[FOUNTAIN]Needed: hospitable hotels

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[FOUNTAIN]Needed: hospitable hotels

The negotiations among different Afghanistan political factions finished successfully here in Germany last week. During the negotiations, held at a government guest house on a mountaintop in Petersburg, near Bonn, the city of Bonn was retransformed from "a tranquil city on the Rhine" to something more like its busy pace before the capital of Germany was moved back to Berlin.

There were over 1,200 reporters registered at the media center. Koenigswinter (King's Winter), a riverside village near the conference hall, was crowded with reporters from around the world, and the small number of hotels in that village had a short boom in a slow season.

The majority of the guests in the hotel where I stayed were reporters, including some from BBC Television. Though the three-story building was over 200 years old and had only 20 rooms, it was neat and tidy. There was only one employee there, a lady who did everything from delivering coffee to totaling up bills, but there was not a particle of dust to be seen. The owner could have gouged her guests - rooms were in high demand - but the rate was the usual 120 marks, or $50. The food was also good.

One of the things I like most when I travel in the German countryside is the hotels. Even in a rural village in the hinterland, nestled in every mountain valley is a small but pleasant and reasonably-priced hotel. People are kind, and a glass of the local beer after settling in will ease the rigors of travel. My theory is that you can tell the strength of a nation by the quality of its rural hotels.

Hotels as a modern form of accommodation first appeared in Britain during the industrial revolution of the mid-18th century. Modeled on the Versailles Palace, the Ritz Hotel in Paris, built by Cesar Ritz in 1898, is considered the first luxury hotel.

There will reportedly be a six-star hotel in Korea. Sheraton Walker Hill is expected to change to a W Hotel property and become a super-luxury hotel late next year.

With the World Cup looming, what we need now is not more luxury hotels. Instead, there should be more small-scale, clean and hospitable hotels just like the hotel in Koenigswinter or traditional hotels in Japan. The word "hotel" has its roots in a Latin word, "hospitalis," meaning kindness to a guest, so the word hotel connotes kindness by its very nature.

Poorly equipped and inhospitable hotels with a superficial facade, hotels that rent rooms by the hour as well as for more respectable lengths of time, are not acceptable for the World Cup.

The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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