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The facade of the Pearl shows its mid-century Modern architecture with clean lines
Photograph: Josh Cho Photography

The best retro hotels and motels in the USA for vintage vibes

These charming flashback hotels bring you all the midcentury modern vibes you could ever want

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

A retro hotel is a beautiful thing—it lets you travel back in time as well as geographically. Interest in the midcentury modern aesthetic will always be with us, and shows like Mad Men and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (not to mention the movie Don’t Worry, Darling) have us itching to nurse a Manhattan while we lounge on aqua and tangerine pool tiles. The minimalist vibe with clean lines and bright colors makes us relax into our vacation, with nostalgia for an era we may not have even lived in but still admire. Some of these hotels have been around for the duration, while others are newly opening with a created vintage look—and it may surprise no one that certain sunny locales like Florida and California have multiple hotels in this genre. Here’s a look at some stellar examples of retro hotels in the U.S.!

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Best retro hotels in the U.S.

This 1956 hotel’s impeccable vibe and history even entails a Magical History Tour you can take! From the moment you walk into the lobby with its lava rock fireplace (some staff even wear vintage suits to check you in), you feel ensconsed in the era. The rooms are just as epically decorated, with a color palette and furnishings that make you feel like Frank Sinatra might be chilling just down the hall, as he once did. Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Zsa Zsa Gabor also stayed, appreciative that Scottsdale gave them a little reprieve from the paparrazzi—and Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner even held their wedding reception here. The palm trees encircling the main pool, the restaurant with its trippy décor and monthly 'show stopper' milkshakes as well as the views of Camelback Mountain from some rooms earn this hotel the highest marks.

Owner/Creative Director Becky Neuman spent years sourcing décor such as globe lighting and egg chairs for this splendid throwback hotel. The large campus is worth a ramble to cross an orange footbridge to find tennis courts tucked amidst grassy lawns and views of untouched, rolling hillsides. Rooms on the ground floor have sliders onto patios and the central courtyard with pool, evocative of an era when kids swam while parents smoked and slathered on suntan lotion rather than sunscreen. In your room, orange pendant lights, funky Deco art prints and retro-modern furnishings such as a mod white tulip table set the stage for your vintage visit. The complimentary breakfast on the balcony overlooking the lobby is another draw, as is the proximity to all things Shakespeare (Ashland’s famous for its multi-month Oregon Shakespeare Festival).


This hotel inside JFK Airport is almost too cool to be believed, especially if you’re a bit of an aviation history nut. Its lobby’s origin is as the flight center for the now-defunct TWA Airlines, designed in 1962 by architect Eero Saarinen, and two wings (ha!) have been built to flank it, housing 512 guestrooms. What’s retro here? The red and white sunken lounge where crowds once gathered to watch the Beatles arrive, the room-sized Twister game, museum exhibits on vintage stewardess dresses and Howard Hughes’s office, the Connie jet turned into a cocktail lounge which you enter via a vintage plane staircase and the décor that everywhere illustrates the Jet Age vibe. Perhaps best of all? You can book a runway view room to watch planes take off.

This glorious, decadent palace boasts all the pinkness you could ever hope for, with seven themed rooms including the Pink Flamingo Suite and an Atomic Bombshell Room with that beloved egg chair holding a planet pillow. In the Oh Honeymoon Suite, begin your married life with a cavalcade of geometric oranges and yellows, while the pool furnishings are a pink and white striped masterpiece. The hotel is the brainchild of Trixie Mattel—the drag persona of Brian Firkus—and David Silver. Renovations were featured on the Property Brothers, and designer Dani Dazey spearheaded the bright pink makeover. This place has fun written all over it, and its Instagrammability grade is A+.


