As we said in our introduction, innkeepers had a shady reputation in antiquity. During the Roman Empire, most travelers actually stayed in guest rooms set aside in private homes. Inns offered spartan accommodation in communal sleeping rooms, with space outside to tie up animals. Innkeepers often colluded with robbers and supplied guests with prostitutes. (Given their bad character, some experts say the Biblical Mary and Joseph likely were seeking shelter in a guest room, not an inn.) Because of such skullduggery, Roman law is filled with punishments for these types of offenses. Unfortunately for the honest innkeepers, the laws were written with the assumption the innkeeper was guilty [sources: Seiglie and Robinson, Vuletić].
During medieval times, monks became de facto innkeepers, hosting travelers trekking long distances on religious pilgrimages. In late-medieval England, innkeepers were members of the upper class and influential citizens. Inns here typically offered communal sleeping, although private rooms started to become more common [sources: Medieval Histories, The Metropolitan Museum of Art].
In the U.S., people first began traveling for business or pleasure in the 1700s, causing stagecoach inns to pop up. These were very modest accommodations; sometimes people had to sleep in the same bed with a stranger (ick!). Of course today, a guest can choose between a charming bed and breakfast, a large hotel chain, a budget motel and dozens of other innkeeping options. Thankfully, the innkeeper reputation has improved somewhat.