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User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: roadman65 on August 28, 2016, 01:32:10 PM

Title: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: roadman65 on August 28, 2016, 01:32:10 PM
I was wondering if any of you have standards when checking into a motel.  I know sometimes when traveling cheap you have to make exceptions, but how far are you willing to go to save money?  Plus how superficial are you when choosing a hotel room?


To me I love Motel 6, although recently the new look removed the carpeting for a wall paper like floor.  However, I would let that throwback not make me get a good night sleep for a decent price being that is all I use the room for when traveling other than bathing in brushing my teeth.  However, a couple of times I did stay at some family owned mom and pops that were not the best looking places on the outside, but inside the rooms were clean and provided a comfortable stay.

Now roach motels I do draw the line on like some of the dives along Broadway in Wichita, or in NJ along US 1 & 9 in Woodbridge TownshipJ I would be hesitant to stay at as well as those in Orlando on OBT between Florida's Turnpike and Lee Road. 

Bottom line I am open, but I have limits.  It don't have to be a normal look outside and not all brand new inside for me to stay at, but if I see some weird things like "Midday Rates" or shady people hanging outside the joint, I may decline.  Also a small place flat like the Desert Inn in Yeehaw Junction, FL (Check GSV) with a bar attached and nothing around for miles, would make me drive another 50 or more miles to flop.

What are your limits?
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: noelbotevera on August 28, 2016, 03:54:23 PM
I stayed at a Motel 6 a month ago just outside Philadelphia, in "King of Prussia"*. There were some people smoking but nothing shady.

Usually I can stay at a place under $125 just as long as it's clean and there's no bed bugs. I'm thinking of trying white noise to help me sleep.

*King of Prussia really isn't a town, it's more a name for a commercial strip.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: hbelkins on August 28, 2016, 04:35:57 PM
I read Trip Advisor reviews. I also look at photos of potential overnight accommodations. I don't expect five-star reviews of places like Econo Lodge, but I expect basic cleanliness. I also tend to take into account the neighborhood.

I'm partial to old motor court-style motels where you park outside your door. It makes it easier to take your stuff to your room, as I tend to carry a lot of electronics and want to bring them all in for the night.

I don't like paying more than $75 a night for a room, which is why I never stay at a Hampton or any place like that anymore unless I absolutely have to.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: briantroutman on August 28, 2016, 05:38:17 PM
I used to be a frequent Motel 6 guest up until about five years ago. When I first stayed in one around 2000, the experience fulfilled all of the great expectations I had built up over a childhood of admiring Tom Bodett’s witty radio commercials. The motel was simple but clean and purposeful and the staff friendly and efficient.

That enthusiasm slowly diminished over the course of the next decade. Despite my appreciation for the chain’s “live below your means” sensibility, I found myself making more and more excuses for things like soiled sticky carpets, rooms that smelled like armpits, and late night “parties” next door that spilled out into the parking lot.

Late one night after a long day of driving, I checked into a Motel 6 west of Cleveland on the Ohio Turnpike. The room I was given smelled strangely of body odor, had a door that didn’t close properly, filthy carpeting, a blood-stained pillow on the bed, a buildup of crud on the bathroom sink, and dirty towels left in the shower. Though it was after 1 a.m. and I had nowhere else to go, I went straight back to the front desk, returned the keys, and kept driving. That was my “never again” moment.

To me I love Motel 6, although recently the new look removed the carpeting for a wall paper like floor.

That was an improvement, actually (see my above comment about filthy carpets). The “wood effect” flooring was rolled out as part of the chain’s new “Phoenix” prototype for room design. The modern décor package made headlines in industry publications when photos of it were first released around 2008. The trouble is that the deployment of this new design has been haphazard at best—and I’m inclined to blame that on the fact that now, many (if not most) Motel 6 locations are franchised. 20 years ago, every single one was company-owned. Back then, nearly all Motel 6 locations were built specifically for that purpose. Now, a growing number of repurposed fleabag motels and defrocked Holiday Inns are flying the Motel 6 banner.

And that gets at what I perceive to be the problem with the economy lodging segment in general. With the exception of Microtel, almost no one builds a product specifically for this segment anymore. Economy lodging brands have become a dumping ground for aging locations that can no longer meet the standards of mid-level brands. A dishearteningly large list of names (Knights Inn, Red Roof Inn, Sleep Inn, Budgetel, Super 8, Motel 6, etc.) that once offered a well-defined budget lodging product and had terrific customer loyalty are now little more than stall tactics sleazebag owners use to wring a few extra nickels out of a dying property before the wrecking ball finally hits.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: SP Cook on August 28, 2016, 06:15:33 PM
I agree that no one is building new for the economy segment any more. 

Personally, I avoid non-chains.  I am sure there are plenty of great independent places, but unless you do a lot of research beforehand, you just never know what you are going to get and how much they are going to charge.  Other than that, I really don't have a lot of standards.  I try to avoid places with the doors that open to the outside, I would rather have interior hallways.  I avoid places that have a bar or restaurant other than in a separate area of the lobby away from the rooms, or at least ask to be placed away from it.  I do not like hearing the thump thump thump of some band until 4 AM. 

