What is an Hotel?
And why are Pubs called Hotels in Australia?
Not only by definition but also historically, an hotel's main function is to provide accommodation for travellers.
A pub, short for Public House, is an establishment whose main function is to serve alcohol, mostly beer.
Also known as an Ale house or Tavern.
Australia's drinking culture was transplanted from England and Ireland but there, the difference is well known.
In Australia there are few taverns because they are all called hotels.
The reason for this is that
until recently, in Australia (late 1980s), pubs were forced, by the liquor laws,
to provide accommodation and so were accurately called hotels.
In reality they were good old fashioned public houses or taverns in disguise.
Their accommodation was given little attention, because that is not where their profits lay.
And now, even though this requirement to provide accommodation has been removed, these establishment's
names as hotels, are so well established that they cannot now be changed to reflect what they really are.
It is thus more accurate to call these establishments Pubs rather than Hotels.
Private hotels were set up as pure hotels, trying to distinguish themselves from the Public Houses by use of the word Private.
They did not have a public bar, although a private bar was acceptable, and built their business mainly on the accommodation.
They were generally more exclusive accommodation establishments as they did not have the noise and squalor of a public bar.
Private hotels were then the boutique hotels of their day.
In the Australian psyche of the time, however, this translated into "not quite right".
As private hotels could not support their businesses without the sale of vast quantities of
beer, these establishment converted into pubs or went into decline. The Midland was one of the few that survived.
It had to adapt to survive but it is now flourishing again, still on it's original course.
Everything is changing as the old fashioned pubs are now also struggling with the change in drinking habits
and the change in Australian life style and culture.
Physical work and therefore thirst has declined, leading many pubs to morph into restaurants
or poker machines venues, in a bid to survive and thrive.
All distinctions are now being blurred.
What is the difference now, between a cafe and a restaurant?
Or a gastropub and a restaurant with a bar?
or a wine bar that serves food and a licensed cafe.
The old labels are becoming less relevant.
Within this historical context The Midland is a private hotel with a private bar that is open to the public.
It does have a liquor license but it's main function is still the provision of accommodation to travellers to Castlemaine.
Not a bit confusing. I suggest that it is a licensed hotel but not a pub.
And a Motel?
What is the difference between the terms Hotel and Motel in Australia?
The late comer. What doth a motel make?
Both hotels and motels were set up to accommodate travellers but motels specialised in catering to the motoring traveller.
Befor the fifties the only people that could afford a car were the moderately rich and the professionals such as doctors and lawyers.
However, through the fifties, car ownership became more widespread
and so it was natural that this new accommodation market was provided for.
It is essential that the car is parked outside the room so that the luggage is easily and conveniently transfered backward and forward.
The rooms are totally self contained, ensuring the minimum of contact between host and guests - an almost self service hotel.
Motels were designed as pitstops. A place to crash. A place to shower, sleep and resume your drive along route 66.
Motels appeared in the fifties and sixties and were new, modern, exciting and above all, convenient.
When the first motel appeared in Castlemaine the elderly Mrs Bailie owned The Midland and ran a traditional private hotel.
At that time, it had been in her family for nearly 100 years and had a mix of both medium and short stay guests such as
commercial travellers, relieving teachers, relieving bank managers and overnight guests.
With the opening of the motel, however, they all left to stay at the new place and then all promptly returned, the next night, to Mrs Bailie and their familiar home.
It was a testament to Mrs Bailie's hospitality. However, this business was lost when Mrs Bailie sold to an investor in 1972.
The Midland Accommodation Hotel,
2 Templeton St.,
Back to the Hotel
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