Famous Motels: Iconic Roadside Motels
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It’s a work of art! It’s an amusement park! No, it’s a destination hotel!

By Kristan Schiller

 

Across the country, classic American motels are being transformed into destinations in their own right, rather than just stops along the way. From east coast to west, these unique old-style lodgings have been reconceived as high-style boutique hotels that may seem, on first glance, part work of art, part amusement park. But much like the 2013 Malibu, they’ve been reimagined for comfort and luxury, so their looks do more than just captivate. Oh, and while you rest your head and lighten your load, you won’t have to lighten your wallet much: Rates start at $48 per night.

Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel
Mt. Tremper, NY

There’s no mistaking that this Catskills hideaway is the brainchild of Kate Pierson, a lead singer of the beloved 80’s rock band the B-52’s. With neon colors popping out of every textile and funky mod furniture, the ten-suite hotel boasts five vintage aluminum Airstream trailers in the back stocked with barbecues and tiki torches. After a long weekend at this hip Upstate New York refuge, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Wig Wam Motel
Holbrook, AZ

Set smack dab on the famous Route 66, this classic campground motel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers 15 concrete teepees in a sheltered backdrop in Holbrook, Arizona. Restored autos are scattered about the parking area (including a few Impalas), adding to the vintage charm. Rooms are no-frills and beds are slightly soft, but it’s worth the stop just to say you’ve been. Nearby attractions include Petrified Forest National Park and Meteor Crater.

Madonna Inn
San Luis Obispo, CA

Located along California’s scenic Highway 101, The Madonna Inn has earned a reputation as the queen of kitsch with its creative use of color and unusual, theme-style rooms such as the Rock Bottom Room and Sugar & Spice Room. Originally built in 1958, the hotel has recently added horseback riding, pink tennis courts, ice-skating in winter and a bike path into downtown San Luis Obispo. There’s also a new day spa with a pool and six treatment rooms. Start your California dreaming now!

Aqua Hotel & Lounge
Miami, FL

This recently-remodeled 1950s motel in the center of South Beach’s Art Deco District boasts 45 rooms with cement floors and Ikea furnishings, as well as an uber-cool octagon-shaped outdoor pool (it’s also within walking distance of the beach). When the sun goes down, the cocktail bar at the Aqua becomes a buzzing hotspot; time to begin your patio-hopping foray along hip Collins Avenue.

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Kristan Schiller is a New York-based travel writer and blogger whose articles have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Fodor’s, as well as on Forbestraveler.com and Salon.com.