A motor hotel, or motel for short (also known as motor inn, motor court, motor lodge, tourist lodge, cottage court, auto camps, tourist home, tourist cabins, auto cabins, cabin camps, cabin court, or auto court), is a hotel designed for motorists, and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles. Entering dictionaries after World War II, the word motel, coined in 1925 as a portmanteau of motor and hotel or motorists' hotel, referred initially to a type of hotel consisting of a single building of connected rooms whose doors faced a parking lot and, in some circumstances, a common area; or a series of small cabins with common parking. Motels are often privately owned, though motel chains do exist.
As the provincial highways and the United States highway system began to develop in the 1920s, long-distance road journeys became more common, and the need for inexpensive, easily accessible overnight accommodation sited close to the main routes led to the growth of the motel concept. Motels peaked in popularity in the 1960s with rising car travel, only to decline in response to competition from the newer chain hotels which became commonplace at highway interchanges as traffic was bypassed onto newly constructed freeways.
Motels differ from hotels in their location along highways, as opposed to the urban cores favoured by hotels, and their orientation to the outside (in contrast to hotels, whose doors typically face an interior hallway). Motels almost by definition include a parking lot, while older hotels were not usually built with automobile parking in mind.
Because of their low-rise construction, the number of rooms which would fit on any given amount of land was low compared to the high-rise urban hotels which had grown around railway stations. This was not an issue in an era where the major highways became Main Street in every town along the way and inexpensive land at the edge of town could be developed with motels, car lots, filling stations, lumber yards, amusement parks, roadside diners, drive-in restaurants and theatres and countless other small roadside businesses. The automobile brought mobility, and the motel could appear anywhere on the vast network of two-lane highways.
Motels are typically constructed in an "I"-, "L"-, or "U"-shaped layout that includes guest rooms; an attached manager's office; a small reception; in most motels, a swimming pool; and in some cases, a small diner. A motel was typically single-story with rooms opening directly onto a car park, making it easy to unload suitcases from a vehicle. A second story, if present, would face onto a balcony served by multiple stairwells.
The post-war motels, especially in the early 1950s to late 1960s, sought more visual distinction, often featuring eye-catching colorful neon signs which employed themes from popular culture, ranging from Western imagery of cowboys and Indians to contemporary images of spaceships and atomic era iconography. U.S. Route 66 is the most popular example of the "neon era". Many of these signs remain fully intact to this day.
In some motels, a handful of rooms would be larger and contain kitchenettes or apartment-like amenities; these rooms were marketed at a higher price as "efficiencies" as their occupants could prepare food themselves instead of incurring the cost of eating all meals in restaurants. Rooms with connecting doors (so that two standard rooms could be combined into one larger room) also commonly appeared in both hotels and motels. A few motels (particularly in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where a motel strip extending from Lundy's Lane (20) to the falls has long been marketed to newlyweds) would offer "honeymoon suites" with extra amenities such as whirlpool baths.
The first campgrounds for automobile tourists were constructed in the late 1910s. Before that, tourists who couldn't afford to stay in a hotel either slept in their cars or pitched their tents in fields alongside the road. These were called auto camps. The modern campgrounds of the 1920s and 1930s provided running water, picnic grounds and restroom facilities. They also kept those pesky "tin can tourists" out of the farmer's fields.
Auto camps and courts
Before the 1930s, auto tourists adapted their cars by adding beds, makeshift kitchens and roof decks. In the 1930s, the first travel trailers became available, and this made camping even more popular.
After the introduction of the motel, auto camps continued in popularity through the Depression years and after World War II, their popularity finally starting to diminish with the construction of freeways and changes in consumer demands. Examples include the Rising Sun Auto Camp in Glacier National Park and Blue Bonnet Court in Texas. Such facilities were "Mom-and-Pop" facilities, on the outskirts of a town, that were as quirky as their owners. Small comforts were few and far between at cabin camps, which were basically just auto camps with small cabins instead of tents. Travelers in search of modern amenities could find them at cottage courts and tourist courts. Here, the cabins had electricity, indoor bathrooms, and sometimes even a private garage or carport. They were arranged in attractive clusters or a U-shape. Often, these camps were part of a larger complex containing a filling station and café.
The 1935 City Directory for San Diego, California, lists "motel"-type accommodations under Tourist Camps. In contrast, though they remained small independent operations, motels quickly adopted a more homogenized appearance and were designed from the start to cater purely to motorists.
In town, tourist homes were private residences advertising rooms for auto travellers. Unlike boarding houses, guests at tourist homes were usually just passing through. In the southwestern United States, a handful of tourist homes were opened by African-Americans as early as the Great Depression due to the lack of food or lodging for travellers of color in the Jim Crow conditions of the era.
There were things money couldn't buy on Route 66. Between Chicago and Los Angeles you couldn't rent a room if you were tired after a long drive. You couldn't sit down in a restaurant or diner or buy a meal no matter how much money you had. You couldn't find a place to answer the call of nature even with a pocketful of money...if you were a person of color traveling on Route 66 in the 1940s and '50s.—Irv Logan, Jr.
A Green Book (1936) would list lodgings, restaurants, fuel stations, liquor stores, barber and beauty salons without racial restrictions; the smaller Directory of Negro Hotels and Guest Houses in the United States (1939, US Travel Bureau) specialized in accommodations. Segregation of US tourist accommodation would legally be ended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by a court ruling in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States affirming that Congress' powers over interstate commerce extend to regulation of local incidents (such as racial discrimination in a motel serving interstate travellers) which might substantially and harmfully affect that commerce.
The motel concept originated with the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo, originally called the Milestone Mo-Tel, which was constructed in 1925 by Arthur Heineman (although some earlier motels that dated to 1915 have been discovered). In conceiving of a name for his hotel, Heineman abbreviated motor hotel to mo-tel after he could not fit the words "Milestone Motor Hotel" on his rooftop. Many other businesses followed in its footsteps and started building their own auto camps.
Combining the individual cabins of the tourist court under a single roof yielded the motor court or motor hotel. Some motor courts were beginning to call themselves motels, a term coined in 1926. Many of these early motels are still popular and are in operation, as in the case of the 3V Tourist Court in St. Francisville, Louisiana, built in 1938.
