Choosing Motels Over Hotels Can Help You Save Money

If you’re trying to save some money during your upcoming trip, consider staying at a motel a bit off the beaten path rather than a chain hotel at a highway exit. Independently owned motels commonly have lower rates than chain hotels do, and you may discover you like the old-fashioned atmosphere.

Motel Locations

Many motels were constructed before the largest highways were built and before complex entrance and exit ramps were added. While you’ll generally find large chain hotels conveniently located at highway exits, you usually need to travel a bit further to find motels. That may involve continuing on into the city or one of its suburbs, or getting off the highway at a smaller town.

Reasons for Cheaper Rates

Motels generally have fewer amenities than hotels. That’s a primary reason you’ll probably find a nice motel with cheaper rates than a hotel.

Motel rooms tend to be more basic. The establishment may be older and have not been updated or remodeled, even though it’s clean and comfortable. You’re probably more likely to call a motel “quaint” than you would a chain hotel.

Hotels commonly have at least one restaurant on the site, along with a cocktail lounge. Room service is available.

Hotels may have an indoor or outdoor pool—or both. An indoor pool setting may include a whirlpool or a sauna. There may be a game room and a fitness center.

A hotel front desk usually is open at all times, which is convenient for night owls. You can get to the lobby without exiting the building. Motel room doors, in contrast, typically exit directly to the parking lot. You might find the office at one end of the building or even in a separate building.

Location is another reason for lower room rates. Most motel owners need to draw travelers in from the highway since the establishments aren’t located at the exits. 


Many motels do have some of the features hotels offer. An outdoor swimming pool may be available, for example. The owners may serve free continental breakfast in the morning. There often is a restaurant within walking distance or at least just a short drive away.

Finding Motels

If you know where you’ll be stopping for the night, you may want to plan ahead. Search the Internet for lodging establishments situated in the city where you’re heading to—or in a small town nearby. You’ll probably be able to read reviews from previous customers.

If you’re more of an adventurous type, you may prefer to look for motels whenever you decide to stop for the night. Watch for billboards advertising independent motels so you can find these places. If you leave the main roadway for a two-lane highway, you’ll probably find motels such as Ambassador Motor Inn dotting the landscape on the outskirts of towns. 

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