In these days of convenient travel Europe and the United States can have no monopoly in historic hotels, although, as is to be expected, the number of such houses in the Orient, Africa, Mexico and Canada are inconsiderable. Europe may have invented the hotel, but America has perfected the model upon which the best hotels in any country are founded, even if they do not always adhere closely to the design.
Time was when the foreign country outside of Europe and America had a type of hotel which varied somewhat, but followed more or less faithfully the German, Swiss, French or Italian hostelry. In some remote sections of the globe these patterns continue, but in Japan and China the foremost hostelries are frankly inspired by the American hotel; in Africa we find the European modelFrench, German, or Italian in the North, and British in the South. In Mexico and Latin America generally we find Italian or French types predominating, while in Canada usually the American style hotel is the rule among the recent enterprises, and British in the older houses.
The old treaty ports of JapanYokohama, Nagasaki, Kobe, Niigata, and Hakodate, in which foreigners in the empire were compelled to reside prior to the revision of the treaties in 1887had each its hotels in the foreign style. Some of these are still in existence and all of them may be properly regarded as historic, because all of them are in the pioneer class and have sheltered the great as well as the small visitors from other parts of the world. In 1887 Tokyo and the rest of the Empire was opened to travellers from other lands, and then, or really a little before that year, the Imperial Capital had added its modern hotels.
In Yokohama was the Grand Hotel, Ltd., and it was for years the stopping place for round-the-world travellers, and probably the oldest house of its kind in the port which was made famous by Commodore Perry’s advent there in 1854. Before accommodations were generally available for the foreigner, the Grand Hotel, Yokohama, was a favorite resort for tourists, American naval officers and others. Originally operated on a small scale as a private enterprise by a Frenchman, about 1885, the rapid increase of tourist travel caused its proprietor five years later to interest a number of Yokohama business men in it and they formed a public company registered in Hong Kong, to take over the house, which was enlarged, new features added, and the place generally improved and modernized.
Located in a part of the Bund that had the strategic importance of an uninterrupted view of the harbor and Tokyo Bay, its patronage rapidly increased. American naval officers became financially interested in the house, which in time became American in plan and management. From 1890, about the period when the American naval officers became interested in the Grand, until its destruction by the earthquake of September, 1923, nearly every distinguished foreign visitor to japan was a guest at this hotel. It became very popular because of the efforts of the management to give special attention to the comforts of its guests.
Louis Eppinger, of San Francisco, was brought to japan to manage the house, which he did most successfully until his retirement on account of age. During this time and for some years later the managing director of the company was Dr. C. H. H. Hall, U. S. N., retired, who only recently died. A later manager, who continued and added to the success of the house, was H. E. Manwaring, now occupying a similar position with the Palace Hotel, San Francisco.
During its existence the Grand Hotel was the recognized headquarters for nearly all important social activities sponsored by the foreign community of Yokohama. In its destruction by earthquake fifty persons lost their lives, including the then managing director, Pay Inspector Mitchell MacDonald, U. S. N., who was also the largest individual stockholder.
It has been said of the Grand Hotel that it was a money-making enterprise until the end, for, owing to the foresight of the managing director, earthquake insurance was in force, and in the liquidation that followed the shareholders received substantial returns on their investments. The municipality of Yokohama, which is reconstructing the city, is building a new Grand Hotel very close to the site of the destroyed housewhose place it is designed to take.
The Oriental Palace Hotel, which was under French management and whose cuisine was regarded as superior; the Club Hotel, which was usually the rendezvous of Canadians, Australians, and British visitors generally, were two other Yokohama hotels that were familiar to all who visited the port before the earthquake.
In Tokyo, as has been mentioned, there were practically no hotel accommodations for foreigners until the Empire, under revised treaties, was opened to them. Inns there were, of course, but these were conducted in the strictly Japanese manner, and were only infrequently visited by travellers who were given passports to the interior. The first effort to establish a modern hotel in Tokyo for the accommodation of foreign visitors was taken about 1887, when the then foreign minister, the late Count (afterwards Marquis) Inouye and Mr. (later Viscount) Shibusawa, and Mr. (later Baron) Okura, held a conference at which it was decided to build a foreign hotel in Tokyo.