This hotel has been retrofitted to hark back to its 1960s glory, benefitting from its location in Cocoa Beach, the surfing capital of the east coast. You’re steps away from the ocean (300 feet to be precise) and the hotel provides free use of beach cruiser bikes, surfboards and boogie boards. It’s also got a Space Age history—you can literally watch a rocket launch from the lazy river (if, you know, one is launching that day)! The guestrooms’ teal, royal blue and yellow room walls and furnishings are on point for feeling like you’ve arrived just at Florida’s Space Coast beginnings, while the exterior paint choices are a color-blocked dream. You’re only a 22-minute drive to Kennedy Space Center: the countdown starts now.

Kitsch bubbles over at this colorful, reenvisioned 1964 motor lodge. Oldies music is piped out to the parking lot, there’s a cardboard Thunderbird to photograph yourself driving, and the lobby offers hot popcorn and lemonade while there’s RC Cola and a moon pie on your pillow in the guestrooms to underscore the time travel. With 42 retro-decorated guestrooms, this hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places. In the King Suite, there’s a vintage typewriter, branded stationery, envelope and stamp so you can type that perfect ‘wish you were here’ letter. Fido’s welcome with an enclosed dog run, and the inn features lots of green, energy-saving features because, as the website says, "We think Earth is worth getting nostalgic about." Best of all, forget the waffle station; the complimentary breakfast includes Baker’s Pride donuts from a family-owned Savannah bakery.


The website opens with a closeup of a lava rock wall in this Point Loma retro-chic gem. The centerpiece is the Art Moderne pool, shaped like an oyster—the hotel’s name and in-room artwork honor the Ama, women pearl divers of Japan who could hold their breath for long periods while harvesting oysters. The property opened in the 1960s as a sportsman’s lodge; today, 23 guestrooms balance contemporary design with midcentury modern infrastructure. Wicker pendant lamps, beds resting on raised natural wood platforms and retro writing desks in the rooms add to the atmosphere. In the lobby, a shag carpet area encourages you to sit on the floor and play board games. Bonus: the balcony of one suite overlooks the hotel’s screen showing weekly dive-in movies by the pool.

Steps away from the beach is this bright boutique hotel of Old Florida nostalgia. Here, you can rent one of 13 guest spaces, either retro roadside motel rooms or two-bedroom cottages with kitchenettes to extend your stay in the Space Age past. With multiple courtyards with gas grills and yard games, you can be like that family on vacation circa 1960. In the Lookout Penthouse suite, you can contemplate the space race in a clear plastic egg chair, while retro glassware is used throughout the property with etched starbursts and lime and orange geometric shapes. Kitschy furnishings like an orange fireplace, pendant string-art lamp and mod chairs (in one room, the TV is even set up on a tripod of mid-century modern legs) make the stay feel appropriately vintage. We’re in love.


This place takes minimalism seriously. You can see the horizon (and amazing sunsets) past the Googie-slanted pavilion covers as you spent the night in one of five Shasta trailers. Each comes with its own private greenscape with simple seating, and while there’s of course a tiny bathroom included in the trailer, there’s a larger private, spa-like one not far from the trailer with outdoor showers. Inside the trailer, you’ll find wood paneling, retro cabinet hardware and a record player to fantasize about a throwback road trip. The pool is a dream of simplicity, and you’ll be close to the Texas Wine Trail and Enchanted Rock (a pink granite mountain that provides unusual hiking and cave exploring). You can get a party together and rent all five—and the sky will put on an amazing show with little to no light pollution for stargazing.

This 1953 showcase motel once hosted Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and other members of the Rat pack who’d perform impromptu at the hotel’s lounge. Today, guestrooms are white, aqua and orange with midcentury modern legs on every piece of custom-made furniture, while an op-art line drawing graces the accent wall behind the bed. Playful titles for the room categories? Electra, Galaxie and Skylark. Outside, bright green astroturf makes you thirsty for your umbrella drink, while at the bottom of the pool a mermaid and dolphin cavort, made of tiles found on-site and originally imported from Italy. We especially love the huge freestanding hotel sign with a giant cloud, stars and retro font.