I don't care about a pool.  I will run the treadmill if they have one, but its not a deal breaker.  If I can find out about the TV situation ahead of time (hard to do, but the Hilton family has this info) then a nice flat screen with a good channel allotment is appreciated, but now you can get it all on the tablets anyway these days.  Free Wi-Fi is becoming a standard everywhere.  When I am by myself the free breakfast is no big deal.  Nothing is really free and the value for one person is less than if you have a family.  McDonald's is better.  And, while I do not care for music bars, a nice drinking bar where you can have one or two without having to drive back to the place is OK.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: vdeane on August 28, 2016, 07:10:26 PM
While I certainly look at the room pictures before booking and consider them a factor, I place far more emphasis on the reviews a place has gotten.

I actually have stayed at a Motel 6 and a Red Roof Inn that had been recently renovated, but it does seems like economy places are just junk.  Sometimes it can be quite hard to find a place that is not only affordable, but has good reviews and is also free of bedbugs (I also look for free cancellation, just in case, but it's not necessary in the US; I will, however, NOT compromise on that with Canada).  I remember trying to find places for the Toronto meet (before ultimately not attending that meet due to inability to find a hotel), and I got the impression that all the "economy" places there were old luxury hotels with persistent bedbug infestations and/or other issues that made them impossible to sell for the rates the rooms were obviously designed for.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on August 28, 2016, 07:31:09 PM
Review scores are usually the most helpful way to evaluate a hotel in addition to photos.  I've been to plenty of hotels that didn't necessarily had modern aesthetics but were well maintained and way nicer than would be expected.  Usually it depends on who owns the hotel...even if it's in a chain, a good business usually rises to the top regardless of aesthetics. 
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: jwolfer on August 28, 2016, 09:10:29 PM
Paying less than $75 you run into low-life partiers, meth labs and prostitutes. 

I hate paying ~100 for a place to sleep by the interstate, but too many incidents with sketchy motel6ish places.

A lot of times you can find something ok for cheap on Priceline etc
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: mariethefoxy on August 29, 2016, 02:46:40 AM
Interior corridors are a must. There are decent properties from Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn that arent too terrible. Having AAA gives you a discount at most places. The more into the suburbs you are the cheaper the places get.

One of the worst hotels I stayed in in recent memory was a Clarion Inn (which is supposedly a high end brand) in West Springfield MA. It was really old and ghetto, and had this random water park pool thing, so all the local Springfielders would stay there, and they had to have security guards walking the hallways. I was soooo glad to get out of there.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: noelbotevera on August 29, 2016, 07:06:31 AM
Ditto on corridors.. I only like entering from the front desk instead of some shady side door.

One of my worst experiences was a motel near LaGuardia International Airport. Some shady people were outside, it was noisy, it was old and there was tons of problems with the room. I was also only five at the time, so you can imagine how scary that is.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: vdeane on August 29, 2016, 12:57:49 PM
I actually like motels.  Of course, my family used to stay at a nice one on our annual vacations to the 1000 Islands, so I might be biased there, since it brings back memories.  Instead of parking your car in front of your room, you parked your boat in front of your room.  Sadly, the motel has since been replaced with some condos that are way too big for the character of the area.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Rothman on August 30, 2016, 09:57:20 AM
I go by TripAdvisor as well.  Last time I stayed in a Motel 6, there were blood specks on the sheets.  Never again.

TripAdvisor's hardly ever led me astray.  There was once when I took my family to Williston, ND when it was really booming, however.  We got there late and when we opened the door to our room, two guys that were squatting jumped up unexpectedly (they were just laying on top of the beds).  We went back downstairs and told the poor 15-year-old manning the desk that there were people in the room.  Poor kid was shaken up as he called his manager to inform him of the intruders.  Kid put us in another room and all was well.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: hbelkins on August 30, 2016, 02:06:43 PM
I have found that a lot of the reviewers on TA tend to be motel/hotel snobs. For instance, the place I usually stay when I go to Frankfort on business gets panned by a lot of folks. Yet I have no issues with it. And when someone gripes that there's not a flat-panel TV in the room, I want to puke. That's hardly something to get your panties in a wad about.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: TravelingBethelite on August 31, 2016, 08:42:16 PM
If it's has a 3.9+ rating on Google and has a coupon in one of those lodging coupon books you pick up at rest areas, I'm game. On my last trip, I stayed at a great "find", the Red Roof Inn Erie for $66 thanks to a coupon. I do prefer indoor corridors, but as long as people aren't shooting heroin and selling sex in the parking lot, I can usually stand. I must echo briantroutman's comments regarding chains. On the same trip, I stayed in a scuzzy Super 8 in Centerville, IN that was clearly once a fairly reputable motor court but picked up the Super 8 brand about 10-15 years while (I assume) it began its decline. Deadbolt didn't even work.  :ded:
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: empirestate on August 31, 2016, 09:26:20 PM
I have found that a lot of the reviewers on TA tend to be motel/hotel snobs. For instance, the place I usually stay when I go to Frankfort on business gets panned by a lot of folks. Yet I have no issues with it. And when someone gripes that there's not a flat-panel TV in the room, I want to puke. That's hardly something to get your panties in a wad about.