During the Great Depression, landholders facing onto roads in U.S. highway or provincial highway systems constructed tourist cabins in order to convert unprofitable land to income; some opened tourist homes. The (usually single-story) buildings for a roadside motel or cabin court were quick and simple to construct, with many plans and instructions available in how-to and builder's magazines. Expansion of highway networks would continue unabated through the depression as governments attempted to create employment. Those still travelling (including business travellers and travelling salespeople) were under pressure to manage travel costs by driving (instead of taking trains) and staying in the new roadside motels instead of more costly established downtown hotels where bell captains, porters and other personnel would all expect a tip for service.
By 1947, there would be approximately 22,000 motor courts in operation in the US alone; a typical 50-room motel in that era cost $3000 per room in initial construction costs, compared to $12,000 per room for metropolitan city hotel construction. In the 1940s construction had ground to a near-halt as workers, fuel, rubber and transport were pulled away from civilian use for the war effort, but the post-war 1950s would usher in a building boom on a massive scale. By 1950 there would be 50,000 motels serving half of the 22 million US vacationers; by 1951 motels would surpass hotels in consumer demand.
Many motels began advertising on colorful neon signs that they had air cooling (a early term for "air conditioning") during the hot summers or were "heated by steam" during the cold winters. A handful used novelty architecture such as wigwams or teepees or used decommissioned rail cars to create a Red Caboose Motel in which each "Caboose Motel" or "Caboose Inn" cabin is an individual rail car.
The 1950s and 1960s was the pinnacle of the motel industry in the United States and Canada. As older mom-and-pop motor hotels began adding newer amenities such as swimming pools or color TV (a luxury in the 1960s), motels were built in wild and impressive designs. In-room gimmicks such as the coin-operated Magic Fingers vibrating bed were briefly popular; introduced 1958, these were largely removed in the 1970s due to vandalism of the coin boxes. The American Hotel Association (which had briefly offered a Universal Credit Card in 1953 as forerunner to the modern American Express card) became the American Hotel & Motel Association in 1963.
As many motels vied for their place on busy highways, the beach-front motel instantly became a success. In major beachfront cities such as Miami, Florida, rows of colorful motels such as the Castaways, in all shapes and sizes, became commonplace.
Guidebooks and referrals
The original motels were small, locally owned businesses which grew up around the then-expanding networks of two-lane highways which were to serve as Main Street in every town along the way. As these were independents, the quality of accommodation varied widely from one lodge to another; while a minority of these properties were inspected or rated by automobile associations (AAA and CAA, in addition to providing maps to member motorists, have published tour books or directories of restaurants and rooms since 1917), no consistent standard stood behind the "sanitized for your protection" banner. There was also no real access to national advertising for local motels and no nationwide network to facilitate reservation of a room in a distant city.
The main road into major towns would therefore become a sea of orange or red neon proclaiming VACANCY (and later COLOUR TV, air conditioning or a pool) as competing operators vied for precious visibility on crowded highways. Other venues for advertising were local tourist bureaux and the picture postcards provided for free use by clients.
While automobile associations created the best-known guidebooks, a rating in the Directory of Motor Courts and Cottages by the American Automobile Association was just one of the many credentials eagerly sought by the growing independent motels of the era. Regional guides (such as Official Florida Guide by A. Lowell Hunt or Approved Travellers Motor Courts) and the food/lodging guidebooks published by restaurant reviewer Duncan Hines (Adventures in Good Eating, 1936 and Lodging for a Night, 1938) were also valued endorsements.
Often, motel owners would organise "referral chains" in which each member lodge would voluntarily meet a set of standards and each property would promote the others. Each property would proudly display the group's name alongside its own.
United Motor Courts, founded 1933 by a group of motel owners in the southwestern US to co-operate in upgrading properties, printed an annual guidebook until the early 1950s; that name is advertised on various 1940s motel postcards. A splinter of this group, created because of the relative difficulty in removing existing properties from the large and inclusive United Motor Courts network when they failed to upgrade and modernize, would establish Quality Courts United (1939); 10000 copies of the first Quality Courts guidebook were soon published, initially listing forty motels.
Another referral chain, Friendship Inns (1961, Salt Lake City) would enlist many older, marginal properties before being sold and turned into a franchise chain in 1985. The trademark would ultimately be sold as a low-end brand to Choice Hotels, the franchised successor to Quality Courts United and the Quality Inns.
The four-leaf clover logo of a "Superior Courts United" appeared in 1950 with the slogan "Travel Superior Courts United Inc. And Be Sure!". From 1964 onwards, the branding "A Superior Motel" appears on signage and directories. From a peak of over 500 motels (mostly on the Atlantic coast) in the mid-1960s, the referral chain declined to 44 properties in the 1970s, and membership renewals ultimately ended in 1979. The brand was combined into the franchise chain USA Inns in 1985 and soon forgotten. Other successful referral chains of the 1950s and 60s which had disappeared by the 1980s included Emmons Walker, Congress Inns, Imperial 400 Motels, Master Hosts, and Courtesy Courts.
Subsequent attempts to establish referral chains include Budget Host (1976, 57 locations) and Independent Motels of America (1982). Nonetheless, by 1987 the franchise chains controlled 64 percent of the market, and independent referral chains (with the notable exception of The Best Western Motels (1947), which offered the centralized purchasing and reservation systems of a franchise system while remaining member-owned) were being converted to franchises or simply disappearing.
In 1939 Quality Courts, formed by seven motel operators as originally a non-profit referral system, would represent a predecessor to what would become the Quality Inn chain. An initially similar referral model would be used by The Best Western Motels, a referral chain established in 1947 by motel owners in the western US. Both groups would be largely marketed together (as Quality Courts were predominantly eastern) until the 1960s, and both would build national supply chain and reservation systems while aggressively removing properties not meeting minimum standards.
Ultimately, Quality Inn would abandon its former co-operative structure to become a for-profit corporation (1963), use shareholder capital to build entirely company-owned locations and require its members to become franchisees, while Best Western would retain its original member-owned status as a marketing co-operative.
