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The Return of the Roadside Motor Lodge

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Photographed by Arthur Elgort, Vogue, April 1995


Kristine Hansen reports: Roadside motels—once the darlings of American travel—had all but faded from the spotlight. Driving by one of these past-its-prime spots might induce a bit of nostalgia (the neon “vacancy” signs, retro architecture) but might also warrant a shudder at the thought of what sort of grossly outdated accommodations await inside. But fortunately, a new generation of hoteliers (or moteliers, perhaps) are beginning to revive these motor lodges. Largely built during the 1950s and 1960s, a half-century later, these roadside icons have earned their facelift and new owners are sprucing up the joints with a nod to indie craftspeople and artisans played out in custom furnishings, art on the walls, and cafés or bars pouring local java and wine. From Maine to Malibu, here are eight motor lodges poised to attract chic travelers on summer road trips.

Anvil Hotel, Jackson, Wyoming
An internship in Jackson convinced Erik Warner to, more than a decade later, buy the Anvil motel and transform it into the 49-room Anvil Hotel. Opened earlier this year, blues and greens drive the non-lodge-y decor, beginning with pretty blue Adirondack chairs and rental bicycles parked out front. New York–based Studio Tack partnered with century-old brass-bed-maker Charles P. Rogers on the beds, just one example of diligent sourcing.

Siesta Key Palms Hotel, Sarasota, Florida
Once a blah motel near this beach town’s thriving downtown, now the 21-room Siesta Key Palms Hotel is awash in acid-bright hues, from the icy blue hammocks to the rooms’ canary yellow walls. Tropical gardens, two pools, and chaise lounges tucked into a tiki hut make the place feel more like a resort than a lodge (and that’s a good thing).

Austin Motel, Austin, Texas
Cool hotelier Liz Lambert of Bunkhouse Group revealed the 41-room Austin Motel’s revamp in March (the motel’s been checking in guests since 1938). The mid-century modern vibe remains intact but with modern luxuries (like burgers served out of a trailer). Artists designed the pool bar and the rooms’ wood furnishings to make it look like the 1950s all over again.

Amigo Motor Lodge, Salida, Colorado
What happens when a creative couple with design dreams moves from Dallas to rural Colorado? Answer: the birth of a hip hotel. This summer, Amigo Motor Lodge celebrates its first anniversary since the reboot (it dates back to the ’50s), merging Southwestern style with minimalist-modern (like vibrant textile pillows from Oaxaca, Mexico in the black and white rooms). If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, whitewater rafting is a short drive from this 16-room hotel … (read more)
via Vogue

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