthouse and carriage house for those embarking on the pilgrimage to a nearby Benedictine monastery. At the hotel is also located a secret passage, still usable, which played a pivotal role in the Glorious Revolution (or Second English Revolution) of 1688, which overthrew the reign of King James II of England.
3 - Zum Roten Baeren, opening year 1120
Where is it: Freiburg, Germany
The oldest hotel in Europe is actually older than the country where it is located, having been built well before Freiburg. During the years, the hotel survived the black plague epidemics, witch hunts, revolutions and peasant revolts, the Thirty Years' War, the First and Second World Wars. It initially belonged to the French, then 51 owners followed one another, as well as the intense modernization and renovation works. The hotel still bears the same name with which it appeared for the first time in some documents dating back to the year 1387 and the cellar still preserves original works of art and architecture.
2 - Hoshi Ryokan, opening year 718
Where is it: Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Legend has it that a deity commissioned a Buddhist priest to build this hotel on a thermal spring with miraculous healing properties, which had yet to be discovered. The monk, apparently too busy to engage in such a dimly-lit business as the hospitality business, left the job to his disciple, Garyo Houshi, whose family has run the hotel ever since. The hotel is defined as "the perfect example of Japanese hospitality for lodging, service and gastronomy" by a guest on the popular TripAdvisor site.
1 - Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, opening year 705
Where is it: Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is in business since 705 and that makes it the oldest continuously operating hotel in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Even more impressive, it is always the same family to manage this ryokan, built around a natural spring of hot water, for its entire 1.300-year existence. The structure is ancient, but everything is designed to satisfy the modern traveler by offering an excellent mix between ancient Japanese customs and an elegant and contemporary design.