The first motel franchise chains, proprietary brands for multiple properties built with common architecture, were born in the 1930s.
In 1929, Edgar Lee Torrance built the first Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts in East Waco, Texas; by 1936 the then-seven motels in the Alamo chain would be among the first to install telephones in each individual room. By 1955 there were more than twenty Alamo Plazas in operation. These motels were "motor courts" as they were laid out in a "C" shape with a courtyard in the centre. With Simmons furniture and Beautyrest mattresses on every bed, the Alamo Plaza rooms were marketed as "tourist apartments" under a slogan of "Catering to those who care."
In 1935, building contractor Scott King opened King's Motor Court in San Diego. Every room would be fully booked during that year's World's Fair, encouraging him to build two dozen more of these simple motel-style properties in the next five years on behalf of various investors. He renamed the original property as Travelodge in 1939, mobilized to construct barracks and military base facilities during World War II, then returned post-war to incorporate and expand the entire chain under the TraveLodge banner from 1946 onward.
In 1937, Harlan Sanders opened a motel and restaurant as Sanders Court and Café alongside a fuel station in Corbin, Kentucky; a second location was opened in Asheville, North Carolina, but expansion of the motel portion as a chain appears not to have been pursued further. At the original site (bypassed by I-75 in the 1960s) only the restaurant portion still stands, restored as a museum in the late 1980s.
In 1951, residential developer Kemmons Wilson returned to Memphis disillusioned by the roadside motels he encountered on a family road trip to Washington, D.C. In each city, rooms varied from well-kept to filthy, there were few opportunities to stay some place with a swimming pool, the lack of an on-site restaurant meant having to drive a few miles down the road to eat dinner, and (in an era when the room itself was $8 to $10) the motor courts all charged an extra $2 a head for children, substantially increasing the cost of a family vacation. He would build his own motel at 4941 Summer Avenue (US 70) on the main highway from Memphis to Nashville, adopting a name from a 1942 musical film Holiday Inn about a fictional lodge only open on public holidays. Every new Holiday Inn would have TV, air conditioning, a restaurant and a pool; all would meet a long list of standards. Originally a motel chain, Holiday Inn would deploy the first IBM-designed national room reservations system in 1965 and would open its 1000th location by 1968.
In 1954 a 60-room motor hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, opened as the first in the Ramada chain (Spanish for "a shaded resting place"). The Twin Bridges Motor Hotel, established 1957 near Washington, D.C., as a member of Quality Courts, would become the first Marriott property in 1959, and the original property expanded from motel to hotel in 1962.
For individual motel owners, membership in a franchise chain provided access to an automated central reservation system along with a nationally recognised brand which assured consumers that rooms and amenities met a consistent minimum standard. These advantages came at a cost; the costly franchise fees, marketing fees, reservation fees and royalty fees left most or all of the business risk with the franchisee as franchise corporations were unwilling to reduce their fees during times of economic recession. Franchise contracts also varied widely in restrictions placed on the franchisee's ability to sell the business as a going concern or leave the franchise group without penalty.
With the introduction of chains, independent motels started to decline. The emergence of freeways bypassing existing highways (such as the Interstate Highway System in the US) caused older motels further away from the new roads to became abandoned as they lost clientele to motel chains built along the new road's offramps.
In some cases, entire roadside towns would be abandoned; Amboy, California (population 700) had grown as a U.S. Route 66 rest stop and would decline with the highway as the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973 bypassed the village entirely. The ghost town and its 1938 Roy's Motel and Café were allowed to decay for years and used by film makers in a weathered and deteriorated state.
Even the original 1952 Holiday Inn Hotel Courts in Memphis would be closed by 1973 and eventually demolished, as most of Interstate 40 in Tennessee had been completed by the late 1960s (bypassing US 70), and the chain itself had repositioned away from its low-cost motel roots to become a mid-price hotel brand. The Twin Bridges Marriott site was demolished for parkland in 1990.
A significant number of 1950s-era motels would remain in operation, often sold to new owners or renamed, but continue their steady decline as clients were lost to the chains. Often the building's design, as traditionally little more than a long row of individual bedrooms with outside corridors and no kitchen or dining hall, left it ill-suited to any other purpose.
The 1970s and 1980s signalled the age of decline for the motel industry. As motel chains such as Motel 6 and Ramada became popular, some independently owned urban motels on the old roads fell to attracting long-term renters, drug dealers, and prostitution. However, many of the motels in tourist towns and cities worldwide still were in popularity.
The emergence of the interstate highway system and the development of the motel chain led to a blurring of the motel and the hotel, though family-owned motels with as few as five rooms may still be found, especially along older highways. One key development was the proliferation of low-end hotels with deliberately limited amenities which would be direct, head-on competitors to the remaining independent motels.
Limited service motels are typically defined as not offering cooked food or drink; they may offer a very limited selection of continental breakfast foods but have no restaurant, bar or room service.
In 1978, Journey's End Corporation of Belleville, Ontario, was founded as the first of many economy limited-service (ELS) hotel chains. It built new two-story hotel buildings with no on-site amenities, initially priced to compete directly and aggressively against the older existing motels. Rooms would be comparable in quality to those of a good hotel, but there would be no pool, restaurant, health club, meeting facilities or other on-site amenities. There would be no room service. Architectural designs would be generic and vary little from one city to another. While the intended target market was "budget-minded business travellers looking for something between the full-service luxury hotels and the clean-but-plain roadside inns," subsequent market research indicated many clients were individuals travelling from small towns across Canada - a group which had traditionally supported small roadside motels. By the early 1990s, there would be more than 130 of these bare-bones hotels (technically not motels as they were built with inside corridors) built with capital from more than 2,400 limited partners.
A similar pattern was being followed in other countries; Choice Hotels was to segment its offerings in 1982 by creating Comfort Inn as a US no-frills hotel much like the Journey's End properties in Canada. The Journey's End hotels were rebranded under the Comfort Inn banner in a 1997 strategic alliance. US-based international chains embraced the creation of limited-service hotel brands as a form of market segmentation; by using a different trademark and branding, major hotel chains could build new properties with limited amenities in carefully chosen locations near airports and freeways without undermining their existing mid-price brands.
