Fourty thousand spectators needed some kind of lodging. Hotels were constructed only gradually. They were laid out as a series of rooms surrounding a courtyard. The poorer classes could not afford to stay in a hotel, however. Most visitors therefore camped in tents in the surroundings. Even the famous, and very wealthy, Alkibiades lodged in a luxurious tent when he participated in the games.

The most luxurious hotel was the Leonidaion (20 on the map), built (and financed) by Leonidas of Naxos in the fourth century BC. At that time, the hotel was the largest building at Olympia. In the peristyle courtyard with its Doric columns and beautiful garden, rich and important guests could escape the bustle. On the outside, the building was surrounded by an Ionic colonnade. In the Roman period it became the dwelling of important officials. In this period, more hotels were constructed for the rich.

© KU Leuven, 2012