HOTEL, originally hostel, or hosteirie, a French term applied to an inn, or house for the temporary accommodation of travelers. The term, however, is also applied in France to the town mansion of a distinguished personage, and in like manner the word inn was at one time indifferently England to signify the town residence of' a great man. The name hostclrie was applied by Chaucer to a public inn, and•till a more recent period it was similarly used in Scotland. From its general use comes the desig nation hostler, which originally signified the keeper of the inn or hostel. Only in recent times has the significant old English word inn been eclipsed by the reintroduction of hostel, under the softened form of lintel.
An account of inns ancient and • modern, under whatever designation, wonld form an interesting chapter in social history. , The caravansary (q.v.) of the east is the most ancient species of inn of which there is any, notice. The Greeks and Romans did not improve on the quality of these oriental establishments. Their inns, if worthy of the name, were little better than receptacles for humble classes of wayfarers, or places where cooked food and wine were dispensed to the hungry and thirsty stranger. Along their highways tke romans gave encouragement to these primitive inns; the best of such establishments being called' caupona, or tabern.a dirersoria, while those of an inferior kind were known as popinm, of which some specimens have been disclosed at Pompeii.
The duties of hospitality and also the obligations of religion long postponed the introduction of regular inns. In mediaeval times the castles of the barons offered shelter with straw, and sometimes food, to the wayfarer of high and low degree, and there are traditions to the effect that to pass some of these strongholds without calling to render obeisance, and receive the hospitality of the owner„ was deemed an insult. But the monastic establishments, great and small, scattered over every part of Christendom, formed the chief kospitia (see Hosmcii:). With the general improvement of society and the increasing concourse of travelers came the modern•inn, or professional hospitium, at which entertainment for man and horse was afforded as a matter of business.
Nowhere in Europe did this class of establishments so soon attain to a determinate and respectable character as in England. Growing first-into importance in London, York: Oxford, Bristol, and some other cities, the silbstantial and well-managed English inn was imitated on a smaller scale in the different provincial towns, and gained a good standing in national usage before it spread.to Scotland; the inns of which, even up to the middle of the 1Sth c., were on a meager scale of accommodation. It is not neces sary to call to mind more than a few of the interesting old inns in London, all cele brated less or more from their respective signs: the Angel at St. Clement Danes, and Angel at Islington ; the Bell, Warwick Lane, Newgate Street ; Belle Sarage, Ludgate Hill ; Bull and Mouth, St. Martin's-le-Grand ; Four Swans, Bishopsgate Street ; 4-;ara cen's Head, Snow Hill ; Golden Cross, Charing Cross ; 11 kite horse, Fetter Lane ; and Tabard, Southwark. All of these have either disappeared or have been changed in character. For the most part, the old inns of London. Westminster, and South wark consisted of it huildina. round a courtyard, entered from the street by a wide covered passage. The ground-floor was disposed as stables, kitchens, and other offices, with a large reception-room ; above, were the lesser apartments and bedrooms, these last all opening on hanging wooden galleries, whence the inmates could look down On the busy scene of arrivals and departures iii the courtyard beneath. Slime specimens of these old inns with open galleries still survive. Such was the Tabard, renowned as the hostelry from which Chauce•'s pilgrims set out for Canterbury. There is reason to believe that this form of construction was derived from the arrangement of ancient Roman villas, which consisted of buildings round a series of courtyards ; hence, also, the form of French hotels, public and private. Modern Italy has examples of inns of this form. We may allude particularly to the Ilotel de Vile at Milan, and the Albergo delle Due Torri at Verona; this last having hanging galleries round a courtyard in pre cisely the old English style.