Located a few blocks from Courthouse Square and Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott, about 100 miles north of Phoenix, the Motor Lodge might best be described as a Retro Road Trip. Prior to its motor court existence, the 13-room lodge began life around 1910 as summer cabins. After a century of serving as all manner of accommodation, it was purchased in 2008 by Joe Livingston and Brian Spear, who set out to prove it had at least one more life, as a modern boutique hotel—with comfy beds, tastefully eclectic décor, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. One of the few hints that this is no longer an old-fashioned motor court is the bright yellow exterior doors and other splashes of color that suggest a more modern era. There are throwbacks—some delightful, such as that most of the rooms have porches close enough together, and few enough in number, that chats with people who might otherwise remain strangers seem the neighborly thing to do; and some not so much, such as the tiny bathrooms, in most of the rooms, that would have passed without comment in earlier decades. Mostly, though, the two hosts seem to be striving for, and achieving, a hospitality that often becomes a guest's strongest memory.
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The grassy and shaded Courthouse Square, a block-long park within easy walking distance of the lodge, is host almost every weekend to art, entertainment, and food events. It is bordered by Whiskey Row, a street-front still lively, after more than 100 years, with shops, restaurants, and bars, including the Palace Restaurant and Saloon, whose ornately carved bar survived the 1900 fire that destroyed virtually everything else on the row. Just off the square, the Lone Spur Café serves up the most popular breakfast in town, including a Cowboy Benedict big enough to last any buckaroo most of the day.
Need to Know
Rooms: From $79 low season, $109 high season. 13 rooms, including 2 suites. Check-in: 3–7 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: There's no restaurant on the property. On the other hand, how many hosts greet guests with a cold beer and, on occasion, send them off with fresh-baked cookies? Spa and gym details: There is neither a spa nor a gym, but Joe or Brian will happily point out where to get started on the area's 450 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Who's it for: Travelers for whom the word funky has no negative connotations. Our favorite rooms: A larger bathroom makes the newly-built room 13, known as the Hideaway, an easy choice. Local hero: Prescott is such a dog-friendly town that there's a plaque in Courthouse Square dedicated to "Mike the Dog – 1945–1960," but pets are not allowed at the Motor Lodge.