Why I Prefer Lesser Motels
Not because I am cheap…entirely.
I do not want, need, or will have use for a golf course or two, indoor an/or outdoor pool, sauna, restaurant, casino, bar, spa, tennis courts, hiking and tour opportunities, etc. I will be there only one night.
Being on a motorcycle for most occasions where I need a motel room makes things simpler and more complicated at the same time. From that point of view, here are the reasons I prefer lesser motels.
Parking: I would like to park my motorcycle as close as possible to my room, and I would like that room to be on the ground floor. I would like to be able to see the motorcycle from my room.
In an expensive motel, the first floor will be taken up with restaurants, spas, gyms, locker rooms, shopping outlets, and all sorts of furbelows. Possibly no rooms on the first floor at all.
An expensive motel will usually offer valet parking, and subtly encourage guests to use the valet service by placing the parking lot a long way away from the actual building. I might be able to unload my bike near the front door, which will often take two or more trips to the room, but then I will need to move it far away to where I cannot see it. Not good.
On a recent stay at an expensive motel (I was not paying for it), by the time I had unloaded my bike and then moved it, I had walked 2.2 miles – literally!
I stayed in a motel in North Dakota once where the first floor was actually below ground level. From the bed I could look up and see the front wheel of my bike. That is a little extreme.
When I worked in the motorcycle business the best part of my job was leading customers on rides. A few times a year these rides would be four or more days long. One day the sales manager was asking me about them, and I explained that I booked fairly inexpensive rooms and shared a two bed room with another male rider. I did this because most of the customers were using up precious vacation time, were on a budget, and did not have the luxury of an expense account like me. Also, it was great to get to know customers as friends beyond simply sales targets.
I also tended to not eat much on these trips – a large breakfast and a simple dinner, and often just a candy bar and pop or water for lunch. Very little alcohol, and then only when the riding was done for the day. Little alcohol because riding a motorcycle with a hangover is not something I want to experience.
When I finished, he looked at me as if I were some sort of rare and exotic creature he’d never before seen and did not understand. If he were traveling on the company dollar, I realized, it would be a suite for a room and steak and lobster for dinner at the very least!
At one of our rider club meetings someone asked for a show of hands of all the people that had slept with me- it was about two dozen! I never had a disagreeable roomie in all these adventures.
Staffing: In an expensive motel you will be dealing with a raft of employees, and usually none of them have any responsibility other than the dictates of their specific role. This can lead to indifference. In a spendy motel if you are dressed in motorcycle gear it will surely lead to indifference. You are not likely to need any of the many services on offer that usually result in tips. No income, no interest. This is ironic, because a lot of traveling motorcyclists are actually financially well off, and would not mind spending money on services that would be useful, if any were offered.
In a lesser motel you will probably be dealing with the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or at least someone who knows the owner. Everyone involved has a financial, familial, or at least social interest in your welfare. Interest breeds an enjoyable stay.
Speaking of social, I have noticed on the rare occasions when I stay at a posh motel (again, usually because someone else is paying for it) that people checking in rarely speak to others, and say as little as possible to the staff. Maybe if you are wealthy you find that most people who you don’t know who speak to you want something – your time or money or approval.
In lesser motels you will usually have a pleasant chat with the desk person when checking in, and during an evening stroll it is easy to strike up conversations with other guests. Especially, of course, others who are on motorcycles. Even then, in a lesser motel motorcycles are objects of interest and curiosity, where in the posh places they seem almost like an embarrassment, like they don’t quite now what to do with you.
Of course, you can go too far. A friend recently stayed at a hostel sort of place that was certainly reasonably priced, but the coed sleeping area was in a small room with triple stack bunk beds. That is a step too far for me. I have also on occasion, usually late in the day when I cannot find a better option, stayed in a motel that was run down to the point of seedy, with the remains of the last two names the motel went by fighting for space on the sign, and a resident drunk to attempt to talk my ear off.
Overall, I prefer what I would term a level B or C motel. My favorites are motels in small towns that have not changed much since they were built a half century or so ago. A dozen or more rooms in a long line, or maybe in the shape of an L.
Most of these motels are competing with the high-end palace out by the freeway, so they will have a coffee maker in the room, TV and WiFi and all that, and other amenities. Love those.
Ok, and I am cheap.
Ride safe, ride fast, and ride often!
Copyright 2019 David Preston