Inns in Europe were possibly first established when the Romans built their system of Roman roads two millennia ago. Some inns in Europe are several centuries old. In addition to providing for the needs of travelers, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places.
In Europe, it is the provision of accommodation, if anything, that now separates inns from taverns,alehouses and pubs. The latter tend to supply alcohol (and, in the UK, usually soft drinks and sometimes food), but less commonly accommodation. Inns tend to be grander and more long-lived establishments; historically they provided not only food and lodging, but also stabling andfodder for the traveler's horse(s) and fresh horses for the mail coach. Famous London examples of inns include the Georgeand the Tabard.
There is however no longer a formal distinction between an inn and other kinds of establishment. Many pubs use the name "inn", either because they are long established and may have been formerly coaching inns, or to summon up a particular kind of image.
The original functions of an inn are now usually split among separate establishments, such as hotels,lodges, and motels, all of which might provide the traditional functions of an inn but which focus more on lodging customers than on other services; public houses, which are primarily alcohol-serving establishments; and restaurants and taverns, which serve food and drink. (Hotels often contain restaurants and also often serve complimentary breakfast and meals, thus providing all of the functions of traditional inns.)
The lodging aspect of the word inn lives on in hotelbrand names like Holiday Inn, and in some laws that refer to lodging operators as innkeepers.
In Asia Minor during the periods of rule by theSeljuq and Ottoman Turks impressive structures functioning as inns (Turkish: han) were built because it was thought that inns were socially significant. These inns provided accommodation for people and their vehicles or animals and served as a resting place for people, whether travelling on foot or by other means.
These inns were built between towns if the distance between them was too far for one day's travel. These structures were called caravansarais which were inns with large courtyards with ample supplies of water for both drinking and other uses. They would also routinely contain a café in addition to supplies of food and fodder. After the caravanstravelled a while they would take a break at these caravansarais, and spend the night there to rest both themselves and their animals
The need for public eateries was firmly established as far back as the Roman Empire and Ancient China, when peasants brought their goods to the markets, often they traveled for several days at a time, stopping at roadside inns along the way. Usually located in the middle of the countryside, inns served meals at a common table to travelers. There were no menus or even options to choose from. Every night was chef’s choice.
In Europe through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, taverns and inns continued to be the main place to buy a prepared meal. In Spain they were called bodegas- serving tapas. In England items like sausage and shepherd’s pie were popular. In Germany, Austria and Alsace brauwin and weisteben were typical, while in France stews and soups were offered. All of these early restaurants served simple, common fare- foods you would find in a peasant or merchant home.