The creation of multiple, similar brands by the same franchisors often allowed a franchise chain to circumvent minimum distance protections between its individual hôteliers. A minimum distance between same-brand properties may leave the owner of a franchised motel without protection from a nominally different but commonly owned brand (such as Thriftlodge vs. Travelodge or Holiday Inn vs. Holiday Inn Express) deployed in close proximity by the same chain. Often, the same chain would place multiple properties under different brands in the same freeway locations, leading to a decline in revenue for individual franchisees.
The creation of multiple limited-service brands, each competing head-on against older motels on roads long since bypassed, were one factor in a boom in new construction which would eventually lead to market saturation.
By the 1990s, most newly constructed Motel 6 and Super 8 properties were being built with inside corridors and were nominally hotels; other former motel brands like Ramada and Holiday Inn had long abandoned both the original motel architecture and the low-end of the market to become mid-price hotel brands.
In some cases, new hotels were built at or alongside the former Holiday Inn motel properties with modern amenities; by 2010 the mid-range hotel with the indoor pool would be the standard required to remain Holiday Inn.
On key corridors between cities in densely populated regions, highways bypassed by freeways were leading to the inevitable decline of suburban and rural motels on the former main roads. In Canada, this trend is notable in major centres such as Toronto (Highway 2 was bypassed by 401 to the north in 1968, see Hotels in Toronto), Ottawa (TC 17: Carling, Montreal Road bypassed by 417 in 1975), Montreal and Quebec City (bypassed by A20 in 1964). In the US, this was happening almost nationwide, the most famous example being the complete removal of U.S. Route 66 from the US highway system after it was bypassed (mostly by Interstate 40) by 1984. US 66 was particularly problematic as the old route number was often moved to the new road as soon as the bypasses were constructed, while Highway Beautification Act restrictions left existing properties with no means to obtain signage on the newly constructed freeway.
In many towns, maintenance and renovation of existing properties would stop as soon as word was out that an existing highway was the target of a proposed bypass; this decline would only accelerate after the new road opened. By 1976 the term "cockroach motel" was well-established; a slogan for Black Flag's trademark "Roach Motel" bug traps would be paraphrased as "they check in, but they don't check out" to refer to these declining properties.
Ultimately, motels were pushed further into decline or out of business entirely. Attempts by owners to compete for the few remaining clients on a bypassed road by lowering prices typically only worsened the decline by leaving no funds to invest in improving or properly maintaining the property; accepting clients who would have been formerly turned away also led to problems in cities. In declining urban areas (like Kingston Road in Scarborough, Ontario and Lakeshore Boulevard West in Etobicoke), the remaining low-end motels from the two-lane highway era are often seen as seedy places for the homeless, prostitution and drugs as vacant rooms in now-bypassed areas are often rented by social-service agencies to house refugees, abuse victims and families awaiting social housing. Conversely, some areas which were merely roadside suburbs in the 1950s are now valuable urban land on which original structures are being removed through gentrification and the land used for other purposes. On Toronto's Lake Shore Drive, many were simply bulldozed and the now-valuable urban land used for condominiums and urban development.
In some cases, historic properties have been allowed to slowly decay. The Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo, which (as the Milestone Motor Hotel) was the first to use the "motel" name, sits incomplete with what is still standing left boarded up and fenced off at the side of U.S. Route 101; a 2002 restoration proposal never came to fruition. One 1941 property from the Waco, Texas-based Alamo Plaza Courts chain, the first US motel chain (founded 1929, expansion stopped with the departure of the chain's founders in the 1950s), still stands on U.S. Route 190 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but has been declining steadily since a change of ownership in the mid-1980s. Its Alamo Plaza Restaurant is gone, its pool long since filled in, its original color scheme painted over, its front desk now behind bulletproof glass and its rooms infested with roaches, vermin and a clientele engaged in enough criminal activity that the property averages more than one call for service to police daily. Other sites from the defunct Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts chain in Chattanooga, Memphis and Dallas have simply been demolished.
In the year 2000, the American Hotel-Motel Association removed 'motel' from its name after considerable market research, and is now the American Hotel and Lodging Association. The association felt that the term 'lodging' more accurately reflects the large variety of different style hotels, including luxury and boutique hotels, suites, inns, budget, and extended stay hotels.
In the late 20th century, a majority of motels in the United States came under the ownership of people of Indian descent, particularly Gujaratis as the original "mum and pop" owners retired from the motel industry and sold their properties. However, some families still kept their motels, and to this day, one can find a motel that is owned by the same family who built and ran it originally (i.e. the Maples Motel in Sandusky, Ohio) with a subsequent generation continuing the family business.
Amenities offered have also changed, with motels that once touted color television as a luxury now emphasising wireless internet, flatscreen television, pay-per-view or in-room movies, microwave ovens and minibar fridges in rooms which may be reserved online using credit cards and secured against intruders with key cards which expire as soon as a client checks out. In many cases, independent motels have needed to add amenities simply to remain competitive with franchise chains which are taking an increasing market share. Some long-time independent motels have had to join existing low-end chains to remain viable; these properties are known as "conversions" and do not use the standardised architecture which once defined many franchise brands.
While many former motel chains have become hotel chains and some have entirely left the low-end of the market, a handful of national franchise brands (Econo Lodge, Thriftlodge, Knights Inn) remain available to owners of existing motels with the original drive-up-to-room motor court architecture.
However, even though most of these establishments that were previously called motels may still look like motels, most are now called hotels, inns or lodges.
Revitalization and preservation
In the 1980s and 1990s, much of the original 1950s roadside infrastructure on now-bypassed US Highways had fallen into decline and was being razed for development. The plight of U.S. Route 66 in particular, whose disappearance from the map in 1985 turned places like Glenrio, Texas and Amboy, California into overnight ghost towns, began to capture public attention with Route 66 associations springing up in every state as concern over preservation of decaying motels and other roadside infrastructure of the neon era came into view.
In 1999, the National Route 66 Preservation Bill allocated $10 million in matching fund grants to individuals, corporations and communities preserving or restoring historic properties along that route. Long-neglected 1930s through 1950s roadside diners, filling stations and other abandoned highway infrastructure became a target for historic preservation. The road popularized through John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Bobby Troup's "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" would be marketed not as transportation infrastructure but as a tourism destination in its own right.
