Old Žilina’s hotels

Old Žilina’s hotels

The construction of Žilina’s hotels began with the tradition of building inns for the needs of merchants and travelers. While building livery stables (one in Varín), entrepeneurs realized that it would be necessary not only to replace a tired horse, but also perhaps to provide a tired traveler with a place to eat and sleep. These inns appeared on all trade routes. With the  intense development of railways, the first real hotels began to appear alongside the inns. These hotels were built mostly near railway stations where waiting for train service might take anywhere from a few hours to several days, and travelers needed somewhere to stay.
The turn of the 19th and 20th century brought a massive hotel construction boom. Žilina, as a major railway junction, was no exception. In the historical centre, bordered by the former town walls, hotels such as The House of Nobility, Folkmann’s Inn, The Townhouse, Reisz and  Hungária were already established. The first hotel outside the town was built by Heinrich Rémi. He called it simply Hotel Rémi or Palace Hotel Rémi.

The most modern hotel was Rémi 
At the time of its opening it was the most prestigious and most modern hotel in the town. With 30 rooms as well as a café and a restaurant, it was originally built on two floors and faced three streets. Around 1930, the height was extended with a further two floors, increasing the capacity to 85 rooms.The well known phone number 201 was the link to the elegant hotel, which was a meeting place not only of local high society but also of national intellectuals. Interestingly, the hotel has a long time prominence in promotional materials of the town. References are made to the facility in the Guide of Považie published in 1914, which called it a "top, modern and luxurious facility" and mentions such advantages as the hotel’s electric lighting and heating. Other publications from 1931 and 1938 also mention the hotel. In addition to the hotel, the building also housed Jozef Kadlec’s Prague’s Smoked Meat Shop, as well as optics and ironmongery. Thanks to the hotel’s excellent reputation it often appeared on postcards. With time, a terrace was added to the first floor.It is not clear how long this structure stood, but postcards of the era show that guests could enjoy it for only a short time. The hotel saw significant visits and meetings among politicians, businessmen and nationalists, and is now a permanent part of the modern history of the town. Its prestige was maintained until 1945, though a sad chapter in the hotel’s history took place in 1940 when it was seized from its owners because they were Jews. 1945 saw a renaming of the hotel, probably from the excitement of liberation by the Soviet Army it became Hotel Moskva. In 1950 it was nationalized and its name changed again, this time to Hotel Polom. This name was a reference to a battle which took place on Polom Hill near Žilina during the liberation struggle. Known today as Palace Hotel Polom, recent years have seen a return to its former glory as a luxury hotel from the end of Austro - Hungarian Empire.

Other Žilina´s hotels
The year 1931 saw the
emergence of a new competitor in the market with the construction of the nearby Metropol Hotel. Now the offices of General Health Insurance Company, the three - story building was built in an architectural style with a hint of modernism, designed by architect František Eduard Bednárik. There were nine hotels in the town of 17000 inhabitants at the time. With 74 rooms to accomodate guests, Hotel Metropol was second only to Hotel Palace Rémi (today known as Palace Hotel Polom) in prestige. Another hotel was built in 1911. Hotel Hungária was constructed by Adolf Munka as an entertainment and cultural centre for the town. In addition to the hotel the building housed Žilina’s cinema and an entertainment facility. Located in the town centre, this was the most popular entertainment complex in Žilina during the final years of the Habsburg Empire. This is evidenced by the fact that it had its own postcard. Seen above, the card is one of the few with a picture of Žilina at night and the image includes drinkers and celebrants enjoying a night in the town. The hotel held performances, balls and other parties.

A capacity Žilina´s hotels
Žilina´s hotel accommodation capacity around 1930 stood as follows: Hotel Rémi (85 rooms) Hotel Metropol (74 rooms), Hotel Reich (later known as Hotel Dukla, 40 rooms), Reisz (now the Grand Hotel, 35 rooms), Hotel Tatra (now the SLSP bank branch location on Hurban Street, 12 rooms), Hotel Astória  (10 rooms), Hotel Europe (now the primary art school building at the corner of  Dolný Val and Hodža Street, 10 rooms), Hotel Slovan (10 rooms) and Folkmann’s House (4 rooms). After the year 1950, Žilina had more than 26,000 inhabitants but only four hotels remained: Hotel Polom, Hotel Metropol, Hotel Grand and Hotel Dukla. In 1981, the largest and most modern four star hotel in Žilina was opened – Hotel Slovakia.

Source: M. Mrva, TIO Žilina (according to academic literature, by G. Krušinský).

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