Bates Motel and Beyond: Rating the Best and Worst Fictional Motels from the Small Screen

Categories Culture

If this blog has proved anything, it’s that old school motels can be alternately cozy or seedy, depending on how you look at it. The world of television certainly caters to both sides of this spectrum, as evidenced in the wide array of fictional motels that have become pivotal settings for a number of iconic television programs, such as Bates Motel. We’ve decided to rank three of the most memorable fictional motels from television’s recent past.

Checking out some of the motels that are central to shows like Bates Motel


The Bates Motel from Bates Motel

Our rating: 10/10


As far as fictional motels go, Bates Motel is as realistic as it gets. So realistic, in fact, that it has led many people to wonder where it is filmed, and whether it is actually a real motel. Well, it turns out that the famously creepy motel is a set that was built in Aldergrove, British Columbia, in the likeness of the original Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which still stands to this day in Los Angeles’ Universal Studios. Yet the 21st century version of the Bates motel was sadly destroyed after filming for the final season wrapped up, which is regrettable seeing as though the motel actually had a number of fully functional rooms, almost as though it were a real motel. After tuning in to this tour of the set that Nestor Carbonell gave on Periscope, fans learnt that many of the sets for the show were built under strict time constraints, yet unfortunately this hard work has somewhat gone to waste now that the set is no more. Sigh…


Many people wonder if the Bates Motel is a real simply because of its realistic set design.


The Mermaid Inn from The O.C.

Our rating: 6/10


Okay, pledging allegiance to the O.C. fandom in this day and age is pretty embarrassing, but you can’t deny that the show did bring the drama back in its heyday. Surprisingly, a large portion of this drama somehow involved a vaguely seedy seaside motel known at the Mermaid Inn. In stereotypical motel fashion, the Mermaid Inn was the site of top secret trysts and deceitful extortion. You know, typical Orange County stuff. But it turns out the Mermaid Inn is as fictional as the plotlines that were set in it. The motel is actually the Beach Plaza Hotel in Long Beach, California, which is identical to the O.C. hotpot, save for the iconic mermaid sign. Did the creators of the O.C. modify the name and appearance of the motel in order to protect the integrity of the shady characters that venture in and out of it? It seems we’ll never know, seeing as the Beach Plaza is relatively untraceable online. But do feel free to do your own research on this topic, and while you’re at it, you can venture through this clickable map of all the O.C. locations, ‘cause you know, why not.


The Mermaid Inn was a popular recurrent location on the O.C.


The Crossroads Motel from Breaking Bad

Our rating: 8/10


Much like the Mermaid Inn, Breaking Bad’s Crossroads hotel is a recurrent site for illicit behavior. Yet in classic Breaking Bad fashion, this seediness is taken to new, drug-world-specific heights. Surprisingly it turns out the motel is not fictional at all. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico,  the motel’s decrepit depiction throughout the series must not have done wonders for business, yet you can still book a room at the Crossroads motel (for as low as 30 dollars per night!). That being said, based on these unfavourable Google reviews, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Is the Crossroads Motel in New Mexico as seedy as it seems to be? Probably!


Whether they occupy a central role, like in Bates motel, or are merely a minor recurring setting, I am always intrigued by the different ways motels have been depicted throughout television history. Who knows what amazing new shows will feature motels in the future? I certainly canfnot wait to find out.



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