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11 Revamped Motels
  • The Pearl

    The Pearl, San Diego

  • The Roxbury

    The Roxbury, Upstate New York

  • Belmont Hotel

    Belmont Hotel, Dallas

  • Hotel San Jose

    Hotel San Jose, Austin

  • Jupiter Hotel

    Jupiter Hotel, Portland

  • Ace Hotel & Swim Club

    Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs

  • Hope Springs Resort

    Hope Springs Resort, California

  • The Farmer’s Daughter

    The Farmer’s Daughter, Los Angeles

  • Modern Hotel

    The Modern Hotel, Boise

  • Hotel Valley Ho

    Hotel Valley Ho, Arizona

  • The Standard Hollywood

    The Standard Hollywood, Los Angeles

April, 2013

We can’t say we saw this trend coming, but the once-humble American motel is having something of a moment — and given the enduring appeal of the eleven examples on our list, we hope it’s here to stay.

1.

The Pearl
San Diego, California — Don’t expect to hear the roadside crickets chirping at the Pearl. This redeemed motel with rooms starting well south of a hundred bucks a night can be something of a party spot, with a vibrant young crowd enjoying themselves in that glamorously unheeding way in which vibrant young crowds sometimes will.
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2.

The Roxbury
Catskills, New York — If the hoteliers behind upstate New York’s Roxbury started going a little batty living in the sticks, we’re glad they did. They’ve turned an old low-profile motel into a flamboyant maximalist fantasy, where your room could be anything from a trip through the land of Oz (complete with yellow brick road) to a retro-futuristic space capsule.
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3.

Belmont Hotel
Dallas, Texas — Five minutes from downtown Dallas (by car, of course) sits the Belmont Hotel, a vintage 1946 motor inn and quite possibly the hippest hotel in town. It started out far more architecturally distinguished than your standard motel off the Tom Landry Freeway, and after a positively swanky revamp, it’s looking better than ever.
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4.

Hotel San Jose
Austin, Texas — Hotel San Jose’s 10% discount for traveling musicians offers some indication of the type of road warrior this converted Thirties motel caters to. Across the parking lot, guests can sip coffee with locals at Jo’s, whose outdoor seating has a front-row view of South Congress.
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5.

Jupiter Hotel
Portland, Oregon — The Jupiter Hotel, a whimsically re-styled Sixties motor lodge, synthesizes much of what we love about Portland — it’s deeply casual, effortlessly hip and impossibly inexpensive. The attached Doug Fir Lounge is one of the city’s top live music venues, and no one will look twice if you choose to pair your upmarket diner fare with a tallboy of Tecate.
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6.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club
Palm Springs, California — If ever there was a destination made for the boutique motel, it’s Palm Springs, a desert resort town within gas-tank range of Los Angeles, and lately a resurgent, design-happy hipster hangout to boot. An artfully kitschy roadside motel complete with a throwback restaurant that used to be a 24-hour diner, the Ace is as fine an example of the form as you could hope for — combining the value of an old-school motel with the style of one of the country’s leading boutique hotel brands.
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7.

Hope Springs Resort
Desert Hot Springs, California — Twenty minutes up the road from Palm Springs is the town of Desert Hot Springs, home to this ten-room, adults-only hot springs retreat. The style is pure mid-century modernist motel, and for another welcome retro touch, cell phones by the pools are gently discouraged, ensuring plenty of old-fashioned backroad tranquility.
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8.

The Farmer’s Daughter
Los Angeles, California — Located across the street from the studio where The Price is Right is filmed, The Farmer’s Daughter embraces its drive-in heritage while maintaining an effortlessly cool Southern California ambience. It sounds impossible, but somehow the hoteliers took some design queues from their CBS studio neighbors and still turned out an irresistible cheap-chic hotel — the primary color palette looks like it came straight off the game show’s set, the profusion of check-patterns straight from Bob Barker’s closet.
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9.

The Modern Hotel
Boise, Idaho — If Don Draper came out the other side of the rabbit hole in Boise, Idaho, he’d eventually make his way to the Modern. Everything down to the lampshades at the former Travelodge glows with a warm mid-century ambience. One 21st-century addition is the deep soaking tub in every room, soaking in a motel bathtub being one activity that’s gotten far more appealing since the golden(ish) age of car travel.
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10.

Hotel Valley Ho
Scottsdale, Arizona — Located in the upscale suburb of Scottsdale on the outskirts of Phoenix, Hotel Valley Ho is rooted firmly in car culture — suburbs being the natural habitat of the motel, products of the same highway boom that created them both. The Frank Lloyd Wright–style Fifties building is like a time capsule dressed in bold retro colors and modernist furnishings, with a sky-blue pool as its centerpiece.
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11.

The Standard Hollywood
Hollywood, California — Originally built as the Thunderbird Motel in 1962, the Standard Hollywood is a playful fantasy-version of the Sixties motel — modernist fittings, a bleach-white exterior, shag carpets on the ceilings and floors, and blue and green Astro-Turf around the obligatory pool. Despite the interior design, a location on the famously debauch Sunset Strip (with an unrelentingly hip evening crowd to match) puts it a long, long way from some sleepy little town on Route 66.
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