Viscount Shibusawa and Baron Okura, the official promoters of the company, secured a lease of fifty years on a large site in the centre of the city, next to the site of the present Imperial Hotel. The company erected a three-story wooden building, and named it the Imperial Hotel, which was opened in 1890. The principal shareholder was the Imperial Household, others being prominent Japanese business men.
At the time this house was opened the average number of guests per day was less than fourteen persons. However, the chief purpose of this pioneer establishment was the entertainment and accommodation of foreign visitors and guests, merely from a sense of international courtesy. After the Japan and China War there was a commercial exhibition, the first ever held in Japan, and the foreign visitors included salesmen from all over the world ready to sell their goods to the awakened nation. These were accommodated at the Imperial Hotel.
From 1902, when the world tourist travel increased enormously, and due to the fact that Americans were be-coming interested in the Far East, the business of the Imperial Hotel increased. In 1910 a whole party of world tourists, 500 in number, were quartered at the hotel, and this same year the Imperial had as distinguished guests Prince Tai-Toh, of China, who was a national guest; a plenipotentiary of Belgium, and a Prince of India.
In 1919 the hotel’s capital was increased from its original 260,000 yen ($130,000) to 3,000,000 yen ($1,500,000), and Frank Wright, architect, and an engineer, a Mr. Miller, engaged on plans for a new hotel, an annex having been destroyed by fire the previous year. The capital was doubled in 1921 in order to carry out the architect’s elaborate plans for the new hotel. The new Imperial Hotel was opened for the reception of Secretary Denby and his party on July 4, 1922. The new house, which was designed by an American architect and engineer, has already cost $4,500,000, and has every convenience and improvement known for a modern hotel. One of its features is an auditorium seating 750 persons. It covers an area of 300 by 500 feet.
Specially constructed, the Imperial Hotel successfully withstood the earthquake of 1923, although the heat of the surrounding fire which followed melted window glass in parts of the building. The following day the embassies of Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States, as well as various legations, moved into the hotel.
Among the prominent persons who have been guests at the Imperial are Dr. Thomas Massaryk, first president of Czecho-Slovakia; General Leonard Wood; Governor W. C. Forbes, of the Philippines; H. R. H. the Siamese Crown Prince and his suite, in 1921; Lord Northcliff, the late British publisher; General Joffre, in 1922; Dr. R. Tagore, of India; H. H. the Maharajah of Rampur. Delegates to the Pan-Pacific Scientific Congress of 1926; the second Oriental Red Cross Congress of 1926; and a world Sunday School Convention of 1920, which convened in Tokyo, stopped at the Imperial.
Some other Japanese hotels which have a claim to be included in any list of historic hotels include two in Kyoto -The Miyako Hotel, at which H. R. H. Prince Arthur of Connaught stopped on more than one occasion; and the Kyoto Hotel. In Kobe there is a like number of old hotels much frequented. These are the Oriental Hotel, Ltd., which is a British enterprise, and the Tor Hotel, Ltd., some-what newer, which is under Swiss management.
In the two principal ports of China are to be found hotels which deserve the title historic by reason of their age and from the fact that such world notables as have touched these cities in the East have, perforce, stopped at one or another of them. Thus, in Victoria, the capital of Hongkong, is the Hongkong Hotel, close to the clock tower, which probably is older than the Victoria Hotel, which faces Queen’s Road and Praya Central, the main thoroughfare of the city, although both have histories running back for more than half a century, and both have been much enlarged or rebuilt during that period.
At Shanghai, in Northern China, the Astor House Hotel, facing the Wusung River, has been the principal hostelry for more than fifty years. It has been rebuilt more than oncethe first time in the early eighties. About the same time the Central Hotel, on the Bund, was opened, and the Hotel des Colonies, in the French quarter, rebuilt All the important foreign visitors to Shanghai have been guests at one of these houses, which are much superior to the primitive hotels which they replaced. It is not only possible to enjoy modern conveniences in these Chinese hotels, but they are quite as well equipped as those to be found in America or Europe.
The visitor to Dairen., South Manchuria, who steps down from a drosky in front of the Yamato Hotel, scarcely realizes that he is in China, especially in a part of the once Celestial Empire that thirty years ago was in an almost primitive state. The marquise over the entrance and the great majestic façade itself give one the impression that he is in Paris. This Yamato Hotel is one of the chain of five large hotels maintained by the South Manchurian Railway in its effort to modernize and open up this richly endowed part of China which is now under the “Open Door Policy,” with Japan exercising control as a lessee.