Yeah, but once you realize this, it's easy enough to discredit the snobs' reviews and just decide based on the reasonable ones. A little "digesting of data" is usually all it takes. My wife and I use Motel 6 regularly; we choose locations with discretion based on reviews and other factors, and have never experienced any of the chain's legendarily poor qualities.

As for aesthetics, I'm rarely in a position where I can take them into account when choosing lodging, but they indisputably make a difference (for better or ill).


iPhone
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: LM117 on September 01, 2016, 10:19:01 AM
low-life partiers, meth labs and prostitutes.

You just described most of the crackhouses motels in Goldsboro, NC.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: GeorgeCurios on September 02, 2016, 01:28:55 PM
I've had some pretty bad experiences on cheap motels but that was because i didn't have a choice but normally I stay on places with good reviews or hotels that other people had recommended to me.  :spin: 
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: LM117 on September 03, 2016, 09:14:47 AM
There used to be a Royal Inn off of I-95 in Selma, NC that was below $70 a night. It wasn't spotless, but it wasn't trashy either and there no issues with crime, at least not when I stayed there those few times. The Royal Inn closed a few years ago and is now an Econo Lodge. I read that it was renovated during the changeover.

However, I stayed at the Days Inn in Wilson, NC on Tarboro Street that was roughly $76 a night and it'll be a cold day in hell if I stay there again. I stayed there twice, in 2013 and last year. The building isn't in good shape. The concrete is crumbling, especially on the outside stairs leading to the 2nd floor, which is where I ended up both times. Rebar is exposed on the underside of those stairs. The rooms weren't the best, but the worst of it is that the motel tends to draw a rough crowd. I could barely sleep there due to the racket. Last time, two women next door to me spent the whole night slamming shit and cussing each other out. When I checked out, I told the guy at the desk what was going on. Judging by his reaction, it's apparently S.O.P. there.

Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: jeffandnicole on September 03, 2016, 09:41:23 AM
I usually don't go for these type of motels. Of I'm not staying in something not considered a hotel or a rental property, I tend to just sleep in my car at a rest stop overnight.

I stayed at a Motel 6 a month ago just outside Philadelphia, in "King of Prussia"*. There were some people smoking but nothing shady.

Usually I can stay at a place under $125 just as long as it's clean and there's no bed bugs. I'm thinking of trying white noise to help me sleep.

*King of Prussia really isn't a town, it's more a name for a commercial strip.

It's a census designated area, which is basically a town but without its own government. KoP has a population of about 19k and is the primary name used by the USPS for this area of Upper Merion Twp., which itself doesn't have a zip code. Most people know it for the mall, but it's actually a very large area with numerous residential and commercial districts.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: nexus73 on September 03, 2016, 01:34:19 PM
For appearances, I would say the Safari Inn in Burbank CA is a real winner with it's Googie-style sign.  Since what trips I take are just in the West these days, the Big Expensive Chains get avoided but there are no problems since anything that looks real sketchy gets avoided.  Most cities I go to are ones I have been to before so the lay of the land is known.

For a very unique motel, try the Itty Bitty Inn in North Bend OR.  It really is itty and bitty as well as nicely decorated! 

Rick
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: empirestate on September 05, 2016, 01:41:51 PM
I stayed at a Motel 6 a month ago just outside Philadelphia, in "King of Prussia"*. There were some people smoking but nothing shady.

Usually I can stay at a place under $125 just as long as it's clean and there's no bed bugs. I'm thinking of trying white noise to help me sleep.

*King of Prussia really isn't a town, it's more a name for a commercial strip.

It's a census designated area, which is basically a town but without its own government. KoP has a population of about 19k and is the primary name used by the USPS for this area of Upper Merion Twp., which itself doesn't have a zip code. Most people know it for the mall, but it's actually a very large area with numerous residential and commercial districts.

It's what's known in PA terms as a "village"—elsewhere called a hamlet or unincorporated place. The original locus of the place was the King of Prussia Inn, which still stands, albeit on a relocated site. It now encompasses the administrative center of Upper Merion township, although that's a bit removed from the locality's original "pin point" (on US 202 at Gulph Road).
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Super Mateo on September 05, 2016, 06:26:25 PM
I stayed at the Super 8 in Maysville, KY back in May.  Here's what I look for:

-Was the room clean, quiet, and comfortable to sleep in? Yes.
-Was I able to access the Internet on my laptop through the Wifi? Yes.

Everything else is nice, but isn't necessary for me.  I don't care if there's a pool or free breakfast.  The hotel was quite inexpensive and didn't have any shady people hanging around.  Perhaps the fact that Maysville is nowhere close to ANY Interstate (looking at the maps, the closest is I-64 about an hour away) has something to do with that.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: J N Winkler on September 17, 2016, 12:12:31 PM
In recent years my hotel/motel lodging budget has been about $50 per night, and I have booked the majority of my nights away online through Booking.com.  I usually succeed in adhering to this price point except on holiday weekends, in the vicinity of major metropolitan areas like Chicago, or (occasionally) no-notice arrivals in strange cities where I have failed to explore the lodging options online.  I often find myself staying in many motels that are clearly doing a stint in independent ownership while (as Briantroutman puts it) awaiting the wrecking ball, but I have never had any problems with lumpy mattresses, unclean laundry, bedbugs, cigarette burns, etc.  The furniture is often mismatched and uncomfortable, and the walls tend to be covered with heavy textured plasticized paper that is designed to cover up gouges and small holes and to be easy to wipe clean with a wet cloth, but these do not bother me since I feel I am failing to take advantage of the opportunities for experiential enrichment inherent in travel if I use the motel as anything but a place to rest my head, shower, and possibly update a travel journal.

