Long gone are the days when motels were stereotypically shady roadside stopovers where for a reasonable rate, you could lie awake all night thinking about scenes from Psycho. Nowadays, motels across the U.S. have evolved into a colorful new era, as destination-worthy joints across the country have emerged to offer a fresh new take on hospitality. From an Art Deco oasis in Miami to a tipi village in Arizona, motels have never been cooler. Here are eight unique motels to check into in the U.S.
Vagabond Hotel, Miami, Florida
Rumor has it that the Rat Pack used to hang out at the property where the retro-inspired Vagabond Hotel sits today. One look around the Art Deco-esque neo-motel will all but confirm such rumors. A marvelous, playful and vibrant ode to yesteryear, the 44-room motel blends the best of past and present with stylish art, modern technological conveniences, original terrazzo flooring and ’50’s-inspired custom furniture. Most rooms feature access to the tropical courtyard, a palm tree-filled oasis outfitted with a pool, cocktail bar and Vagabond Kitchen & Bar.
The Stargazer Inn, Baker, Nevada
So named for the fact that the Baker, Nevada, area is said to have the clearest views of starlit skies of anyplace in the continental U.S., The Stargazer Inn is the quintessential destination for those looking for distant solitude. The small 9-room property, which is divvied into three separate buildings, is located along a stretch of Highway 50 nicknamed “The Loneliest Road in America,” ensuring utter peace and quiet when you rest your head in any of its cozy rooms. With sleek, minimalist furnishings and a wanderlust-inspired restaurant called Kerouac’s, The Stargazer Inn is all about the simplistic pleasures of travel and escape.
Signature Inn, Superior, Wisconsin and Fort Bragg, California
Across the country, RLH Corporation updates the motel motif through its Signature Inn brand, with outlets in both Wisconsin and California. Considering the two states are polar opposite in terms of atmosphere and style, it speaks to the brand’s dexterity and innovation. After RLH relaunched its Signature Inns in June, 2017, both outposts showcase a slick Americana aesthetic in their own ways, via updated looks and contemporary conveniences. Inspired by the Golden Age of Travel, the company uses lustrous hues and mid-century design to provide a transportive, memorable escape for guests. Each motel features a dizzying array of upbeat art installations, along with an exterior paint job indicative of the brand’s vibrant ambience. There’s also complimentary Schwinn bikes, record players and indoor pool areas outfitted with colorful seating and games.
Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho
Ever wanted to sleep inside a giant beagle? Well here’s your chance. Easily one of the most unusual motels in the country, this beagle-themed spot boasts the world’s biggest wooden beagle as its centerpiece. At two stories, the beagle is a comfortable and spacious room that can sleep four, and naturally pets are welcome. A legit mom-and-pop establishment, the motel is run by a husband and wife who have long held a passion for woodwork — and dogs. The family also serves breakfast every morning for guests.
Wigwam Village Motel, Holbrook, Arizona
When road-tripping across the country, the most interesting stop along Route 66 is the Wigwam Village Motel. Comprised of several one- and two-bedroom tipis, it’s the rare locale where visitors can dwell in pretty authentic Native American style. First opened in the 1950’s, the motel maintains that vintage, mid-century sensation, with the village of tipis surrounded by antique cars and outfitted with historical Native American artifacts. Each tipi soars to 28-feet in height, with 21-feet in width. There’s plenty of room to spread out and get comfy, especially considering they’re stocked with lavish hickory furniture.
Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn, Palm Springs, California
It’s kitsch done right at Ruby Montana’s in Palm Springs, where mid-century design and architecture provide an eye-popping oasis in the California desert. In stark contrast to most of the chic confines comprising Palm Springs, the olden motel (it was constructed in 1952) features six rooms centered around a pool. The motel sports a bubblegum-pink motif, while each room has a different theme, from the Liberace Suite and the Yiddish Cowgirl Suite to the Yippy Ky Yo Ky Yay Rodeo Suite. Each one, whatever the theme, is filled with vintage wares, illustrious wallpaper and quirky trinkets. Another fun addition is the motel’s mini library, which is filled with books leftover from previous guests.
Red Caboose Motel, Ronks, Pennsylvania
If you’ve ever wanted to sleep in a train car, but you’re hesitant about motion sickness, the Red Caboose is calling your name. At this tranquil little hideaway in Amish country, this motel-on-wheels offers the opportunity for visitors to snuggle up in historic caboose cars. While amenities are modernized to include microwaves, refrigerators, TVs and bathtubs, it’s still got a beautiful old-school vibe with incredible views of the rolling landscape of Lancaster County. The on-site Red Caboose Restaurant features breakfast, lunch and dinner using fresh ingredients sourced from local Amish farms.
Thunderbird, Marfa, Texas
If ever there was a town that personified the ethos of a roadside, middle-of-nowhere motel with a funky, contemporary aesthetic, it’s Marfa. The popular and perplexing town in the middle of West Texas is a curious hot bed for art, dining and unique lodging. Chief among those lodging options is the Thunderbird motel, a 24-roomer with a serious eye for style. Art and photography line the walls, while most rooms skew minimalist, letting the natural Texas sunshine do most of the work. Platform beds and Peruvian blankets provide added comfort and color, and there’s a pool outside to cool off from the desert heat. As an added quirk, the motel also offers typewriters and turntables for rent.
Written by Matt Kirouac
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