The return of the motel

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By Laura Martínez
Photos: Simon Ray / Nicole Franzen / Ben Finchett

Watching movies affects the brain, as well as being highly responsible for our sentimental education, so it is inevitable that they also influence our choices as travellers.
Motels (the word motel was coined as a portmanteau contraction of “motor hotel”)
have witnessed plans being laid for crimes (Drive), illicit sex (Thelma & Louise) and obsessive love (Lolita). So when we see a motel, we can’t help but imagine what sordid adventures we’d have if we stayed in one.

This accommodation concept had its biggest boom between the 1950s and 1960s. Bikers and motorists parked up their vehicles and rested in cheap roadside motels, checking out the next day to continue burning asphalt. The most famous motel of this era is The Lorraine, in Memphis.
It was here, at the door of Room 306, Martin Luther King, the activist of the activists, was shot dead. Nowadays it is part of the National Civil Rights Museum, acting as a constant reminder of the fight for equality.

Motels have been around since the 1920s but their current resurgence in popularity has very little to do with their predecessors. The new motel is both comfortable and aesthetic, (although non-Americans find even the shabby curtains of a rinky-dink motel in Texas aesthetic).

Travellers previously slept in whichever place was the cheapest ( the cantankerous couple from the film The Florida Project comes to mind), but nowadays people look for motels that can be classed as a boutique, such as The Dive Motel & Swim Club in Nashville, the latest establishment by Lyon Porter (Founder of Urban Cowboy, a famous hotel/bed & breakfast in Brooklyn).

The Dive reclaims the motel’s aura of sexiness and romantic nostalgia, something with which many hotels cannot compete. Another example is “The Drifter” In New Orleans, a dazzling combination of tropical vibes, wrapped in an unmistakable architectural style: MiMO (Miami Modern), the regional style of architecture that developed in South Florida during the post- war period.

The Austin Motel (Austin, Texas) was created by Liz Lambert, who revamped a motel from the 1930s, giving it a groovy makeover. Motels are one of the bastions of American culture, but who said you can’t try a slice of Americana in Spain? If you happen to pass by Ibiza this summer, then you should definitely pass by the island’s first motel: Romeo’s Motel & Diner.
Concept Hotel Group’s sixth hotel will open its doors in June 2020, bringing you ever closer to an evocative experience.

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Neon totems, a parking lot full of classic cars, appropriately bad-ass music, a diner that looks like it was taken straight out of Pulp Fiction, and a drop-dead gorgeous pool area. These are all essential elements for a top-end motel nowadays, but Romeo’s goes way beyond
the call of duty with some unrivalled extras: a chapel (for both real and pretend weddings) and rooms kitted out with the top of the range brands that are the hallmarks of Concept Hotel Group, including Marshall speakers and SMEG fridges.

For those crazy, crazy nights, Romeo’s places at your disposal the visual equivalent of Mötley Crüe’s dressing room: The Playroom. It is a lounge kitted out with a pole dance bar, private bar, leopard sofas and disco balls. This rogue’s paradise will play host to the wild and most unconventional karaoke in town, presented by Lola Von Dage each Friday.

Not all motels are in the States, but there are none are like Romeo’s.

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