We were on a strict budget for our USA road trip of the Deep South which meant we tried lots of USA cheap motel chains.
When I was researching these options before we left home, I worried about how dodgy the rooms and hotels might turn out to be. Could a $50 room really be ok? As I posted in my Motel 6 post, the budget options were very good, and I worried for nothing. I love how many cheap motel chain options exist in the USA. If only Australia had the same option then I would be able to go away all of the time!
Choosing cheap motels
I did do a fair bit of research into each place we stayed. I didn’t just book the cheapest one but weighed up price, reviews, facilities and location. For example, we found that it was worth paying a little bit more for a fridge and microwave when this was possible as we would save that money back by self catering, and we were able to eat a much better diet. We generally spent less than US$70 a night for accommodation, and often closer to the $50 mark.
We recommending using HotelsCombined to find the best deal. The site shows you all the prices across the best hotel booking sites so you can be sure to find the best deal.
Cheap motel facilities
All the places we stayed had good size rooms. All were clean and all had great heating. Most had breakfast included and most had a self service laundry for about $1.75 per load for washing and the same price for an hour of drying. Many places had a pool, although it was too cold to use the outdoor ones which were usually unheated. Apart from Motel 6, we always had free wifi.
We were always able to book a room with two double or queen beds without any issues. The kids were free. This is one of the best parts about accommodation in the US – it makes it so easy for families. None of the constant mucking around I had when trying to book accommodation in Asia about how much extra the kids would cost.
Since we didn’t stay at many USA motel chains more than once, and I did look for ones with good reviews, my thoughts are not founded on lots of experience. However, they will give you an idea of what you might find in a cheap motel USA.
We stayed in one of these in Clearwater. It was nice and clean. We had a decent size room, good breakfast and service. However, it had a mold smell and room was more basic that other places we stayed.
This ultra cheap motel chain worked well for us. We stayed in one at Tallahassee which was very centrally located. We had a great big room. The cheaper prices means less extras than the other chains we stayed at – no breakfast, no free wifi, no fridge or microwave. It is worth thinking about whether paying a bit less is worth going without these other things, as they can end up costing you more money in the long run. It costs extra for wifi.
We stayed in a central Motel 6 in Columbia too – you can read a full review or see the latest prices. It was a new one that still had a label over the old motel sign! The room was fine with a lot of new stuff, but it was a smoking one. It was not as quiet and we could hear TVs in multiple directions. The clientele was a bit “different”. It was not as comfortable as the other Motel 6 we stayed at, but it was also cheaper at only $37.
Microtel Inn and Suites
This is a hotel chain rather than a motel, and it was obvious immediately when we arrived at our Daphne stay (Mobile Alabama), that it was a step above the other motel chains we had stayed at. The room was nicer and fancier. However, it was smaller and had far more noise from other rooms. It impressed us initially, but I think the cheaper brands were actually better overall in this case. It still had only basic services though – the people were friendly and nice but they were not going out of there way like a pricey hotel.
We also stayed in one in Atlanta where we had the same impressions. I liked our room there a lot, but it was also on the smaller side. It was nice and quiet though.
Baymont Inn and Suites
This was like a cross between the Microtel and more basic motel chain option. The one we stayed in in New Orleans (read our guide here) was set up like a hotel, but with a smokey, smelly hallway. It did include toiletries but no extras such as a microwave and fridge. The staff were not very helpful – they wouldn’t even give us change for their own washing machines. The breakfast was good with some eggs and sausage on top of the usual basics.
Red Roof Inn
This motel chain was quite a bargain. The room had a table and chairs which didn’t happen very often but made our life easier. There were some toiletries, but no breakfast. We paid extra for a room with a fridge and microwave. Unfortunately, there were no laundry facilities. The room servicing was ridiculously bad especially as they came and asked us if we wanted the “full” service. It turns out they just mean they will take away some of your rubbish! Our room was quite nice though.
America’s Best Value Inn
I found this motel chain’s name a bit stupid, but it was quite good value. Our room rate in Scottsboro, Alabama included breakfast, fridge, microwave and some toiletries. Unfortunately, they did not have an operating laundry despite advertising one which is what we needed most. We were desperate so thankfully they did it for us within 3 hours for $10. We had a nice looking room. The staff were friendly. We were happy.
The Ramada in Chattanooga was one of our favourites. It was a step above the other ones. It just felt like a good hotel. The reception was lovely, and our room was perfect. There was a fridge, microwave, comfy beds, a good breakfast, toiletries, table and chairs, laundry and an indoor pool – BUT they wouldn’t let us use the pool before 10am grrr. We had a very upset little girl when they told us this and there was no good reason for it.
Jameson Inn and Suites
We stayed here in Helen. It was an absolute bargain as it was one of our best rooms and very cheap. It only costs $40 a night on weeknights. It was very comfortable with nice furnishings and decor, a decent bathroom, convenient location and a fabulous indoor pool. It also included toiletries, a fridge and a hot breakfast.
Four points by Sheraton
As you can probably guess by the name, this hotel was a step above the rest. I include it here as it was definitely a budget option at $59 including tax when we stayed in one in Jacksonville. It was three star rated whereas others I’ve written about are generally 2.
There was beautiful big comfy beds (pillows to die for after the last couple of weeks), a very nice room which was a decent size, but no extras such as a fridge, microwave and breakfast. We were very happy with our stay here. It’s hard to describe how it was better but everything was just a bit better, especially the linen and pillows. There was no noise at all.
We stayed in two of these in St Augustine and Miami. They both had nice rooms with microwave and fridge. They were a bit smaller than usual and there was no breakfast included. The beds were quite hard. We found cheaper chains much better, but we stayed at these hotels because they had a great location, so they can be a better pick for that reason.
You can read more about our overall thoughts of our Deep South road trip.
What is your favourite USA motel chain?
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Tags: Accommodation USA Travel Blog