Back in the 70’s and 80’s, being in the top 1% meant an income of $200,000 and more. In these times and if you have a family, that income can leave us feeling barely middle class. Just figuring in the cost of healthcare, housing and education alone leaves us with far less in our holiday kitty. Resorts catering to the 1% are for the über, ridiculously rich and not likely attainable to the rest of we 99%. But just because we don’t travel with a cadre of Louis Vuitton luggage, assistants, an au pair and chauffeur doesn’t mean we don’t desire luxury. So where can we go to feel pampered, engaged, invigorated or enlightened and still pay the bills? Well, how about Europe?
I am having a love affair right now with a budget hotel chain named Motel One. Not even for one fleeting moment allow yourself equate it to the American ‘Motel 6’. Begun in Germany with the concept that style and design need not be exclusive, Motel One’s properties are breathing fresh new blood into the ‘budget’ market. The brains behind the concept, is veteran hotelier Dieter Müeller, who took home the coveted ‘Hotelier of the Year’ award in 2009. Poised to conquer Europe, Motel One now has 48 properties in Germany, Austria, The Czech Republic and UK, with plans to expand to include an additional 26 destinations. Having recently spoken to a German Film Commissioner, who has stayed at many of their locations when traveling for business, I have it on good authority that the properties are also located in prime districts! But location and price line aside, what you get is a delicacy for the senses.
Each property has it’s own distinct styling often created in concert with its location. Yet all have touches of the Motel One signature color, turquoise. In Prague, the bar is embellished with crystal chandeliers. In London, across from the London Tower, the design is based on the crown jewels, Scotland, bits of tartan plaid and in others, the trademark Egg Chairs. Curated by the inimitable Beate Ohnesorge, Interior Designer and Head Buyer, Ms. Ohnesorge will be the first to remind you of the hotel’s motto, ‘All originals – no fakes’. That alone is what takes Motel One to an entirely new dimension in ‘budget travel’.
I have long been a believer that traveling on a budget should never mean scrimping on simple luxuries. Borne to make one’s vacation a true respite, my non-negotiables, a cappuccino when desired and my glass of Pinot Gris at the end of the day, are conveniently all-available in the One Lounge. As with every other well crafted detail, the hotel’s creative use of space melds a Breakfast Café, Living Room and Bar into one congenial arena. At night, the bar area is often cordoned off for an even more intimate experience. Not to be outdone by decor savvy alone, Motel One is situated firmly on trend as even their breakfast leads the hotel pack by serving a variety of organic items, including coffee.
If you’re like me and often travel with your furry family member, breathe easy, Motel One is pet friendly and their fee is a little over $5. per night. Wifi is free and available throughout the hotel. Forgot your iPad or wish to look something up? Motel One has some to borrow. Wish to plan your itinerary with local happenings and must see attractions? Motel One has that covered too on their website. Not only do they list a calendar of events throughout your city of choice, they list many of the sites you don’t want to miss with an interactive map and directions from the hotel.
With rates starting at €59, that’s around $64. for a single and €69. or around $75 for a double, depending on location, the money you save can surely leave a lot extra in your pocket for your must have splurges. Motel One may not be The Ritz but with design, location, styling, elegant rooms and a breakfast that could rival any 5 star hotel, the most redeeming feature at Motel One, is you can actually afford to stay there!
*First Published in Embark Magazine. Photos Courtesy of Motel One.