On the Road Trip

Exit for These 13 Roadside Motel Makeovers

by Team Fathom
Photo courtesy of Skyview Los Alamos.

Motor lodges across the continent are getting the updated vintage makeover they deserve. Repurposing roadside locales with outside doors and pull-up parking is smart, relevant, and sustainable.

Brentwood Hotel

Where: Saratoga Springs, New York, USA
What's to Love: Three hours up the Hudson River from NYC, just across the road from the Saratoga Race Track paddock, is are furbished twelve-room motel that has been beautifully retrofitted with brass fixtures, custom-crafted beds,French linens, and classy (not kitschy) equestrian design details. There's a fireside lounge, a black-walled bar, andLinus bicycles. But the best feature of all? Terrific views of the track from every guest room.

Skyview Los Alamos

Where: Santa Barbara, California, USA
What's to Love: A Central California thirty-three-room motel pays homage to its mid-century and Western roots without falling into twee territory – no mean feat! – using cowhide rugs,Pendleton blankets, crisp white shiplap walls, and cedar outdoor showers. A Tivoli speaker, tiny tube of Marvis toothpaste, and booklet titled "How To Skyview, AndOther Stuff" – a small yet remarkably informative guide to the area – are just a few of the thoughtful, elevated touches.
Read More on Fathom: Instagram Alert! Abandoned 1950s California Motel Gets a Stunning Americana Makeover

Photo courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.

Drake Motor Inn

Where: Prince Edward County, Canada
What's to Love: Playful accommodations for Torontonians on the run nod toward nostalgic fun (Polaroid cameras, vending machines)and an upgraded design sensibility (modern Scandinavian furnishings, colorful artwork) on a small island that is hip and historic (and not Prince Edward Island, some800 miles/1300 kilometers east). It's just down the road from big sister hotel Drake Devonshire (thedrake.ca/drakedevonshire), which is beautiful and cool and has yoga and a lakeside restaurant and several cute dining and drinking establishments orbiting around the

The Drifter

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
What's to Love: A restored neon roadside sign beckons travelers away from the French Quarter fray and the recently developed hotel row in the Warehouse District to the less-trodden path (for tourists, anyway) to Mid-City. The low-slung1950s building has been jazzed up with new finishes and furnishings that give it a stylish Cuban vibe; the on-site, on-trend food trucks serve Mexican, Cuban, andCaribbean foods to be paired with frozen cocktails at the bar.

Ojai Rancho Inn

Where: Ojai, California, USA
What's to Love: This quirky log-cabin-style lodge with a lot of heart in a former '50s roadside motel has been a mainstay in the super groovy town of Ojai. Rooms are simple with kitchenettes and king-size beds (and sometimes retro hot tubs). There's a fire pit for gathering around with drinks from the tiny, adorable bar on site.

Photo courtesy of Anvil.


Where: Jackson, Wyoming, USA
What's to Love: A down-and-out motel with a 21st-century conversion equals a cozy, streamlined, and well-appointed but unfussy gathering spot for out-of-towners looking to stay on the doorstep of Yellowstone and the Tetons. Shaker-inspired design (wainscotting, iron bed frames) is given the mountain treatment. The reincarnated restaurant focuses on wood-fired Italian cooking, and a dark wood general store called Mercantile functions as a gathering place for locals and travelers in need of a nice cup of coffee, maps,WiFi, woolen caps, or leather bolo ties.

The Verb

Where: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
What's to Love: A Fenway Park refurbishment pays homage to them is behaving musicians who used the place as a crash pad back in the day with a rock'n'roll design theme – vintage speakers, music memorabilia, '70s-era telephones –and regular live music programming. The Mondrian-like stained-glass floor-to-ceiling windows surround a sundeck and heated saltwater pool that stays open all year long.

The Sandman

Where: Santa Rosa, California, USA
What's to Love: Studio Tack, the NYC-based firm that designed CoachmanHotel (coachmantahoe.com) in Lake Tahoe, is behind another cute refurbished California motel off US-101(among many other roadside delights) full of fun and quirky touches: an outdoor pool and hot tub, a lively pool house and bar, a bocce ball court, bamboo lounge areas, and tastefully minimalist rooms that accommodate families and pets.

Photo courtesy of Nobu Ryokan.

Nobu Ryokan

Where: Malibu, California, USA
What's to Love: The ultimate upcycle of a '50s-era inn may be Nobu Matsuhisa and billionaire Larry Ellison's contemporary take on a Japanese inn above Carbon Beach and just steps from the celeb-magnet sushi restaurant. The Eastern version of the Western roadside motel includes tatami mats, teak wood soaking tubs, shoji screens, and bronze finishings. Garden rooms have private green space; second-floor ocean rooms have crazy coastline views.

Amigo Motor Lodge

Where: Salida, Colorado, USA
What's to Love: A scrappy couple of dreamers purchased a seventy-year-old high-desert stopover in Central Colorado and turned it into a chill, laid-back, sixteen-room oasis. An old carport is now a sunroom filled with leafy plants. A few Airstreams and a tall teepee serve as funky guest room alternatives.Through some smart and efficient design decisions, the motel has eased its use of valuable resources like water, electricity, and gas (which the local national parks are thankful for) and donates a portion of its revenue to Salida-area organizations. Keep the retro theme going with a visit to the nearby drive-in cinema.

Photo by Nick Simonite / courtesy of Austin Motel.

Austin Motel

Where: Austin, Texas, USA
What's to Love: This motel's motto says it all: "So close, yet so far out."Vibrant colors and attention-grabbing wallpaper adorn all forty-one guest rooms in a style as unapologetically playful as it is effortlessly cool, while the kidney-shaped pool in the center of the property and surrounding lido deck are Instagram heaven. The original 1930s sign at the entrance, still standing, is the inspiration behind the vintage aesthetic.

Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa

Where: Napa Valley, California, USA
What's to Love: AvroKo designed a very cute, neat and tidy series of spaces inspired by the Great American Road Trip. A little bit retro, a little bit modern, with handsome details (vintage-y fabrics, tiny art, single bud vases, great color combos) that make the place feel special but not fussy. Book a treatment at the adorable Moonacre Spa that involves soaking in one of the light blue claw foot tubs.

The Wayfinder

Where: Newport, Rhode Island, USA
What's to Love: Nostalgia for mid-century Americana has made its way to Newport's yacht-filled harbor. There's nothing cliché about the seaside decor in this hotel, which is relaxed and stylish with cool tones and vintage elements sourced from antique markets and local artists. The lobby and its sunshine-yellow floating fireplace give off retro vibes and have plenty of seating for cocktails and conversation.Rhode Island food trucks park near the outdoor pool and raw bar – pure summer fun. Sustainability is top of mind, too: take note of the electric car charging stations, news of regular beach cleanups, and the absence of single use plastics.

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