The word “motel” does not exactly connote luxury. When we stay in a motel, we have an idea of what we’re getting. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with a well-run motel. Motel’s are convenient, affordable, and easy. They’re perfect for long road trips. When we go to a motel, we don’t expect elegance and pampering. We just want a place to stay. Nevertheless, there are some basics that we expect. Clean bed linens and towels, a working toilet and shower, no mold, and no bugs, especially bed bugs. Ugh! And we know that not every motel can live up to these standards.
Yet still, it is crazy just how some motels dismally fail at meeting even these meager standards. We’ve all heard some motel/hotel horror stories in our day. But to actually see the state of some of these places is utterly incredible. It boggles the mind how some of these motel owners can even charge people to stay in these awful places. Then again, a lot of the visitors to these motels are, as we will see, not exactly the most fortunate people. It’s often a choice between a horrible motel and nothing for these people. And then there are the motels whose problems aren’t hygienic so much as they are...spooky. Yes, every motel/hotel has a ghost story, but looking at some of these creepy places will make even the strongest skeptics question their beliefs. Here are 25 motels in which we would never step foot, let alone sleep.
25 25. Clown Motel in Tonopah, NV, USA
Why? Why would somebody do this? This is not fun. Hardly anybody likes clowns, anyway. Sure, a child might like Ronald McDonald or be entertained by one clown at their birthday party. But a motel full of clowns?! No. Nuh-uh. Nope. Never.
This motel in Nevada would give Stephen King nightmares.
To be fair the Clown Motel, there isn’t much on the internet criticizing the actual state of the business. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any issues with bugs, stains, or rats or anything. So maybe it’s actually a well-run motel. Or maybe there are no complaints because nobody has ever been crazy enough to stay there.
24 24. Joshua Tree Inn, Joshua Tree, CA, USA
People sometimes don't make it out of hotels alive. That’s a thing that happens. That’s why nearly every hotel has a ghost story. But not every hotel has the ghost of a famous person. And presumably that number is lower still for motels. But the Joshua Tree Inn does, purportedly, have a permanent guest in room eight. A spectral guest. Spooky.
The ghost of Gram Parsons haunts the hallways of this motel!
Gram Parsons was an accomplished country/country-rock singer-songwriter in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The one-time member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers lost his life in the Joshua Tree Inn in 1973 from a drug overdose. How would you like to be stuck in the Mojave desert with the strung-out ghost of a country musician? No thanks.
23 23. Whiteleaf Hotel, London, UK
The motel (“motor lodge”) is a peculiarly American innovation. Motels really only exist in countries that have vast expanses of land through which one can drive. As such, there aren’t many motels in other countries, but there are equivalents. While the Whiteleaf Hotel in London does not specifically cater to motorists, it is a low-budget hotel. And actually, pictures of it online look kind of nice.
However, one reviewer on Tripadvisor said that it looks “nothing like the pictures on the internet” and that there were holes in the walls and bathroom ceiling, a broken door, moldy walls, and worst of all, maggots!
22 22. Igloo City in Cantwell, AK, USA
There are ice hotels in this world. Hotels actually made of ice. They’re seasonal, and they can be quite expensive. And they’re good, if you don’t mind, you know, being surrounded by ice. But, this isn’t an ice hotel. It’s a motel shaped like an igloo in Alaska. And that makes sense.
It’s the kind of kitschy thing that tourists in Alaska might enjoy.
However, once you get a look at this ominous, foreboding structure, the charm dissipates quickly. Igloo City may have looked whimsical upon its construction, but the years have taken its toll and now it’s nothing more than a sad, dilapidated little dome in the middle of nowhere. But it’s for sale, if you’re interested!
21 21. The Relax Inn, Dickinson, ND, USA
Sometimes motels attract fun, wholesome families on a cross-country road trip. Sometimes motels attract...other kinds of people. People with substance abuse problems, people on the run from law enforcement, the mentally ill, the homeless, etc. The Relax Inn in Dickinson, North Dakota, seems to have attracted both.
In 2014, two people were arrested for running a 'Scooby Snax' lab in the motel.
But the pair were husband and wife, so that’s kind of wholesome...right? In truth, these labs in US motels are definitely a thing; The Relax Inn is not unique.
20 20. Fuurin Motel, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo motels are a bit different. Japan has something called “love motels”. These are places where lovers can rent a room, often by the hour. The lovers are often having extramarital affairs, are teenagers still living at home, or other sorts of couples. It sounds seedy, but Japan being Japan, love motels are often very well-kept and clean. Not the Fuurin Motel, however.
The Furrin Motel has ten different themed rooms in which star-crossed lovers can play out their fantasies.
There’s a traditional Japanese Ryokan room, and Ancient Greek room, and a medieval room. However, you can’t stay there because it’s been deserted. Deserted, by humans. Ghosts are said to roam the halls, however. Want to get it on in a deserted motel in view of a ghostly, possessed knight? Didn’t think so.
