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The 10 Best Retro Motels in the U.S.

These throwback motels are fun and funky but always with the most modern amenities.

Luxury resorts, dreamy bungalows, and modern home rentals can make for the perfect vacation, but when you want something a bit off the beaten path a retro motel can sate your quirky wanderlust appetite. Think authentic neon signage, vintage-esque pools that conjure all the nostalgia, and expertly decorated rooms that practically beg for a photo moment. We've rounded up 10 of the best retro motels in the U.S. below so you can book an unforgettable escape.

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Blast to the Past With the Best Retro Motels in the U.S.

1. The Dive Motel – Nashville, Tennessee

The Dive Motel
Photo: Courtesy of The Dive Motel

Get ready for a lot of far out '70s nostalgia—and we mean a lot. From swirling red, orange, and yellow rooms with shaggy floors to retro-outfitted bars, Nashville's The Dive Motel will make you feel like you've stepped back into the grooviest era of all.

"We wanted to pay homage to the motel's past, which dates back to 1956 when it was a Motor Inn known as 'The Key Motel,'" says Lyon Porter, co-owner and designer of Urban Cowboy Hotels, which owns The Dive Motel. "We incorporated pieces old and new, from handpicked vintage decor, original '70s wallpaper, soaking tubs and more, ensuring that each room was uniquely designed."

2. The Pearl Hotel – San Diego, California

The Pearl Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of Josh Cho

Nestled in San Diego's charming Point Loma neighborhood you'll find The Pearl Hotel, a mid-century getaway that effortlessly combines chill coastal vibes with a dreamy retro aesthetic. It's a petite motel with 23 guest rooms and an oyster-shaped pool at the center of it all, and has been painstakingly appointed. While the overall look nods to the '50s and '60s, the rooms are airy and bright with a neutral color palette that makes it easy to relax.

3. Pioneertown Motel – Pioneertown, California

Pioneertown Motel
Photo: Courtesy of Belathée Photography

Those craving more of a rustic-retro ambiance should book a stay at Pioneertown Motel, which is located about 15 minutes from Joshua Tree National Park. At first look, you'd guess the motel and its surroundings were straight out of the dusty days of the Wild Wild West.

In actuality, Pioneertown was erected in the 1940s to look like the Old West, and served as a destination for filming movies. Along with 19 guest rooms, there's a 24-hour lounge space called "The Canteen." Fun fact: Gene Autrey stayed in room #9, where he played poker until the sun came up.

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4. Hotel Adeline – Scottsdale, Arizona

Hotel Adeline
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Adeline

If a retro pool party surrounded by swaying palm trees, mountain views, and sunshine sounds like your kind of scene, then a visit to Scottsdale's Hotel Adeline is in order. It's bigger than the other motel-style stays on this list with 213 guest rooms, the majority of which overlook the pool that stretches down the middle of the property. The hotel also features a retro-style poolside bar, indoor dining, and a hidden speakeasy.

5. Stonewall Motor Lodge – Stonewall, Texas

Stonewall Motor Lodge
Photo: Courtesy of Stonewall Motor Lodge

Authentic vintage vibes run amok at the Stonewall Motor Lodge, a classic roadside motel that opened in 1964 and recently underwent robust rehabbing. While safely in modern territory—yes, you'll get AC and WiFi—it still retains a deep sense of retro charm that's only possible when you're looking at the real deal.

The property is pretty small with 16 rooms, four cabins, and four slots for RVs, but this only adds to the whimsy. As a perk, it's located along the famous Hwy 290 Wine Trail, which is dotted with wineries, distilleries, and breweries. Another fun fact: The Stonewall Motor Lodge served as a "menagerie of reporters, photographers, Secret Service, celebrities, and politicians eager to be near the First Family when they visited the LBJ Ranch," notes the website.

6. The Local – St. Augustine, Florida

The Local in St. Augustine
Photo: Courtesy of The Local

The Local is a retro motel that's perfect for a girls weekend, bachelorette party, sister bonding, and beyond. This newly opened, very pink boutique hotel has 20 rooms, and is painstakingly primed for cute photo opps throughout the property. Even better, guests have access to the on-site pool, a dreamy garden lounge area, a fitness center with rotating group classes, and bicycle rentals so they can easily explore the historic St. Augustine surroundings.

7. City Loft Hotel – Beaufort, South Carolina

City Loft Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of City Loft Hotel

City Loft Hotel is located in downtown Beaufort, an enchanting coastal town where several notable movies have been filmed. It was also the setting for Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember, so you can easily imagine how romantically charming it is! With 22 rooms, this upscale boutique getaway features urban design and is conveniently located within walking distance of the city's best food, shopping, and sights.

"Much like Beaufort, City Loft is authentic to its core. It is factually at once 'old,' but very much new again with a bit of a mid-century modern exterior that houses a transitional interior vibe," says owner, Matt McAlhaney.

8. The Drifter – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Drifter in New Orleans
Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Franzen

Built in 1956 and renovated in 2017, The Drifter is a New Orleans gem that's managed to maintain its authentic retro history while still having one foot firmly planted in our modern world. According to the site, its name was "inspired by the iconoclastic Beat Generation of postwar America," and the 20-room motel shone a light on the ""newly hip side of the city by acting as a melting pot for the local and global 'drifters'" who found their way there.

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9. Phoenix Hotel – San Francisco, California

phoenix hotel pool san francisco
Nick Simonite

Now for a rock n' roll twist à la the Phoenix Hotel, a 1950s'-era motor court that, to this day, remains a must-visit for musicians and music lovers passing through town. It's located within the heart of San Francisco—specifically, where the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and Little Saigon meet—but still feels like an oasis of its own.

"More legend than hip hotel, it is a second home to generations of traveling bands, a stone's throw from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the Great American Music Hall and other iconic live music venues, and a cornerstone of the city's storied musical past," the website states.

10. Austin Motel in Austin, Texas

Austin Motel
Photo: Courtesy of Nick SImonite

Aptly named, the historic Austin Motel is nestled inside Austin's popular South Congress neighborhood, which puts visitors within quick distance of tasty dining options, vibrant nightlife, and ample shopping. The hotel opened in 1938, and today remains one of the city's most beloved destinations.

"The history of the Austin Motel and the land on which it stands is not a story of corporate success with multi-million dollar profits, high end stocks, explosive growth into franchises, and financial wizards at the helm," the website states. "It is a story of a small unique little home grown business that has survived well through several generations and over 65 years of continuous operation while experiencing both hard times and joyful good times."

Along with 41 guest rooms and suites, guests can enjoy a premiere swimming pool complete with pool bar, and on-site dining.

Wendy Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a veteran freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers travel, wellness, pets, and beauty. Read more
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