These hotels, all of them known as Yamato Hotels, have been established in Dairen, Port Arthur, Mukden, Changchun and Hoshigaura, and all of them are modern to the last word. That at Dairen, the headquarters city of the railway, is the largest and most imposing, but all of them are attractive architecturally, with no trace of the oriental in their design. These houses have all been erected within the last ten years, and would be creditable to any European or American city.
Damascus, in Syria, probably has had hotels of one kind or another for two thousand years. The claim is made for this ancient town of being the oldest in the world. As it looks its age, no one will be likely to challenge its claim to antiquity. Being the terminus of several very old caravan routes, it naturally has entertained travellers from a time that antedates the Christian Era. One of these trade routes is the great caravan road through the Arabian desert; another runs south to Mecca and Medina, to which sacred places great bands of Mussulman pilgrims turn each year.
Pilgrims, modern pilgrims, usually called tourists, in large numbers turn their steps to Damascus each year, on their way to Jerusalem. This ever-increasing tide of travel from the New World has called into existence a type of hotel more or less suited to the wants of an occidental people.
The Damascus Palace Hotel is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, of the modern type of hotel in Syria’s chief city, and being especially a tourist’s house, has had as guests many notables from other parts of the world. During the World War the leading officers of the Turkish Army stopped at the Damascus Palace Hotel and, later, during the British occupation of the country, the hostelry became a favorite resort for British officers. Practically every person of prominence or distinction who has visited Damascus during the last half century has been a guest at the Palace Hotel. The house has been rebuilt in that time and those conveniences looked for by tourists from the new world have been installed.
Jerusalem, “The Holy City,” is a little more modern in appearance than Damascus. Here the Grand New Hotel is the one which perhaps might be designated as a historic one, although it was erected only in the year 1900. It has a historic location, being on the street of David, and just inside the Jaffa Gate of the city, facing the Tower of David.
Under the east wall of the hotel is a section 120 feet in length of the “second wall” of the ancient city of Jerusalem, a fact that was discovered in 1885 by Dr. Selah Merrill, United States Consul for Jerusalem and Palestine. Dr. Merrill found the ancient wall composed of stones of old Jewish work, similar to the largest in the Tower of David, which stands opposite the hotel.
The list of prominent guests is a very long one, but the historic character of the hostelry may be admitted when it is known that its register shows such names as Mrs. Grover Cleveland, John Jacob Astor, W. Flinders Petrie, the noted Egyptologist; Lord Northbrook, Lord Baring, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Drexel, Countess of Cavan, Duchess of Bedford, Gilbert K. Chesterton, Earl of Sheffield, Prince Louis of Battenberg, Prince and Princess Henry, of Prussia; the Duke of Orleans, Prince Louis d’Orleans et Bragance, Felix Faure, late President of France; Pierre Loti, Emile Zola, François Coppee, James Tissot, the artist who painted the series of paintings illustrative of the Life of Christ; Archduke and Archduchess Maria Therese of Austria; and Lord Beaverbrook.
The tourist who visits Palestine and Syria in these days usually makes a stop in Egypt, even if he does not journey up the Nile as far as the sixth cataract; so a few words here about two Egyptian hotels which are widely known to travellers and which have entertained the most distinguished visitors to the land of the Pharaohs, are called for by these historic hostelries.
Of these hotels, Shepheard’s at Cairo is by all accounts the oldest, as it is the most romantic, of all Egyptian inns. Parts of the house might be said to date from the days when Ali Bey, the Shekh al-Beled, ruled Egypt and conquered part of Arabia and Syria. Historically that was not so very long agosay, about one hundred and sixty years. In the days of Ali Bey the building, or part of it, was a harem.
In 1841, the harem having been removed or abandoned as a result of the frequent wars on the Turks by the Egyptians, the house was fitted up as a hotel, and was opened under the name of Hotel des Anglais. It immediately attracted the best class of visitors to Egypt because of its location, its enchanting gardens, and its refined atmosphere. Many French were interested in Egypt in those days and gave complexion to the foreign population.
De Lesseps was engaged for ten years in digging the Suez Canal, which was finally completed in 1869, and that new wonder of the world acted as a magnet for this ancient land. During the period of construction this new interest manifested itself, and upon the achievement western ways began to spread over northern Egypt and tourists began to arrive.
