Motel 6, the ubiquitous roadside stop that took its name from its original nightly rate, will turn 50 this year, marking a historic milestone for a company that now hosts guests in more than 100,000 hotel rooms across the country.
Founded in Santa Barbara in 1962 by William Becker and Paul Greene, developers of low-cost housing in California, Motel 6 moved the bottom line to the top of its priority list, shaving off amenities in service of making its rooms affordable to everyone. In doing so, the company set off something of a motel renaissance -- just ask the Patels -- and introduced travelers to a new type of comfort: the assurance of familiarity.
From the beginning, Motel 6 guests were offered a set suite of services: free coffee, pet-friendliness, two bars of soap and the same crisp no-iron sheets. Nowadays, the services offered generally include Wi-Fi and cable, but the thinking behind this represents consistency rather than change. What basics do travelers need? Give them that.
In a slight departure from form, Motel 6 will renovate a number of rooms to celebrate its anniversary, giving the walls a new coat of brighter paint and sprucing up the furniture and counter tops. And no, these rooms won't cost six dollars a night.
Here are a selection of vintage ads for Motel 6: