If I’d travelled in summer, I’d have camped a few nights. If I’d got in the car each day knowing where I was headed, I’d have done an obsessive amount of planning (spreadsheets) and I’d definitely have used 9Flats and AirBnB more. But I didn’t. Aside from the 9Flats and AirBnB accommodation (booked in advance), and a few places we just parked outside in a hopeful fashion, everything was found and booked via Priceline, Booking.c0m, Orbitz, and Expedia on a mobile on a bouncing knee in the car in the dark, and generally, only a few minutes before we wanted to stop. Obviously this approach has its pros and cons.
Pro: You have an address of a motel or hotel to tap into the SatNav / GPS. Con: You are committed to staying in it. Pro: your considerable – and stress-inducing – effort coupled with eye-strain and nausea and the nuisance of having to extricate a credit card from some bit of under-seat metal tracking has been rewarded by a small discount of a few dollars. Con: the motel is offering a better rate to last minute walk-ins. And so on.
Anyway, here’s the list of accommodation (starting with a bonus tip for top accommodation in Toronto), incomplete because I can’t remember all the places we visited, or the motel names or the room rates, but possibly of interest to someone else who intends to drive across the States and back on a bit of a budget.
Apartment, Art & Design district, Toronto: sole occupancy of well arty apartment in artsy block off Queen Street West, Toronto (yes,yes, Canada). Highly recommended, great location close to the pricier and often fuller Drake and Gladstone hotels, as well as to Ossington Ave with the best concentration of restaurants in the city. Stylish pad, cosy, plus nice owners, and represented by a newish, European rent-from-owners agency, 9Flats. Original post. 9Flats.com.
The Detroit Homestead, Detroit, Michigan: private room. Recommended, the location is best described as coming up . . . slowly, but the hospitality is topnotch, and the hosts are part of Detroit’s fascinating and complex regeneration. Original post; Book through AirBnB
German Village Motel, Columbus, Ohio: the German Village neighbourhood is lovely, the motel is joyless but cheap. Actually we’d meant to book the German Village Inn but someone made a mistake. Original post. Website, 920 S High St, 43206 Columbus.
Highland Inn, Atlanta, Georgia: old, quirky, affordable hotel with friendly staff and a great location close to Little Five Points and plenty of bars and eateries. Website, 644 North Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, Tel: 404 874-5756
Microtel Inn and Suites, Auburn, Alabama: spotless, big, light and aesthetically pleasing plain rooms from $48 per night. Not sure why you’d want to stay there unless you were too tired to make it to Montgomery, or Mobile or New Orleans, or you lived in Auburn but you’d lost your keys . . . but nice place anyway. 2174 South College Street, Auburn, AL, Tel: 334 826-1444
Hotel Royal, New Orleans, Louisiana: booked the better-located St Helene, but ended up here. Long story. Ground floor room opened onto dark courtyard, not a balcony over streets filled with rowdy jollity, but bedding sumptuous and everywhere’s close in the French Quarter. Original post (for that long story). 1006 Rue Royal, New Orleans, Tel: 504 524-3900.
Bayou Cabins, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana: romantic, authentic, slightly rickety cabins of different proportions on a bayou with breakfasts and warm hospitality provided by the friendly Lisa. Original post. Book direct at www.bayoucabins.com.
Days Inn, Beaumont, Texas: a just-can’t-drive-any-further motel located in a big empty space off the Interstate opposite Starvin’ Marvin’s Bar & Grill. Might be a big old chain but the person on reception was out-of-her-way helpful. Website 2155 North 11th Street Beaumont, Tel: 409 898-8150
Carefree Inn, Luling, Texas: I have a soft spot for Luling, and this place is almost funny. They have their own promotional video. Located at 1908 East Pierce Street Luling. Tel: 830 875-5635.
Microtel Inn & Suites , Austin, Texas: clean and pleasant. Good value. Located at 7705 Metro Center Drive Austin – by the airport (which is handy if your car breaks down and has to be towed to the airport car rental office and replaced). Tel: 512 386-7800
Highland Inn, Alpine, Texas: hardly stylish but fine rooms right by the train tracks in a useful, down to earth Texan town, a short drive from Marfa. The owner has done a lot of film location work and has Tales to Tell. 1404 east HWY, Alpine, Tel: 434 837 5811
Old Cuchillo Bar & Hotel, Cuchillo, New Mexico: unique opportunity to stay in a great, weird place with a top host. Original post, Close to the magnificently named Truth or Consequences. Book through AirBnB.
