From Panama to Paris to Poland, there are more than 200 hotels in the world called Bristol, and nobody's quite sure why, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some trace the name back to the traveling 17th-century Earl of Bristol, but a native of Bristol, England—itself bereft of a Hotel Bristol—has been probing the question for years without success.
Vienna's Hotel Bristol says the name comes from a 19th-century fashion for British names, while Thessaloniki's says the name honors the first roadside inn with stables—a theory unheard of in the British city itself. Others say the name just sounded classy. "I get the sense they haven't a clue why they're named Bristol," said Roger Williams, author of High Times at the Hotel Bristol, a book of stories based in Hotel Bristols around the world.