Unbelievably Luxurious Motels in the U.S.
Unbelievably Luxurious Motels in the U.S.

Flashing neon signs, pastel muscle cars, and palm trees — this is the classic image of the American motel. These motor hotels — later coined "motels" by the owner of the Milestone Mo-Tel in California — were once simple, functional waystations for roadtrippers exploring new miles of American interstates. The rise of chain hotels saw motels largely falling in popularity, but in recent years many of these historic institutions have seen a revival. Whether you're taking a road trip or just looking for eclectic accommodation,  you can still seek out the retro nostalgia of these once roadside motels without losing out on modern amenities. Here are the most luxurious motels in the U.S. you'll want to add to your itinerary.

Austin Motel - Austin, TX

Austin Motel kidney shaped pool.
Credit: Nick Simonite

Continuously operated for over 65 years, the Austin Motel will transport you to the 70’s with retro rooms decked out in funky wallpaper, a vibrant colorscape, and Mid-century accents. Guests will be delighted to know that they’re also walking distance to the famous Congress Avenue Bridge, better known as the “Bat Bridge,” where thousands of bats take to the skies come nightfall.

But the true star of the show? The kidney-bean shaped pool. Guests and passers-by alike can partake in pool-centered events like Neon Night Swims and Float Films. Grab a michelada at the Pool Bar or pop in to Joann’s Fine Foods for a Mexican-inspired menu with everything from Gulf Red Snapper Ceviche to huevos rancheros. If you’re just passing through but want to experience the nostalgic pool scene, grab a three-hour pass for just $25 during the week or $45 on the weekend.

Amigo Motor Lodge - Salida, CO

Chairs hanging from trees with Amigo Motor Lodge in background.
Credit: Amigo Motor Lodge

Salida is one of Colorado’s up-and-coming recreational hot spots, and the Amigo Motor Lodge is the perfect place to enjoy it all in style. This vintage accommodation offers up a litany of rooms both within the original motel and as standalone, vintage airstreams. All are decorated in a Southwestern theme and outfitted with Tuft & Needle mattresses for a guaranteed good night’s sleep.

Hang out in their whimsical chill spots, like the tented swings hanging from soaring pine trees, or the pergola-enclosed hot tub to soak away the day's hike. Their location just outside of downtown Salida means that everything this beautiful area of Colorado has to offer, from whitewater rafting to epic 14ers, is right at your fingertips.

Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa - Calistoga, CA

Exterior of Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa.
Credit: Hyatt

Located in the heart of California’s Napa Valley, the Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa is the perfect getaway for an elevated road trip. Formerly known as the Sunburst Motel, the Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa has had a new lease on life since 2017 yet it still manages to embrace its classic American road trip roots. The decor reflects this dedication to U.S. travel and some rooms are even “camper themed” with features like wraparound bench seats reminiscent of a classic camper booth.

Guests can look forward to rainfall showers, MoonAcre Spa bath products, and custom bathrobes in every room. Take a dip in one of their three geothermal mineral pools or take one of the complimentary bikes for a spin around town. Napa Valley is well known for its plentiful, world-class wineries but Calistoga reveals a few extra hidden gems like local hot springs and even a castle.

The Drifter - New Orleans, LA

Aerial of downtown New Orleans.
Credit: f11photo/ Shutterstock

If the original, neon sign out front doesn’t beckon you in, maybe the palm-fringed pool will. The Drifter is a bit of an enigma in downtown New Orleans, in the best way possible. Once a forgotten 1950’s motel, it has taken on new life, growing into a 21st-century beauty with a minimalist ambience and modern furnishings. The Drifter further celebrates its quintessential Mid-century architecture with unique light fixtures and vibrant color palettes that harken back to its origins.

There’s no doubt that the pool is The Drifter’s heartbeat and a great place to cool off in the humid New Orleans heat or simply to get in some people watching. Saddle up to the Espresso Bar before heading out for a latte to fuel up for your explorations of the vivacious Big Easy.

Longleaf Hotel - Raleigh, NC

Close up of a bar tender making three cocktails.
Credit: Yemets/ Shutterstock

Originally a Travelodge that was built in the 1960’s, The Longleaf Hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina is imbued with Mid-century Modern details that are features of the motel’s original architecture. The motel's namesake, the beautiful longleaf pine, is the centralized theme with a verdant green color palette, wood accents, and overall mountain lodge vibes.

Amenities include king-sized beds with luxury bedding, shibori-dyed decorative pillows and robes, custom art and wallpaper, bluetooth speakers in every room, Malin+Goetz bath products, and a stocked fridge. If you’ve been inspired by the 60’s atmosphere, head down to the Longleaf Lounge for cocktail hour with a signature drink like the suspira, made with mezcal and hellfire bitters.

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