The Balkan Hotel was built in 1909 as a Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel. SROs were lodging houses that provided basic rooms for laborers that often were single males. The hotel was built at a time when Spokane's population grew 6000% fueled by economic booms in railroads, mining, lumber, and agriculture. Spokane had become the transportation hub of the Inland Northwest and itinerant workers flocked to the region. Balkan-Serbian immigrants inhabited this neighborhood in the eastern section of downtown Spokane during the first decade of business. The early nineteenth century was the height of immigrants coming to Spokane.
Lodging rooms were located on the upper floors, and a saloon, billiards, and restaurant were located on the first floor. Tenants living at The Balkan had a basic room with a radiator to provide heat, a single window, and no closet or plumbing in the room. Each floor had one bathroom containing a sink, toilet, and bath.
The Balkan was owned by R. W. Smith and built by the Pettifer Construction Company, formed in 1908 by J. A. and C. W. Pettifer with architect C. E. Wentzel, a draughtsman for the Washington Water Power Company. Spokane's Schade Brewery paid for the wiring in the Balkan Hotel. The first 15 lodgers were employed at the brewery. The Balkan closed in 1916 possible in response to statewide Prohibition.
The building continued to operate as a hotel until 1955 during which part of the time it was the Salvation Army Hotel serving the needs of the poor and unemployed. The New Dahl Hotel and the Royal Hotel were also the names under which the hotel operated in the mid-1900s.
The Balkan Hotel was placed on the Spokane Historic Register in November 2001.