Oldest Hotels in the World

10 Oldest Hotels in the World

The history of hotels can be a little hard to trace, since people have needed lodgings for as long as humans have been traveling around the world (basically since the beginning of human history). So we don’t know for sure when ancient civilizations started using houses specifically for travelers, but the oldest concrete record of a hospitality establishment dates back to 69 BCE in Pompeii.

The oldest hotels in existence today date back to early 8th century Japan and many of the other old hotels on this list were first open in medieval Europe. All of the hotels on this list are still open today and anyone is welcome to stay at these historical hotels.

10. Hotel Interlaken

Year Established: 1323
Location:  Interlaken, Switzerland
Founder(s):  Unspecified
Number of Rooms:  55

Hotel Interlakenphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

Hotel Interlaken dates back to 1323 when it was used as a cloister guest house. There are no records of another hotel existing in Interlaken before 1323; Hotel Interlaken is also one of the oldest hotels in Switzerland. For many years, the Hotel Interlaken also served as the center of the administrative area in the Berner Oberland and one of the rooms on the first floor was used as a court house.

In 1491, Louis Ross renovated the hotel and it received its own coat of arms at the time. The coat of arms, which has two horses and two alpine ibexes, can still be seen on the south facade of the building. Many famous musicians have stayed at the Hotel Interlaken, including Felix Mendelssohn.

9. Pilgrimhaus

Year Established: c.1304
Location:  Soest, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Founder(s):  Council of the city of Soest
Number of Rooms:  Unspecified

Pilgrimhausphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

Pilgrimhaus was founded by the Council of the city of Soest as a hospice and pilgrims house. The inn was mainly used by followers of Saint James on their way to Santiago de Compostella (north of Spain). The hotel honors Saint James on July 25th with a special feast.

In 1613, the town sold the Pilgrimhaus to Thomas Merckelbach, who owned the hotel until 1766. After this the Bödecker family took over the Pilgrimhaus and started brewing brandy and beer. Since 2008, the Pilmgrimhaus has been owned by the Beck family and the hotel was recently renovated in 2016.

8. Orso Grigio

Year Established: c.1303
Location:  Innichen, Italy
Founder(s):  Unknown
Number of Rooms:  30

Orso Grigiophoto source:  Italy Traveller

The Orso Grigio hotel dates back to the early 1300s after King Albrecht granted the town of Innichen a charter to open a market. As noblemen and merchants came to Innichen, the town set up the first inns and the Orso Grigio was one of them. The ownership of Orso Grigio is unknown until the mid 15th century.

The first recorded owner of the Orso Grigio is Conrad Maus in 1462; the Maus family owned and operated the Orso Grigio until 1554. The hotel was owned by several different families before the Ladinsers took over in 1745. Today, the ninth generation of the Ladinser family is running the Orso Grigio.

7. The Old Bell Hotel

Year Established: 1220
Location:  Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England
Founder(s):  Abbot Loring of Malmesbury Abbey
Number of Rooms:  33

The Old Bell Hotelphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons via Philip Halling

The Old Bell Hotel has a name that is nearly identical to another old hotel in England on this list. Like the other hotel, The Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury claims that it is the oldest existing hotel in England, even though three other English hotels are much older.

The Old Bell Hotel was originally opened as a hostelry in 1220 by Abbot Loring for visiting dignitaries to the Malmesbury Abbey. The hotel has remained open since then and although The Old Bell Hotel has been renovated, parts of the hotel date back to 1220, including a hooded stone fireplace in the Brasserie.

6. The Angel and Royal Hotel

Year Established: 1203
Location:  Grantham, Lincolnshire, England
Founder(s):  Knights Templar
Number of Rooms:  29

Angel and Royal Hotelphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons via Richard Croft

The Angel and Royal Hotel is another historic English hotel that is one of the oldest in the country. The hotel was founded in 1203 by the Knights Templar and was originally called The Angel Inn.

