In my time travel romance Thoroughly Modern Amanda, the time traveling hero, Jack Lawton, is rescued by heroine, Amanda Montgomery, after he finds himself transported into the late nineteenth century. Since he’s been injured, Amanda’s family takes him in until he recovers, but afterward her father insists, to protect his daughter’s reputation, that he must leave their home. Her step-mother sets him up in a hotel room in town, so she and Amanda can continue to keep an eye on him.
So, what were hotel rooms like in the late ninteenth century?
Here is quote from The American Guide-Book, “The largest hotels are always supplied with polite and efficient waiters, excellent cooks, and almost every convenience. The beds and furniture are perfect, the means of ablution are clean and neat, many of the houses now having warm and cold bathes, the tables are supplied with all the delicacies of the season and the choicest wines, and generally if the traveler sojourns any length of time he can be as comfortable as at home.”
Charges for average hotel rooms were between $1 and $2.50 per day.
Miss Leslie advises ladies traveling alone “On arriving at the hotel, ask immediately to see the proprietor; give him your name and address, tell how long you propose staying, and request him to see that you are provided with a good room. Request him also to conduct you to the dining-room at dinner-time and allot you a seat near his own.”
Many hotels had a formal parlour and lady’s drawing room. This was where guests could go to read, receive visitors or converse. Breakfast and tea were generally taken at leisure, up until 9 o’clock. After breakfast, guests were urged to retire to the drawing room so the maids could clean the rooms. Room keys could be left with the clerk or barkeeper when the patrons went out.
Dinner was always served at a set time with arranged seating. Dress for dinner shouldn’t be “…more showy than you would wear when dining at a private house.”
According to the guidebook concerning gratuities, “When you give a gratuity to a servant…give it at no regular time, but whenever you think proper, or find it convenient. It is injudicious to allow them to suppose that they are to do you no particular service without being immediately paid for it…All persons who go to hotels are not able to lavish large and frequent gratuities on the servants. But all, for the price they pay to the proprietor, are entitled to an ample share of attention from the domestics.”
Source: Anna Worden, Travel in the mid-19th century, The Citizens’ Companion, June 2009.
For info on 19th century Philadelphia hotels with lots of great photos, visit this site: http://www.brynmawr.edu/cities/courses/05-306/proj2/jmw2b/home.html