The last time I allowed myself to be ambushed by high motel prices, I was at a Super 8 in Sault Ste. Marie (Canadian side) where I paid US$92 because I had my phone in airplane mode and so had no easy way to identify lower-cost options.  In retrospect I would have been much better off if I had paid $2 for Canadian roaming that day; for a little over half that cost I could have stayed in a much more characterful hotel in downtown Sault that was also much closer to the International Bridge.  I did recognize that the bedding, towels, furniture, and wall finishes in the room were of much higher standard than in the $50/night bracket, but the utility I get out of these things (while on the road) is much less than is the case for other affluent middle-class travelers.

In the past (early noughties), I stayed in hot-pillow motels, motels that had visible cigarette burns in the bedding, motels with visible and olfactory evidence of past occupants' sexual activity, etc., but this was at a time when it was not nearly as easy to identify budget accommodation online as it is now, and it was necessary to rely on broad-brush strategies (e.g., "find the bypassed city routing of a current or former US highway") that let the really sketchy establishments into the picture.  I suspect the increasing use of online booking has had a ratcheting upward effect on amenity standards in the budget sector, because a motel is more likely to find customers if it is discoverable online, but grossly unfavorable reviews (as opposed to penny-ante stuff like "Disappointing," "Interior looked cheap," "Clerk was surly," etc.) on booking sites tends to scare off drive-up business that has the ability to check reviews on a smartphone before stepping into the office to book.

As is the case elsewhere in the real estate sector, the three most important factors when looking for accommodation are location, location, and location.  While my hotel/motel budget is $50 per night, I put hotels and motels in the same basket as campgrounds, hostels with dormitory accommodation, bedrooms in private houses found through Airbnb, etc. and I go for whichever has the commanding advantage in cost in a given area.  In Duluth this meant staying in a campground on a rainy weekend night because a tent site was $32 while motels (aiming at Twin Cities weekenders) were $150 or so.  In Marquette, Michigan, I stopped at an Econolodge with an almost-empty parking lot just to explore how stratospherically unreasonable the rates were ($129/night), before I went to the city campground where I pitched my tent for $27 with electric.  On the other hand, if a given area has motels for under $50, I am not going to search hard for campgrounds just to eke out a further $20-$30 for the day.  (I estimate that camping costs me about one and a half to two hours in time compared to staying in a motel, because on arrival I have to pitch the tent, inflate the air mattress, and lay out the sleeping bag and pillows, while on departure I have to fold up the sleeping bag, deflate the air mattress, collapse and pack the tent, and load the trunk; in addition to the time required for these tasks, there is also much lost time and motion dealing with my toiletries in a shower hut rather than an enclosed attached bathroom.  Rain adds greatly to the time and comfort penalties.  My tent is waterproof with a rain cape, but also does not breathe that well, so besides having to have plastic grocery sacks handy to keep my wet footwear from soiling the tent floor, I have to endure the smell of my own sweaty feet.  And when I pack up the tent, I have to take pains to dewater it as much as possible so it doesn't mildew in the bag.)
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Tom958 on September 17, 2016, 01:35:32 PM
I have my limits, but to a considerable extent, a degree of funkiness is part of the adventure (I should add that I'm usually staying for a week at a time for a job, not overnighting on trips). Here's the place I've been staying in while working in Clemson, SC (https://www.google.com/maps/@34.6975004,-82.945841,3a,60y,10.43h,84.39t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sRV_r9M6TEZl-u5ECGvUfUQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656). In low light it looks like something out of a Dr. Suess book ("They're even asleep at the Zweiback Motel/And people don't usually sleep there too well), but it's been renovated so recently that it's still literally shiny new in the daytime. It was built in three phases, and I believe-- and the manager didn't contest-- that every room is different. In one, I was looking for the fridge for my beer and... it was under the cooktop. Cooktop? Whatever. Oh, and one room has a jacuzzi, though there's no extra change if I don't use it. It has passable WiFi, and if I'd prefer to entertain myself by drinking beer outside with people I don't know, that's an option, too. Oh, and it's $65 a night.

Then there's this place, near the Little Rock airport (https://www.google.com/maps/@34.7149757,-92.2241049,3a,75y,235.51h,94.3t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sNYjZBSJOte0EYZ1H34g_-A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656). The cool thing about it was that it was a hub for drivers of pilot trucks for the escort of giant wind turbines into the windy Great Plains. There were a lot of people there in my general age bracket who knew and liked to hang out with each other, with most doors literally always open. I enjoyed it, but I had to advise my office that it'd be too proletarian for the guy who'd be joining me later. He ended up across the road at the Holiday Inn Express.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: kphoger on September 17, 2016, 02:56:45 PM
Motel 6 is the only chain about which I let the aesthetics drive my decision.  That's because it's been my experience that newer, nicer-looking ones have more comfortable and quieter accommodations, while older, run-down ones have harder mattresses and thinner walls.  For all other motels and hotels, I read online reviews and go from there.