The Knights Templar ran the inn until 1308 when the Sheriff of Lincolnshire seized the inn following an order from Edward II. A few months before, King Philippe of France ordered that the Knights Templar order be dissolved. According to the Angel and Royal Hotel, the Royal part was added to its name in 1866 after a visit from Prince of Wales, later Edward VII.

5. The Olde Bell

Year Established: 1135
Location:  Hurley, Berkshire, England
Founder(s):  Hurley Priory (a monastery)
Number of Rooms:  48

The Olde Bellphoto source:  Geograph via Graham Horn

There are many hotels claiming that they are the oldest in the United Kingdom and The Olde Bell is one of them. Unlike some of these other hotels, The Olde Bell has a strong case for being the UK’s oldest hotel as its history dates back to 1135. The oldest part of the hotel initially served as a guest house for the town’s Benedictine Priory.

The Olde Bell is named for the Sanctus Bell, which was used to let the monks know that an important visitor had come to Hurley and needed lodgings. During its long history, The Olde Bell has hosted several notable guests, including Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Cary Grant.

4. Zum Roten Bären

Year Established: c.1120
Location:  Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Founder(s):  Unspecified
Number of Rooms:  25

Zum Roten Barenphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons via Joergens.mi

Zum Roten Bären bills itself as the oldest hotel in Germany. The foundations of the building date back to the early 12th century and the director of the Freiburg Museum for the History of the City believes that the building was used as an inn around this time.

The earliest written records of the Zum Roten Bären date back to 1311 and show that the landlord/innkeeper at the time was a man named Johann Bienger. The museum’s director is also certain that Marie Antoinette had some of her entourage stay at Zum Roten Bären when she spent the night in Freiburg on her way to Versailles in 1770.

3. Maids Head Hotel

Year Established: mid-1090s
Location:  Norwich, Norfolk, England
Founder(s):  Herbert de Losinga
Number of Rooms:  84

Maids Head Hotelphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons via Nigel Chadwick

The Maids Head Hotel claims that it is the oldest hotel in the United Kingdom. According to the hotel, this is based on the fact that the site has been continuously used for hospitality since the mid 1090s. The current hotel sits where the original palace of the first Norman Bishop of Norwich, Herbert de Losinga, had his original palace.

While the site has been used since the 11th century, the oldest parts of the Maids Head Hotel only date back to the 15th century. The hotel’s wood paneled Oak Room is believed to be from the same time period. The bar was added in the 16th century. Although the Maids Head Hotel has been renovated, its owners have maintained the historic integrity of the building.

2. Hoshi Ryokan

Year Established: 718
Location:  Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Founder(s):  Garyo Hoshi
Number of Rooms:  Unspecified

Hoshi Ryokanphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

Before it was unseated a few years ago, Hoshi Ryokan was the oldest hotel in the world according to Guinness World Records. Now Hoshi Ryokan has been demoted to the world’s second oldest hotel. However, it has been around for 1,300 years and was founded in 718.

Hoshi Ryokan has legendary beginnings which started with a dream message to Buddhist monk Taicho Daishi from the mountain deity Hakusan Daigongen. The hot springs that the hotel are built around were a gift from Hakusan Daigongen to relieve and cure the injuries and illnesses of humans. Taicho Daishi’s disciple, Garyo Hoshi, opened the inn where his master told him to. The Hoshi family has been running Hoshi Ryokan since then.

1. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

Year Established: 705
Location:  Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Founder(s):  Fujiwara Mahito
Number of Rooms:  35

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkanphoto source:  Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, which has been operating since 705,  is considered to be the oldest hotel in the world. The hotel was founded as an inn by Fujiwara Mahito during the Keiun era, hence its name, Keiunkan. In 2011, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan was recognized as the world’s oldest hotel by Guinness World Records.

One of the main features of the inn is its onsen or traditional hot springs. Nishiyama Onsen was supposedly frequented by many famous samurais and shoguns, including Tokugawa Ieyasu and Takeda Shingen. Today, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is still run by the 52nd generation of the Mahito family.



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