Many of these vintage motels, some dating to the cabin court era of the 1930s, have been renovated, restored and added to the US National Register of Historic Places or the corresponding local and state listings. A handful were repurposed as either low-income housing, boutique hotels, apartments or commercial/office space, but many were simply restored as motels. While modern amenities such as wi-fi Internet and flatscreen television would appear in the rooms, the exterior architecture and neon highway signage would be meticulously restored to original designs.
Nonetheless, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Wildwoods Shore motel district in New Jersey in its 2006 list of America's Most Endangered Historic Places and included the Historic Route 66 Motels from Illinois to California on its 2007 list. Even a listing on a federal or state historic registry gives little or no protection in many cases.
The Oakleigh Motel in Oakleigh, Victoria, Australia, constructed using Googie architecture during the 1956 Summer Olympics as one of the first motels in the state, was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 2009. The building was gutted by developers in 2010 for a townhouse development; only the outer shell remains original. The Aztec Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico (built 1932) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties as the oldest continuously operating US Route 66 motel in New Mexico. It was demolished in 2011. While listing the Coral Court Motel near St. Louis, Missouri, on the National Register of Historic Places failed to prevent a 1995 demolition, one of the cabins survives as part of an exhibit at the Museum of Transportation after being painstakingly dismantled by volunteers for relocation.
To many small towns bypassed by freeway construction, embracing 1950s nostalgia and historic restoration is a means to bring in badly needed tourism to restore a sagging local economy. In 1987, Angel Delgadillo and a group of fifteen businesspeople established the first Route 66 association in Seligman, Arizona, obtaining the first "Historic Route 66" designation for a stretch of Arizona State Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman. By 2012, U.S. Route 66 travellers were spending $38 million/year visiting historic places and museums in communities on the former highway, with $94 million annually invested in heritage preservation; The Motels of Route 66 was announced as an upcoming documentary film.
The early motels were built in the southwestern United States as a replacement for the tourist camps and tourist cabins which had grown around the US highway system.
Like their US counterparts, motels were initially constructed in Canada alongside the growth of the original two-lane provincial highways, of which the first to be paved was the concrete Toronto-Hamilton Highway in 1917.
In Australia and New Zealand, motels have followed largely the same path of development as in Canada and the United States. The first Australian motels include the West End Motel in Ballina, New South Wales (1937) and the Penzance Motel in Eagle Hawk, Tasmania (1939).
Motels in Canada are found throughout the country with chains and locally owned establishments. Like in the US, the number and variety of motels grew dramatically after World War II, peaking in the 1960s and declining by the 1980s. The few remaining independent operators continue to lose ground due to increasing competition from large US-based franchise chains.
As in the US, the initial 1930s roadside accommodations were primitive tourist camps, with over a hundred campgrounds listed in Ontario alone on one 1930 provincial road map. While most of these provided access to the most basic of amenities (like picnic tables, playgrounds, toilet facilities and supplies), fewer than a quarter offered cottages in the pre-Depression era, and the vast majority required travellers bring their own tents. In Canada's climate, these sites were effectively unusable outside the high season.
Even after motels displaced camps and cabins, the bulk of their income would be limited to a short tourist season which begins at Victoria Day continuing to Labour Day or Thanksgiving. Any outdoor swimming pool would be usable for little more than two months of the year.
As much of Canada's population is crowded into a few small southern regions, roads through heavily populated corridors (such as Windsor-Montréal-Halifax) were bypassed by freeway relatively early, sending former independent motels on the former two-lane highways into steep decline. In more sparsely-populated regions (including much of Northern Ontario) thousands of kilometres of mostly two-lane Trans-Canada Highway remain undisturbed as the road makes its lengthy journey westward through tiny, distant and isolated communities.
The original concept of a motel as a motorist's hotel which grew up around the highways of the 1920s is of American origin. The term appears to have initially had the same meaning in other countries, but has since been used in many places to refer either to a budget-priced hotel with limited amenities or a love hotel, depending on the country and language. The division between motel and hotel, like elsewhere, has been blurred, so many of these are low-end hotels.
In France, motel-style chain accommodations of up to three stories (with exterior hallways and stairwells) are marketed as "one-star hotels". The Louvre Hôtels chain operates Première Classe (1 star) as a market segmentation brand in this range, using other marques for higher or mid-range hotels. The use of "motel" to identify any budget-priced roadhouse hotel (Rasthaus, Raststätte) also exists in the German language; some French chains operating in Germany (such as Accor's Hotel Formule 1) offer automated registration and small, spartan rooms at reduced cost.
In the Portuguese language, "motel" (plural: "motéis") commonly refers not to the original drive-up accommodation house for motorists but to an "adult motel" or love hotel with amenities such as jacuzzi baths, in-room pornography, candles and oversize or non-standard-shaped beds in various honeymoon-suite styles. These rooms are available for as little as four hours, and minors are excluded from these establishments. (The Portuguese-language term "rotel" had brief usage in 1970s Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a similar concept, ro- for rooms through which clients rotate in a matter of hours instead of overnight.)
A similar association of "motel" to short-stay hotels with reserved parking and luxury rooms which can be rented by couples for a few hours has begun to appear in Italy, where the market segment has shown significant growth since the 1990s and become highly competitive.
In Central America and South America, a "Motel" (in Mexico, "Motel de paso") is an establishment often associated with extramarital encounters and rented typically for a few hours (15 minutes to 12 hours). In Ecuador, any establishment with the title "Motel" is related to extramarital encounters; in Argentina and Peru these hotels for couples are called "Albergue Transitorio" ("Temporary Shelter") and offered for anything from a few hours to overnight stay with a decor based on amenities such as dim lights, a jacuzzi and a king-size bed. In other Spanish-speaking countries these establishments have other slang names like "mueble", "amueblado" ("furniture", "furnished rental") or "telo".
In the Dominican Republic, "cabins" (named for their cabin-like shape) have all these amenities (such as jacuzzi, oversize bed and HDTV) but generally do not have windows and have private parking for each room individually. Registration is handled not in a conventional manner but, upon entering the room, by delivering a bill with the registration through a small window that does not allow eye contact to ensure greater discretion.
