Note: This extract is posted true to text in the Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manners.
In America, where the mania for traveling extends through all classes, from the highest to the lowest, a few hints upon deportment at a hotel will not be amiss, and these hints are especially addressed to ladies traveling alone.
When you arrive at the hotel, enquire at once for the proprietor. Tell him your name and address, and ask him to conduct you to a good room, naming the length of time you purpose occupying it. You may also request him to wait upon you to the table, and allot you a seat. As the hours for meals, at a large hotel, are very numerous, it is best to mention the time when you wish to breakfast, dine, or sup. If you stay more than one day at the hotel, do not tax the proprietor with the duty of escorting you to the table more than once. Request one of the waiters always to meet you as you enter, and wait upon you to your seat. This saves the embarrassment of crossing the room entirely unattended, while it shows others that you are a resident at the house. The waiter will then take your order for the dishes you wish. Give this order in a low tone, and do not harass the man by contradicting yourself several times; decide what you want before you ask for it, and then give your order quietly but distinctly. Use, always, the butter-knife, salt-spoon, and sugar-tongs, though you may be entirely alone in the use of them. The attention to the small details of table etiquette is one of the surest marks of good breeding. If any trifling civility is offered by the gentleman beside you, or opposite to you, thank him civilly, if you either accept or decline it. Thank the waiter for any extra attention he may offer.
Remember that a lady-like deportment is always modest and quiet. If you meet a friend at table, and converse, let it be in a tone of voice sufficiently loud for him to hear, but not loud enough to reach ears for which the remarks are not intended. A boisterous, loud voice, loud laughter, and bold deportment, at a hotel, are sure signs of vulgar breeding.
When you have finished your meal, cross the room quietly; if you go into the parlor, do not attract attention by a hasty entrance, or forward manner, but take the seat you may select, quietly.
The acquaintances made in a hotel may be dropped afterwards, if desirable, without rudeness, and a pleasant greeting to other ladies whom you may recognize from meeting them in the entries or at table, is courteous and well-bred; be careful, however, not to force attentions where you see they are not agreeably received.
A lady's dress, when alone at a hotel, should be of the most modest kind. At breakfast let her wear a close, morning dress, and never, even at supper, appear alone at the table with bare arms or neck. If she comes in late from the opera or a party, in full dress, she should not come into the supper-room, unless her escort accompanies her. A traveling or walking-dress can be worn with perfect propriety, at any meal at a hotel, as it is usually travelers who are the guests at the table.
After breakfast, pass an hour or two in the parlor, unless you are going out, whilst the chambermaid puts your room in order. You should, before leaving the room, lock your trunk, and be careful not to leave money or trinkets lying about. When you go out, lock your door, and give the key to the servant to hand to the clerk of the office, who will give it to you when you return. You may do this, even if you leave the room in disorder, as the chambermaids all carry duplicate keys, and can easily enter your room in your absence to arrange it. The door should not be left open, as dishonest persons, passing along the entry, could enter without fear of being questioned.
If you see that another lady, though she may be an entire stranger, is losing her collar, or needs attention called to any disorder in her dress, speak to her in a low tone, and offer to assist her in remedying the difficulty.
Be careful always in opening a door or raising a window in a public parlor, that you are not incommoding any one else.
Never sit down to the piano uninvited, unless you are alone in the parlor. Do not take any book you may find in the room away from it.
It is best always to carry writing materials with you, but if this is not convenient, you can always obtain them at the office.
In a strange city it is best to provide yourself with a small map and guide book, that you may be able to find your way from the hotel to any given point, without troubling any one for directions.
If you wish for a carriage, ring, and let the waiter order one for you.
When leaving a hotel, if you have been there for several days, give the waiter at table, and the chambermaid, a fee, as your unprotected situation will probably call for many services out of their regular routine of duties.
On leaving, ring, order your bill, pay it, state the time at which you wish to leave, and the train you will take to leave the city. Request a man to be sent, to carry your baggage to the hack; and if you require your next meal at an unusual hour, to be ready for your journey, order it then.