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A 19th century inn in Vălenii de Munte, Romania (currently in Village Museum, Bucharest)

Inns are generally establishments or buildings where travelers can seek lodging and, usually, food and drink. They are typically located in the country or along a highway.

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History and origins

American scenery—the inn on the roadside (1872)

Found in Europe, they possibly first sprang up when the Romans built their system of Roman roads two millennia ago. Some inns in Europe are several centuries old. In addition to providing for the needs of travellers, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places.

In Europe, it is the provision of accommodation, if anything, that now differentiates inns from taverns, alehouses and pubs. The latter tend to supply alcohol (and, in the UK, usually soft drinks and sometimes food), but less commonly accommodation. Inns tend to be grander and more long-lived establishments; historically they provided not only food and lodging, but also stabling and fodder for the traveller's horse(s) and for fresh horses for the mail coach. Famous London examples of inns include the George and The Tabard. There is however no longer a formal distinction between an inn and other kinds of establishment. Many pubs use the name "inn", either because they are long established and may have been formerly coaching inns, or to summon up a particular kind of image.

The original functions of an inn are now usually split among separate establishments, such as hotels, lodges, and motels, all of which might provide the traditional functions of an inn but which focus more on lodging customers than on other services; public houses, which are primarily alcohol-serving establishments; and restaurants and taverns, which serve food and drink. (Hotels often contain restaurants and also often serve complimentary breakfast and meals, thus providing all of the functions of traditional inns.) In North America, the lodging aspect of the word "inn" lives on in hotel brand names like Holiday Inn, and in some state laws that refer to lodging operators as innkeepers.

German language

The German words for "innkeeper", and "innkeeping" illustrate the historical importance of inns. An innkeeper is a Wirt, and innkeeping is Wirtschaft. This last word, Wirtschaft, has extended its meaning beyond the management of an inn and is now the German term for management in general and economy; the latter usage may have derived by analogy, as the word "economy" itself comes from the Greek word "oikonomia" for household management (from oikos, "house," and nemein, "to manage").

Seljuq and Ottoman inns

They use to call places inns (Turkish: han) which were providing accommodation for both humans and their vehicles or mount animals. Inns were the places where people could spend the night with or without transportation.

Seljuqs and Ottomans have built impressive structures (inns) because they thought inns had a social significance.

They use to build inns to the middle of 2 cities if distance between them is too long. They called these structures caravansary (an inn with large courtyard). These structures which were built out of city contained large amount of water (for both drink and use). They also contained café and food and bait supplies. After the caravans proceeded a while they take a break at these caravansaries, spent the night there and rested both themselves and their animals.

Inns of Court

The Inns of Court in London were originally ordinary inns where barristers met to do business, but have become institutions of the legal profession in England and Wales.

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