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American Hotels

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1218, p. 193.

August 22, 1863


Most travellers agree in pronouncing the American hotels to be the most perfect establishments of the kind ever constructed--in fact, the Americans could never get on without them. They partake of the characteristics of the large hotels on the Continent of Europe and those of ordinary boardinghouses. Their peculiarities are at first very distasteful to an Englishman who has been used to the quiet, homelike comforts of the good old-fashioned country inns; but in a short time the novelty wears of[f], and a hundred advantages are discovered that make them preferable to those of any other country in the world. But this superiority only exists when the hotel is a large and first-rate establishment, of which kind there are several in every important city throughout the States, and one at every point where great lines of traffic meet; but when the hotel is of a second or third rate character it is most wretched, and often dirty and disgusting, and to an Englishman positively intolerable. There is an attempt to imitate the splendour and showy appearance of a first-rate hotel without the completeness and fitness of other portions--as, for instance, the walls of the dining-room may be covered with a fine crimson and gold flock paper, while the tables are of deal, on tressels, and the floor without carpet or any other covering, filthily dirty. Similar unpleasant peculiarities will be found throughout the house; for, unfortunately, cleanliness is not considered by the proprietors of the smaller American hotels the first element of comfort; but in such as the Fifth Avenue and the New York Hotels, in New York, the accommodation and price at which it is obtained, are not to be equalled elsewhere.

The charge at a first-class house is nearly the same throughout the States. It is ten shillings per day, which includes breakfast, luncheon, dinner, tea or supper, and separate bedroom, as well as all charges for attendance of waiters, chambermaids, and porters, and also for cleaning boots. Wines, beer, and spirits are charged extra. The dinner in either of the hotels in New York we have mentioned is a positive banquet, as everything the season produces is found upon the tables in abundance, however expensive it may be to procure it. The other meals are supplied on an equally liberal scale.

Some of the finest hotels in the United States are to be met with at those places where visitors resort for the summer season, as at Saratoga and Niagara Falls. The subject of our Illustration is an hotel in the neighbourhood of the Falls, called Monteagle House. It is not one of the largest of the kind, which are only opened during the season at the Falls, but approaches more to the character of the railway hotels in England, it being situated close to the suspension-bridge which connects the New York Central Railway and the Great Western Railway of Canada together. It is beautifully situated, close to the Niagara River, and has fine views from its upper stories of the Great Falls and the surrounding country, both in Canada and the United States.

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