5 Cool Retro Hotels

by Allen Cox  | Photo © Hotel Ruby/Young Kwak

When someone reincarnates a tired old motor inn into a cool hotspot with a new life, that’s cause for applause. It’s recycling on a grand scale. Countless motor inns, popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s, later became potential targets for the wrecking ball. Thanks to people with an aesthetic appreciation for the hot—and sometimes kitschy—designs that graced the buildings when they were new, the “new” hotels emerge sexier than ever. Check into one of these hot digs and feel cool vibes from the late mid-century past. Here’s a lineup of some of Northwest Travel’s recycled retro picks with bigger-than-life personality.

The Burrard Hotel, Vancouver, B.C.

The year was 1956. “Dear Abby” made her debut in newspapers. Little Richard released“Tutti Frutti.” Dick Clark first appeared on “American Bandstand.” And The Burrard opened its doors in Vancouver. Fast forward, The Burrard is still The Burrard, but with a complete renovation. From the construction dust emerged a cooler, hipper iteration of its original self. Perhaps one of the best structural recycling jobs you’re likely to find, this is the place to stay in Vancouver for a visit to the 50s decade, the way it should have been. theburrard.com, tourismvancouver.com

Jupiter Hotel, Portland, Oregon

Located in the East Burnside neighborhood across the bridge from downtown Portland, the Jupiter began its life as a motor inn in the 1960s. In 2004 it was born again, perhaps the trendsetter in Northwest retro. The busy Doug Fir Lounge and patio often sing late into the night, so the hotel offers rooms facing the action for those who just can’t get enough, and rooms on the opposite side of the building for guests seeking peace and quiet.

Rooms run the gamut from economy rooms to lavish suites. Whichever you choose, you’ll be slumbering in the midst of design so imaginative, right down to the wall art, even your dreams will be trendier. Reserve online for special savings. And check on self-guided tour deals to urban wineries. jupiterhotel.com, travelportland.com

Hotel FIVE, Seattle, Washington

A former Ramada Inn from the late 70s is today’s Hotel FIVE. Today, a Pineapple Hospitality property, the whimsical, even capricious approach to design belies the original hotel’s commitment to corporate conformity popular among hotel chains of the time. Now, guests find a lobby comparable to your bachelor uncle’s rumpus room gone wild. Guest rooms are awash with lively color from the wall treatments to the art. Located in the thick of the Belltown neighborhood, you are surrounded by some of the best restaurants in the city and can walk to nearly everything downtown Seattle has to offer. When booking, check the website for hot packages and promos. hotelfiveseattle.com, visitseattle.org
Hotel Rose, Portland, Oregon

Another relic motor inn from the 60s, downtown Portland’s Hotel Rose exudes modern style and comfort. Recently acquired by Pineapple Hospitality, the hotel has their signature vibrant atmosphere. Downtown convenience makes it perfect for business travelers, and the location right across from the Tom McCall Waterfront Park makes it a popular destination for leisure travelers. You can’t beat the Willamette River view from the rooms facing the park. While staying at the Hotel Rose, join the throngs of Portlanders who’ve taken to pedal power and take advantage of their complimentary bicycles. hotelroseportland.com, travelportland.com

Hotel 43, Boise, Idaho

In 1979, The Sunrise Motor Inn opened its doors and later changed to a name designed to attract the business traveler, The Statesman Inn. Now, it’s in its third incarnation as the stylish boutique property, Hotel 43, named so for its location on the 43rd parallel in the 43rd state. Downtown Boise is very walkable, and this hotel is a pleasant stroll from everything from government to the financial district, to city parks, museums, shopping and Boise’s burgeoning food scene. Inside, the décor celebrates retro chic motifs, contemporary amenities and local art. Check the website for a getaway package that’s right for you. hotel43.com, boise.org

Hotel Ruby, Spokane, Washington

Built in the 1960’s as a Rodeway Inn, this old structure got its makeover in 2010. Redubbed Hotel Ruby, today it’s full of bold color and big art, with modern trappings throughout. Located in the heart of Spokane’s entertainment district, near theaters, plenty of dining options, and shopping, it’s an ideal spot for a lively urban getaway. Check out the property’s Sapphire Lounge in your down time. Hotel Ruby has complimentary bicycles for guest use, a perfect way to check out nearby Riverfront Park. hotelrubyspokane.com, visitspokane.com

Modern Hotel, Boise, Idaho

It seems Boise is becoming an architectural makeover mecca. The 50s-era Boise TraveLodge, which looked like early TraveLodges everywhere, had a thorough makeover to become The Modern Hotel. Named after a Depression-era hotel in nearby Nampa that belonged to the proprietor’s grandmother, the name not only celebrates family and regional history, but fits the retro ambiance of this chic boutique inn. Located at the edge of downtown in the up-and-coming Linen District, The Modern has become a popular choice for guests wanting to stay in a stylish space with simple furnishings, clean-line décor and luxury amenities. The hotel’s bar creates some of the best craft cocktails in the West. themodernhotel.com, boise.org