While this new interest was being taken in Egypt, the Hotel des Anglais became anglicized in fact, and became Shepheard’s Hotel. This change was made in 1860, and it is Shepheard’s to-day; frequently improved and modernized, of course. Situated in the European quarter of Cairo, fronting on the broad thoroughfare known as Sharia Kamel, one_ of the busiest streets in the Egyptian capital, Shepheard’s is the centre of attraction. In front is its famous terrace-how many romances and novels of modern Egypt included this historic entrance as a scene for one or more incidents ! Behind and on two sides of the great building lies Shepheard’s Gardensa beautiful park, where the guest may retire from the native noise and bustle and obtain absolute rest and quietude.
Mark Twain was a visitor on his first trip abroadthat journey which resulted in his first successful book, “The Innocents Abroad.” Charles G. Leland, the American poet, philologist and educator, was there a few years later, when Ralph Waldo Emerson also was a guest.
In his entertaining volume, “The Egyptian Sketch Book,” Leland makes some reference to Shepheard’s. At the time he spent three months in the hotel it was under German management.
“The Shepheard of Cairo,” he wrote, “has very little in common with the Shepherd of the Pickwick Club. A century ago it was a harem, and then it became a hotel, passing, like most elderly `houses,’ as Germans call jolly fellows, from the service of Venus in youth to that of Bacchus in a hearty old age. It is large and cool and comfortable, and it surrounds one beautiful garden, while it is surrounded by two or three more. In these gardens I did not discover a single English out-of-door plant. There are bananas and mimosas, Indian figs, cactuses, and behind the house a great grove of date-palm trees.
“One day Herr Vasel pointed out to Mr. Emerson in this garden a banyan-tree. No one whose mind is imbued with poetry and philosophy can behold this legendary tree unmoved. I did not; for I immediately jumped up and picked a leaf, which I gave to the Sage of Concord. At dinner our fruit was always served on banyan leaves.”
Many years later an American lady who stopped at Shepheard’s Hotel wrote home : “This hotel is the funniest combination of Paris and Saratoga. There is a terrace between the door and street where you sit and see all Cairo go by.” In the same communication the writer continued : “Out at the Pyramids I meant to mention the Mena Hotel, a most beautiful hotel, with every comfort, on the very edge of the Desert. Many people spend the winter there for lung and bronchial troubles.”
Mena House Hotel is situated on the skirt of the Libyan Desert, near the Great Pyramid of Cheops, about eight miles from Cairo. Although so close to the capital the air is cleaner, drier and fresher than it is in Cairo. The hotel, which is named for the first king of the first Egyptian dynasty, Menes or Mena, was built by Mr. Locke-King, an Englishman, in 1890, the hotel being opened in 1892. Since that time virtually every tourist who stops at Shepheard’s has made a stop at the Mena House, for the Great Pyramid is one of the sights no visitor to Cairo fails to see. The Continental Hotel, Cairo, is another hotel that has been noted for a generation.
Abyssinia has no sea coast, consequently the country usually is entered through French Somaliland, from whose chief port, Jibuti, which also is the capital, runs the single track Franco-Ethiopian Railway, which penetrates the empire that has been identified with the land of the famed Queen of Sheba, which used to be called Ethiopia.
One would not couple thoughts of Abyssinia with modern hotels and yet the country of Menelek, who capriciously built his new capital, Addis-Abeba, struggling on the side of the mountains, contains a few hotels which are fairly well patronized by prospectors, big game hunters and wealthy travellers.
As the Abyssinians come into such close contact with the French, it is only to be expected that the majority of its hotels are French in character and arrangement, but are generally managed by Greeks. A French traveller who journeyed through the country has given a very fair idea of these hostelries. M. Jean D’Esme wrote a series of articles for the French clerical daily, “L’Echo de Paris,” in which he described his impressions of modern Ethiopia.
The railroad train which runs from Jibuti makes its first halt in Abyssinia at Dire-Dawa, which town is reached after a twelve hours’ journey, the distance being about two hundred miles. Here dinner is served to the passengers at a hotel, The Continental, where M. D’Esme found “large, airy chambers with circular verandahs and bathrooms, which seemed the height of luxury.” This and several other hotels in Abyssinia are operated by Mr. Boloullakos, a Greek. The following day a stop in the journey to the capital was made at the village of Hawash, where the traveller found he was “served a Greco-Ethiopian menu that he imagined was the worst in the world.” This house is named Hotel Hawash. On the third day of the journey, which was only about six hundred miles in length, the Frenchman reached the capital, Addis-Abeba, which is situated twelve thousand feet above sea-level.
