What is a
The Editor does some
It was the sort of day you didn’t want to work. The sun was shining and the office was hot. Sitting at my desk I
could see across the street to the open door of "The Frog and Ferret Public House" I began thinking of the pints of
Old Frothy I would soon be enjoying when all of a sudden, BANG! The office door crashed open and in stomped Hilda.
“So you think you know what a pub is then, do you?” she cackled, “Ok then clever dick, what’s the difference
between Pubs, Taverns, Inns, and Hostelries?” just as abruptly she left.
Hilda is a very strange woman she likes to see everyone happy except me. Her question had never occurred to me
before; I’m not even sure why she asked me. I have never cared what a pub is called; all that matters is that it
sells good beer. But curiosity got the better of me and to show Hilda how useful and resourceful I could be. I
decided to investigate, I reasoned the best place to find out the definition of these ancient words would be to
look in the old trusty office dictionary. This is what I found ....
Pub (pub) n. (colloq)
public-house n. inn, or
tavern for sale of alcoholic liquors for consumption on
Inn(in) n. a house
that provides lodging accommodation for travellers; a
Tavern(tav’-ern) n. licensed
house for sale of liquor; inn; hostelry
Hostelry (hos’telry) n. an inn
derived from [L. hospes, a host or
Ok, so what did the dictionary tell me?
pub is an inn or tavern that sells liquor to
inn is a hotel that provides
tavern sells booze and is an inn or
hostelry is an inn!
Well that seems quite straightforward to a twisted mind !
The only trouble is, it’s wrong! Most pubs are called Inns, Taverns and Hotels yet
most don’t offer accommodation. In fact only about 8% of all Public Houses in Britain have any sort of
accommodation. This means there are 92% who will be less than helpful when the tired traveller comes along
looking for shelter, to be fair the confusion is caused by tradition. Inns and Taverns did originally offer
lodgings, but as times changed most publicans concentrated on their drink trade and accommodation was largely
forgotten. The names of the pubs however often stayed the same.
Nowadays the only really sure way of knowing if an Inn offers accommodation is to ask. Unfortunately contacting
65,000 Pubs scattered across the whole of Great Britain can be a very time consuming business, but now, thanks to
pub passionate people like Hilda things are a lot easier. The traveller no longer has to contact hundreds of pubs
or worry whether a pub is called an inn, a tavern or an anything else, because Hilda will do it all for them.
Hilda spends all day phoning and contacting pubs, chatting to customers, questioning bar staff, harassing
managers and finding out as much as she can about Inns, Taverns, Hostelries and Pubs. If Hilda has entered a pub in
the stayinapub.com guide you can bet your life she has talked to someone at the pub and it will (or did at the
time) offer accommodation. And why does Hilda do all this? She says it gives her a warm glow just to know she has
helped a tired traveller to bide awhile, relax and rest his or her weary head….If only she could feel the same
about me when I feel the need for a quiet moment.
This article first appeared in the "Stay in a Pub Guide