A hotel is a large lodging establishment that provides accommodations to guests. Its primary business is to provide sleeping space, but it also sells a variety of other services and amenities to its clients. A hotel’s organizational structure consists of a manager, department heads who oversee key departments within the establishment, middle managers, administrative staff and line-level supervisors.
The history of hotels dates back to the late 17th century and early 18th century, when taverns served as a place for travellers and local businesspeople to spend their night. However, with the arrival of the railroads in America in the early 1840s, a new generation of hotels emerged that was radically different from taverns.
Unlike taverns, which were open to the public, hotels offered private rooms for the use of guests and had spacious interiors that were designed to appeal to visitors. They were also built on a much larger scale than taverns and cost significantly more than taverns had previously been.
They provided a number of benefits, including central locations, comfortable interiors, and specialized facilities for social events. They remained popular destinations for people seeking entertainment and leisure time, as well as for travelers who needed to stay overnight before they could reach their next destination.
As the hotel industry grew in the United States following World War II, it embraced a new role as an important national network of accommodation. Its growth was a result of the nation’s growing population and the emergence of commercial air travel, which made it easier for Americans to visit distant places and enjoy paid vacations.
In the years that followed, hotels became major loci of political activity. They were an important venue for meetings of civic associations, ethnic brotherhoods, and charitable organizations, as well as a site where politicians lobbied, debated, made speeches, and held conventions.
Because of their role in politics, hotels were often subjected to attacks by rival factions and even by political parties themselves during periods of partisan strife. Their importance as symbolic sites of public life and political power was further reinforced by the ubiquity of newspapers that published images of political figures making speeches in hotel lobbies, raising toasts in ballrooms, and engaging in other forms of sociability.
It was in the 19th century that the hotel became a symbol of status and prosperity for upper-class and elite citizens. The first luxury hotels — such as the City Hotel in New York, the Astor House in Boston, and the Ritz chain of hotels in London and Paris — quickly began to cater to an ever-more-wealthy clientele.
While taverns were still widely used as places for people to meet, the hotel became a more popular form of social gathering, particularly in large cities and towns. Its conspicuous architecture, central location, and spacious and inviting interiors facilitated the creation of a new class of social elite.
As a result, hotels increasingly played an important part in the development of a new type of American society that was characterized by high culture, a high standard of living, and a sophisticated sense of public identity. In this context, the hotel industry played a vital role in the formation of modern American culture and embodied the promise of capitalism. Its worldwide presence served as a source of pride for American citizens, an exemplar of their nation’s ability to succeed in the world, and an essential counterbalance to the rising influence of totalitarian and fascist forces.