....There was one hotel in Monastir (Bitola) for whose plight in this respect I felt real sympathy. I went there to get quarters for my servant, and looking round for the name, saw only splashes of fresh whitewash in the places where you would have expected the sign of the hotel to be.
"What's the name of the hotel?" I asked the Greek proprietor.
He smiled uneasily. "Oh, you will find it quite easily again," he said; "there's the main street just there and you turn up by---"
Yes, I know; but what's its name?
"Well," said the owner, with hesitation, "it hasn't got a name yet."
However, next morning a new name went up. I found a flamboyant fresh gilt sign with the title "Hôtel Européen" being hoisted into place. I then learned the eventful history of the hotel's designation. When the Serbians had won Monastir from the Turks the proprietor had suitably commemorated the event and striven to attract official favour by changing its original name to that of "Hôtel de la Nouvelle Serbie."
Three years afterwards, in the same month, the Bulgars had taken the town from the Serbs, and the establishment quickly became "Hôtel de la Nouvelle Bulgarie."
Now, exactly twelve months later, the Serbs had recaptured Monastir, and the "Nouvelle Bulgarie" sign had to come down with a run to avoid certain trouble. So the proprietor told me that he had now given up trying to keep in touch with these constant changes of the town's nationality. The need of continually having his sign repainted was eating into the profits of his business, and delay in getting rid of the old one, or an error in tact in choosing the new, might well lead to harsh suspicions of the kind that are disposed of by firing-parties at dawn.
So he had decided in future to hedge.
Under the sign of "Hôtel Européen" he told me he felt that, for some time at any rate, he could have an easy mind. The armies of conflicting states could stream down the main street alongside, their officers could spend persecuted nights in his dubious beds., without their wrath being still further influenced by indignation at the national sentiments expressed by the name of the hotel. And in the flush of confidence which the unexceptionable yet dignified title of "Hôtel Européen" inspired, I noticed, when I came to pay the bill, that the proprietor had raised his prices for rooms two francs above any other hotel in the town.
Photo: Capture of Monastir. Changing the Bulgarian name of the Hotel de Nouvean, Monastir, November, 1916. MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIRST WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION