Why You Should Be Looking for Motels on Hotels.com

Picture of brightly colored motel sign

It’s no secret that the travel industry has taken a hit. As a result of current events, places around the world are shutting down, events are being canceled, and many people are opting to stay home to avoid large crowds. In fact, reporting on the subject from Marketplace.org says that about two-thirds of all hotels in the U.S. are at under 50% capacity.

However, the reality is Americans still want and need to travel. Whether it’s to visit family, relocate long-term, or just make the most out of the freedom of working remotely, a lot of us are looking for safer alternatives to mainstream travel accommodations. As a result, one time-honored American establishment is making an unexpected comeback:

The motel.

Long decried for their simplicity compared to more upscale lodging options, news organizations like the L.A. Times report that motels offer several distinct advantages right now. You park out front, they generally don’t have lobbies or special services, and their rooms typically don’t share ventilation with the rest of the building.

As restrictions have tightened, many motels have followed the lead of many other businesses by offering contact-free experiences. Popular chains such as Motel 6 are also likely to be pet friendly, making it easier to travel cross-country with the whole family while still limiting your exposure to others. Motels also continue their tradition of having a lower price point than traditional hotels, with some even having steeper discounts now that less people are traveling.

It’s true, motels have gotten a bad rap, but it hasn’t always been that way. The combination of unprecedented car ownership and cross-country highways in the 1950s and 60s led to a burgeoning market for auto-accessible inns along American roadways. As more people than ever before had the financial and mechanical means to travel long distances, the demand for motels increased. However, as developments in infrastructure allowed road trippers to bypass small towns and concerns about the safety of motels rose, hotels with lobbies again became the primary middle-class road trip of choice. While motels have never truly died, their heyday had almost certainly ended. Until 2020, that is.

There has been a bit of a collective culture shift this year. Part of that has been us as individuals suddenly being hyper-aware of our proximity to others, enclosed spaces, and sterilization. We’ve perhaps always been a little concerned about germs while traveling—and maybe had doubts about whether our hotel bed sheets were clean-clean. Now, these concerns matter more than ever.

While keeping your eye out for a flashing “VACANCY” sign while driving worked fine in 1955, fortunately, sites like Hotels.com now give us the ability to book a motel stay well in advance. You know exactly what you’re getting, peruse reviews, and compare price points all before leaving your home.

Hotels.com doesn’t just do hotels. While you may have to do a little digging to find the perfect motel for your trip, the website has easy, fast ways to identify and book all kinds of inns and lodgings that may be safer than hotels in 2020.

First Stop: The Motels Section

Located at the very bottom of the Hotels.com homepage, you’ll find a fast-track to identifying motels near your destination. The “We do more than just hotels…” section will help you filter out resorts, bed and breakfasts, and motels. Selecting that category will open up another destination page, helping you identify a motel near where you’re headed. This is the fastest way to book a motel, guaranteeing you will have a place to stay when you reach your spot on the map.

Look Closely at the Photos

Given the perception of motels over the last 50 or so years, it’s worth remembering that a lot of motels don’t exactly advertise that they are, in fact, motels. Sometimes they will refer to themselves as “inns,” but this can be confusing, as many classic hotels may use the same moniker.

With that, the #1 way to identify a motel—even if it isn’t called that—is to look through the preview images. Sites like Hotels.com have images of the establishments they work with. You can generally spot a motel by looking for a parking lot, open walkways, and room doors within view. That’s because in a classic motel, you should be able to park right in front of your room without needing to navigate an indoor hallway, another added bonus to staying in one right now.

Learn About Special Amenities

Traditionally, you used to pick a motel at the end of a long day on the road. A vacancy and the promise of a soft bed was all anyone knew about a motel when they got the key to their room. Now, sites like Hotels.com leave you with more options than ever to figure out which amenities inns along your route may have. Every page on the site has a list of the perks offered by each room—this is the best place to find out what will be available in your room when you arrive. Keep an eye out for offerings like kitchenettes, coffee makers, TV, and Wi-Fi, all of which are options that make it easier to stay in your room once you arrive.

Ensure Your Room Stays Clean

Once you’ve found your motel, but how do you keep it safe while you’re there? No matter how detailed the reviews or how attractive the photos, there’s always uncertainty when walking into new travel lodgings for the first time. While we know employees are working hard to keep guests safe, a little extra insurance never hurts. Packing your own fave on-the-go cleaning supplies to swipe over high-traffic surfaces in your room may be a good idea. Countertops, nightstands, toilet levers, and faucets are all great places to do a once over with your cleaner of choice. Depending on your comfort level, it may also be smart to bring your own pillow and sleeping bag.

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