Historical stays: the oldest hotels in the world

One of the oldest hotels in the world – Interlaken in Switzerland – Was first registered as a guesthouse in 1323 | Source: Fodors

Often a hotel is more than just a place to stay while traveling. Many are steeped in history, standing as classic establishments in iconic cities with rich stories to tell. Thanks to an ancient heritage, there are also a few privileged ones that attract tourists from all over the world based on legend alone. Here’s a look at some of the oldest hotels in the world.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan

A short drive from Mount Fuji in Japan, the world’s oldest hotel has been in operation 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 been home to samurai warriors, emperors and famous celebrities. Although it has undergone wonderful renovations over the years, the main attractions such as the hot springs and the breathtaking views are still an undeniable draw.

Enjoying Connection with Nature at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan | Source: Pinterest

The Maids Head Hotel, England

Claiming to be the oldest hotel in the UK, Maids Head Hotel’s history dates back to 1287. Its historic guest list includes Edward the Black Prince, the eldest son of King Edward III who visited in 1359, and the Queen Catherine of Aragon, who stayed here in 1520. Although luxurious renovations have made the hotel a modern place to stay, the older parts of the current building, such as the wood-panelled Oak Room and the Wine Restaurant Press, date back to the 15th century.

Walk in the Footsteps of Royalty at Maids Head Hotel | Source: The Maids Head Hotel

Hotel Interlaken, Switzerland

Originally listed as a guesthouse in 1323, Interlaken’s first hotel also served as the Bernese Oberland region’s administrative building. 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.

The striking facade of the Interlaken Hotel | Source: Hotel Planet
The hotel has hosted many esteemed guests over the years | Source: Hotel Interlaken

Zum Roten Bären, Germany

Zum Roten Bären (Red Bear) is Germany’s oldest hotel. 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 largely intact with 25 rooms including three suites, an interior courtyard and an early medieval cellar. The storied history of the 50 innkeepers who owned this hotel stretches through the Middle Ages and includes a time when the city was conquered by enemy troops.

Hotel Zum-Roten-Bären
Although it has undergone renovations, Zum Roten Bären has retained many original features | Source: Booking.com

Angel & Royal, England

Built in 1203 as an inn for the Brotherhood of 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, shaped the historic hotel. much more than just a place to stay. Although renovations have brought the Angel & Royal into the 21st century, many original features remain, including stone ceilings, carved wood fixtures, and unique fireplaces.

Original features still define the Angel & Royal Hotel | Source: Angel and Royal

Al Cappello Rosso, Italy

Italy’s oldest hotel was first built as a tavern in the 14th century and is just minutes from Bologna’s main square. Combining 600-year history with modern elegance, 33 themed rooms designed by contemporary artists capture the warm and welcoming essence of the city.

Al-Cappello-Rosso Room
Italy’s oldest hotel started as a tavern in the 14th century | Source: Agoda

Gripsholms Vardshus, Sweden

Sweden’s oldest working inn opened in 1609 and was built on the foundations of the former 14th century Carthusian monastery. Situated opposite historic Gripsholm Castle, the guest house has been completely renovated since 1609 with the main building dating from 1750. Inside, the bedrooms are elegantly furnished with details from the bygone era.

Gripsholms-Vardshus Hotel
Enjoy a scenic and historic stay in the Gripsholms Värdshus | Source: Utflyktsvagen

If you want to know more about historic hotels, discover the story behind Kempinski Hotels, Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group.

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