You know the old adage that ‘history is doomed to repeat itself,’ but it that always such a bad thing? After all, no one complains when the most flattering and stylish clothing designs of yesteryear saunter back into your closet. Following the trend of stylish resurgences is the retro motel. Once feared for its musty sheets, peeling walls and sleazy vibes, the motel has returned feeling refreshed and ready to charm guests with nostalgic color palettes, and boutique amenities.
12 Retro Motels with A Vintage Vibe that Feels Like a Wes Anderson Movie
A Colorful and Comfortable Motel in Napa Valley
Playfully borrowing from both the camper van and forties roadside motel vibe, the Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa brings some quirky color to the otherwise beige luxury of Napa Valley. It’s a setting straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, in particular, the white, mustard, blue and mint green tiled soaking room where steaming claw-foot tubs are drawn for guests ready to detoxify with medicinal salts from Japan, Turkey, and New Zealand. Outside, three mineral pools are fed from natural geothermal hot springs and utterly revitalize both your skin and soul.
A Retro Motel Dedicated to Cadillac in Niagara Falls
Visiting Niagara Falls with your family for the first time, likely packed into a small car, is part of many childhood road trip memories. The Falls haven’t changed much since your first trip into town, however, the motel you remember got a major update without sacrificing its mid-century appeal. The tidy red brick exterior of the Cadillac Motel is brightened up with the addition of colorful Muskoka chairs positioned outside the matching personal entrance doors. Treat yourself to your favorite microwave dinner and ice cold beverage in front of the TV thanks to modern amenities like Wi-Fi, microwaves, and minifridges.
A Classic Motel in Savannah Georgia Straight From the 1950s
The Thunderbird Inn is an ode to the free-spirited funky designs of its opening in the sixties when hippies roamed the streets of America preaching peace, love and a bit of rock’n’roll. Flower-powered design aside, the inn has ‘got with the times’ by providing free WiFi for guests and plenty of earth-friendly initiatives including solar panels, electric car charging stations and water saving schemes.
Plus, in the style of true Southern hospitality, they treat road-weary guests to snack provisions satisfying all your sweet and salty cravings: fresh, buttery popcorn on arrival, Krispy Kreme donuts and coffee for breakfast and moon pies and RC Cola in the rooms. Peeking inside the teal inn doors reveals a modern white colored palette, brightened up with splashes of lemon yellow and teal green, along with flat screen TV’s equipped with HBO and ESPN.
A Retro Motel in Vancouver with Jungle-Inspired Accents
The Burrard has been around in some incarnation since 1956 but its most recent version is by far the best yet. They’ve held on to the Mid-Century character but freshened up with a few coats of white paint and jungle-inspired accent colors. The rooms are still accessed via walkways that surround a beautiful green courtyard that buzzes with guests chatting over drinks or getting a tad too competitive with new friends playing ping pong. The rooms are as bright and neat as the exterior, with crisp white walls and sheets underscored by pops of pattern.
A Portland Vintage Motel Making the Most of Local Craftsmanship
Once a sad motel on a seedy street, the Jupiter Motel renovation not only breathed life back into the motel but also into the Burnside area of Portland. The building is an unmistakable sixties motor lodge with a community of local makers and doers helping lift it from its sketchy roots: the headboard murals are courtesy of Portlandian Beth Kerschen and fabrics & bedding are by the city’s Seek & Swoon. Next door, the Doug Fir Lounge serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has live music almost every night, leaving you with no excuse to stay in your room.
An All-American Themed Motel in Jackson Wyoming
Oozing with a cowboy meet ski bum allure that they’ve made all their own, the Anvil Hotel has its roots in the Mid-Century but a recent upgrade brought a bit of worldly style to the country motel. There’s now a wood-fired Italian restaurant Glorietta on-site and a general store perfumed by steaming fresh coffee and selling well-made Americana items including mocassins and leather gloves alongside ski goggles and fancy toothpaste. The Americana theme has been beautifully executed throughout with custom brass beds in the guest suites, Woolrich blankets, scenic photographs and locally sourced snacks in the mini bar.