The connotations of "motel" as adult motel or love hotel in both the Spanish and Portuguese languages can be awkward for US-based chains accustomed to using the term in its original meaning, although this issue is diminishing as chains (such as Super 8 Motels) increasingly drop the word "motel" from their corporate identities at home.
Crime and illicit activity
Many auto camps were used as havens and hide-outs for criminals of the 1920s; Bonnie and Clyde had a shootout in the infamous Red Crown Tourist Court near Kansas City on July 20, 1933. A 1940 American Magazine article attributed to J. Edgar Hoover denounced the tourist courts as bases of operation for gangs of desperadoes, claiming that "a large number of roadside cottage groups appear to be not tourist camps but assignation camps" and alleging that "marijuana sellers have been found around such places."
There is today a new home of crime in America, a new home of disease, bribery, corruption, crookedness, rape, white slavery, thievery and murder. There are few major cases in the FBI involving an extended pursuit in which the roadside crime-nest is not responsible for some form of easy lawlessness, for providing convenient hide-outs, for concealing criminals through loose registration regulations... a majority of the 35,000 tourist camps in the U.S. threaten the peace and welfare of the communities upon which these camps have fastened themselves and all of us who form the motoring public. Many of them are not only hide-outs and meeting places, but actual bases of operations from which gangs of desperadoes prey upon the surrounding territory... The files of the FBI are loaded with instances of gangsters who have hidden out in unregulated tourist camps, while officers combed the country for them. There is no regular checking of the registers by detectives — often there are no registers at all, or merely ledgers filled with indiscriminate scrawls and an endless repetition of 'John Smith and wife'... Hence the terse order that goes out daily to law-enforcement agencies when criminals are on the loose: 'KEEP CLOSE WATCH ON TOURIST CAMPS!'
Ultimately, efforts to curb the unconstrained growth of tourist courts were futile as motor courts (as motels were called in the 1930s and 1940s) grew in number and popularity.
Motels have served as a haven for fugitives in the past as the anonymity and a simple registration process helped fugitives to remain ahead of the law. Several changes have reduced the capacity of motels to serve this purpose. In many jurisdictions, regulations now require motel operators to obtain ID from clients and meet specific record-keeping requirements. Credit card transactions, which in the past were more easily approved and took days to report, are now approved or declined on the spot and are instantly recorded in a database, thereby allowing law enforcement access to this information.
Motels which allow a room to be rented inexpensively for less than one full night's stay or which allow a couple not wishing to be seen together publicly to enter a room without passing through the office or lobby area have been nicknamed "no-tell motels" due to their long association with adultery. Even where rooms were rented overnight to middle-class travellers (and not locals or extended-stay clients) there have been ongoing problems with theft of motel property by travellers; everything from waterbeds to television sets to bedspreads and pillows have routinely gone missing in what one 1970s Associated Press report labelled "highway robbery".
Motels/hotels with low rates sometimes serve as housing for people who are not able to afford an apartment or have recently lost their home and need somewhere to stay until further arrangements are made. Motels catering to long-term stays occasionally have kitchenettes or efficiencies, or a motel room with a kitchen. While conventional apartments are more cost-effective with better amenities, tenants unable to pay first and last month's rent in advance or undesirable to residential landlords due to unemployment, criminal records or credit problems do seek low-end residential motels due to perceived lack of viable short-term options.
Some motels in low-income areas have been plagued with drug activity, street prostitution or other crime. In some cases, correctional officials have temporarily placed newly paroled convicts into motels if upon release they do not yet have anywhere to stay. These motels would have daily to monthly rates.
According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing,
In the 1930s and 1940s, individually owned and operated motels offered travellers an eclectic, economical array of relatively safe lodging options. In the 1950s, corporations such as Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson's sought to capitalize on the growing national travel market by offering consumers brand-name, standardized lodging. The interstate highways built in the 1950s and 1960s favoured the chains by essentially re-routing motorists away from the older, independent establishments, many of which were located along ageing roads that ran parallel to—but were difficult to access from—the new interstates. In some cases, major motel chains built their properties right at the interstate exits; motorists seeking independent motels had to bypass the chains and venture farther from the interstate to find them. The smaller, non-chain motels had difficulty competing with the large national chains under these circumstances. To survive economically, they began catering to the lower end of the market; some turned into adult motels, while others served as housing for low-income people. Unable to afford upkeep, many of the formerly quaint motels deteriorated and became havens for crime and disorder.
The annual number of calls for service to police departments per room ("CFS/room") as a metric has been used to identify motels with poor surveillance of visitors, inadequate staff or management unwilling to pro-actively exclude known or likely problem tenants from their clientele. Motels implementing lax security in bad neighbourhoods may attract problems such as disturbances (including guests who will not leave or pay), robbery, auto theft and theft from rooms or vehicles, vandalism, public intoxication and alcoholism, drug dealing or clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, fighting, street gang activity, pimping and street prostitution or sexual assaults.
Originally built to accommodate the adventurous traveller of the 1930s and 1940s, motels were marketed as driver-friendly—motorists could drive right up to their rooms. Ironically, what was originally a selling point is now one of the most detrimental aspects of motels, from a crime prevention standpoint. Direct access to rooms allows problem guests and visitors to come and go without being seen by motel personnel. Regardless of size, motels with unimpeded pedestrian and vehicle access to rooms can be difficult to manage, and may have a relatively high number of service calls if they serve a risky clientele.
In severe cases, ongoing unlawful conduct by a motel's clientele impacts the neighbourhood as a whole; some municipalities have adopted a nuisance abatement strategy of attempting to shut down problematic motels under pretexts such as public health and fire safety violations or using taxation laws. City bylaws such as Seattle's "Chronic Nuisance Properties" ordinance have also been used to penalize owners or shut down a business entirely.
Film, TV and stage depictions
The Bates Motel is an important part of Psycho, a 1959 novel by Robert Bloch, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film, Psycho. Film sequels, Psycho II and Psycho III, also feature the motel, as does the 1987 television movie Bates Motel. The motel makes appearances in Psycho IV: The Beginning, but is not featured as much as in previous films. The Bates Motel returned to prominence in the 1998 remake of the original film. In the 2010 Halloween TV special Scared Shrekless, Puss in Boots tells a cautionary tale about the Boots Motel.