Addis-Abeba has three hotels in which Europeans stop when they visit the capital. Each boasts of a special attractionone of its bar and movie show, another of its French cuisine, and the third of its flower garden and eucalyptus grove. Each has an illustrious patron. The Imperial Hotel is owned by the Empress Zeoditou; another by Ras Hailo, described as “the richest and most powerful feudatory of the crown.”
It was in the Imperial, managed by a Greek, that M. D’Esme registered as a guest, and he wrote with interest that the brass bed in his apartment bore the coat of arms of the Abyssinian Empire, with the Ethiopian lion in the centre. The dining room, he added, suggested “the first halting-place after the dispersion from the Tower of Babel.” The hotel has its billiard room, telephones and many more conveniences than would be expected in the heart of Africa, such as electric lights and hot and cold running water in guest apartments.
The Imperial Hotel received all the excess furniture which the Empress found in her palace, hence it is elaborately fitted. The rates are seven Maria Theresa dollars ($3.50) a day, “pension complete,” and you can have the manager’s $500 mule any time you like to go out. The guest may have breakfast in bed; or, indeed, anything the house affords, according to J. Loder Park, American Vice-Consul at Aden, who has visited these hostelries.
“Altogether,” writes Mr. Park, “I felt as snug as a bug in a rug during my stay there, and steadfastly refused to spend week-ends with kind friends who commiserated with me upon my lot in being obliged to partake of the Boloullakos hospitality. The service is good, and prices are reasonable. The hotel has a telephone, too ! This merely means that there is a possibility of talking to other people who may have telephones, if you are patient and shout long and hard enough to rouse `Central.’
South Africa, has a large number of hotels, few of them very old. In the Northern Transvaal, in the Zoutpansberg, a country made familiar by some of Sir Rider Haggard’s novels, there is the Duivel’s Kloof Hotel, a small but typical house at Duivel’s Kloof, sixty-seven miles from Pietersburg. The picturesque hotel in this fertile valley is each year visited by many tourists. At Cape Town, where hotels are numerous, is the Grand Hotel, in Strand Street, opposite the railway station; and at Victoria Falls is the Victoria Falls Hotel, also visited by many tourists each year, now that the South African Railway has extended so far north. Every person of prominence who has visited South Africa in recent years has stopped at one or another of these hotels.
Durban, the chief port of Natal, is also the chief sea-side resort of South Africa. It has been said of it that it “is the best town in the Union for hotel accommodation.” The Marine Hotel, which is one of the oldest hostelries in Durban, having been established about forty years ago, has the distinction of having had as guests the highest titled persons who have visited South Africa. During the last thirty years the house has been enlarged and rebuilt several times.
The Prince of Wales was there two years ago, and among the prized ‘possessions of the management is a letter from Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey, stating that the Royal visitor was “very pleased with the arrangements made for his comfort.” Other royalties who have registered at the Marine Hotel have been H. H. Princess Marie Louise and H. H. the Princess de Bourbon. Among other distinguished personages whose names appear on the register of the hotel are. the Earl and Countess of Lonsdale, the Earl of Wilton, Lord and Lady Loughborough, Lord and Lady Methven, and Lord and Lady Milner.
The situation of the hotel is a historic one, for as one lounges on the balconies he can look out upon the light-house on the bluff, where Lieut. Farewell, of His Majesty’s Navy, first hoisted the British ensign over the soil of Natal, and on the same shores the last battles between the Boers and Britons were fought. In front of the hotel is another historic reminder, in the shape of an equestrian statue of Dick King, who swam his horses across the Bay to the opposite shore and rode to Grahamstown, six hundred miles away, in order to get assistance for the beleaguered garrison.
Johannesburg, South Africa, which less than fifty years ago was not on any map, now has one of the largest hotels in the Union. The Carlton, like its name, is suggestive in appointments and luxuries of a London hostelry. It was erected less than ten years ago, and is the scene of all the important social gatherings in Johannesburg, as well as being the temporary home of all distinguished visitors to this city of gold.
