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Motel 6 Review: Pros, Cons, Tips

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Motel 6 updated bedroom upscale design with soft lighting

Should Motel 6 “Leave the Light on” for You? 

Times are tough and travelers are changing their hotel spending habits. Some seek bargains at Hotwire or Priceline. Others downgrade the quality of their motels and hotels by using budget chains like Motel 6, in order to save money.

Motel 6, the most well-known low-cost motel chain, has a mixed reputation. With this Motel 6 review, these pros and cons and tips for booking should help you decide.

Motel 6 review: pros

Rooms like this are getting excellent Motel 6 reviews

Above, chic and contemporary designs in new and remodeled rooms are changing Motel 6's “cheap” image and garnering great Motel 6 reviews. It helps that the owners until 2012 were French. In spite of the changes, Motel 6 remains the lowest cost national chain.

  • Motel 6 charges less than any other truly national chain.
     
  • You can cancel guaranteed reservations up to 6:00 p.m. local time on the day of arrival without penalty.

    This can be a huge advantage on road trips, when you may decide to drive more or less than the time originally planned.
     
  • You know almost exactly what you are getting. 
     
  • Motel 6 buys quality mattresses, which are as comfortable as those in far more expensive motels and hotels. 
     
  • At least one desk or table comfortably fits a laptop.
     
  • Motel 6 does not charge for local calls. There are no long distance access fees.
     
  • Most locations offer pools (usually small), a perk not always available at budget motels, as well as a coin laundry. 
     
  • Away from cities, a working class pace of life predominates. 


    By this, I mean guests tend to go to bed early for an early start on their drive in the morning, just what you may want on a long road trip. At these locations, few vehicles remain in parking lots after 8:30 a.m.

  • Well-behaved pets are allowed, wtih one per room not left alone in room and on leash or properly carried outside room. (Also, a possible disadvantage listed below.)

Motel 6 review: cons

An older Motel 6 room, not remodeled

Motel 6 still has many locations that need renovation. The room above gets a good Motel 6 review for cleanliness and a comfortable bed, but the dated carpet and TV give it a tired look. “Tips for booking” and “New and remodeled Motel 6 locations” found below show you how to identify what you will experience. 

  • Other than HBO, ESPN, Wi-Fi, and comfortable beds, expect bare bones budget motel amenities even when renovated. 

    Motel 6 provides just enough towel square footage and soap for one night. You may wish to bring an alarm clock, a radio, and shampoo.
     
  • Few Motel 6 locations have elevators. If required, request a ground floor room in the comments section on Motel6.com
     
  • Most Motel 6 room doors open to the outside. This helps provide fresh air but does not provide the extra security of visitors having to pass through a main door and lobby. However, Motel 6 does provide security locks and chains for its doors.
     
  • Except for its few locations in major cities, you will probably need a car to access Motel 6, which are frequently located away from convenient public transportation.
     
  • Some Motel 6 customers smoke in non smoking rooms. This can be a problem at any hotel, but seems considerably more prevalent at budget chains.
     
  • Although Motel 6 locations purchased from former owners may have larger rooms and thicker walls (one room in Oklahoma City was actually palatial), we are not talking Buckingham Palace. 

    Generally, walls and ceilings are thin and what happens in adjacent rooms may impact you more negatively than at some more expensive hotels.

    In my case, periodic problems with other guests have always occurred at suburban and university town budget Motel 6 locations, not at ones along major highways.

    For example, in the Humboldt State University town of Arcata, CA police were called to Motel 6 an amazing 285 times during 2011, according to Jessica Callahan of the Arcata Eye newspaper. One employee at this location told me that most problems tend not to come from tourists or business travelers but from local people "coming to party" in a room.

    On the other hand, if you travel a lot, you know that guest problems are not unique to Motel 6 and other budget chains--not at all!
     
  • You may not wish to avoid where pets are allowed. However, Motel 6 policy does confine these to designated rooms.