A Vintage Motel in California's Wild West
Located at the crossroads of paths worn down by tumbleweeds, deep in the flat mesas of the ethereal Californian desert, the Pioneertown Motel was established in the forties by King of the Cowboys, Roy Roger. It’s been the setting of more than 50 Hollywood depictions of the wild west.
Since it passed into the hands of owners Mike & Matt a few years ago, they’ve preserved the rustic appeal of its weathered clapboard siding but thoughtfully added comfort and style with locally designed furniture, modern artistic homages to the prickly landscaping and updated bathrooms and bedding. They’ve also created spaces to sit and enjoy the eerie landscape, either in the company of fellow travelers on the porch enjoying a nightcap or alone with your thoughts, overlooking the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve.
A Retro Motel in Dallas with Amazing Skyline Views
Many brazenly declare that the gently rounded corners and creamy stucco facade of the Belmont Hotel are far more beautiful than the modern Dallas skyline which its hillside setting overlooks. This Art Nouveau jewel, formerly the Belmont Motor Hotel, sadly fell into disrepair for many years and was obscured by a tangled garden. A 2005 renovation saw its triumphant return, extending lavish features such as private outdoor terraces, hot tubs and soaking baths to many rooms. Nostalgic design details include geometric jewel-toned wallpaper, crisp subway tiles, and velour furniture.
A Retro Motel in San Francisco with all the Mod-Cons
Becks Motor Lodge has been part of the Castro neighborhood since before Harvey Milk first moved in during the sixties and while it was still known as the working-class Irish neighborhood of Eureka Valley. Since its 2016 face-lift, the family-operated motel turned to the Mid-Century for design inspiration with bold graphic-print wallpaper and pendulum light fixtures.
They’ve held on to the key fixtures of its original design—the spacious parking lot which is still free for guests cruising into town. As if the property couldn’t be any cuter, on the roof they’ve added hives to house San Francisco’s bees, in an effort to protect the worldwide honeybee colony from collapse. Bravo.
A Retro Motel in Boise with a James Beard Chef
Time had not been kind to the old Travelodge in Boise but its metamorphosis into The Modern Hotel and Bar in 2006 signaled the start of a new era. Since then, the property has carved out a spot in Boise’s burgeoning foodie scene with a menu comprised of seasonal, organic and locally sourced ingredients cooked by James Beard, nominated chef Nate Whitley, and finely-crafted modern and classic cocktails by a New York Times award-winning bartender Ryan Turk. Rooms are boldly outfitted with richly grained Mid-Century furniture and silky smooth bedding. Guests are provided with breakfast on weekdays and can use the hotel bikes to cruise around town.
A Coastal Vibe at a Retro Motel in Maine
The Lincolnville Motel manages to capture the retro essence of summer in coastal Maine in its crisp white cottages, lined up side by side, sporting cute turquoise doors, blooming window boxes and views of the sea. The rooms and cabin are mindfully minimal with high-quality details in the sparsely decorated spaces that have no TV or phones in the rooms in favor of record players and a large collection of books.
Outside you’ll find an outdoor swimming pool with an awesome variety of inflatable animals, lawn games on the field and charcoal grills for hot dog dinners. While the motel is only opened during the summer season from May till October, keep your eyes peeled on this space as owner Alice plans to return to her chef roots and start offering onsite dining as well as opening a year-round sauna club.
A Cozy Mid-Century-Modern Vintage Motel in the Catskills Mountains
Sometimes the beauty of a setting is wasted by run-down accommodation, but this is thankfully no longer the case for Scribner’s Catskill Lodge. An easy-peasy year-round retreat from the city, since its fashionable renovation New Yorkers have begun to flock in enthusiastic droves to this mountain abode which was once a rather glum motor lodge.
It has polished its distinctive Mid-Century wood house architecture with unheard of motor lodge amenities including a collection of unique rooms, many with fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and s’mores kits, plus the addition of Prospect restaurant, whose largely locally-sourced menu for brunch, dinner and après ski on par with current stars in NYC’s food scene.
Feature image courtesy of Aubrie Pick
This article originally appeared in trivago Magazine Canada