I'm unsure about using "the" before some proper nouns. I know there's no "the" before proper nouns unless it's already a part of the name? So, "Welcome to the Hotel California." I think if you step into the hotel, the phrase would be "Welcome to Hotel California." But "Welcome to the Eiffel Tower" takes "the". Is it cause "the" is already a part of the name?

  • 3
    I expect the Eagles found that they needed 'the' to make the words fit the tune. Sep 29, 2022 at 21:46
  • It is common to use 'the' before 'Hotel XXX' or 'XXX Hotel'. Sep 29, 2022 at 21:49
  • See also "the Sahara desert", "the Atlantic Ocean", "the Black Sea", "the Gulf of Aden", "the Democratic Republic of the Congo", etc. (But "Mount Everest", "Eyemouth Harbour", "Brighton Beach", etc, without an article.)
    – Stuart F
    Sep 30, 2022 at 10:59
  • Also see this question about libraries.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 30, 2022 at 11:02

4 Answers 4


I know there's no "the" before proper nouns

In general, this is correct unless the proper noun contains a prepositional phrase i.e the United States of America.

But there are more exceptions. According to the MIT Handbook, the exceptions occur when:

  1. the proper noun includes or refers to geographical terms such as river (the Mississippi River), ocean (the Atlantic Ocean), bridge (the Golden Gate Bridge), region (the South), or building (the Hotel California).

  2. the proper noun refers to plural lakes (the Great Lakes), mountains (the Himalayas), or islands (the Hawaiian Islands).

I think if you step into the hotel, the phrase would be "Welcome to Hotel California." But "Welcome to the Eiffel Tower" takes "the".

According to the handbook rule I mentioned above, the phrase "Welcome to Hotel California" isn't correct. But in practice no one would notice because it sounds natural, unlike, "Welcome to Eiffel Tower".

However, if you imagine a hotel called "California", it would sound unnatural (or even confusing) to welcome a guest by saying "Welcome to California" so you'd be more likely to hear "Welcome to the California."

  • +1, though I'm skeptical of your claim that "Technically, the phrase 'Welcome to Hotel California' isn't correct." As you yourself admit, the sentence sounds fine to native speakers; what kind of "technicality" do you think could make it nonetheless wrong?
    – ruakh
    Dec 6, 2022 at 21:54
  • MIT's rule is that a proper noun that refers to a building e.g. "Hotel California" must have a preceding "the". Since saying "Welcome to Hotel California" breaks that rule, it's technically wrong, according to the MIT rule. Lots of things sound fine to native speakers but are technically (as in, according to the rules of grammar) "wrong". Dec 7, 2022 at 22:32

Generally, if it's unique, use "the". For example, "The Château Frontenac,: or "Le Château Frontenac." If it's one of many, the indefinite article is used, as in "a Hilton hotel" or "a Best Western hotel." However, "the Best Western in Pioneer Square".

Of course, some places style themselves as "unique" and use the "the" in their names: The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa and The Hacienda.

Also, a given name can be written both ways, as in Hotel del Coronado, also known as The Del. The property owner or common usage may set its own rules for articles.

  • What's a unique hotel name? Can you find any hotel named "The Hotel X"? I just scanned through about 200 hotel names in London and New York and found none, so it's not about unique.
    – gotube
    Sep 30, 2022 at 1:11

Yes! Of course. It depends on where you are using it. As long as the sentence isn't just "Hotel California", yes you should add the. Example: I went to the Hotel California for my camping trip. If there are many Hotel California's, then use a not the. Example: I booked a trip to a Hotel California!

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    – Community Bot
    Oct 12, 2022 at 15:34

It happens all the time. If someone wants to stress something, they use "the" definitive article. Consider these two sentences

  • Pick up fruit

  • Pick up the fruit

The speaker/narrator chose to stress the word "fruit" in the second sentence.

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