Retro Roadside Gem Travel Review: The Motor Lodge, Prescott, AZ

Arizona Historic Historic Prescott Motor Lodge Prescott Arizona Prescott Valley Retro Road Trip The Motor Lodge

By: Carol A. Wilcox    Photos by: Paul Wilcox

The first time I drove into Prescott, Arizona, I felt as if I were in northern New England with tall pine trees, hills and mountains, old buildings, an eclectic main street and a town common smack in the center. What could be more New England than that? But here I was, in Arizona, about an hour and a half from Phoenix.   

The-Motor-LodgeBuilt in 1910, The Motor Lodge was originally a cluster of little cabins available for rent during the summer months. Over the years, the dwellings changed hands many times and gradually fell into disrepair. In 2008, the property was purchased by Joe Livingston and Brian Spear and under their guidance, a complete renovation began. Each cabin was given its own eclectic décor utilizing both antique and modern fixtures and furnishings to create a truly unique lodging experience without sacrificing modern comforts. If you know anything about New England (and I do, since Paul and I lived there for many years), you know that it’s the small towns along the old US Route 1 that make up the true character of the region with old churches, municipal buildings, schools, homes, cafes, shops, and for the weary traveler, roadside motor lodges, more commonly known now as motels. That’s exactly the vibe of downtown Prescott, right down to its own quirky retro motel simply called The Motor Lodge. 

On a whim one recent weekend, and because we were craving a change of scenery and looking for some creative inspiration, Paul and I decided to check out The Motor Lodge for ourselves. We were fortunate that they had one room available. 

We arrived late on a Friday afternoon and went into the office to check in. We were greeted by a friendly resident cat and a young woman who offered us a beverage while we were registering, then escorted us to our room.  We were taken to The Hideaway, which is actually a newer room built in the back of the motel by the owners and accessed by either a small alleyway between buildings or by the side street where safe, overnight parking is allowed. It has a private entrance and little patio where on warmer days you could have breakfast or enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. 

Once inside The Hideaway, we were pleasantly surprised to find an immaculately clean and beautifully decorated room complete with a top-quality California king-sized bed, antique lighting fixtures, comfy mid-century chairs, an interesting bathroom with an antique vanity dresser converted into a sink, a tile shower with a stone floor, a skylight, and a gorgeous stain glass window. The bathroom entrance was made from an old wooden door that slid closed. For our closet, there was an antique wardrobe. A full-sized coffee pot (with a good supply of coffee, tea and hot chocolate), and a small refrigerator sat next to the wardrobe. A little alcove in the room next to the bed had a luggage rack tucked into it so that we could easily access our suitcase. A long, lighted glass panel in the alcove turned a variety of colors and could be used as a nightlight or turned off completely (by using a converted antique electrical switch) if you preferred a darker room for sleeping. Everywhere we looked, we saw interesting pieces of décor including an old movie projector sitting on top of the wardrobe.

Many of the rooms in the main section of the property feature gas fireplaces and private porches. There is room for one car per guest with some rooms having covered parking spaces. There are a couple of cozy outdoor sitting areas with fire pits that are lit in cooler evenings where guests can enjoy conversation with a favorite beverage. Everywhere you look on the property, a visitor can see whimsical antique accents and art including an old orange Ford pickup truck guarding the entrance to the property. 

The downtown historic Prescott area is filled with many independently-owned restaurants, cafes and shops and friendly, helpful people which makes up the unique character of this area. And it's an easy three-block walk or drive from the motel, so you won't have far to travel or run out of things to do or places to eat during your stay.  

Our visit to The Motor Lodge was short but much more enjoyable than we had anticipated, and we plan on returning soon. As we checked out, we were given a small bag of freshly made chocolate chip cookies to take with us for the road. Thoughtful touches and hospitality at its best, at this retro roadside gem! 



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