The scenario of an isolated motel being operated by a serial killer, whose guests subsequently become victims, has been exploited in a number of other horror films, notably Motel Hell (1980) and Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986). More recently, the genre has been revived with such films as Mayhem Motel (2001), Murder Inn (2005), Vacancy (2007), and its direct-to-video prequel, Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2009).
Several of these horror films also incorporate the sub-theme of voyeurism, whereby the motel owner spies on (or even films) the sexual exploits of the guests. This plays on the long-established connotations of motels and illicit sexual activity, which has itself formed the basis for numerous other films, variously representing the thriller, comedy, teen film and sexploitation genres. Stephen C. Apostolof's Motel Confidential (1967) and the porn film Motel for Lovers (1970) were two notable early examples. More recent manifestations include Paradise Motel (1985), Talking Walls (1987), Desire and Hell at Sunset Motel (1991) and the Korean films Motel Cactus (1997) and The Motel (2005).
In countless other movies and TV series, the motel – invariably depicted as an isolated, rundown and seedy establishment – has served as the setting for sordid events often involving equally sordid characters. Examples include Pink Motel (1982), Motel Blue 19 (1993), Backroad Motel (2001), Stateline Motel (2003), Niagara Motel (2006) and Motel 5150 (2008).
In TV's The Simpsons, the Sleep Eazy Motel signage displays its name with missing neon lighting segments, "Sleep-Eazy Motel", a sleazy motel advertising hourly rates and adult movies. The cockroach motel and no-tell motel stereotypes continue with various motels in the series, including the Happy Earwig Motel and Worst Western.
In the film Sparkle Lite Motel (2006) and the TV miniseries The Lost Room (2006), the motel made forays into the realms of science fiction. In the Pixar animation Cars (2006), a clientele of solely anthropomorphic vehicles requires all hotels be motels where clients drive directly to their rooms; clever allusions to real Route 66 motels on the US National Register of Historic Places abound. The Cozy Cone Motel design is the Wigwam Motel on U.S. Route 66 in Arizona with the neon "100% Refrigerated Air" slogan of Tucumcari, New Mexico's Blue Swallow Motel; the Wheel Well Motel's name alludes to the restored stone-cabin Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri. A long-defunct "Glenn Rio Motel" recalls Route 66 ghost town Glenrio, New Mexico and Texas, now a national historic district on the state line. Glenrio once boasted the "First Motel in Texas" (as seen when arriving from New Mexico) or "Last Motel in Texas" (the same motel, its signage viewed from the opposite side).
In literature, Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) depicts a French-Canadian Vivienne Michel as a clerk minding the doomed Dreamy Pines Motor Court in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. Unlike most of Fleming's work, this storyline does not appear in any of the James Bond films.
In computer gaming, Murder Motel was an online text game by Sean D. Wagle, hosted on various dial-up bulletin board systems (1980s, originally Color64, ported to various other platforms). The object was for each player to attempt to brutally kill all fellow guests in each room of a motel using a variety of weapons.
In the theatre, the seedy motel room has been the setting for two-hander plays such as Same Time, Next Year (1975) and Bug (2006). Both were later adapted as films. Broadway musicals have also paid homage to the lowbrow reputation of motel culture, demonstrated by songs such as 'The No-Tel Motel' from Prettybelle and 'At the Bed-D-by Motel' from Lolita, My Love.
- Jackson, Kristin (April 25, 1993). "The World's First Motel Rests Upon Its Memories". Seattle Times. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
- "Motel". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
- Los Angeles Times, "Hanlon before the Council is favoring a site just outside the city limits for an auto tourist camp.," February 8, 1923
- Bryson, Bill (1996). Made in America. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0380713813.
- Becky Snider, Debbie Sheals (January 14, 2003). "Route 66 in Missouri: Survey and National Register project S7215MSFACG SURVEY REPORT". National Park Service.
- Irv Logan, Jr., "...Money Couldn't Buy," in C.H. (Skip) Curtis (Nov 28, 2001). The Birthplace of Route 66: Springfield, MO. Curtis Enterprises. p. 31. ISBN 9780963386359.
- William and Nancy Young (March 30, 2007). The Great Depression in America: a cultural encyclopedia. Greenwood. pp. 315–318. ISBN 978-0313335204.
- Text of Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964) is available from: Justia · Findlaw
- "3V Tourist Court".
- "Coin-ops find motor courts increasingly fertile field". Billboard (Magazine). March 31, 1947. p. 136.
- John Margolies (November 1995). Home Away From Home: Motels in America. Bulfinch Press, Little Brown and Co. ISBN 0821221620.
- Doug Kirby; Larry Bleiberg (June 28, 2012). "10 great places to stay at a vintage motel". USA Today.
- "AH&LA history of lodging". American Hotel Association.
- "Digital Archives". Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library. finds 22 entries for "motels" on US 40, mostly archived picture postcards bearing advertisements like "40 Winks Motel -- within city limits of Columbus, Ohio. 100% fire proof construction. Restaurant and service station open 24 hours daily. Every room has the following: air conditioning - telephone - radio - Beauty Rest box springs and mattresses - private baths. Phone DOuglas 3615." (The '40 Winks Restaurant' and adjacent filling station are now long gone; the remainder of this property was shut down for one year in 2005 per "Some East Side Residents Say Neglected Motel Hinders Area Progress". WOSU Public Media. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-08-15. due to ongoing code violations.)
- Duncan Hines (1940 (3rd edition)). "Lodging for a night". Adventures in Good Eating Inc, Bowling Green, Ky, Telephone 1219. (archive.org)
- John A. Jakle, Keith A. Sculle, Jefferson S. Rogers (2002). The Motel in America. JHU Press. p. 156. ISBN 0801869188.
- "Torrance, Edgar Lee (1893-1971)". The Handbook of Texas Online.
- "Alamo Plaza". highwayhost.org.
- "KFC". roadsidearchitecture.com.
