These long-neglected treasures of 1960s America are experiencing a renaissance thanks to hotel developers with an eye for the “roadside luxury motel.”
About a decade ago, hotel developers with an eye to renovation turned their attention to run-down motor inns. A popular American attraction that hit its peak in the 1960s, these once-prized lodges are experiencing a renaissance. Vogue attributes the revival to “a new generation of hoteliers (or moteliers, perhaps),” who see potential in these properties. But how do we make the motor inn “cool” again? How do we transform an old trucker hangout into a roadside luxury motel?
The Austin Motel in Texas reopened in 2017 after a successful renovation, including exterior changes—adding more social spaces and a poolside bar—and collaboration with the design firm Voutsa to create new wallpaper indoors. Local fabricators supplied new furniture, and the lobby was transformed into a colorful gift shop.
Drifter Hotel owner Jayson Seidman wanted to turn the mid-century property into a thriving destination. To do so, he transformed the parking lot into a tropical garden and “added a lounge and coffee bar.” In the rooms, Jayson and his partners kept it simple: nostalgic furniture, monochromatic walls and luxurious linens.
The Secret to Transformation
The key to turning your crumbling motor lodge into a roadside luxury motel is experience. As we discussed last month, luxury hotel-goers are much more invested in community, craftsmanship and storytelling than they are in thread counts and room service.
- Redefine the exterior. Rather than rebuilding, redefine with accents, design ingenuity, and a new coat of paint.
- Redefine the experience. Guests love in-house gastropubs, poolside bars, outdoor mingling areas, nostalgic furniture, and clever design details. These additions create the vibe that guests dream about.
- Redefine comfort. Chic is great, but guests ultimately want comfort. So ditch the 1960s linens and upgrade to some legendary seersucker bathrobes, colorful cabana-style towels, and other memorable amenities.