Need a pink-tiled bathroom? It’s yours, in the Rat Pack suite. Fancy a rest in an Eames chair? Book the Eames Studio. This crazy-accurate mid-century Modern hotel sits at the bottom of a palm-studded mountainside and bills itself as a ‘desert oasis where the 1950s never went out of style.’ Sofas in the rooms may have that nubbly texture your relatives of another generation may have had in their living room, and starburst clocks and lava lamps abound. You'll think you are joining Florence Pughs in her retro community of hard-working space guys.

A vintage trapezoidal ‘Sands Inn & RV Park’ sign greets you at this unassuming hotel where retro lifestyle reigns. The LOGE m.o. is to take over elderly motels and remake them as adventure base camps (the name stands for ‘live outside, go explore’), and this one has a throwback surf culture flair. You can rent all the gear you need—there’s even a wetsuit drying room. Jump onto a free cruising bike for the day, and upon return gather on the grassy lawn just as folks did in the 1950s to eat barbecue from the outdoor covered kitchen and play lawn games. At night, guests get a s’mores package to use at the communal firepits for that simpler time feel. Seasonally, you can also book a razor clam dig.


From the Googie entrance to the retro Galaxy Bowl alley to the room décor with Mod art, this place lets you indulge your mid-century yearnings. You’ll find giant black and white TVs playing vintage ads in the food court (yes, food court: this is a huge hotel), primary color stylings on the exterior that look like giant Connect 4s, mugs with starbursts on them, color-blocked couch pillows—all inspired by classic beach resorts of the 1950s and ‘60s. There are 2,200 guest rooms, some with views of the volcano feature at Universal. In the bathrooms, you’ll see Alberto VO5 shampoo and Zest soap; the hotel takes its retro responsibility seriously! The bar in the lobby sits under an asymmetric cloud with a glass ball chandelier and orange and yellow midcentury modern seating; you’re going to have to order a martini.

Breathe in the nostalgia in this resort with 671 guestrooms, some housed in two-story bungalows. In keeping with the midcentury modern era’s love of all things in a glass, some of the rooms have their own wet bars (and some their own firepit). From the front entrance with its sculptural archway to the font on the hotel’s sign, each detail preserves the sense of dipping your toe into the past. In some rooms, the accent wall behind the bed is a vintage black and white photo serving as wallpaper, with color added to match the bedspread. Shag carpets and a coffee table you’d like to steal are just part of the careful curation here. Check out the hotel’s rotating schedule of fun events such as Yappy Hour (dogs invited) and Drag Queen Bingo.


Open-air design welcomes not just travelers but also neighborhood friends for swimming and dining of all sorts, so if you want to experience Uptown Phoenix’s local vibe, this is the place. When you check in, you get a free popsicle at the hotel's Pop Stand. Along with vintage stylings such as hanging plants, sprawl-legged armchairs, pop art wallpaper, and even pop art tiling in the bathrooms, you can spin wax on the in-room record player with choices from the hotel’s vinyl record library. The hotel’s Lylo Swim Club offers Hawaiian-Japanese-inspired bites and cocktails, or you can be serious at the coffee shop. Finally, the rooftop Say When bar serves highballs and views of the Phoenix skyline and the beautiful Camelback Mountain.

The name says it all: this inn only has five guestrooms, but they’re all themed: two are tiki-inspired and one is a Star Trek room (with a fake—but lit up!—console with many intriguing buttons and a trompe l’oeil mural of a USS Enterprise employee bringing you fresh towels). The other two are retro for other eras (a That ‘70s Room and the Oregon Trail Room: please don’t get dysentery; your family needs you). You can get a tiki drink upon arrival and enjoy room furnishings like a bamboo curtain wall, diamond-shaped candle sconces, black velvet paintings and rotary phones. Affordable extras include a crabbing trip (everything provided, including transport), a bike tour on the Whiskey Run Mountain Bike Trails (bike, helmet and a ride provided), and the arrival in your room of a fully operational, vintage Atari 2600 with games you haven’t seen since ...or maybe you’ve never seen them. 

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