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The story of Hotel starts in England, with engineer Denys Fisher, the inventor of Spirograph toy. He founded his own company, Denys Fisher Toys. Through the 60's and 70's Fisher and his company, designed and produced many toys, like Doctor Who and Star Wars figures and distributed board games acquiring their licenses, like Haunted House, Dig and obviously Hotel.


Denys Fisher



Geoff Hayes

But the name behind the invention of Hotel is Geoff Hayes. Mr Hayes founded with Bowden and Dyble BDH, an advertising agency formed in 1964. In the 70's the success of his company was being paired with his further adventures into developing games himself.  This led to his favourite pastimes: planning for his much enjoyed annual trips to New York, USA, to attend the Toy Fairs - a chance to meet up with his buddies in the industry.As far as we know, this man known for his larger than life laughter, is the real inventor of the game, an untold game legend. 

The game was officially released by Denys Fischer in 1974, sold inside an almost total black box. The game consisted in a hard-cardboard board where up to four players had to move their small colored cars. Each turn they had to try to buy lands and build different buildings with the aim to create full hotel chains.

The first "black" box 

A still new sealed box



What's inside a just opened box


This was the content of the game:

1 Gameboard
30 roofs
30 bases
30 hotel entrances
30 cardboard buildings
8 Leisure facilities
8 Cardboard Title Deeds MB money
4 cars (in 4 different colours)
1 standard die
1 planning permission die
Various banknotes of this denominations: 50 - 100 - 500 - 1000 - 5000


The 1974 Edition Built

The game shared many rules and particularities of the much more famous game Monopoly. Effectively the object of the game was very similar, and for this reasons many pointed out Hotel to be a clone of Monopoly. I guess the aim of Hayes was to create a simpler and more attractive version of Monopoly keeping the philosophy of the game. His great idea was to include real 3d hotels, which involved the players who could see their buildings grow with their eyes, taking form and expanding, giving them a visual idea of what they were owning. Furthermore the rules of Hotel were more easy and smart. The most simple definition of Hotel is "a modern version of Monopoly".

Denys Fisher Toys was then sold to Palitoy which was subsequently bought by Hasbro. Fisher continued to work with Hasbro in developing new toys. Hasbro in the meantime had bought also the company of Milton Bradley, the first pioneer of board games.

In 1986 the first "modern" version of Hotel was released, published by MB and still developed by Hayes. It brought the original rules with new fresh design, typically from the 80's. The box was totally redesigned, more colorful, shiny, in few words: more attractive. The walls were made of thicker cardboard, although the idea of making small holes over the board (where buildings had to be put and kept them safely straight), was taken apart, on behalf of a thinner board who could be folded in two, so that the box could be smaller.

The game was finally translated into different European languages, including English, Italian, Spanish, German, and French. Due to a huge marketing and advertising campaign it was a great success at the time. 



Milton Bradley 

Design of the the 1986 box
The second edition of Hotel (1986)

The following year it was released in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan a similar version. The buildings and the rules were almost the same but with a different and more "American" style.

These European and American releases made Hotel a huge success for Milton Bradley Company, though it was the "golden age" of board games. Hotel received different awards like "1987's Game of the year" in France and "1988's Game of the year" in Canada in the category "Family games".

Hotel Commercial 1988

Through the years many different editions were released, like travel editions, the Las Vegas Edition, Asterix versions, and also various non official PC adaptions. All these versions were still keeping the spirit of the first 1974 original game, and maybe that's why all over the world you can find fans of this great game.



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