The Best Vintage-Motels-Turned-Boutique-Hotels In The Country

Motels proliferated as the road trip became a part of American life in the 1920s. The word “motel” is literally a portmanteau of motor and hotel that originates from the Milestone Mo-Tel built in 1925. But by the 1940s, they already had a thoroughly seedy rep — which has only grown over the years. Now, scary news stories and entertainment tropes have led most people to think motels are where you go to have an affair (No-Tell-Motel), pay for sex (Rooms-By-The-Hour-Motel), or get murdered (Bates Motel).

However, a recent interest in turning classic motels into boutique hotels is rehabilitating the image of these maligned accommodations of the past. Young moteliers with an eye for style are acquiring mid-century gems and reimagining them for trendy travelers. And, by and large, these owners are putting a lot of effort into crafting communal spaces to facilitate socializing — from all-night debauched pool parties to cozy fireside chats with a cocktail and a s’more. This makes them cozier than typical boutique properties, which can be too-cool-for-school at times.

Read on to discover some of the most unique stays in the country. There’s something for everyone.

Coachman Hotel (Lake Tahoe, California)

Formerly a 1960 motor lodge built to accommodate the tourism boom caused by the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, the Coachman Hotel was given a multi-million-dollar renovation before it opened in 2016. Set in pristine beauty at the base of Heavenly Mountain, it’s ideal for people looking to spend the day on the slopes and the night enjoying the property’s custom poured hot tub, which is open year-round to guests. The vibe is a hip take on the alpine aesthetic — with rooms that are simple, clean, and modern, while also being functional. Every room entrance has rubber flooring to provide space for towels, swimsuits, skis, and boards to rest without dripping onto carpeting. Thoughtful, no? Common areas feature custom wood furniture and retro couches accented with fur pillows, Woolrich throws, and crackle glass chandeliers.

The entire property is designed to keep guests happy and relaxed all day, and little touches like high-end linens, Apple TVs, a Stumptown coffee bar, outdoor firepits with nightly fireside s’more service, and a huge poolside lawn for games and grilling do just that. The 42-room property also has a wonderful lobby bar that serves local wines and craft beers for people looking for another opportunity to enjoy a communal activity.

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