With a spotlight on their neon neon signs, rattan swings, succulents, and Pendleton blankets, a new generation of roadside motels in Colorado are replacing the tired rest areas of yesteryear. This time, they’re borrowing a page from avant-garde boutique hotels.
âMillennials are cost-conscious and very experience-oriented, so that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing these boutique motels become popular,â says David Corsun, director and associate professor at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver.
There’s also the pandemic, which emphasizes social distancing and not sharing your airspace with others. Suddenly, the interior corridors of hotels seemed more dangerous than the exterior entrances of motels popularized by the interstate highway system. The pandemic-inspired renaissance of the Great American Road Trip has also given motels more mileage. Plus, today’s motel owners find that older travelers enjoy nostalgia for their updated kitchenettes and athletic fields. Combined, all of these factors sparked a complete revamp of the roadside motel.
Arty and trendy, the modern boutique motel is bidding for a spot on your Instagram grid and may offer a low-cost alternative to cookie-cutter hotels.
Here are five fun things to discover in Colorado:
Amigo Motor Lodge – Salida
No company approval is needed for the fun messages Amigo Motor Lodge displays on its roadside marquee along US 50 in Salida. Among the greatest successes?
“Rooms by the hour / 24 hours minimum” “Go and Salida a little closer” “Ideally located between a bank and an armory”
âWe don’t need to advertise that we have color TV these days, so we’re just messing around with our signs,â says owner Philip Sterling, whose title, according to his email signature, is manager / concierge.
The Amigo Motor Lodge has 16 rooms and five bookable Airstreams. With 60-year-old bones, the rooms are individually designed with minimalist southwest decor and come equipped with Malin + Goetz toiletries and Tuft and Needle mattresses. The Amigo also has a hot tub, veranda and fireplaces.
âIt’s not just cool 30-year-olds from Denver who stay here,â Sterling says. âWe have an eclectic mix of guests. For some, there is nostalgia involved.
In the summer, Amigo is a base camp for quintessential Colorado adventures like rafting, mountain biking, and day trips to the state’s most epic sandbox, Great Sand National Park and Preserve. Dunes. The motel is one mile from downtown.
Amigo Motor Lodge, from $ 100, 7350 US 50, Salida, 719-539-6733
Nightingale Motel – Pagosa Springs
Before opening Nightingale Motel in 2019, Annie Castillo DeMille and her husband Tony hosted a glamping retreat near Joshua Tree National Park in California. When they moved to Pagosa Springs, where Annie grew up, they wanted to replicate the common glamping vibe and achieve it in a four-season venue. The Pinewood, a run down motel, was for sale.
âWe went through it and I said ‘I think that’s it,’â says Castillo DeMille.
Gutted and renovated, the 17-room Nightingale Motel debuted with outdoor fireplaces accompanied by a beautiful new on-site bar called the Neon Mallard (notice the avian theme?). A neon sign attached to a street light shines outside again. Inside the bedrooms, pine wall panels and Eames chairs are subtle nods to a mid-century modern aesthetic.
âMy husband and I are both design enthusiasts with a love for architecture,â says Castillo DeMille.
Perched on the San Juan River, the Nightingale feels connected to nature in a way that’s reminiscent of glamping, says Castillo DeMille. Across the street, Pagosa Mountain Sports rents tubes so you can enjoy a float down the river. Save room on your itinerary for a summer soak in the nearby hot springs, which holds the record for the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world, measured at 1,002 feet deep.
The Nightingale Motel, starting at $ 130, 157 Pagosa St., Pagosa Springs, 970-507-0121
Mellow Moon Lodge – Del Norte
With an eye for design and a background in fashion, Jessica Lovelace saw the potential of the former El Rancho site despite the motel being abandoned for two decades. As proof that it had been forgotten, the grass was growing through the soils when she visited the site in 2018. She lovingly brought the 1940s motel back to life, named it Mellow Moon Lodge and opened in 2019 as 10 environmentally friendly rooms. charming motel. Five other rooms open this summer.
Due to the dog-friendly motel’s proximity to the Wolf Creek ski area, mountain biking trails, and the Rio Grande River, Lovelace wanted to incorporate a design that wasn’t too valuable. Indigo-dyed linens, hardwood floors, woven chairs, and a crisp black-and-white exterior design made Mellow Moon a photo-worthy destination.
âWe get the Instagram crowds that come for photo ops,â Lovelace says. âIt’s a happy accident. It was not our intention.
Mellow Moon Lodge, from $ 130, 1160 Grand Ave., Del Norte, 719-207-0747
Spoke and Vine Motel – Palisade
For your next getaway to wine country, head to Spoke and Vine, a 1950s motel that was reinvented in 2019. You can rent a cruise bike at the property to take you to nearby wineries and the Husband and wife team who own and operate the motel will be happy to recommend places to go while you are in town.
âWe say we’re a boutique motel,â says co-owner Jody Corey. âWe always thank the people who play on a property that says ‘motel’. We want to reset the idea of ââwhat a motel is.
Local wines are served at check-in, and guests can enjoy locally roasted coffee and a free breakfast in the lobby each morning. The minimalist rooms have pops of cheerful color. There are a few dozen wineries to explore in the Palisade region. For starters, DeBeque Canyon Winery is across the street and Colorado Vintner’s Collective is a few blocks away.
Spoke and Vine Motel, from $ 129, 424 W. 8th St., Palisade, 970-464-2211
LOGE finds forgotten motels near towns and outdoor trails and gives them a new update. LOGE Breckenridge opened in 2020 and is just a short walk from the Colorado Trail. Guests can access miles of single-track mountain biking, hiking and running trails. You can also take the Blue River Recreational Trail and cycle into town.
The motel has 38 rooms, a 20 bed hostel, a bar and cafe, an outdoor stage and more. The rooms, inspired by a love of the great outdoors, have cool amenities like hammocks.
Breckenridge Lodge, from $ 116, 165 Tiger Road, Breckenridge, 970-551-2115