10 of the World's Oldest Hotels
These hotels all have stories to tell.
Photo By: Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan
Photo By: Maid's Head
Photo By: Old Hall Hotel
Photo By: Jamaica Inn
Photo By: Heritage Images
Photo By: Wojtek Laski
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Photo By: El Covento
Photo By: Lynne Damianos
Photo By: Omni Homestead
Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan (Yamanashi, Japan)
According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest hotel in the world is Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan. This ryokan—a traditional Japanese inn—has been owned by a whopping 52 generations of the same family. Founded in 705 AD, famous guests have included Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Land of the Rising Sun first shogun, and Kouken, its 46th emperor.
Maids Head Hotel (Norwich, UK)
A contender for oldest hotel in the UK, Maids Head Hotel has a history going back 800 years. The earliest mention of an inn at this spot was in 1287, when Norwich court records reveal that "Robert the fowler stole goods from the said innkeeper at Cook Rowe." The oldest parts of the current building date to the 15th century, including the gorgeous wood-paneled Oak Room, where a refined afternoon tea is today served.
Old Hall Hotel (Buxton, UK)
A hall has stood at the present site of Old Hall Hotel in Buxton, UK, for more than a thousand years. The oldest part of the current building is from a 1573 structure, which was originally part of a four-story tower that imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots on the orders of Queen Elizabeth I. It’s been a hotel since 1727—Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, stayed here during a tour of Great Britain.
Jamaica Inn (Bolventor, UK)
While not the oldest hotel in this list, the Jamaica Inn certainly has one of the most exciting histories. Opened in 1750 as a coaching inn—a type of accommodation for travelers and their horses before the advent of railways—the inn developed a reputation as a hideaway for rough-and-tumble booze smugglers landing with their haul on the Cornish and Devon coasts. Some think the inn’s name is a nod to the source of illicit rum that once passed its threshold.
Gripsholms Värdshus (Mariefred, Sweden)
Constructed atop the foundation of a Carthusian monastery built in 1493, Gripsholms Vardshus began its life a hospice in 1609, making it Sweden’s oldest hotel. Here, guests can sleep in beds made with 500-year-old wood unearthed from under the inn during renovation.
Pod Roza Hotel (Krakow, Poland)
The first hotel in Krakow, Pod Roza Hotel has hosted guests since the 17th century, which over the years has included Balzac, Liszt and Tsar Alexander II. Although it went through some lean years during the Cold War, these days it’s been restored to grandeur with heated floors, Oriental carpets and Italian fittings.
Petit Palace Posada del Peine Hotel (Madrid, Spain)
Built in 1610, Madrid’s Petit Palace Posada del Peine Hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in Spain. Its name translates to "Haircomb’s Inn," allegedly so-called because each room originally featured a comb attached to a piece of string to prevent its theft.
El Convento (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Today a luxury hotel and ritzy beach club, El Convento began its life far more austerely—as a Carmelite convent—way back in 1646 on the orders of King Phillip IV of Spain. For 252 years, Carmelite nuns called this gorgeous Spanish colonial building home, but it fell into disrepair after the convent closed in 1903. In the years that followed, the premises housed a retail store, dance hall and even a flophouse. Today, the place has been fully restored to its former glory, decked out with marble bathrooms, opulent Andalusian tile floors and exposed mahogany beams.
Colonial Inn (Concord, Mass.)
The Colonial Inn’s beginnings stretch all the way back to 1716, when the first of three buildings—today joined—was erected. The property has witnessed its fair share of history: On April 19, 1775, it played a memorable role in the American Revolution when then-resident Dr. Timothy Minot Jr. temporarily converted his home into a hospital for wounded soldiers, including both an operating room and a morgue. Perhaps that’s why the inn is reportedly so haunted.
The Omni Homestead Resort (Hot Springs, Va.)
Completed in 1766, the property today known as the Omni Homestead Resort — America's first resort—was originally an 18-room wooden hotel catering to visitors of the local hot springs, which were famed for their healing properties. Over the years, the property was built up and renovated and built up again, hosting luminaries including presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. It’s also home to oldest golf tee in continuous use in the United States.