Did Hotels Exist in Ancient Times?

Have you ever wondered if hotels existed in ancient times? It’s an intriguing question, as we often think of hotels as a modern invention.

However, the concept of providing accommodation for travelers is not new. Let’s explore whether hotels existed in ancient times.

What are Hotels?

Before we delve deeper into the topic, let’s define what hotels are. A hotel is a commercial establishment that provides lodging, meals, and other services to travelers and tourists. Hotels can range from budget-friendly to luxurious accommodations.

Ancient Times

In ancient times, hospitality was highly valued, and it was customary to welcome guests into one’s home. However, it wasn’t until the Roman Empire that we see the first form of commercial lodging.

The Romans built structures called “mansions” or “mansiones” along their vast network of roads. These mansions provided basic accommodations for travelers such as food, shelter, and stables for their horses. The mansiones were strategically placed every 20-30 miles along the road network to ensure that travelers had a place to rest during their journey.

The Caravanserai

The Middle East also had a similar system of lodgings called “caravanserais.” These were large buildings with rooms arranged around a central courtyard that provided accommodation for caravans traveling along trade routes.

Caravanserais were often built by wealthy merchants or rulers who wanted to facilitate trade within their regions. They provided a safe haven for merchants and their goods while also serving as a meeting place for business transactions.

The Inn

During the medieval period in Europe, inns became popular among travelers. Inns were similar to Roman mansiones but were often privately owned by individuals or families rather than being state-owned.

Inns provided meals and accommodation for travelers and also served as a hub for social activity. They were often located near markets and churches, making them a convenient stop for travelers.


In conclusion, while the concept of hotels as we know them today did not exist in ancient times, there were various forms of commercial lodging available to travelers. From Roman mansiones to medieval inns and Middle Eastern caravanserais, hospitality has been a vital part of human history. The next time you stay at a hotel, remember that the idea of providing accommodation for travelers has been around for centuries.