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; before the advent of motorized transportation they also provided accommodation for horses.
Inns in Europe were possibly first established 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 travelers, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places.
Historically, inns in Europe provided not only food and lodging, but also stabling and fodder for the travelers’ horses. 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.
Inns were like bed and breakfasts, with a community dining room which was also used for town meetings or rented for wedding parties. The front, facing the road was ornamental and welcoming for travelers. The back also usually had at least one livery barn for travelers to keep their horses. There were not lobbies as in modern inns; but the innkeeper would answer the door for each visitor and judge the people whom he decided to allow to come in. Many inns were simply large estates that had extra rooms for renting.
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