The Birth of the Motel
Motels never really caught on a great deal in Britain at first. One reason may be the fact that we like to have things a little more organised in this country, and we prefer to have our hotel stops well planned out in advance; the thought of simply rolling up at night to a hotel, tired and hungry and hoping that there is in fact room for us does not fit easily with the UK psyche! I do suspect though that another reason is that very few motel rooms really looked like the one above; most of them seemed to be just little boxes, all designed the same way with the same furnishings and with about as much charm as a British rail sandwich.
They were originally designed to be a convenience for people who were travelling by car, serving both holiday makers en route to a resort and business travellers, as well as catering for the convention/meetings market so they were equipped with large car parks and sited on major roads, just as large hotels used to be sited near to railway stations back in the 19th and early 20th century. They were generally pretty informal places with a fairly low standard of service compared to traditional hotels, but since we always get what we pay for the prices will usually quite considerably lower. Many of them had restaurant facilities either on site or at a very nearby pub and they tended to have pretty basic equipment in the room such as small television sets, tea making equipment and, if they were particularly luxurious, they even extended to the odd trouser press too!
Initially most motels were small owner managed establishments but as is the way of all things large companies moved in and bit by bit the concept of a motel chain became more established with each chain having its own style signature. The franchise system proved to be a good one for motels and quite a lot of people found that there were considerable benefits in owning their own establishment but benefiting from the mass advertising and purchasing power of a large chain.
Now that the recession is well and truly upon us the lower costs of motel type operations has become far more attractive to individuals and companies who were more used to spending that little bit more to get a little bit more comfort and personal service; good to have when times are good but a little expensive when money is tight!