Howard ‘HoJo’ Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona: one of the first of the old chain to be re-styled and revitalised, and they’ve done a good job. Great value at, from memory, about $58 including tax, but avoid using the cheap coffee makers. Original post. 7110 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale. Tel: 480 361 6001.
3 Palms Scottsdale, Arizona: clean, modern with, of all things, a restaurant across from reception. Relatively swish motel with – at that time – rather snooty reception staff, good value. 7707 East McDowell Road.
Royal Sun Inn, Palm Springs, California: not a monument to desert modernism, but fine and friendly, with loyal clientele, pool and mountain views. 1700 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. Tel: 760 327 1564
Newport Channel Inn, Newport Beach, California: probably best seen on a sunny day, but fine, affordable rooms right on the West Coast Highway – that’s Highway No.1. 6030 W. Coast Hwy , Newport Beach. Tel: 949 642-3030
Motel 6, Carpenteria North, California: industrial-sized misery fest with sluice-down yellow walls and the charm of a high security jail and more expensive than HoJo, Scottsdale. There is a pool. Anyway, in case you also find yourself stranded in a storm, it’s at 4200 Via Real, Carpenteria off the W. Coast Hwy.
Fernwood Motel Cabins Big Sur, California: love this place that combines campsite, cabins and the best sort of quirky motel. Set amongst dripping redwoods on the coast road. Loads of character, good shop and cafe, and bar serving welcome drinks and hearty food. Think we paid $110 for motel cabin. Retro! Website. Tel: 831 667-2422 from $110.
Cow Hollow Motor Inn, San Francisco, California : Hurrah. Motel accommodation doesn’t get easier. Good location, central and close to marina area, on a block lined with restaurants. Plenty of parking, big rooms, reasonable price. Original San Francisco post. Website. 2190 Lombard Street, San Francisco. Tel: 415 921-5800
Smiley’s Schooner Saloon and Hotel, Bolinas, California: Creaky, antique-filled rooms behind local bar with colourful history by lagoon and sea. Top spot, loads of character. Tourists tolerated. Website 41 Wharf Road Bolinas. Tel: 415 868-1311
Days Inn, Fresno, California Days Inn Fresno South: Only if absolutely necessary. Grungy room and smell of burger grease outside. 2640 South 2nd Street, Fresno, CA. Tel: 559 237-6644
Luxor Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Luxor Hotel & Casino , Nevada: Probably the best-value accommodation on the trip – particularly on weekday nights, and it’s certainly got a more than average amount of amenities – shows and exhibitions, slot machines, pool, nicknack shops, bars, restaurants, food courts and chapels! Good fun (for a bit). 3900 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV.
Howard Johnson, Flagstaff, Arizona: Not one of the revitalised HoJos – at least not when we stayed. Good interstate access. Can’t complain at $41. 2520 E. Lucky Lane, Flagstaff.
Inn of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico: nice hotel close to the heart of the place, with lively local bar serving good margaritas and good nachos, and stylish rooms some with fireplaces. We paid $129 but ours didn’t. Website 101 West Alameda Street Santa Fe. Tel: 505 982-4333
Super 8, Wichita Falls, Texas: super-friendly, helpful staff work wonders with this unprepossessing – okay, sinister – budget motel and transform it into a place people actually want to stay in. Like the sign outside promoting their Grrr8 Rates! Close to intersection of HWY 287 and 44 at 1307 Kenley Ave, Wichita Falls.
The Czech Inn, West, Texas: independent hotel built on a large scale in the style of a chain motel. The most comfortable beds of the road trip bar none. The place to stay when Czeching out West. Original post. Website. 114 Melodie Drive West. Tel: 254 826-0900
La Quinta Inn, Huntsville, Texas: north of Houston, convenient for drivers on I-45 (exit 116) and the jail. At $64, slightly more than the Days Inns and Microtels but no doubt worth it in the summer, given the big pool. 124 I-45 North Huntsville, Texas. Tel: 936 295-6454
Budgetel Inn and Suites, Little Rock, Arkansas: This was a very, very weird place. Like staying at a public baths. Rate was $39.95 which is proof that you can be too cheap. 111 West Pershing Boulevard North Little Rock.
Best Western PLUS, Music Row, Nashville, Tennessee: perfectly fine with nice, big rooms and reasonably priced at around $95 per night, but a short cab ride (rather than walk) from the nightlife. 1407 Division Street, Nashville,Tennessee.