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If you’re planning a trip on Route 66 then it’s pretty likely that it’s history is one of the big draws for you. We’re looking today at the historic hotels on Route 66 that you really cannot miss on your journey. Many of them are locally owned – known as Mom and Pop motels – and not big names. You might not get the swimming pool and gym as you would with the chains but I think they more than make up for it in style, character and quirkiness.
It’s worth bearing in mind that as these are small businesses sometimes they do change hands and the experiences of others can change. I’d always recommend checking out recent reviews on the hotel booking sites before you travel.
- 1 Should you book Route 66 hotels in advance?
- 2 Best historic hotels on Route 66 by state
Should you book Route 66 hotels in advance?
For many people trundling along the highway and stopping wherever takes your fancy is the highlight of this road trip and as such many people don’t book at all and do fine with that. If you want to be sure of a bed, or if you have kids and want to sort all these things in advance (I know I did when I was travelling the route – I didn’t want to drive hours and find we were stuck!) then I do recommend booking in advance, even more so if you’re travelling in high season and holiday weekends. There’s also some motels that get so busy because they’re popular and iconic such as the Wigwam hotels. What we did was book these well in advance as we knew we really wanted to stay there and we booked other hotels a few nights before when we were more sure of our route. Check out the cancellation policies before you book in case your itinerary changes.
Where possible I have linked to Hotels Combined which is my preferred site for booking hotels online – it checks all the big sites like Booking and Hotels.com to see which one is cheapest. Some motels you must book direct.
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Best historic hotels on Route 66 by state
Illinois Route 66 hotels
A good budget option if in the area this is actually on the site of the first Holiday Inn on Route 66. It’s locally owned and has plenty of memorabilia to look at and enjoy and also a really nice swimming pool!
A traditional motel in this small town. Inexpensive and simple but gets good reviews.
Missouri Route 66 hotels
Apparently the oldest, continuously run motel all along Route 66! It’s been completely updated and renovated and provides a great stop over.
Fun motel that fully embraces the Route 66 spirit! Lots of the rooms have Route 66 photos adorning it and every room is unique. A great place to stop by even if you don’t stay overnight as there’s a small gift shop on site too.
Stunning little art deco motel that really shouldn’t be missed. It was originally built in 1939 and has been restored inside to how it looked in 1949.
Kansas Route 66 hotels
Kansas is just a small part of Route 66 (only 13 miles!) but you should definitely stop off in the towns there.
Something a little different in a trip filled with motels – Rose Cottage is a bed and breakfast in Baxter Springs in a historic old house.
Oklahoma Route 66 hotels
This hotel is a beautifully restored 1920s building with themed rooms. You might get a route 66 room or maybe even an art deco themed one. It’s a really nice and slightly different hotel to your classic motel. A great stop in Tulsa.
A classic roadside motel with a great neon sign outside. Nice and clean inside and comes highly recommended.
A nice independently owned inn in the west end of Oklahoma. This motel is a traditional style with lovely clean rooms with really nice and friendly owners.
Texas Route 66 hotels
Our own route 66 road trip started in Texas. Don’t miss Shamrock for some gorgeous neon art deco buildings!
Both of these are traditional motels, typical of route 66, but with an Irish twist.
Another small, basic, traditional motel but perfect if you want to stop the night in Texas.
Styled to look like an old wild west town, this is a unique place to stay! Don’t miss the Big Texan Steak Ranch next door which is a major attraction – perhaps have a go at getting the free 72oz steak??
New Mexico Route 66 hotels
New Mexico is home to the stunning Tucumcari which has a heap of old, vintage motels to choose from. Even if you don’t stay there you can enjoy wandering round and seeing them all lit up.
We stayed here and can recommend it – very clean and retro. Just across from the Blue Swallow Motel
Built in 1939, this is one of the most famous and most photographed motels on Route 66 – book early!
Again, something a little different here and possibly somewhere to have a flutter if you’re not heading to Las Vegas!
Very famous hotel that has been frequented by many famous people over the years – lots of movie stars stayed here while filming westerns in the region.
Arizona Route 66 hotels
Arizona has so much to offer, from the small town of Holbrook with the wigwam motel (a must in my book!), to the Grand Canyon and then the small wild west town of Oatman.
Stunning little motel – very atmospheric, if a little sparse inside. Book well in advance, but probably one of our cheapest route 66 motels we booked!
Built in 1929 this is a gorgeous hotel with a bit more features than your regular motels so good if you want a break from that.
Williams is a great little town with lots to see and do. I recommend staying a couple of nights so you can go and see the Grand Canyon without too much of a drive either side. The Grand Canyon hotel is a good budget option, with lots of quirky rooms inside.
Don’t miss Seligman – it’s a classic Route 66 town. Many pass through but if you want to stay the above options are a great, clean choice.
Quirky but classic motel. This is a fun motel with lots of classic Hollywood themed rooms.
No overnight stays any more but definitely worth checking out if you make the drive to Oatman.
California Route 66 hotels
The end of the road! Don’t miss these amazing stop offs before you head in to busy Los Angeles!
We enjoyed our stay here in Needles – it has a nice pool and gorgeous sunset views.
A gorgeous historic motel which has the added quirkiness or having lots of historic cars parked outside too – lots of photo opportunities! Great neon signs out front too – just what you want from a route 66 motel!
A similar set up to the wigwam hotel in Arizona. It’s just a must see and stay isn’t it?
There’s so much choice in Santa Monica but if you’re looking for historic then this 1930s Art deco hotel should fit the bill. A luxury option which will be well deserved after the long road trip!
I hope you’ve found this list helpful – obviously it’s not and exhaustive list but is made up from personal experience and recommendations. If I’ve missed anywhere special do let me know!
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