houses (see p. xxviii) preferable. When ladies are of the party, it is
advisable to frequent the best hotels only. The hotels of the South,
except where built and managed by Northern enterprize, are apt to
be poor and (in proportion to their accommodation) dear; many of
the hotels in the West, on the other hand, even in the newest cities,
are astonishingly good, and California contains some of the best and
cheapest hotels in the United States. The food is generally abundant
and of good quality, though the cuisine is unequal (comp. p. xxviii).
Beds are almost uniformly excellent. The quality of the service
varies. Rooms adjoining the elevator or overlooking streets with
tramway-lines should be avoided. It should not be overlooked that
many of the largest and best hotels at both summer-resorts and
winter-resorts are not open except in the regular season.
A distinction is made between Hotels on the American Plan, in which
a fixed charge is made per day for board and lodging, and Hotels on the
European Plan, in which a fixed charge is made for rooms only, while
meals are taken a la carte either in the hotel or elsewhere. No separate
charge is made for service. The European system is becoming more and
more common in the larger cities, especially in the East; hut the American
plan is universal in the smaller towns and country-districts. Many hotels
in the large cities offer a choice of systems. The rate of hotels on the
American plan varies from about $5 per day in the best houses down to
$2 per day or even less in the smaller towns; and $3-4 a day will
probably be found about the average rate on an ordinaiy tour. The
charge for a room at a good hotel on the European plan is from $1
upwards. Many of the American hotels vary their rate according to the
room, and where two prices are mentioned in the Handbook the traveller
should indicate the rate he wishes to pay. Most of the objections to rooms
on the upper floor are obviated by the excellent service of 'elevators'
(lifts). Very large reductions are made by the week or for two persons
occupying the same room; and very much higher prices may be paid for
extra accommodation. Throughout the Handbook the insertion of a price
after the .name of a hotel ($5) means its rate on the American plan;
where the hotel is on the European plan (exclusively or alternatively) the
price of the room is indicated (R. from $1). The above rates include
all the ordinary requirements of hotel-life, and no 'extras' appear in the
bill. The custom of giving fees to the servants is by no means so general
as in Europe, though it is becoming more common in the Eastern States.
Even there, however, it is practcally confined to a small gratuity to the
porter and, if the stay is prolonged, an occasional 'refresher' to the regular
waiter. In hotels on the American system the meals are usually served
at regular hours (a latitude of about 2 hrs. being allowed for each). The
daily charge is considered as made up of four items (room, breakfast,
dinner, and supper), and the visitor should see that his bill begins with
the first meal he takes. Thus, at a $4 a day house, if the traveller arrives
before supper and leaves after breakfast the next day, his bill will be
$3; if he arrives after supper and leaves at the same time, $2; and so
on. No allowance is made for absence from meals. Dinner is usually
served in the middle of the day, except in large cities.
On reaching the hotel, the traveller enters the Office, a large and often
comfortably fitted-up apartment, used as a general rendezvous and smok¬
ing-room, not only by the hotel-guests, but often also by local residents.
On one side of it is the desk of the Hotel Clerk, who keeps the keys of
the bedrooms, supplies unlimited letter-paper gratis, and is supposed to
be more or less omniscient on all points on which the traveller is likely
to require information. Here the visitor enters his name in the 'register'
kept for the purpose, and has his room assigned to him by the clerk, who
details a 'bell-boy' to show him the way to his room and carry up his