Leave Your Toothbrush At Home!

The name of the Whispering Gums Motel in Newstead, Australia, no doubt comes from the abundant gum trees nearby. And it's very lovely, and I'm sure they have a sense of humor about it. But still.

My mother's family name is Gum, so it also sounds like the place they'd go to gossip.

Fun Fake Frigid

You'd expect a woodsy-looking, snow-topped, icicle-festooned lodge to be nestled between two great peaks, and the Alpine Inn motel in Anaheim kind of is -- Disneyland is 100 yards to the north, and the Anaheim Convention Center is across the street. Matterhorn bobsled parking is available, ask about in-room Yeti.

The Motel Me More Award...

...for clever useage of the word "motel" in your name goes to the ST-ELMO-TEL in Austin on, appropriately, St. Elmo Street. The place is now abandoned, so we will hold your award here at Motel Me More headquarters to prevent it being carted off by looters.

flickr photo by J. P. Burrito

I Get It, But...

...I would have called it "Pair-A-Dice." Without the first "i," it looks weird, and would probably be pronounced "pahr." Of course, there IS a very good chance I am overthinking this.

flickr photo by Nick Leonard

Ironic Icons, Vol I

Speaking of the Caliente Tropics (the post below), it was built by Ken Kimes, who had a chain of beautiful tropics-themed motels in the 60's in Modesto, Indio, Rosemead, Blythe, Palm Springs, and elsewhere, usually with an adjacent Sambo's. The cute little elfin tile to the left identifies a Ken Kimes property. But though this happy gnome appears to be toweling off without a care in the world, today the Kimes name is associated with something a bit more insidious.

Tiki Time Is All The Time

When the weather gets hot, I long for a trip to the Desert Cities, for here can be found pools and A/C and rum-based drinks and lazing about in a drying swimsuit and robe. I am reminded of our visit to the Caliente Tropics motel in Palm Springs, a terrific exercise in 60's Polynesia that has been nicely updated. Plus it is so pet-friendly, there were free dog biscuits on arrival. Now if only they had in-room rum...

flickr photo by JennRation Design

Eh, What's Up, Legal Counsel?

If it looks like the Big Bunny Motel in Lakewood, CO used to be the "Bugs Bunny Motel," that's because it was. Built in 1952, the Bugs Bunny merrily evaded danger for forty-five years, until Warner Bros. finally reminded them that the name is actually a copyrighted intellectual property. The sign should have just disguised itself in a dress and wig, and they'd have never recognized it!

flickr photo by kham

If Your Famly Loves Swiming and Efr Gerati N...

...the Cimarron is the ot for you! T fo~fe also available.

flickr photo by roadsidepictures

Safari, So Good

Yesterday I passed the Safari Inn in Burbank for the 47,000th time, and recalled watching "True Romance" last week, where it is featured prominently. Then I remembered it in the 90's TV show "Buddy Faro" with Dennis Farina, whose catch phrase, "I feel like a hundred bucks!", our household still frequently uses. Then I remembered it from a bunch of other things, and thought, "Safari Inn, so many people in showbiz start to show their age after fifty years, but not you. What's your secret -- a little Botox around the pool, a tuck in the ice machine, a chemical peel on the maid cart? Lookin' good."

For Those Who Prefer Lodging Named After Animal Anatomy

The Rabbit Ears Motel in Steamboat Springs, CO has a very unusual name. And a terrific sign. This is another of those "which came first" deals -- did they already have a sign made that suggested the name, or did they really want a motel called "Rabbit Ears," and went out and made it happen? Somehow, I hope the latter.

flickr photo by bendo1

BVA: Before Venti Americano

Back around 1981, our motel put a Keffe Coffee Bar in every room. It was just a pot for boiling water, which you would pour into a styrofoam cup of instant coffee. If you were road-weary and looking for something to pry open the eyes, it was probably a welcome beverage. But by age 12 I was a coffee snob, grinding my own chicory-blend roast and drinking it in a mug from New Orleans. I wanted nothing to do with the Keffe Coffee Bar, and treated it with scorn and derision.

Until I took one with me to college. Because being the only guy on the dorm floor who can boil water in his room made me Mister Popular. I take it all back, Keffe Coffee Bar. How can I undo all the mean things I said about you? How can we heal our damaged relationship and move on?

