Motel 6

Motel 6

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Sleep Cheap! - Motel 6 is the best of the low cost chain motels

Oct 2, 2001
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Price is good. Bed is good. Pillows good.

Cons:No frills (but you do not have to pay for frills either).

The Bottom Line: This would not be my top motel pick, but it is my top pick for budget chain motels.


Motel 6 started out in 1962, and the room was $6. Now, you know where the name came from—that early low $6 price. Although the price is not $6 now, it is low in comparison to other national chains. The average is in the low $40s.

Most folks have heard of Motel 6. “It enjoys the highest recognition factor of any budget chain,” as noted at the web site. This is due to the low priced billboard signs nationwide and also the commercials featuring Tom Bodett. Tom delivers the famous “We’ll keep the lights on” commercials on radio.

An advertising exec heard Bodett of Dallas, TX on the radio as a DJ. The ad guy thought: “Well, boy howdy. This guy could really pitch a low price motel if any of them have a sense of humor.” Motel 6 was the taker, and Bodett became a well known voice with the Motel 6 gig. He has a very down-home, friendly sort of voice, and he sounds like someone you could trust.

A good commercial (even with homey sounding Bodett) will not make a motel chain fly or soar. Motel 6 was solid, but they really nailed the low-price market with the “lights on” campaign. Basically it brought attention to this motel chain, which offered a good bed at good prices.

If you like frills, then you can just click on out. That is not what Motel 6 is about. Although it is nice to be pampered, there are times when a good bed will surely do. If you just need a place to sleep, then Motel 6 is an excellent choice.

You may be wondering how I know about low cost motels. That is a fair question, and I have a good answer. I went to school in Dallas, TX, and I live in NC. I needed cheap rooms as I knocked out those miles. Basically, I drove until I dropped, sacked out at Motel 6 and then drove on. A college student on a tight budget does not care a whit about having mints on the pillow. After that, I was married to the military (or to a military guy at least). Salaries are low, so inexpensive rooms for pack-out moves again were important. I could feel confident that my family could sleep fine at Motel 6 and then hit the rest of the drive.

During the college and military moves, I tried a variety of the low cost chains and some of the no name establishments. Some of the no namers were cheap and had great service, but some were dives. That was very hit and miss. The chains overall were really sad in the low cost range. While Motel 6 was not plush, it was solid. I quickly discovered that I could do better looking for Motel 6 signs than watching the cost signs.

If you do go for the low tell motels, then ask to see the room before you pay. First, they will tend to give you the best they have if you look first. Second, you can pass if they have a really nasty sort of place. I found a few jewels this way, and there were quite a few that I just tucked tail and ran after looking. If the room smells like skunk and the bed feels like a cardboard box, then it is better to say that you have a back condition that will not tolerate the soft, hard, lumpy mattress or whatever excuse you might offer. This may be a southern thing. You can always say: “This place is gross and leave.”

If you do want a nice vacation and plan to spend some time in the room, then spring for a pricier motel or even a cabin (I found one in the mountains that broke down to $50 a night and was great). If you just need a place to rest your head or if you are vacationing but spending very little time in the room, then Motel 6 works out fine.

Overall, Motel 6 has clean rooms with a good bed (or beds) and mid-sized, nice pillows. Most have cable TV. The majority have pools (either indoor or outdoor). Some of the Motel 6’s have breakfast which is solid but bare bones. Do not look for rosebud cut fruits, but you will fill up if they offer breakfast. The coffee tends to strong but tasty.

You need to be 18 to check in at Motel 6 (though some areas require 21). They really do not want to host high school prom parties and such that will wake up in-route travelers. If you want a party sort of place, then you need to check one of the costier hotels. They will overlook some rowdiness for the high price of the room or rooms.

Pets are OK (at most locations). You can have one small pet per room, if you tell them at the front desk (and pay more in some cases). Service pets like seeing eye dogs are always welcome.

One of my favorite things about Motel 6 is the 12 noon check out time. Although I am usually on the fly when I sleep Motel 6, it is nice to be able to sleep in if I need to do that. Many motels have earlier check out times like 10 am. This is generally fine, but if I go through time changes, then that can be a problem.

Another thing to consider is the Motel 6 Calling Card—You can ask at the front desk and get a low cost long distance calling card. This can be charged to your credit card and is a good deal. Motel 6 is about good deals.

Motel 6 will never be a 5 star hotel, and they do not pretend to be or try to be. They are low cost with basics—good bed, good pillows, quiet rooms (generally). If you have any doubts, then ask to see the room. If you don’t think you want to sleep at Motel 6, then just move on down the road. You will find other places to sleep, but you will probably pay more.



Recommend this product? Yes

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