Historic Hotelnames HOTELS

Historic Hotelnames

( words)

This growing log explains the origins of names of hotels, frequently used in history. We are constantly expanding this list and you are invited to share your knowledge, or ask questions at [email protected]

All entries are in alpahbetical order.


in Zurich, Switzerland, is named after its first owner, a certain Mr Baur, and describes that it is situated right at the shores of Lake Zurich (au Lac).


One of the most common historic hotel names, referring in general to a loction with an extraordinarty good view (also italian "Bella Vista", spanish "Buena Vista", german "Zur Schönen Aussicht").


Bristol hotels all over the world like to claim that they were allowed to name their house after Frederick Augustus Hervey, the fourth Earl of Bristol. It has been said that the Earl only gave permission for the use of his title to those hotels that could measure up to his high standards. This is of course nonsense since the majority of these hotels opened their doors over 100 years after the Earl had died. Furthermore, these hotels also carry the coat of arms of the city of Bristol, a city, not a travelling aristocrat.We can assume that the early Bristol hotels (Rome 1870, Paris 1878 = not the Bristol we have today, this one was in Place Vendôme and the Hotel Bristol in Vienna, founded 1892) served as role-models to the hotels that opened in later years (Warsaw 1901, Oslo 1920, Paris 1925 plus around 50 further hotels across Europe).

They all proudly carry the coat of arms of the City of Bristol. The often quoted connection to the Earl of Bristol is no more than a poorly researched PR-gag.As you can see, the hotel trade is full of surprises and inventions. Until recently this story had been supported by many Bristol Hotels and sold to guests as fact.

Who first brought up the legend about the traveling duke - we don't know. The person in question is the late Frederick Augustus Hervey(1730-1803), Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. The Earl and bishop was an eccentric traveller. Nevertheless, for the hotels to have named their houses with his consent, he should have lived one hundred years later.

The solution of the riddle is in the coat of arms.

We have long studied the legends around the Earl of Bristol. Finally we compared the coats of arms of the Earl and the City of Bristol. All hotels use the coat of arms of the city of Bristol, none the one of the Earl. For example, the coat of arms of the Hotel Bristol in Vienna went through various stages. The first one 100% resembled the coat of arms of the City of Bristol.In 1923 it was updated to a more modern version in Art Nouveau style. For the first time lions were used instead of unicorns. The lions later changed back to unicorns. The current coat of arms is once again graced by lions, however, the centre piece is the coat of arms of the city Bristol in England.


The term first appeared in London in the 16th century, but was taken over and developed on the European continent in the 1870s, when the first hotels – offering all possible and thinkable services and all of them under one roof – opened.

These hotel where usually owned by shareholders  (this explains the absence of a personal name like e.g. "Sacher", "Brown's",). 

(e.g. Grand Hotel Vienna, 1870) 

: A Grand Hotel offers at least 100 of rooms, all of them of a considerable equal size and shape.

and it offers (and offered) - under one roof:

: accommodation (with bath rooms, en suite or on the same corridor).

: food and beverages (a restaurant, room service)

: stables (later garages)
: staff quarters (servants rooms - mostly on the upper floors, for the equipage of the wealthy traveller)
: services such as luggage transport (porter, upon request, extra to pay for)
: amenities such as heating (log fire in rooms, upon request, extra to pay for)
: light (candles, upon request, extra to pay for)
: all services related to organising things in the city (concierge - theatre tickets, train tickets and ship passages, ...)

The evolution of the Grand Hotel:

One day all services mentioned above, were included in the basic lodging price (no more extra bills for candles, log fire and service of porters, etc., today known as hidden hotel charges). In 1889, The Savoy Hotel in London was the first to provide all these services on an "all inclusive" base. The terms half-board and full-board (Halbpension, Vollpension) came into being - providing breakfast plus one or two meals per day included into the room rate. 

The First Grand Hotel

The oldest Grand Hotel we have found so far opened in January 1774 in London. David Low opened the  'Grand Hotel'. The hotel was intended for residence by a wealthy clientele, with a top price of 15s. a night for a suite of two rooms.