My criteria in general have very little to do with how an establishment looks, either from the outside or on the inside.  I want a comfortable mattress and thick walls.

Some of the best in those regards have been mom-and-pop motels that look entirely seedy from the outside but ended up being excellent.  The Woods Motel in Donnellson, Iowa, jumps out in my mind for this.  I see its reviews over the last ten years or so have gotten a lot worse but, back when I stayed there in 2005 or so, it was one of the best motels I'd ever been in, even though it really made us cringe when we drove up.  Another pleasant surprise was the Relax Inn in Dilley, Texas.  It's mainly a long-term stay for oil workers and doesn't even have a paved parking lot, but we had an excellent stay there in 2009.

Some of the worst have been brand-name hotels, especially when it comes to hearing your neighbors.  The really nice-looking Comfort Inn & Suites in Chillicothe, Missouri, jumps out in my mind for this.  It was the only hotel in town with reviews that didn't include mentions of odors, bugs, or drug deals, but I ended up with a terrible night's sleep because I could hear it every time anyone else on the floor closed their door—which was a LOT, since we were there during hunting season and people like to leave at 4 or 5 AM for that.

In general, I prefer true motels, at which I can walk things right from my car to my room without worrying about carts and elevators.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: hbelkins on September 17, 2016, 07:33:38 PM
4 or 5 AM for that.

In general, I prefer true motels, at which I can walk things right from my car to my room without worrying about carts and elevators.

Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. I much prefer the exterior corridors to interior ones. And I am totally unconcerned about safety at external-corridor lodging establishments.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: empirestate on September 17, 2016, 09:24:48 PM
4 or 5 AM for that.

In general, I prefer true motels, at which I can walk things right from my car to my room without worrying about carts and elevators.

Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. I much prefer the exterior corridors to interior ones. And I am totally unconcerned about safety at external-corridor lodging establishments.

I definitely see advantages to that setup as well. One is that when we have the dog with us, she is less likely to bark at people passing by the door, because they are far less likely to need to do so than in an interior corridor setup.

There's also a comfort factor in being able to park within eyeshot of your room.


iPhone
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: corco on September 17, 2016, 09:32:07 PM
Quote
There's also a comfort factor in being able to park within eyeshot of your room.

Yep - from a security standpoint, I actually prefer the motel setup, because I can park outside and be on top of things if somebody breaks into my car or something.

Beyond that, since exterior corridor hotels are typically economy and would be competing with economy interior corridor hotels - I'd rather have exterior corridors from a security standpoint anyway. The doors are stronger, which is better than whatever Super 8 with indoor corridors where either the back door lock is broken or the front desk person is in the backroom playing pokemon or whatever and not paying attention to who is coming in and out of the hotel anyway.

On the general thread, it depends on what I'm trying to do. Lately, I've really been prioritizing being in downtown if I'm in a city that's interesting, which usually requires spending a little bit more to get a decent hotel. On clinching-focused roadtrips, I'll stay in whatever hotel has the best tripadvisor ratings:value ratio. In my experience, that can be anything from an Econo Lodge to a Hilton Garden Inn. I generally avoid ABVI and Motel 6, though on very rare occasions they appear to be the best option. In small towns, I'm very open to non-chains if they are well-reviewed (I tend to bump into scenarios where this appears to be the best option more often in Canada than the US). Really just depends. If I'm going with an economy hotel (which is still ~80% of my room nights), I do prefer outside corridors.

Between work and fun, I'm logging around 35 room nights a year these days, nearly all at unique hotels, and I have yet to have a real issue with any hotel with 4 stars or above on Tripadvisor, so I try to stick with those if at all possible. It helps that I'm not very picky - if the sheets, towels, and bathroom are clean, I can get checked in reasonably efficiently, and there aren't seedy people hanging out everywhere making noise late into the night, I'm a happy camper.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: J N Winkler on September 17, 2016, 10:23:17 PM
I don't have a strong preference for external corridors.  However, I prefer to park my car in a location that minimizes the likelihood of casual damage such as door dings, scrapes from adjacent reversing vehicles, and other parking-related mishaps.  In the case of the Super 8 in Sault Ste. Marie, for example, overnight street parking was legal at that time of year while the off-street parking was full of U-Haul panel vans and trailers engaged in cross-country moves, so I simply parked on the street under a streetlight.  Quite often, when I arrive at a motel, I simply park before I even check in rather than stopping the car outside the office, and if I see no better location once I have checked in, I leave the car where it is.

There are some external-corridor motels (even, surprisingly enough, ones with only one story) where the parking stalls are quite narrow.  In cases like this I will often park in a remote corner of the lot, on nearby waste ground if it is available, or even in the street.  At one motel with cramped parking, I made a point of grabbing the empty space next to a van-accessible handicapped parking space, leaving maybe two inches on the handicapped side and two feet on the other side.

In 24 years of driving, I have never had a car broken into while I was on a trip.  However, my current roadtrip vehicle is on its second rear fender apron/bumper cover as a result of a scrape from an adjacent reversing vehicle that occurred when it was just three years old.  I frankly disagree with Toyota's decision back in the nineties to market the Camry with a wider track in North America, but with any car model there is rough to take with the smooth.