Mexico, the land of the Aztecs, the Mayas and the mysterious Toltecs, being a land of romance, is filled with history as yet only scratched by the archæologist. There are found, naturally, hotels that for one reason or another might be termed historic, but there is space here to mention only one or two in or near Mexico City. Quite early in its history Mexico City had its inns; indeed, it is asserted that the first inn in America was established there after that con-quest by Hernan Cortes.
Cortes landed on the shores of Tabasco in 1519, and “The very loyal, noble and imperial city of Mexico” was granted its title in 1523. Two years later there was passed a city ordinance giving the rates that might be charged by hostel’ ries. On December 1, 1525, the City Council of the Capital of New Spain granted permission to Pedro Hernandez Paniagua to found the first inn in that municipality, but the oldest remaining inn in Mexico is to be found at Perote, on the road from Vera Cruz to Mexico City.
The inn, originally known as San Jose de Perote, was opened in 1527 by a Spaniard named Pedro Ansurez, who was nicknamed Perotee,, on account of his huge bulk. The San Jose is said to have had stables for seven hundred beasts and rooms enough for the travellers. To-day the building belongs to the Hacienda de San Jose de los Molinos, an agricultural enterprise owned by Don Vicente de Caso Mier, who inherited the property and now uses it to house his employees. The historic tavern is now called the Tavern of La Pilarica, and the stables are still in use.
In Mexico is found also the first system of a “chain” of hotels, usually believed to be of recent origin, but known to our southern neighbor as early as 1526. Juan de la Torre, who established an inn in the Province of Michoacan in 1525, obtained permission the following year to establish a tavern in Taximaroa, and an inn in Cuernavaca, the historic city of Cortes, thus antedating the enterprising American and European hotel companies who operate houses in many cities.
Joseph La Borde, a Frenchman who changed his name to Borda, a wealthy mine owner, built himself a magnificent residence and gardens in Cuernavaca about 1725. His residential property was said to have cost a million dollars. About twenty years ago the property is said to have been sold for fifteen thousand dollars. For the last forty years the Borda Garden (Jardin de La Borda) has been one of the points of interest to visitors who have made the journey from Mexico City, forty-five miles away. The garden originally was a beautiful formal one in the Italian style, but latterly had been allowed to drop into ruin.
In 1923 George J. Watson, an Englishman who operates the Morios Hotel, which adjoins the Borda Garden, took the latter place and, as he explained, “cleaned it up just sufficient to make it habitable.” La Borda spent a million pesos in building the church at Taxco and endowed the Cathedral at Mexico City. His fortune was estimated at forty million pesos, or about twenty million dollars.
Mexico City is well supplied with hotels of all classes, and those of the first class may all be said to be historic, for one reason or another. Thus, the Hotel Geneve is the only hostelry in the Mexican capital that is owned and operated by Americans; also it is said to be the only steam-heated building in Mexico. It might be thought this is an unnecessary precaution, but the nights are chilly in the capital, which is situated on a plateau more than seven thousand feet above sea-level.
Until a dozen years ago the Hotel Iturbide, situated on the avenue de San Francisco, was celebrated for its patio, or court, and entertained many persons of importance.
The Hotel Regis, one of the comparatively new and very modern houses in the City of Mexico, is already in the category of historic ones by reason of its site-occupying part of the grounds that formerly belonged to the Convent of San Diego. The fine Avenida Juares on which the magnificent hotel stands, with its attractive façade, was cut through these ancient courtyards and gardens of the ancient Barefooted Friars of New Spain. A number of small residences were erected on this new thoroughfare, and these were in turn removed for the office of the newspaper “El Imparcial.” The latter building later was transformed into an office building and apartment house and lastly into a small hotel.
Acquiring adjoining properties a few years ago, the owners of the present Hotel Regis erected a thoroughly modern and magnificent hostelry. It was established and is operated by the “Compania Internacionel de Hoteles, S. A.,” with M. Castelan, President, and Lucas De Palacio, Manager. Some idea of its modernness can be gained by the statement that it has 300 rooms and 300 baths. The dining room is named “Salon Don Quixote,” its decorations picturing incidents in the life of Cervantes’ delightful hero. It has a grill room, European and American kitchen, swimming pool, valet service, laundry, and a theatre seating 1,200 persons. The Maya Room is one of the unique features of the resort. It reproduces in a striking way the carvings and art of the ancient Mexicans. The Regis Hotel also maintains its own taxicab service, another feature that is unique in Mexico. Across the street from the hotel is the site of the eighteenth century prison and scaffold, “Tribunal de la Acordada,” where, in 1847, during the war between Mexico and the United States, General Scott, the American Commander, was granted special permission to bury some of the soldiers of his army who died in Mexico City.
