CHAPTER XIV. AMERICAN HOTELS.
Below, on the ground floor, there is, in the first place, the huge entrance hall, at the back of which, behind a bar, the great man of the place keeps the keys and holds his court. There are generally seats around it, in which smokers sit - or men not smoking but ruminating. Opening off from this are reading-rooms, smoking-rooms, shaving-rooms, drinking-rooms, parlors for gentlemen in which smoking is prohibited and which are generally as desolate as ladies' sitting-rooms above. In those other more congenial chambers is always gathered together a crowd apparently belonging in no way to the hotel. It would seem that a great portion of an American Inn is as open to the public as an Exchange or as the wayside of the street. In the West, during the early months of this war, the traveler would always see many soldiers among the crowd - not only officers, but privates. They sit in public seats, silent but apparently contented, sometimes for an hour together. All Americans are given to gatherings such as these. It is the much-loved institution to which the name of "loafing" has been given.
I do not like the mode of life which prevails in the American hotels. I have come across exceptions, and know one or two that are very comfortable - always excepting that matter of eating and drinking. Taking them as a whole, I do not like their mode of life; but I feel bound to add that the hotels of Canada, which are kept I think always after the same fashion, are infinitely worse than those of the United States. I do not like the American hotels; but I must say in their favor that they afford an immense amount of accommodation. The traveler is rarely told that a hotel is full, so that traveling in America is without one of those great perils to which it is subject in Europe.