Edited to add:

Between work and fun, I'm logging around 35 room nights a year these days, nearly all at unique hotels, and I have yet to have a real issue with any hotel with 4 stars or above on Tripadvisor, so I try to stick with those if at all possible. It helps that I'm not very picky - if the sheets, towels, and bathroom are clean, I can get checked in reasonably efficiently, and there aren't seedy people hanging out everywhere making noise late into the night, I'm a happy camper.

It is worth noting that in many metropolitan areas, the four stars (or filled circles) come at a significantly higher price point.  For example, per a TripAdvisor search I did just now for lodging in metro Minneapolis-St. Paul for this coming Saturday night, the absolute rock-bottom budget motel is the Norwood Inn in Burnsville, where I stayed last May, at $54 per night and two filled circles.  (The reviews will raise your hair--"Not fit for animals"--but the only complaints noted that I personally had were missing bath linens and keycards that needed to be recoded.)  The cheapest option with four circles completely filled is the Best Western Plus Dakota Ridge, at $92 per night.  The cheapest "three-something" option (three circles completely filled, the fourth partially filled) is the Prime Rate Inn, Burnsville, at $67 per night.

I confess that I am not shopping for low ambient noise, which in North America especially is probably the hardest thing to secure once cleanliness is nailed down.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: jeffandnicole on September 17, 2016, 11:04:07 PM
In 24 years of driving, I have never had a car broken into while I was on a trip.

Same experiences here.  I've had damage to the car a few miles from the house in parking lots.  The closest to 'damage' I had on the road was when I went to an Eagles/Vikings game in Minneapolis and someone used their finger to write 'Fuck You' on my dirty car (Jersey plates so they knew what I was doing there.  And the Eagles won.  Hahaha.  It wiped right off...)

I prefer hotels with inner corridors.  I'll park my car at the closest door to my room, which often is a back corridor entrance with key-card access.  I do the normal safety precautions, making sure everything is hidden from view if I'm leaving anything in the car.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: briantroutman on September 18, 2016, 12:58:01 AM
I have my limits, but to a considerable extent, a degree of funkiness is part of the adventure...

Marriott ran an ad campaign for Fairfield Inn some years ago: Traveling’s an adventure. Where you stay...shouldn’t be.

I quite agree. When I’m traveling, I’ll go out of my way to find off-the-beaten-path sights, meet the natives, and try regional cuisine at local restaurants. But all that stops at the bedroom door (or rather, the hotel's front door). I want a hotel to be familiar sanctuary in a strange place and an insulation from what I’m visiting (including relatives, as the case may be—I don’t stay with people).



As to the interior/exterior corridors issue, the decision has largely been made for me. Since women have unilaterally decided that exterior corridors are unsafe at any speed, every respectable chain has dutifully dumped whatever exterior corridor properties still lingered on their rolls. So what may have been a perfectly splendid exterior-corridor Holiday Inn in the ’90s has since had its franchise revoked and first became a Days Inn, then an America’s Best Value Inn, and now is the unbranded “Thruway Motor Lodge”. And it’s attracting the type of people who rent a motel room either by the hour or by the month.

And yet, part of me wants to like exterior corridors, particularly for a Motel 6. In a perfect world where every Motel 6 is as neat as a pin and attracts a pleasant crowd of sober, hardworking people who merely want to save money on their lodging expenses, I’d almost rather the Motel 6 have exterior corridors. Interior corridors in a budget motel typically feel cheap, dark, and depressing, while at least an exterior room door opens up to a sunny day and the hum of the adjacent Interstate. Sadly, this is most definitely not a perfect world.

But even in a perfect world, I’d like to be able to open my room window or leave the drapes open, neither of which I’d do at an exterior corridor property—considering the fishbowl level of privacy I’d have.

For those of you who claim a security benefit to exterior corridors, I have to ask what scenario you’re envisioning where being within earshot of your car—which, by the way, you can do with most interior corridor layouts—would somehow save the day.

Assuming that the sound is enough to awaken you, by the time you hear anything (breaking glass, metal on metal impact), it’s too late; the damage has been done. Sure, maybe you’ll be able to catch part of a license plate if you bolt to the window as fast as you can. Or if it’s an amiable drunk bro who accidentally crunched your fender while parking his band’s van, you might be able to hold him until the police arrive. (Of course a bro who thinks nothing of driving drunk, stays at a cheap motels, and drives a broken down van is probably uninsured and penniless anyway.) But otherwise, you’re probably dealing with a local hood who’ll either take a shot at you or run. You’re going to run after him guns blazing at 2 a.m.?
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: D-Dey65 on September 18, 2016, 10:31:50 AM
There used to be a Royal Inn off of I-95 in Selma, NC that was below $70 a night. It wasn't spotless, but it wasn't trashy either and there no issues with crime, at least not when I stayed there those few times. The Royal Inn closed a few years ago and is now an Econo Lodge. I read that it was renovated during the changeover.
Selma, you say? Back in June I stayed in an even cheaper motel in Smithfield, specifically the Village Motor Lodge. It cost me $43 and change, and though it looked pretty run down and I was disappointed with the lack of internet service which I've had in places like the Econo Lodge in Gold Rock, it wasn't the fleabag you might think it was. The place looks like it was made when I-95 was being built. It was mid-century modern, but not as playful or sci-fi as Googie architecture. It had an accompanying restaurant that looks like it was closed over 25 years ago. I had to walk from there to the Sheets across I-95, and I was surprised at how risky it was to walk along US BUS 70 over I-95. Just in case anybody is interested, in the wooded embankment along the southeast corner of that bridge, there's a pile of road signs still on their poles. If I had an empty pickup truck instead of a sedan, I would've snagged them, even if it meant driving them to the nearest NCDOT shop or Johnston County DPW Garage.

