Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Vacation: Motel 1

[And now for the promised assorted notes from me]

Our hotel in Edinburgh was something I haven't encountered in the US: inexpensive without feeling cheap.

Motel 1 is apparently a German chain that is spreading around Europe, and has a very distinctive style. The best word I can come up with for our room is "spare".

It eschewed all the usual superfluities -- no pad of paper, pens, guidebooks and the like -- but went much further than that. There was no telephone, presumably on the theory that everyone travels with a cell these days. Nor was there a clock -- if you needed an alarm, you could set the TV to wake you up. (As we discovered the hard way our first morning there, when we were awakened at 8:30 AM by a children's show babbling in German with brightly-colored and rather abstract animation. As groggy as I was, the effect was rather trippy.)

It was very distinctly a bedroom, with none of the living-room trappings you usually see. Instead of a desk with a faux Aeron chair, there was a small table, with a stool underneath it if you needed. There was essentially a one-seater sofa. If you wanted more comfort, the hotel's lounge and bar is spacious, comfortable and open 24 hours.

(The only thing that felt slightly optional was the electric tea-kettle. But this *was* Britain, and one has to accomodate local tastes. And Kate quite appreciated it. OTOH, she was rather put out by the complete lack of any shelves on her side of the bed, which did seem like an error to me.)

All that said, what *was* there was very well-executed. The bed was solid, and more comfortable than average, not the saggy horror of a typical cheap hotel. The furnishings, especially in the bathroom, were fairly fancy Danish-modern in style -- probably not Kohler per se, but that sort of thing -- which suited the slightly Spartan approach.

And in return, the price was excellent -- 60-something pounds for a hotel room smack in the city center, across the street from the train station. (And the vastly more expensive Balmoral.)

All in all, I'd say the chain is a win, and a surprising one for me. I have an aversion to "economy" hotels in the US, precisely because I do find them "cheap" in the pejorative sense. Yes, I know my privilege shows here, but staying in a Quality Inn last month drove home why I don't do that: everything about it felt *chintzy* -- poorly-executed, old and decaying. (My go-to chain is usually the mid-range Hilton Garden Inn, which is the least expensive I've found that is reliably decent.) This was quite different: like I said, spare and inexpensive (for downtown), but nonetheless consistently high-quality.

Good stuff, and I hope the chain makes its way to the US.
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