The Grand Hotel (du Louvre) in Paris opened in 1855, the Grand Hotel Vienna in 1870.

Growing into a Grand Hotel:

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina (CH) was actually founded in 1851, but only changed its name to ‘Grand’ Hotel in 1890. The same applies to the Grand Hotel in Stresa, Italy, founded during the 1860s. The Grand Hotel Pupp in Carlovivary, Czech Republic, prides itself in a history dating back to 1701, but as a matter of fact, it had adopted the name ‘Grand’ Hotel only in 1913. The Grand at Trieste opened in 1873, the Grand Hotels Oslo and Stockholm in 1874, the Grand Hotel Vesuvio in Naples in 1882.


Imperial Hotels can not only be found in Imperial surroundings. You find them in democratic countries like America, too. Obviously the name is used to explain that the guest can expect "imperial grandeur". See a complete list of all Imperial Hotels here.


Berthold Kempinski was a wine merchant in Raschkow near Posen. In 1872 he moved to Berlin and became a popular restaurant owner. In 1889 he opened Berlin's largest restaurant. His philosophy was to make luxury available for everybody. On good days his "half portions for half the price" attracted 10,000 customers.
He later adopted a male heir, his son in law, Richard Unger. Kempinski died in 1910, on 5 October 1908 his name was registered as a trademark for "delicatessen" (Feinkostwaren). He never was a hotelier.
The Kempinskis were dispossessed during the Nazi era, arrested and deported. Today's hotel chain has no living connection to the Kempinski family.
Berlin's Hotel Bristol, opened in 1952, was managed by the Hotelbetriebs-Aktiengesellschaft (founded 1897). In 1970 it became the first hotel to bear the name Kempinski. 



As the name implies, the first Oriental Hotels stood in the Far East, in the "Orient". The most  famous of our Oriental hotels today is the one in Bangkok, Thailand (Mandarin Oriental). It dates back to the 1850s. An other Oriental stood in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). The Oriental Kobe, Japan, became famous, too.
In Georgetown, Penang, you still find a Eastern & Oriental Hotel, the result of a merger of these two hotels in 1894.
However, we find the name 'Oriental Hotel' all over the world, for example one in Dallas, Texas (proof of it around 1890s).



famoushotels.org lists over two dozen of historic hotels with the word "Palace" in their name. We find the name 'Palace' in a hotel's name for the first time in 'Coffee Palace', a name used to describe the temperance hotels which were built during the period of the second half of the 19th enctury. Gin Palaces - on the very other hand - were pubs in Victorian England. The Coffee Palaces were hotels that did not serve alcohol. 
Former Coffee Palaces, for example, in Australia
Victoria Palace, Queenscliff (1879)
Baillieu, Queenscliff (1881) (later renamed Ozone Hotel)
Vue Grande, Queenscliff (1883)
Queenscliff Hotel
Grand Coffee Palace, Melbourne (1883) (later named Windsor)
Reid's Coffee Palace, Ballarat (1886)
The Biltmore, Albert Park (1887)
The George, St Kilda (1887)
Grandview Hotel, Fairfield (1888)
Auburn Hotel, Auburn (1888)
St Kilda Coffee Palace, St Kilda
Mentone Coffee Palace, Mentone (1887) (Later Kilbreda Girl's School)
According to Robert’s Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue Française, it was in 1903 that the French borrowed the word “palace” from their British neighbors, creating yet another of the many faux amis that exist between their two languages.
At the time, the French already had at least two perfectly good words for the Buckingham brand of palace: 'palais' and 'château'. What they didn’t have was a word to designate the palatial hotels that were springing up in Paris and along the Riviera to cater to wealthy British clients.
Taking their cue from “gin palace” and “coffee palace” (see above) — two fancy fixtures of 19th-century London — the French imported the term “Palace Hôtel.” 
In the German speaking hotel world the name Palast Hotel was a synonym for luxury and splendour. It was however widely used in literature rather than in real life. 
An interesting aspect to the name giving chapter comes from today's Premier Palace in Kiev, Ukraine. In its beginning, it was called "Palast-Hôtel".
Was this name Palast-Hôtel an experimental play with words, combining the German word Palast (palace) with the French way of writing Hôtel, using the accent circumflex on the 'o', which was the international standard of writing hotel in French at the time, used between Abazzia and Zermatt. But rarely was it used in combination with a German word. This made the name Palast Hôtel truly unique, in fact until today.
Another theory, supported by a Kiev historian, suggests: The grammatical correctness of the name remains dubious, because it included the German word “Palast” (palace) and the French way of spelling hotel “Hôtel”. Though, it is today accepted that this might have been a commercial trick. Because such a name drew the attention of both German and French-speaking guests of the city and it was precisely Germans, Austrians, French and Belgians who were the ones that formed the majority of foreigners visiting Kiev at the time.



Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (6 July 1781 – 5 July 1826) was a British subject, best known for founding the city of Singapore (now the city-state of the Republic of Singapore). He is known as the "Father of Singapore". He was also heavily involved in the conquest of the Indonesian island of Java from Dutch and French military forces during the Napoleonic Wars.

1819, February 6th: Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles signed the treaty with the new Sultan of Johore to establish a trading post in Singapore for the British East India Company. Raffles installed a committee that drew the basic plans for a controlled development of Singapore.
sarkies brothers

The Sarkies brothers: Tigran, Arshak, Martin and Aviet (from left)

In 1886 the Armenian Sarkies brothers took over the manison of Captain George Julius Dare in Singapore´s prestigious "Twenty - House Street" (Beach Road). The property, facing the harbour, belonged to the Arabian trader Syed Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al Sagoff. In 1887, the Sarkies transformed the house, which operated as a Tiffin Room, into a small hostelry and opened with 20 rooms only under the name Raffles Hotel on December 1st.

Only in 1899 the elegant Raffles Hotel main-building we know today with a total of 102 rooms was created. It was the first hotel in the Straits Settlements employing electricity to illuminate and cool a building.


The London hotel is named after Peter of Savoy, owner of the former palace which stood where the Savoy Hotel London stands today.

Countless Savoy Hotels appeared around the world. A hotel operating under this name opened in 1888, a year earlier than the London Savoy (1889) and it is where one would probably least expect it: in Kansas City, Missouri. It rose to considerable fame as the haunt of Roosevelt, Rockefeller and consorts. Unfortunately, during the recessional 1930s it suffered considerably and today, all that is left of its former glory is a modest inn (with an extraordinary interior) and the legendary Savoy Grill, which opened together with the West Wing in 1903.

On 1 March 1896, The Savoy in Florence opened its doors, and is still regarded as one of the city’s finest hotels. In Cairo, a Savoy Hotel opened on 28 November 1898, while there was another on Elephantine Island at Aswan. The Savoy in Copenhagen opened in 1906 and The Savoy in Berlin (1929), a small hotel, acquired popularity as an artists’ haunt. Today, one can find the name Savoy on hotels from Brighton (in Victoria, Australia) to Prague, from Frankfurt to Cologne, to Rotterdam, to New York, Blackpool, Caorle and San Francisco. A little hotel in the Italian beach resort of Grado was named The Savoy in 1952 because it was considered a traditional name for famous hotels. There is a Savoy in Buenos Aires, in Rome, Cannes, Vienna, New York and even in Thonon-les-Bains, France, not forgetting the one on the island of Madeira.

Oslo, Lausanne, Caracas, Berne, Moscow and Cannes all have their own Savoy. To distinguish the Baur in the city from the Baur au Lac in Zurich, the prefix Savoy Baur en Ville was added to the famous hotel in the Bahnhofstrasse. One can also find a Savoy hotel in the Swedish city of Malmö, in Cusco in Peru, in Yangon in Myanmar and in Melbourne, Australia.


(Kampala, Uganda) is named after the famous British explorer, John Hannington Speke, who 'discovered the source of River Nile. Speke Hotel is the first and oldest hotel in Uganda, built in the British Colonial times of the 1920.


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