Hotels • June 2017
Get your motor running on your next US driving trip and check into one of these design-savvy roadside retreats. From Palm Springs to Miami, travel writer Sunshine Flint reveals five hip reinventions of an American institution
There’s no other town so synonymous with mid-century modern architecture as this Southern Californian oasis, and the Ace Hotel Palm Springs makes the most of its modernist heritage. Formerly a Westward Ho motel, the Ace is the ultimate in desert chic. Flaunt it by the asymmetric pool and line up for frosty micheladas (aka a beer bloody Mary) and delicious tacos at King’s Highway, the hotel restaurant that was once a Denny’s fast-food joint. And every Monday night is bingo night.
The drive from Miami to Key West through the Florida Keys is one of the most fun and scenic road trips in the US. Break up the journey with a stay at Casa Morada, an all-suite boutique hotel that was once a 1950’s roadside motel. Lush gardens are filled with native plants, reducing the need for extra irrigation, and include a waterfall and bocce court. On a private island, connected to the resort via a footbridge, are the pool and gazebo where sunset cocktails are served nightly.
With just the right mix of old (acoustic tiles still on the ceiling) and new (catenary lights hanging in front of a wall of wooden boards) design elements, The Graham & Co. is one of the hippest spots in the Catskill Mountains, about two and a half hours north of New York City. The hidden pool, badminton court and fire pit all have views of the gentle peaks, and the motel is just a short stroll from the town centre, where you’ll find Sweet Sue’s famous pancake breakfasts.
The Jupiter Hotel is a 1960’s motor lodge-turned-hotspot in East Portland that manages to marry a mid-century aesthetic with a log cabin vibe. The central courtyard is a social place to gather, and the Doug Fir Lounge and Restaurant is one of the best music venues in town. Request a room on the bar side if you’re down to party, or if you’re looking for quiet, ask for a room on the ‘chill’ side. A lot of the rooms are decorated with large paintings from local artists, and you can leave your own artwork – the back of every door is a chalkboard.
The Vagabond Hotel on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami’s MiMo district announces itself with jaunty, space-age design – sputnik chandeliers, the angled porte-cochère and the original 1950’s neon sign. Behind the roadside Vagabond Kitchen and Bar, the rectangular blue pool and open-air bar in a landscaped courtyard is the centrepiece of the hotel, whose pool parties are some of the most popular in the city. The retro-mod look is carried throughout the rooms with geometric stencils on the walls and bright aqua accents.