From Creepy Clowns to Twin Peaks: A Quick Guide to Unique Themed Motels in the USA
Have you ever dreamed of sleeping inside a pie? Have you been desperately seeking an experience that could help you relate to our Neanderthal roots? Well, fortunately for you options are abound in my selection of America’s best themed motels.
Sure, motels are great for their privacy, convenience, and charm. But I think we can all agree that what is most enticing about roadside lodging is the possibility of escape. And what better way to escape than through fantasy-themed lodging? While some themed suites merely involve some plastic chairs that are spray painted to look like a bush, some motels go all-out.
America’s Best Themed Motels
Maybe you have a pie fetish? No problem! The Roxbury Motel in New York’s beautiful Catskill Mountains has got you covered. As previously stated, you can rent a room at the Roxbury that simulates sleeping inside of a giant coconut cream pie. Or, at least you can feel like you’re in some twisted, upside-down world where whipped cream makes up the ceilings and icing-shaped pillows adorn your bed. Your pie also comes with a 2-person, 85 gallon hot tub complete with two shower heads. So, you know, it’s a romantic getaway too. All this for the incredible deal of $180-$275 US (depending on the season).
Themed Motel Rooms on a Budget
Not in your pie budget? There are plenty of affordable themed motel options and Nevada is full of them!
The Clown Motel is located in the town of Tonopah, about 200 miles Northwest of Las Vegas. Their rooms don’t linger on the clown theme much more than a painting. But that’s probably for the best as the office is host to hundreds of creepy clown-themed knick-knacks and dolls which drives the theme home pretty quickly. The motel is also located next to a creepy burial ground. All this offered at a discount rate of 40 bucks a night. What a steal.
Only an hour and a half drive from the Clown Motel, Nearby Area 51 along the Extraterrestrial Highway, is the infamous motel Little A’Le’Inn. Again, while the rooms don’t boast any superior themed decor, the spot is a themed institution in itself, serving as the nexus for UFO tourism. The motel offers plenty of kitsch alien-themed souvenirs and rooms at 50 bucks a night.
Retro Themed Motel Rooms at the Madonna Inn California
The Madonna Inn is perhaps the most beloved kitsch-themed motel in the country. A sprawling landmark, the Madonna is truly a unique destination. With 110 themed rooms, there’s really no way you can go wrong. This motel gets bonus points because the entire place, from steakhouse to spa, is a fantasy – dripping in pink velvet, busy floral carpets, and plush vintage furniture.
While there are a lot of ‘caveman’-themed motels out there .. in my opinion, the Madonna’s caveman suite is the best. Is it historically accurate? Who knows. But there is literally a rock pond and a waterfall in your room so the amenities beat accuracy here.
The Madonna is also host to the weirdest theme I’ve stumbled upon yet – the Tall & Short room. A room literally designed for couples where one person is tall and the other short. Was this an issue for people in the past? Originally this room had furniture designed to be longer on one side, accommodating the taller person. Why? Was it uncomfortable for the short person to sleep in such a long bed?? We’ll never know because the room is renovated to make more sense for the modern world and only retains its original name for kitsch points. I had to include it because, really, what the hell? Kind of a freakish concept.
Post-war motels in the 1950’s to late 1960’s sought more visual distinction, utilizing neon signs, superior amenities or themed cabins to peak their motor-bound guests interest. The Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree and its chalet and motel counterpart located in Idyllwild (another Pacific Northwest favorite) use similarly creative tactics to lure guests with their eclectic themed trailers or motel rooms.
With retro interiors, the Idyllwild themes pay homage to many counterculture gods like the Cramps, nerds, and two of my personal favorites – Twin Peaks and 420. The latter motel suite hosts a vending machine in the room, a superior record collection, and tons of blacklight posters by psychedelic artist and musician King Tuff.
According to Andrew Wood in his article The Disappearing Roadside Motel, “16,000 motels were operating in 2012, a sharp drop from a peak of 61,000 in 1964.” Meaning, these roadside gems are rapidly disappearing from our highways. The ultimate survival guide to motels these days seems to be themed lodging. This is just a small selection, but the world of themed motel rooms is yours to discover. If you have been to, or know of, any other awesome themed motels please let me know in the comments below!