Hotels are much more than a place to rest your head at night. They are social gathering places, places of commerce, luxury indulgences and much more.
A new book, “Hotel: An American History” by A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, traces the rise of the hospitality industry and how it helped shape the way we work and live. It’s a fascinating story of rags to riches; from the mostly dirty, uncomfortable “flea bags” that served the first dignitaries of our new country to today’s well-appointed hotels.
While many savvy travelers may be familiar with the story of the rise of railroad hotels and vacation resorts, they may not be familiar with the controversy surrounding them, including the perceived threat to American domesticity and child-rearing. Beyond the abundant and interesting history, the author delivers some thought-provoking ideas that might make you shake the “head in beds” attitude prevalent in the corporate world, while reinforcing the “hospitality” in the industry’s name. Referring to none-less than Immanuel Kant, “the father of the modern philosophy of international law and human rights” who is quoted as saying that “international conflict could be ended only under ‘conditions of universal hospitality,'” the author suggests that Kant’s “state of perpetual peace would make hosts and guests into its ambassadors, and hospitality into one of its defining ethics.” The book may just make you think about your next hotel stay in a broader context — say, world peace.
Hotel, An American History, by A. K. Sandoval-Strausz, Yale University Press