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Motel revival! Canada leads the global trend

March 2, 2021 Visit Canada No Comments Email Email

The rural Hockley Motel in Monto, Ontario, also known as the infamous Rosebud Motel in hit television series Schitt’s Creek, listed for sale for a cool $2 million following the show’s historic sweep at the Emmy Awards. But it’s not just Schitt’s Creek fans who are ogling the retro property.

Motels are making a powerful cultural comeback and Canada is leading the fray, with nostalgic properties popping up all over the country in response to consumer desire for a lost era where kitsch reigned supreme, parking was free and passage to the great outdoors lay just outside the door.

The surge in popularity comes at a time when safety, hygiene and physical distancing have skyrocketed in importance, with motels featuring guest room entrances accessible directly from the parking lot, along with one or two-floor layouts that assure smaller capacities than sprawling hotels and negate the use of elevators.

Entrepreneurs across Canada are swiftly leveraging this sizzling revival, taking the opportunity to rehabilitate roadside inns of yesteryear to appeal to a new generation of travellers. A few to consider:

Play station

The Drake Motor Inn in Prince Edward County, Ontario, plays up the sentimentality of classic roadside motels with flamboyant hues and assorted knickknacks. Just a stone’s throw from the stunning lakefront of Wellington, the motel is surrounded by Prince Edward County’s picturesque wine country, the perfect setting for an alfresco feast, with fully stocked picnic baskets available for purchase.

Twelve playful guest rooms brim with art and photography installations, while an attention-grabbing vending machine serves Canadiana shoppables. Guests can borrow vintage Polaroids to document their trip or play a hand of cards at the outdoor terrace and firepit. In the winter, a pretty skating rink entices visitors to take a spin.

Classic chillout

The June Motel opened in Sauble Beach, Ontario, in September 2020 and has remained nearly sold-out ever since. Creative marketing may account for part of the property’s success, with opening weekend featuring a socially distanced launch party, including poolside DJs, goodie bags and bottles of bubbly for every guest.

Closed for the winter, the laidback property reopens in April 2021.


Alberta’s newly renovated Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore modernises the motel experience with a dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. Guest health and comfort remain paramount, with virtual check-in allowing guests to bypass contact with staff and fellow guests.

Inside, the spacious rooms are light-years away from motel accommodations of the past, with light flooding through massive windows, self-serve martini stations, Nespresso machines and bath products made locally by Rocky Mountain Soap. Emphasis is (safely) placed on communal spaces, including a shared patio in each dwelling and an outdoor hot tub boasting mountain and creekside views – the perfect spot to stargaze after an invigorating day on the slopes.

Invite the outdoors in

Tossing convention out the window, The Stoke in Revelstoke, British Columbia, is sure to thrill outdoor adventurers with a vintage mountain style that invites the outdoors in. Once a classic motor inn, the new design livens up rooms with bright accent walls, wall-mounted flatscreen TVs and private access via the outdoor corridor.

Communal spaces feature wood-slab tables and handcrafted timber furniture, while outside sprawls the Columbia River, funky eateries and watering holes, and some of the most incredible skiing and snowboard slopes in the world.

Shagadelic style

In the town of Tofino on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Hotel Zed opened its doors in late August 2020. With a luxurious take on retro-chic, Hotel Zed Tofino exudes 1970s swank, featuring the world’s first bike-through lobby, a secret arcade with retro games (think Donkey Kong Jr and Pac Man), a psychic’s den, complete with crystal ball and tarot card reader, and a mini disco featuring a fog machine, glittery sequin wall and mirrored disco ball.

The property is Hotel Zed’s third endeavour. The others – just as punchy and rebellious – are situated in Kelowna and Victoria.

Keeping it real

Accent Inns, found throughout British Columbia and cousin brand to Hotel Zed, reimagines the motel experience with free parking and in-room WiFi enhanced by complimentary bike rentals, elevators designed as hot air balloons and rubber duckies adorning every bathtub.

Guests need not travel for sustenance or an invigorating workout, thanks to onsite eateries, fitness rooms and hot tubs. In fact, the property is ideal for hunkering down and enjoying a restful escape.

Maritime Motel

Lighthouse Motel & Cottages near Bridgwater, Nova Scotia, offers a newly renovated, picturesque getaway along the placid LaHave River. Visitors nostalgic for the past will find retro-style motel rooms, though water-view and garden suites, as well as a riverfront cottage, are also available.

Site amenities invite outdoor play, thanks to a private beach, boat dock, firepit, barbecues, picnic tables and expansive green space complete with children’s play area. The motel is open between May 1 and October 1, 2021.

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