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A staple for most road trips – whether they be real or in works of fiction – is stopping at a motel. Whether or not these motels are satisfactory will play a part in how the trip will unfold. If appealing, it will be a relaxing pit stop. If less than stellar, it will either put a damper on the trip or be a humorous story to tell in the future. Regardless, it is a common facet in these types of vacations, which means that motel design is crucial.

Defining “motel”

Let’s start at the beginning by differentiating motels from hotels. It would be easy to explain the difference by simply saying “hotels are bigger and comparatively more luxurious.” However, there is more to it than that.

For starters, the word “motel” derives from “motorist’s hotel,” a term that helped identify hotels with plenty of parking. This is a feature that is useful for Canadians and Americans on long-distance trips. Once upon a time, motel rooms had doors facing the parking lot, which simplified the act of coming and going. Nowadays, this is not as prevalent because some motels instead have inward-facing doors connecting to common areas.

In terms of appearances, hotels are typically single or multi-storied, among other varying designs. Additionally, they have rooms that open to the building’s interior. Motels, on the other hand, are primarily single or double-story buildings with connected rooms. They also have exterior entrances and open walkways.

Generally speaking, motels are less expensive than hotels. This is mostly because they lack the amenities, rooms, and locations that are associated with hotels.

If you want to learn more about hotels, read The Requirements of a Boutique Hotel Building to get a general idea on building and designing them.

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Take the market into consideration

Now that you understand what a motel is, you can start formulating how you will approach constructing one. On top of acquiring building permits and purchasing land on which to build your motel, you should examine your market. Pinpoint the likely clientele for your motel, whether it be a business traveller or a family on vacation.

For example, those on business trips will want coffee machines in their room. Families, on the other hand, might appreciate motel rooms that connect with a side door. Before designing a motel and its rooms, you need to consider the needs of the type of guests that will stay in your motel. Additionally, keep an eye on the competition to observe new trends and ideas in motel design.

Colours and aesthetics for motel design

Traditional motel designs would have you believe that there is only one specific look for these establishments. They are simple and cheap, perhaps even outdated, but comfortable enough to satisfy travellers. It does not always have to be like this, though. Much like hotels, you are not limited to an aesthetic that has been used for decades.

A helpful suggestion would be to take your location into account and incorporate that into the design. Take a look at the Amigo Motor Lodge in Salida, Colorado as an example. Outdoor adventures are prevalent there and the designers apply elements of this into the rooms. Each one consists of some level of mountain chic along with Southwestern desert tones. Brentwood Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York is another example. It aims for a traditional Americana feel and utilizes classic details to enhance the immersion.

As for colour palettes, many opt to use bright and vibrant hues. Certain colours like orange, yellow, and lime provide vibrant energy to the room. Warm colours will enforce enthusiasm whereas cooler colours (i.e. blue and green) can trigger a sense of comfort. At the same time, they could also instill elation.

Applying white highlights and one dominant colour will preserve a clean, minimalistic appearance. While painting all the rooms the same colour is a tempting route, it is not a wise direction to take. Variety is key in motel design. This is especially true for guests who don’t like the colour of their assigned room and want a different one.

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The significance of motel design

According to Lonely Planet, interest in motels was declining by the time the 1980s rolled around. They were essentially bypassed by freeways and were often unable to compete with bigger names and hotels. However, there will always be a demand for something different from the norm. Developers and designers understand this and see potential in properties with unique layouts and historic value. Therefore, applying the best designs can draw attention back to these classic pit stops.

For BUILD IT’s hotel consultation services in design, contact our office location near you. Also, if you want to learn about designing a hotel room, check out our article Understanding How to Decorate a Hotel Room.