Tips for booking Motel 6

Motel 6 - new decor & bed design


Reserving at Motel6.com usually provides rates as low or lower than using senior or other discounts. If you have no Internet access, call 1-800-466-8356.

Seniors 60+ get 10% off. Kids 17 and under stay free in same room as parents. Weekly rates are available. International Student Identity Card holders receive a discount. Put that you qualify for one of these discounts in the comments section on the reservation form and then make sure the receptionist notices at check in.

To find locations, enter just a state name on the Motel6.com reservation form and click on submit. This brings up a state map and a list of cities that have a Motel 6. In the descriptions, note the ones marked “New” like the one shown above or “Refreshed” (remodeled).

Locations called Studio 6 offer fully equipped kitchens and are usually located near major employers.

"Least expensive national chain" does not always mean inexpensive, just less than others in a particular locale. 

In season, Motel 6 locations in Santa Barbara run $150 or more per night on weekends, hard to believe, but still less than other chains.

When possible, plan to stop in less expensive towns. For example on a road trip across Arizona, motels in far less well-known Holbrook cost considerably less than in Flagstaff down the road.

In the case of Santa Barbara, check nearby Carpinteria or Goleta.

New and remodeled Motel 6 locations

Motel 6 - new desk style and upgraded flat screen TV


Be sure to look for new and refreshed (remodeled) locations on Motel6.com. These have done much to promote positive Motel 6 reviews.

  • Those marked "Refreshed" impart a fashionable style that leaves your image of Motel 6 and other budget accommodation behind.

Ones marked "New location" come in 2 types: 



  • Newly built by Motel 6, with modern décor,

  • 

Purchased in good condition and given new paint and carpets when needed. 



    For example, the Motel 6 in Metropolis, IL I stayed at during September 2012 looked like a Comfort Inn and came with Comfort Inn furniture in perfect condition.

    The changes I noticed were the price, an Internet rate of $35.99 instead of the former $79 or $89 or whatever, the fresh paint, and the typical lack of facial tissue and shampoo at Motel 6. With higher occupancy, the chain can make money with these lower rates.

New and refreshed ones are my favorites, as well as the Motel 6 in Weed, CA along the I-5 Interstate, which offers spectacular views of Mount Shasta.

Motel6.com

Comments

Spencer
July 23, 2013

I have to say I like Motel 6. You always know what you are going to get when you book a hotel room with them and if you are literally only looking for a place to crash one night it is a very good and affordable option.

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sarita
July 15, 2017

I was looking for a low-cost hotel, but I admit I was a bit shocked to see that they didn’t even provide shampoo. I figure it would only cost them about a quarter which could be added to the cost without much impact either way
My room was clean, didn’t smell smoky, and had a refrigerator and microwave which made it work for me. When everything else is crazy expensive which seems to be happening this summer, it is a viable option. But look around and see the neighborhood and the fellow guests and decide whether that is something you can live with. Some of the guests were kind of creepy, but maybe that is what living long term in a budget motel does to you :-)

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Don Nadeau
July 19, 2017

Thank you so much Sarita.

Have often wondered about that lack of soap. However, they do have good TVs and HBO so that keeps me happy in the evenings.

Yes, definitely research the neighborhood. I’m fortunate to be able to stay in many fine hotels but use Google Maps street views for all unknown ones. Like to be around nice areas to walk, lots of good meal choices, etc.

I still use Motel 6 once in awhile (a habit from my backpacking days) on road trips, where I do not want to have to cancel far ahead if drive is going faster or shorter than anticipated. Can cancel without penalty until 6:00 p.m. local time. That’s a big plus for Motel 6. Even if it shows sol out, you have a good chance of finding a room if you queue up to be there at 6.

As mentioned in the post experiences tend to be better at the remodeled ones and better at ones in small towns.

Thank you again for reading and posting.

Don

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