A hotel is an establishment that provides accommodation and food for tourists and travellers. Throughout the 19th century and for much of the 20th century hotels dominated New Zealand’s accommodation sector.
In 1894 there were 1,719 hotels, or one for every 420 people in the country, but by the end of 2008 their number had declined to 584, or one for every 7,000 people. In the early 2000s hotels accounted for less than a third of the country’s travel accommodation business. The decline in hotel numbers is partly due to the popularity of other forms of accommodation, particularly motels.
Inn the hotel
When James McNeish wrote a book on New Zealand drinking establishments in the 1950s, he deliberately used the word ‘inn’ instead of ‘hotel’ to try to encourage its revival. He preferred its ‘homely ring’ and historic associations. However McNeish had to admit defeat because hotel was ‘now above every publican’s door’.1
The sale of liquor
New Zealand’s hotels have ranged from tiny hovels to grand edifices, but one thing almost all have had in common is a liquor licence. In both New Zealand and Australia, the word ‘hotel’ also means public house, or ‘pub’.
Until the 1960s, places with a licence to sell alcohol on the premises were also required to provide accommodation for travellers. Over time, hotels became inextricably linked with the consumption of alcohol. In 2008 the Ministry of Tourism defined hotels as ‘establishments that provide the public with lodging, meals and refreshments, and in particular have liquor licences to serve alcohol to people on the premises’.2