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Times are tough and travelers are changing their hotel spending habits. Some seek bargains at Hotwire or Priceline. Others downgrade the quality of their motels and hotels by using budget chains like Motel 6, in order to save money.

Motel 6, the most well-known low-cost motel chain, has a mixed reputation. With this Motel 6 review these pros and cons and tips for booking should help you decide.

Above, chic and contemporary designs in new and remodeled rooms are changing Motel 6's "cheap" image and garnering great Motel 6 reviews. It helps that the owners until 2012 were French. In spite of the changes, Motel 6 remains the lowest cost national chain.

Room Motel-6
  • Motel 6 charges less than any other truly national chain.
  • You can cancel guaranteed reservations up to 6:00 p.m. local time on the day of arrival without penalty.
  • This can be a huge advantage on road trips, when you may decide to drive more or less than the time originally planned.
  • You know almost exactly what you are getting.
  • Motel 6 buys quality mattresses, which are as comfortable as those in far more expensive motels and hotels.
  • At least one desk or table comfortably fits a laptop.
  • Motel 6 does not charge for local calls. There are no long distance access fees.
  • Most locations offer pools (usually small), a perk not always available at budget motels, as well as a coin laundry.
  • Away from cities, a working class pace of life predominates.
  • By this, I mean guests tend to go to bed early for an early start on their drive in the morning, just what you may want on a long road trip. At these locations, few vehicles remain in parking lots after 8:30 a.m.
  • Well-behaved pets are allowed, wtih one per room not left alone in room and on leash or properly carried outside room. (Also, a possible disadvantage listed below.)
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Motel 6 still has many locations that need renovation. The room above gets a good Motel 6 review for cleanliness and a comfortable bed, but the dated carpet and TV give it a tired look. "Tips for booking" and "New and remodeled Motel 6 locations" found below show you how to identify what you will experience.

Good motel 6 Hotel
  • Other than HBO, ESPN, Wi-Fi, and comfortable beds, expect bare bones budget motel amenities even when renovated.
  • Motel 6 provides just enough towel square footage and soap for one night. You may wish to bring an alarm clock, a radio, and shampoo.
  • Few Motel 6 locations have elevators. If required, request a ground floor room in the comments section at Motel6.com.
  • Most Motel 6 room doors open to the outside. This helps provide fresh air but does not provide the extra security of visitors having to pass through a main door and lobby. However, Motel 6 does provide security locks and chains for its doors.
  • Except for its few locations in major cities, you will probably need a car to access Motel 6, which are frequently located away from convenient public transportation.
  • Some Motel 6 customers smoke in non smoking rooms. This can be a problem at any hotel, but seems considerably more prevalent at budget chains.
  • Although Motel 6 locations purchased from former owners may have larger rooms and thicker walls (one room in Oklahoma City was actually palatial), we are not talking Buckingham Palace.
Welcome Hotel Motel-6 East

Generally, walls and ceilings are thin and what happens in adjacent rooms may impact you more negatively than at some more expensive hotels.

In my case, periodic problems with other guests have always occurred at suburban and university town budget Motel 6 locations, not at ones along major highways.

For example, in the Humboldt State University town of Arcata, CA police were called to Motel 6 an amazing 285 times during 2011, according to Jessica Callahan of the Arcata Eye newspaper. One employee at this location told me that most problems tend not to come from tourists or business travelers but from local people "coming to party" in a room.

On the other hand, if you travel a lot, you know that guest problems are not unique to Motel 6 and other budget chains--not at all!

You may not wish to avoid where pets are allowed. However, Motel 6 policy does confine these to designated rooms.

Hotel Motel-6

Reserve with a discount at Motel6.com

Seniors 60+ get 10% off.

Kids 17 and under stay free in same room as parents--as long as using existing beds (not cots, sleeping bads, etc. you bring in.

Those who currently serve or have served in the military get a discount. The U.S. one applies to the U.S. armed forces and the one in Canada applies to the Canadian Forces..

Weekly rates may be available. International Student Identity Card holders receive a discount.

Put that you qualify for one of these discounts in the comments section on the reservation form and then make sure the receptionist notices at check in.

To find locations, enter just a state name on the Motel6.com reservation form and click on submit. This brings up a state map and a list of cities that have a Motel 6. In the descriptions, note the ones marked "New" like the one shown above or "Refreshed" (remodeled).

Locations called Studio 6 offer fully equipped kitchens and are usually located near major employers.

"Least expensive national chain" does not always mean inexpensive, just less than other national chains in a particular locale.

In season, Motel 6 locations in Santa Barbara can run $150 or more per night on summer weekends. Hard to believe, but still less than other chains.

When possible, plan to stop in less expensive towns. For example on a road trip across Arizona motels in far less well-known Holbrook cost considerably less than in Flagstaff down the road.

In the case of Santa Barbara, check nearby Carpinteria or Goleta.

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Be sure to look for new and refreshed (remodeled) locations on Motel6.com.

Motel-6 Hotel
  • These have done much to promote positive Motel 6 reviews.
  • Those marked "Refreshed" impart a fashionable style that leaves your image of Motel 6 and other budget accommodation behind.

Ones marked "New location" come in 2 types:

  • Newly built by Motel 6, with modern décor,
  • Purchased in good condition and given new paint and carpets when needed.
Welcome Hotel Motel-6

For example, the Motel 6 in Metropolis, IL I stayed at during September 2012 looked like a Comfort Inn and came with Comfort Inn furniture in perfect condition.

The changes I noticed were the cheap price, an Internet room rate of $35.99 instead of the former $79 or $89 or whatever, the fresh paint, and the typical lack of facial tissue and shampoo at Motel 6. With higher occupancy, the chain can make money with these lower rates.

New and refreshed ones are my favorites, as well as the Motel 6 in Weed, CA along the I-5 Interstate, which offers spectacular views of Mount Shasta. New and refreshed are the way to go.