The Oldest Hotels in the World

Hotel Interlaken dates back to the 14th century
Hotel Interlaken dates back to the 14th century | Courtesy of Hotel Interlaken / Expedia
Mark Nayler

We all love the benefits of modern conveniences when going away on holiday, but that doesn’t mean we have to restrict ourselves to new buildings. These historic hotels might be ancient, but they are bursting with character. Check out our guide to the oldest hotels in the world – including those in the USA, UK and Japan – now bookable on Culture Trip.

1. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan

Ryokan

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan
Courtesy of Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan / Expedia

Operating on the site of a natural hot spring since 705CE, this mountain retreat has been certified by the Guinness World Records as the World’s Oldest Inn. A half-hour drive north of Hayakawa, the inexhaustible water supply now feeds six external and internal baths, all of which have views over the lush valley. The four-storey hotel comprises 35 rooms with spring-supplied baths and a restaurant in which regional delicacies are seasoned with eight different types of salt.

2. Maids Head Hotel, UK

Hotel

The Maids Head Hotel, UK
Courtesy of Maids Head Hotel / Expedia

The Tudor exterior of the Maids Head Hotel in Norwich belies a much longer history, as the site has been continually used for lodging since the end of the 11th century. A busy coaching inn throughout the 1700s, the oldest pub in Britain now offers rooms and suites with exposed black beams, cathedral views and floor-to-ceiling wall art depicting iconic Norwich sites. At the double AA Rosette restaurant, dishes such as Goosnargh duck breast with peas, asparagus and potato pie and apricot puree showcase top local produce.

3. The Olde Bell, UK

Bed and Breakfast

The Olde Bell, UK
Courtesy of The Olde Bell / Expedia
The Olde Bell in east Berkshire might date from 1135, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the rooms. Within five buildings, these bright, minimalist spaces were created by Ilse Crawford, the designer behind Soho House New York. Crawford also reinterpreted the traditional coaching inn dining room, combining sturdy oak tables with woollen fabrics and a classic pale palette. The grounds contain a beer garden with a rotisserie and kamado oven and the kitchen’s orchard – where everything from mint to chillies is grown for the plate.

5. Omni Parker House, USA

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Omni Parker House, US
Courtesy of Omni Parker House / Expedia

The birthplace of Boston cream pie – a classic American dessert – the Omni Parker House welcomed its first guests in 1855, making it the oldest continually operating hotel in the USA. Try a slice of the most celebrated sweet in Boston in the chandelier-lit, wood-panelled dining room once frequented by Charles Dickens, or head to the leather-and-mahogany Last Hurrah for a Bostonian whisky or signature martini. Rooms feature cherry wood furniture, gold and red fabrics and reproductions of 19th-century artwork.

6. The Angel and Royal, UK

Hotel

The Angel and Royal, UK
Courtesy of The Angel and Royal / Expedia

A watering hole for travellers on the Great North Road since the early 13th century, the Old Angel Inn received the second part of its name in 1866 – after a visit from Edward VII, the future king. Original features such as carved wood fittings, vaulted stone ceilings and blackened fireplaces are on display in the bar and restaurant, the latter of which has hosted English royalty on many occasions. For an appropriately regal stay in Grantham, book a suite with a mahogany four-poster bed.

7. Hotel Interlaken, Switzerland

Hotel

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Courtesy of Hotel Interlaken / Expedia

The most fabled hotel in Interlaken dates from the 14th century, and it was a frequently used base for composer Felix Mendelssohn and poet Lord Byron in the 1800s. Follow in their footsteps with a stay in one of the cosy, chalet-chic double rooms – in which black-and-white photos of Interlaken are mounted on pine-clad walls. Travellers on a budget also have the option of booking cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms on the fifth floor, which still include access to a breakfast buffet in the on-site Restaurant Taverne.

8. Jing’s Residence, China

Hotel

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Courtesy of Jing’s Residence / Expedia

Boasting carved wood window frames, bamboo floors and rice-paper ceilings, this 260-year-old merchant’s residence offers 14 rooms clustered around three courtyards. It lies in the Unesco-protected city of Ping Yao – the ancient rooftops of which you can see from the free-standing bathtub in the second-floor master suite. The on-site spa offers rejuvenating body and face treatments, and the restaurant specialises in the cuisine of Shanxi province. Western and Chinese breakfasts and cooking classes are also available on-site.

9. Parador Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Hotel

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Courtesy of Parador Santiago de Compostela / Expedia

Built in 1499 as a hospital for pilgrims finishing the Camino de Santiago, this cloistered, heavyset building still welcomes weary walkers into the Galician capital; the first 10 to arrive every day are given a free meal in the staff dining room. Other guests can dine in the cavernous Restaurante dos Reis – where a sea of white tablecloths spreads out below a vaulted stone-and-beamed ceiling. Try the tarta de santiago (almond cake) and the caldeirada dos reis (a Galician fish and seafood stew).

10. Orso Grigio, Italy

Boutique Hotel

Orso_ Grigio
Courtesy of Orso Grigio / Expedia

This chic boutique hotel started life in the early 1300s as a boarding house for travelling merchants. Still run by the family who acquired the property in 1745, this hotel provides smart, contemporary rooms in the centre of San Candido – all of which overlook the meadows and mountains of South Tyrol in northern Italy. Kick back in a rooftop sauna with panoramic views, and head to the restaurant for a set menu of regional dishes paired with wines from a cellar holding 300 varieties.

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