All that earlier rambling about vintage hotels was really leading up to my New Mexico trip: I had been thinking you couldn’t get a proper vintage hotel in the United States. Too much newness and constant improvement here. Things aren’t allowed to slip into dusty grandeur and stay there–someone always has to come along and point and shout and say, “Golly, look at my old-timey place, with Route 66 upholstery on the chairs!”
But I did find a place. It’s really a vintage motel. It’s the Budget Host Melody Lane in Raton, NM. It’s not dripping with Americana, though it does have a nice (but nonworking) neon sign out front. It’s just an impeccably kept up motor court, replete with wood paneling, even on the oh-so-midcentury slanted ceilings.
And it has in-room steam saunas (brand name: Thermasol Suites). I can’t tell you how splendid this is. Whenever I stay at a fancy hotel with a spa, I tell myself I’m going to go use the sauna, and if I actually do, it turns out to be this dreary little room off the side of the ladies’ dressing room, and it’s never open when you want, and so on. But…this was in my room! I could saunify, and roll straight into bed! I could roll out of bed, and straight into the sauna!
The owners say they keep the Thermasol Suites running with spare parts they buy on the Internet, thank goodness. They say the Thermasol Suites were not original to the motel, but probably added sometime in the 1970s. They say the place is so clean because the woman used to be a nun. I say it’s the most fabulous night’s rest I’ve had in recent years, and it cost me less than $60. That’s cheaper than going to a day spa.
And it left me with the exact same glowing love of the past that I’ve gotten at the best vintage hotels in foreign countries. I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait to go back to Raton.
In other hotel news from New Mexico, I do have to give credit to El Rancho in Gallup, NM. It’s not really proper “vintage hotel” caliber because it is too self-conscious about being a tourist attraction. But it’s well kept up and not flashy. In the lobby, Beverly and I ogled furniture made out of cattle horns and signed photos of stars we’d never heard of, then slept soundly in our motel room for $54.
And how can you not love a sign like this?
Yup: that says “Charm of yesterday, convenience of tomorrow.” (Except the lobby wi-fi wasn’t working in the morning, and we heard a girl say, “Convenience of tomorrow, my ass.”)
Or like this?