There was also an America's Best Value Inn that looked like a former Howard Johnson's hotel right next to it.


Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: J N Winkler on September 18, 2016, 10:32:52 AM
And yet, part of me wants to like exterior corridors, particularly for a Motel 6. In a perfect world where every Motel 6 is as neat as a pin and attracts a pleasant crowd of sober, hardworking people who merely want to save money on their lodging expenses, I’d almost rather the Motel 6 have exterior corridors. Interior corridors in a budget motel typically feel cheap, dark, and depressing, while at least an exterior room door opens up to a sunny day and the hum of the adjacent Interstate. Sadly, this is most definitely not a perfect world.

But even in a perfect world, I’d like to be able to open my room window or leave the drapes open, neither of which I’d do at an exterior corridor property—considering the fishbowl level of privacy I’d have.

For me, other factors come into play with the net result that I don't have a strong preference for either type of property.  The convenience of parking right outside my door at a one-story exterior-access motel (e.g., one in the traditional "motor court" format) is very attractive if the parking stalls are wide enough, and this somewhat mitigates the loss of privacy because strangers are not walking past my window just to get access to a staircase.  And while interior-access motels can offer more layered security (subject to appropriate vigilance at the front desk, keycard control at side entrances, solid room doors, and no partiers using wedges to prevent side doors from closing while management does nothing), they also present the hassle of dealing with locks and automatic door closers while carrying luggage.  Ground-level rooms in interior-access facilities also have no usable privacy advantage over exterior-access rooms, and your chances of being assigned to a first-floor room at a multi-story motel go up the more price-conscious you are.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: empirestate on September 18, 2016, 10:47:28 AM
For those of you who claim a security benefit to exterior corridors, I have to ask what scenario you’re envisioning where being within earshot of your car—which, by the way, you can do with most interior corridor layouts—would somehow save the day.

I'm not sure anyone did claim that, at least not in the most recent few posts. I referred to a comfort factor, but that was in regards to eyeshot, not earshot—that is to say, right outside the door to the room.

The most advantageous scenario I picture is one where I don't have to fully unpack the car and haul everything at once through the hotel—then make a second trip when I've inevitably forgotten something. Instead, you open the car, open the room, and pretty much just chuck everything inside. If you do end up forgetting something, the car's right there outside the room.



iPhone
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: SP Cook on September 18, 2016, 10:51:40 AM
I am a fairly large male and am always armed with easily accessible firearms and blade weapons all of which I know how to use and would have no issues with using.  So exterior doors are not that big an issue for me.  However, for many females or even males who have forgone his/her obligation to arm, exterior doors are going to be an issue.

However, I have not seen a place built in decades new with exterior doors anyway. 
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: jeffandnicole on September 18, 2016, 10:55:33 AM
I've always wondered about places such as the 'Whitten Inn'.  If you've traveled on 95 in the Carolinas, you've probably seen their billboards, advertising Larry as the "GM" and Mary Ann as the "Boss".  The reviews are consistent.  Consistently bad.  I don't care how bad a place is, it's hard to run up a whole bunch of 1 star reviews for nearly half a year!

I guess they think if they can make it personal, as in "Hey, we are average day folks here.  Come visit us" on the billboards, that people will visit.  One telling sign about these billboards though are the ones that remain, they are awfully faded.  I think Mary Ann isn't looking too hot and friendly anymore!
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: briantroutman on September 18, 2016, 11:50:22 AM
I guess they think if they can make it personal, as in "Hey, we are average day folks here..."

More like, “Hey, we’re white folks here.”

They’re advertising the fact that they’re not Indian. Beginning and end of story.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: empirestate on September 18, 2016, 12:12:31 PM
I am a fairly large male and am always armed with easily accessible firearms and blade weapons all of which I know how to use and would have no issues with using.  So exterior doors are not that big an issue for me.  However, for many females or even males who have forgone his/her obligation to arm, exterior doors are going to be an issue.

Eh; I've never been armed, but I've never found them to be an issue.



iPhone
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: CtrlAltDel on September 18, 2016, 04:59:54 PM
However, for many females or even males who have forgone his/her obligation to arm, exterior doors are going to be an issue.