The register of the Regis Hotel contains the names of innumerable persons of international importance, and they come from many foreign countries, among them William G. McAdoo; Orestes Ferrars, famed Cuban lawyer; Dr. Susuki, Japanese surgeon; Prince Don Antonio Pignatelli, Marquis of the Valle de Oazaca, a direct descendant of Cortes; Don Jacinto Benavente, Spanish dramatist; Vicente Blasco Ibanez, author of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”; Dr. Abdon Saavedra, Vice-President of Bolivia; to say nothing of ambassadors and special envoys from many countries, and eminent musicians, singers, actors and other prominent professionals.
Eight miles southwest of Mexico City stands San Angel whose San Angel Inn is a favorite resort hotel, and at one time the country residence and farm of Santa Ana, the Mexican statesman and general who was President of the Republic in 1832. Some years ago the farm and the ancient farm were taken over by a Frenchwoman, Madame Jeanne Roux, who has transformed what had lately been a place to exhibit Mexican curiosities to tempt the tourist into an artistic, delightful little hotel, where soirées and social entertainments attract visitors of discernment who journey out from the capital by motor or the more prosaic electric train.
When the United States constructed and opened the Panama Canal it found it advisable to go into the hotel business, and two fine modern hotels of the tropics type are to be found in the Canal Zone. The larger of these is the Hotel Tivoli in Ancon, overlooking the city of Panama, at the Pacific end of the great ditch; and the other, and smaller house, is the Hotel Washington, in Colon, the Atlantic terminus of the Canal. There are other hostelries in the cities of Colon and Panama, but the Government owned hotels are the more important and attract the notables who visit the Zone, these notables including Presidents and other high officials of the United States and many foreigners of eminence.
Canada, no doubt, has many hotels which may be regarded as historic; that chain of fine hostelries which mark the journeys over the Canadian Pacific Railway have every one of them entertained all the great personages who have crossed the continent on the great transcontinental line. However, there are a few of the hotels in the eastern part of the Dominion which have a historic past or occupy historic sites deserving of mention.
One of the oldest of these will have passed into oblivion by the time this volume is published, for the old Queen’s Hotel, in Toronto, opposite which the big new Union Rail-way Station was erected about ten years ago, will be removed for a more modern hostelry for the Canadian Pacific chain.
The Queen’s Hotel has been a landmark in Toronto for more than sixty-five years, and has been a hostelry since 1856. Henry Winnett, who had learned the hotel business in the house and had been proprietor since 1874, died in 1926 in his eightieth year. He was the dean of the Dominion Bonifaces and one of the most popular and genial hosts.
In 1838 a row of four three-story brick dwellings in Front Street was erected, and these, being combined in 1844, became Knox College. When the college was re-moved to another site in 1856, its old home was transformed into a hotel by a man named R Swords. Two years later it passed into other hands and was known as the Revere House. In 1862 it had a new proprietor who changed the name to Queen’s Hotel. In 1874 the late Henry Winnett, who had been a clerk in the house, became one of the proprietors, and a few years later the sole owner.
There was, until the end, an air of comfortable antiquity about the hotel. While it had electric lights, it had few labor-saving devices. Its furniture was massive and impressive, and the whole place had about it a charm for those who were not ultra-modern. It was long a political head-quarters, and three Premiers stopped there while awaiting the occasion of being sworn in.
H. R. H. the Princess Louise, and her husband, the Marquis of Lorne, who was Governor-General of Canada, were among the hotel’s distinguished guests. Prince Leopold, brother of Princess Louise, also was a guest. Its Red Parlor, so called from the color of its draperies and furnishings, had become historic. It was the reception room for the royal suite. Sir John A. Macdonald, first Premier of the Dominion, made the Queen’s his Toronto residence, and while there was visited by deputations and persons of prominence in Canada. The famous suite also was occupied by the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen, and by the Earl and Countess of Dufferin, both Earls being Governors General of Canada at the time of their visits. Distinguished actors and other celebrated travellers registered at the Queen’s in the old days when it was the leading hostelry in Toronto.