- "Harland Sanders Museum and Café". Corbin KY tourism.
- Paul Lukas, Maggie Overfelt (April 1, 2003). "Holiday Inns: Annoyed by the inflexible pricing at America's motels, Kemmons Wilson lodged his business at the intersection where the baby boom met the open road". Fortune Small Business.
- John Simpson (11 Sep 2002). "Happy birthday Holiday Inn". The Telegraph (UK).
- Pawan Dhingra (2012-04-25). Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream. p. 92. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Harriet O'Brien (13 February 2010). "Room at the Holiday Inn: How an American icon was reinvented for the 21st century". The Independent (UK).
- Pawan Dhingra. "Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream". p. 15. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Shawn G. Kennedy (January 11, 1989). "Real Estate; A No-Frills Hotel Rises in Manhattan". New York Times.
- Dave LeBlanc (Sep 10, 2009). "It's check-out time for Scarborough's storied motel strip". Globe and Mail.
- "Motel Inn restoration proposal (2002, never implemented)". King Ventures (Apple Farm Inn). 2002.
- Eric Zorn (August 15, 2006). "World's first motel a sight worth saving". Chicago Tribune.
- Chuck Hustmyre (October 25, 2007). "After dark, it gets ugly". 225 Baton Rouge.
- Harmon Jolley (August 17, 2010). "Memories: Remembering the Alamo Plaza Hotel and Courts". The Chattanoogan.
- Vance Lauderdale (Dec 1, 2008). "Remembering the Alamo — Plaza, That Is". Memphis Magazine.
- Tom Benning (December 14, 2010). "Alamo Plaza, an Oak Cliff landmark, falls to wrecking ball today". The Dallas Morning News.
- Varadarajan, Tunku (July 4, 1999). "A Patel Motel Cartel?". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Dublish, Chhavi (October 10, 2003). "America's Patel Motels". BBC News. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- Pawan Dhingra (2012). Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream. ISBN 978-0804778831.
- Traditionally, motels used a "metal key on a preprinted plastic tag". with the motel's address, room number and "return postage guaranteed — drop in any mailbox". Anyone finding a lost or stolen key had full access to the room, a security issue.
- "About us". National Historic Route 66 Federation. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Route 66". US National Park Service.
- Ron Warnick. "Route 66 News".
- "National Trust Names Historic Route 66 Motels One of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places: Treasured "Mother Road" Motels Meet the Wrecking Ball or are Forgotten and Abandoned". National Trust for Historic Preservation. June 14, 2007.
- "Oakleigh Motel, final report". Heritage Council, Victoria, Australia.
- Adam Dimech (November 19, 2011). "Oakleigh Motel". Melbourne Buildings (blog).
- "Aztec Auto Court--Route 66: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary". National Park Service. indicates that, in 2003, the Aztec Motel received a cost-share grant from the NPS Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to restore neon signage. The motel was demolished eight years later; only the sign remains.
- Linthicum, Leslie (June 16, 2011). "History Takes a Lick on Route 66". Albuquerque Journal (NM). p. A1.
- Tomlin, Alex (June 10, 2011). "Historic Route 66 motel demolished". KRQE News (NM). Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Patti DeLano (2008-10-14). Missouri Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places. p. 10. ISBN 9780762748747. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- Dale Buss (March 28, 2012). "Americans Are Still Getting Their Kicks Along Route 66". Forbes.
- Simon Cantlon. "The Motels of Route 66 (documentary)". Paper Moon Films.
- Simon Reeves. "Australia's first motels". Mo (Vol 10 No 2).
- "Official Government Road Map of Ontario". Ontario Department of Public Highways, Queen's Park, Toronto. 1930.
- "Motéis de Portugal" ("Motels of Portugal", www.moteisdeportugal.com) is a listing of what elsewhere would be classed as adult motels; see also "Motel" (in Portuguese) in that language's Wikipedia.
- Jenner Meletti (August 21, 2009). "Privacy e comfort, così torna l'albergo a ore (Privacy and comfort, back to the hotel by the hour)". la Repubblica, Rome.
- "Motel" (in Spanish) in the Spanish-language Wikipedia.
- "Moteles RD"., a directory of motels from the Dominican Republic; these appear to be mostly love hotels.
- "Old-style motels fading out". USA Today. Associated Press. December 3, 2003.
- Courtney Ryley Cooper (February 1940). "Camps of Crime". American Magazine. p. 14.
- Dave Devine (October 9, 1997). "Motel Memories: Once Upon A Time, Hanging Out At Tucson's No-Tel Motel Must've Been Quite A Trip". Tucson Weekly.
- Merv Block, The Associated Press (August 4, 1972). "Boom in motels brings thievery". Palm Beach Post. p. B4.
- "American families shelter in motels as homelessness worsens". British Broadcasting Corporation. December 20, 2011.
- Levi Pulkkinen (June 8, 2008). "Change may be coming to Aurora Avenue North: Future looks brighter for downtrodden strip". Seattle P-I.
- Casey McNerthney (August 24, 2009). "Police: Months of problems, violence at Aurora motels". Seattle P-I.
- Karin Schmerler (2005). "Disorder at Budget Motels". Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.
- Vernal Coleman (September 9, 2009). "Aurora Avenue: Out with the Inn Crowd?". Seattle Weekly.
- Michael Barrett (October 17, 2008). "[[Gastonia, North Carolina|Gastonia]] motel sues city, county, over inspection that led to shutdown". Gaston (NC USA) Gazette. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
- "AN ORDINANCE relating to abatement of and penalties, including license suspension or revocation, for public nuisances". City of Seattle. December 2009.
- Casey McNerthney (Feb 24, 2012). "Problem Aurora motel to be demolished". Seattle P-I.
- "Wigwam Motel #7: About". (one of three still extant, see also Wigwam Motel #2 and Wigwam Motel #6).
- "Blue Swallow Motel: History".
- Josh Burton (2007-04-01). "Glenrio resurrected". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Murder Motel (BBS door game), R2games.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Motels|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: travel accommodation|
- Motel Americana – a page devoted to history, narratives, and design of postwar motels
- Motel Signs – A collection of motel signs from around the US
- Motel Directory – A directory of motels from around the US