Hi-U Country

Browsing for candidates in the "Motel Names I Don't Understand" category, I came across the Hi-U Motel. Then I found ANOTHER Hi-U Motel. And I don't know what EITHER of them mean. One is in Washington, and one in Colorado, which is tragic, because so much distance separates them, yet they're clearly meant to be together.

flicker photos by toryvanc and agilitynut

The Continuing Saga Of Motels That Used To Be Travelodges

The Pomona Lodge in, I believe, Pomona, used to be a Travelodge. Added bonus: The only way the Jack In The Box next door could be any closer to your room is if you were staying at the Jack In The Box.

I Am The Keymaster

"Drop in any mailbox, we guarantee postage." Did this really work, and was it cost-effective? Absolutely yes, and absolutely no.

When we got keys mailed back to us, they would arrive wrapped in a piece of taped paper with a postmark stamped on it. While you made small talk with the mail man ("Whaddya got, Stan?" "Got another one for ya there." "Oh yeah, people sure are forgetful. How's the wife?"), you went into the cash drawer for the quarter to pay the COD charges. That was the cost of the key, since the tags were cheap and the labor to make them was free (I ground the new keys myself). So why bother? Because it made the panicked guest feel better to know that when they discovered the key in their luggage days later, all they had to do was find the nearest mailbox. We ate the extra cost so they wouldn't freak out and do something crazy, like drive the key hundreds of miles back to our motel to return it. Yes, it happened -- honesty can make people do strange things.

photo from flintexpats.com

Kick Your Cares Down The Stairs

What famous motel chain got its name from a movie? No, not the "White Men Can't Jump Lodge." From the 1942 film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, it's "Holiday Inn."

The story goes that when motel founder Kemmons Wilson was planning his chain in 1952, architect Eddie Bluestein named the place after the Crosby/Astaire vehicle as a joke, and the handle stuck. Other movies from the same year were "The Mummy's Tomb," "The Corpse Vanishes," and "Bambi," so he chose well.

"Holiday Inn" is a terrific picture, about a singer and a dancer who start a swinging joint that's only open on holidays. This allows for lots of Irving Berlin musical numbers based around Valentine's Day, the Fourth of July, and so on, with an unfortunate blackface segment for Lincoln's birthday (he freed the slaves, get it?). Of course, the most famous piece of all is saved for the song "White Christmas." What, you thought the song "White Christmas" debuted in the film "White Christmas?" That's just silly.

Here's a great video review of "Holiday Inn" -- with clips -- from the New York Times.

Motel Names I Don't Understand, Part III

This is the Circle Arrow Motel, formerly in Orlando, FL.

How does a motel get such a peculiar handle? Some possible explanations:

1) The sign was already made but not lettered, seemed like the obvious choice
2) Sits at the corner of Circle and Arrow Streets
3) Named after the owner, Billy "Circle" Arrow
4) Was originally called the "Gender Symbol For Man Motel"
5) "Disc And Pointy Thing Motel" already taken

Motel Musings: Ghosts

As motels didn’t proliferate until the 1950s, you will not find them haunted by top hat-wearing men or elegantly-gowned women. The ghosts that occupy motels are likely to be hippies, disco dancers, soccer moms, grunge rockers, or internet start-up founders. Rather than falling victim to an outbreak of tuberculosis or a stray Winchester bullet, these spectres probably expired from advanced carpal tunnel syndrome, or some kind of iced latte-induced brain freeze.

For musings on HOTEL GHOSTS, visit Hotel Me More!

Do I Know You?

What do Starbucks, hermit crabs, and pod people have in common? They all cozy up inside the shells of their former inhabitants, while maintaining the same outward appearance. Such is the case with the Hollywood Econolodge.

For those of you not as steeped in the minutiae of motel architechtura as your Humble Narrator, the sign is a dead giveaway that this was once a TraveLodge. See for yourself:

Think of this the next time you're on the road and see a motel sign that looks vaguely familiar, but don't know why. Or think of something else. It's your brain.

Incidentally, my family's TraveLodge in Alamogordo was changed to the "All-American Inn" after my mother bought it from the company, then when she sold it, the new owners turned it into an "Economy Inn." Econolodge -- Economy Inn... a clear pattern is emerging for the inhabitants of former TraveLodges, and unless I'm badly mistaken, it all points to someone named Bob Econo.

Necessary Roughness

All motels should be required by law to have a rock design element as groovy as the Hollywood Downtowner:

Here's a gratuitous close-up -- make it your wallpaper, and live the dream every day!