Updated May 27, 2012

History of Hotels

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Hotels have come a long way since they first began. After all, can you imagine peoples' reactions if they were asked to bring a hammock with them to an American hotel? Just 235 years ago, that was the expectation at American seaport inns. Hotel and their amenities have improved dramatically over the years – some, such as the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok and the Chelsea Hotel in New York have even become notorious for their high-class service and the famous people who have stayed there.

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Infographics: History of Hotels
Infographics: History of Hotels © CreditDonkey

As hotels changed throughout the years, hotel chains have emerged. At least 15 major international hotel brands exist today, as well as more than 500 worldwide. Best Western International has rose among the competition, becoming the world’s largest hotel chain, with more than 4,000 hotels in 100 countries.

As travelers are well aware, there is a large discrepancy in the amenities offered from one hotel chain to another. Here are some tips to take to ensure the hotels you book have the features you want.

Watch the stars

One way to determine if a hotel is right for you is to use the star rating system. This system will give you a general feel for the amenities that will be available to you during your stay. You fill find hotels ranked anywhere from 1 to 5 stars, with 5-star hotels being the “most desirable” when it comes to a wide range of amenities. Some hotels have now given themselves self-proclaimed 6- and 7-star ratings, but these ratings are not observed by travel professionals.

If you are looking into staying at a hotel that hasn’t been rated, proceed with caution. These hotels may be in dangerous locations or are in too much disrepair to have even earned a 1-star rating. Considering a 1-star rating is a place that most people choose not to stay, this could be an uncomfortable experience. Of course, there are some hotels who offer 5-star services that haven’t been assigned a rating!

Take advantage of rewards

Many rewards credit cards now specialize in travel and hotel rewards. These cards often have a dedicated travel call center with travel agents who can steer you toward options that are best for you. Many rewards credit cards also have detailed websites that will enable you to compare various lodging options to help you narrow down your choices.

Look for special designations

If you are looking for a unique experience, try finding a hotel that has a historical designation. These hotels often have fascinating histories and intricate details. If you’re a history buff, this could be a fun travel experience for you.

Resort hotels are also a choice that vacationers often choose when looking to get away and be pampered. These hotels often have on-site spas and a wide assortment of entertainment and meal options, so you don’t have to leave the hotel until it’s time to go home.

Get recommendations

When in doubt, ask your friends and family for their recommendations. If you know someone who has visited your destination or used to live in that area, it is likely they will be able to give you some hotel tips. However, if your friends haven’t visited the area for years, keep in mind that hotels can change quickly, meaning that what was once a highly-rated hotel could be just another mark in hotel history.

(Reporting by Andrew; Infographics by Tina; Additional Writing by Meghan)

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