Obligation?
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: vdeane on September 18, 2016, 06:53:19 PM
I confess that I am not shopping for low ambient noise, which in North America especially is probably the hardest thing to secure once cleanliness is nailed down.
Can't say I disagree right now.  I just stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Syracuse for a conference, and outside of a few places that I suspect were insulated (the conference rooms, lobby, and buffet on the 20th floor), traffic on I-81 was very easy to hear (the hotel is right on the interstate).
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Duke87 on September 18, 2016, 08:32:22 PM
I have found that a lot of the reviewers on TA tend to be motel/hotel snobs. For instance, the place I usually stay when I go to Frankfort on business gets panned by a lot of folks. Yet I have no issues with it. And when someone gripes that there's not a flat-panel TV in the room, I want to puke. That's hardly something to get your panties in a wad about.

Ah yes. My favorite complaints to roll my eyes at:
- the staff at the front desk was rude
- the breakfast wasn't good
- the neighborhood is noisy

Maybe it's the city boy in me, but I've stayed in multiple places where people complained about the noise and not found them to be exceptionally loud. And I really don't care if the person at the front desk is particularly polite, I'd almost prefer they weren't so I don't have to fake an equal amount of courtesy in response.

However, for many females or even males who have forgone his/her obligation to arm, exterior doors are going to be an issue.
Eh; I've never been armed, but I've never found them to be an issue.

Likewise. The door has a deadbolt. At that point I'm not terribly concerned, there are easier targets for mugging that don't involve breaking into a building, and there are more rewarding targets for burglary than a motel room. Criminals generally do not go through more trouble than necessary to find a victim unless for some reason they want to go after a specific person.

Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on September 18, 2016, 09:14:37 PM
However, for many females or even males who have forgone his/her obligation to arm, exterior doors are going to be an issue.

Obligation?

Such as in a "Man's Obligation?"  A quick Youtube search for "Man's Obligation South Park" will put that retort to song.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: Brandon on September 22, 2016, 02:12:06 PM
The things I prefer, which are contrary to some here, are the continental breakfasts and the indoor pools.  I don't really want to leave the hotel for breakfast (and some have decent ones such as make-it-yourself waffles or the cinnamon rolls at a Holiday Inn Express), and I also like to be able to swim in the evening.  Indoor pools are far better, IMHO, as the weather outside can be freezing or otherwise non-conducive toward swimming.  I also read the reviews (typically via Expedia) to get more of a feel for the property, and have found some really good surprises and bargains due to that.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: D-Dey65 on September 22, 2016, 11:16:26 PM
I've never really used the pools at hotels... at least not deliberately. Continental breakfasts are something I can take or leave.

Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: J N Winkler on September 23, 2016, 11:21:52 AM
One of the things I miss most about being on the road is being able to maintain an exercise program.  The motels that have exercise facilities are well outside the $50/night bracket and the equipment provided tends to overemphasize cardio.  I am not sure I have ever seen a rack of dumbbells in a hotel gym and I am quite sure I have never seen a barbell, bench, or plate weights.

As a general rule, I think it makes the most sense to pay extra per night for a motel if the breakfast provided is a hot buffet, and even those tend to provide fruits and vegetables parsimoniously.  I like waffles, but I tend not to be overimpressed with waffle irons and batter dispensers because I have seen what happens when it is half an hour to the end of breakfast time and a family of five uses up all the batter in the dispenser in unsuccessful attempts to make waffles because they cannot be bothered to read the directions.  It is also hit and miss whether waffle irons are accessible to the deaf because some of the fixed-time irons provide a chime only, no visible signal, to indicate doneness and the directions don't state typical cooking times so you can use your watch for timing.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: empirestate on September 23, 2016, 12:29:09 PM
It is also hit and miss whether waffle irons are accessible to the deaf because some of the fixed-time irons provide a chime only, no visible signal, to indicate doneness and the directions don't state typical cooking times so you can use your watch for timing.

If it ever helps, my mom taught me that the waffle is done when you stop seeing steam come out.



iPhone
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: briantroutman on September 23, 2016, 12:53:47 PM
The motels that have exercise facilities are well outside the $50/night bracket and the equipment provided tends to overemphasize cardio.  I am not sure I have ever seen a rack of dumbbells in a hotel gym and I am quite sure I have never seen a barbell, bench, or plate weights.

The Courtyard where I worked during part of my college years had a selection of free weights, although I’m pretty sure we didn’t have a bench setup. Then again, our room rates were typically around $130 (and that was ten years ago) so you may have to jump up a price bracket to get a more comprehensively equipped fitness room. But I suspect what we had was part of a standard Courtyard package of fitness equipment, and I know I’ve paid as little as $70 (recently) at Courtyards in suburban office park locations on weekends.

I’ve mentioned it before on another thread, but it bears repeating here: By far, the nicest hotels I’ve gotten for the lowest prices have been in the suburbs of medium to large cities—locations which cater to the Sunday through Thursday business set but are empty on Friday and Saturday nights.
Title: Re: Does anyone care about aesthetics of a motel?
Post by: hbelkins on September 23, 2016, 10:10:01 PM
I’ve mentioned it before on another thread, but it bears repeating here: By far, the nicest hotels I’ve gotten for the lowest prices have been in the suburbs of medium to large cities—locations which cater to the Sunday through Thursday business set but are empty on Friday and Saturday nights.

There's a Comfort Suites on the north side of Atlanta (Peachtree Dunwoody Road) where my wife has stayed many times. It's usually significantly cheaper on weekends than it is during the week.