George Stimpson

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What does Arms in hotel names signify?

Arms in this connection is short for coat of arms, "a heraldic device of a family." Inns, taverns and public houses in England were formerly known by the various devices on their signs: as, the Boars Head Tavern and the Mermaid Inn. Often the inn sign was taken from the coat of arms of a nobleman or other person of distinction who lived in the vicinity. Hence there were inns bearing the sign an game of the Oxford Arms, the Salisbury Arms, the Courtenay Arms, etc. Sometimes an innkeeper adopted the coat of arms of the king or queen after they had visited or patronized his inn; hence the common names, the King's Arms and the Queen's Arms. The practice of giving hotels, apartment houses and other buildings such high-sounding names as the Chester Arms and the Colton Arms was copied after this old English custom. The Beekman Arms at Rhinebeck, New York, built about 1700 and operated as a hotel continuously ever since, is said to be the oldest hotel in the United States.