Montreal probably has no hotel that has a more brilliant history than the Windsor, which presents a broadside to Dominion Square. It has been urged that the Chateau de Ramezay is the oldest inn in Canada’s largest city, having been built in 1705 by the then Governor of Montreal, Claude de Ramezay. It would be stretching a point to regard the Chateau as either an inn or as a hotel, although during the American Revolution the American plenipotentiaries, among whom was Franklin, were accommodated there. The quaint old structure has been transformed into a museum under the control of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal in 1895.
The Windsor Hotel has been a historic house from the day it was formally opened, January 28, 1878. On that occasion there was an opening ball, and heading the distinguished guests were the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of Canada, and the Princess Louise. Since that time the house has several times been altered, improved and enlarged. Recently very extensive alterations were made on its internal arrangements, which included transforming the old promenade into a replica of the Long Gallery at Haddon Hall, England.
At the Carnival Ball, given in February, 1889, nearly all the members of the Canadian Parliament as well as the leaders of Montreal society were present. Max O’Rell, the French writer, who was a guest a little later, wrote: “in many respects it is the best hotel I have stopped at on the Great American Continent.”
A list of the notables who have registered at the Windsor would fill a volume, but it is interesting to mention that among them have been the late King Edward; H. R. H. The Prince of Wales; Lord and Lady Aberdeen, Duke of Connaught, Duke of Devonshire; Lord and Lady Byng of Vimy; Hon. Charles E Hughes, American Secretary of State; and Chief Justice William H. Taft.
The Windsor was designed by W. J. Bounton, of Chicago, and a great deal of the original construction and fitting was done by American firms. At that time it was regarded as the last word in hotel architecture, and its owners were especially proud of its elaborate but tasteful interior decorations.
If any hotel on the American Continent has a more historic site than the Frontenac at Quebec its name does not readily occur to the writer. Here, on the rocky heights, one hundred and eighty-five feet above the lower town and the river St. Lawrence, Champlain built his Fort St. Louis, the residence of the Governor, and the settlement, in fact. The founder of Quebec first built his fort in the lower city in 1620, but soon abandoned it for this Gibraltar-like citadel.
Later the Chateau St. Louis was erected on these heights, approximately in front of the present hotel, on Dufferin Terrace. This was the home of Frontenac while Governor, in 1672. The Chateau St. Louis was burned in 1759, 1775, and finally destroyed by fire in January, 1834. After Canada passed into English control the Chateau continued for some years to be the home of the Governor. Only a short distance away is the Plains of Abraham, where General Wolfe fell mortally wounded, and within a block or two of the hotel the visitor will be shown the house where Montcalm died.
Coming down to more modern times, the Hotel Frontenac may be said to be a monument commemorating the completion of the great Canadian Pacific Railway. Carried across the continent the first Canadian transcontinental system had Quebec for the Atlantic terminus of the line, although the city is hundreds of miles from the ocean; and, as the railway was establishing steamship lines as well, a modern hotel was desirable at that point. So in 1892 the Frontenac was erected, from designs by the late Bruce Price, who by a happy inspiration produced a building which conveyed an impression of a sixteenth century chateau, and one which rose majestically above the great rocky cliff at Quebec. The tower was added recently, and carried out in the same spirit, and the original structure considerably extended.
As was only to be expected, the Frontenac since its opening in 1893 has entertained the highest personages who have visited Canada. As Lord Renfrew, the Prince of Wales, incognito, has twice been a guest; Marshal Ferdinand Foch, of France, Earl Haig, Lord Allenby, among distinguished soldiers, have been there; Admiral Sims, of the United States Navy also has registered at the Frontenac, as have Princess Patricia of Connaught and her sailor husband. The newly crowned King of Siam, while a prince and travelling incognito, also stopped there. Among others whose names are literally legion were Ex-President Taft, who is a regular visitor; Hon. J. J. Astor, Lady Astor, Baroness Orczy; Rex Beach, Lord Beaverbrook, Lord Burn-ham, J. J. Gould, Sir Alfred Yarrow, James Oliver Cur-wood, Sir Martin Harvey, Maurice de Feraudy, dean of the Comedie Francaise; Lady Mount Stephen, Lord Buck-master, Lord Romney and Marquis Najera.