19 19. The Royal Inn, Detroit, MI, USA
For his series Another Dirty Room, filmmaker Dan Bell visits the grossest, messiest, most disgusting motels on the planet. When he checked into the Royal Inn on 8 Mile he found two mattresses completely soaked through with urine, which is one of the most horrifying things I can imagine.
The Royal Inn must be named ironically because this is not its first brush with infamy. It was featured on a YouTube special about America’s dirtiest motels. Thankfully, it was condemned last year by regulators.
18 18. Swan Motel, Halethorpe, MD, USA
Mattresses full of urine is just the tip of the very disgusting iceberg for Dan Bell and his crew. Another unhappy expedition was their visit to the Swan Motel in Halethorpe, Maryland.
Upon entering his room, Bell was greeted by the sight of red bodily fluids. It was everywhere, he said.
As disgusting as urine is, it’s not a carrier of disease. Blood, however, is a much more efficient vector for disease. If given the choice between the two...I’d just sleep outdoors.
17 17. Green Valley Motel in Orick, CA, USA
A leaking roof, falling roof tiles, and electrical problems were just a few of the issues cited by the Environmental Health Specialist when the Green Valley Motel in Orick, California was shut down in 2013, displacing its 12 month-to-month tenants. The Green Valley Motel has been closed and reopened many times since its establishment in 1995.
The motel also suffered from a rodent problem, a mold problem, a plumbing problem, and a roach infestation.
Thankfully, they sprayed a lot of poison to eliminate the roaches, but the only appreciable effect that had was making all the tenants sick.
16 16. The Topanga Ranch Motel, Malibu, CA, USA
No, this is not a motel dedicated to Danielle Fishel, the actress from Boy Meets World. When the State of California evicted the last few remaining tenants of the Topanga Ranch Motel, it was actually part of a broader initiative to clear the land it had bought in Lower Topanga. Only the local bait shop was left to stay. Is this a case of the cruel government evicting its own citizens to ruthlessly take over land? Well, it depends who you ask.
While the Topanga Ranch Motel was undeniably dilapidated and dirty, the residents of Lower Topanga were actually more of the problem. They were off-the-grid, counterculture types. Think of the Manson Family, but with fewer teeth.
15 15. Wonder Lodge, Reno, NV, USA
One reviewer on Tripadvisor called the Wonder Lodge in Reno, Nevada the “worst hotel I have ever stayed in”. Judging by its company on this list, the Wonder Lodge would have to be spectacularly bad to stand out. And it is.
Raggedy carpets, garbage left in the rooms, mold growing in the coffee maker, rickety elevators, and smoke alarms that don’t work.
But what stands out about the Wonder Lodge is the staff. The reviewer claimed the staff smelled horrible and when they peeked in on where the staff slept, it was apparently “like a pig pen”. What is going on here?
14 14. Hotel Namaskar, New Delhi, India
Obviously, different parts of the world have different standards. If you travel throughout the developing world, you will, of course, encounter lodgings that are not up to the standards of the developed world. While there are many luxury hotels and many nice hotels in India, there are also many places where you would never want to stay. The Hotel Namaskar appears to be an example of this bottom rung of lodging.
Located in an alley in India’s capital, one must trek through what one reviewer called “an open urinal” just to get to the front door.
Inside, the paint is peeling, the shower head is corroded, and the hotplate sends off sparks.
13 13. Cosmopolitan Motel on Staten Island, NY, USA
Staten Island does not always benefit from the most positive of public perceptions and the Cosmopolitan Motel is definitely not helping. First of all, it looks very unappealing. But beyond aesthetics, the building is rundown and poorly maintained. And its clientele, is, as I’m sure you can imagine, comprised of less than upstanding citizens.
Things rather came to a head in 2015 when a 21-year-old woman lost her life. Pressure was put on the Cosmopolitan to clean up its act but it's unclear to what degree that has happened.
12 12. New Sea Breeze Motel, Pleasantville, NJ, USA
If you’ve ever seen the movie Pleasantville, you probably have a preconceived positive image of the town in your mind. The New Sea Breeze Motel will disabuse you of that notion real quick.
When it was first built in the 1950's, the New Sea Breeze Motel looked rather nice; full of post-war optimism and charm. The years have beaten that out of the motel. Now, it is an unsafe, petrifying haven for dealers, replete with human fluids on the doors.
11 11. Motel in Magangue, Colombia
I can’t tell you the exact name of this motel in Colombia --if it even has a name-- as there is only one online source that seems to reference this place. But the traveler in question documented his stay there well, so we know quite a bit.
And it’s not good. The traveler only had stayed there because his bus took an unexplained break during its route and he missed the ferry to the island where he intended to stay. This motel was a last resort, and boy, does it look like it.
10 10. Sunrise Inn, Joplin, MO, USA
The “Sunrise Inn” sounds nice. It isn’t. This motel in Joplin, Missouri is littered with problems. Cold linoleum floors, rotten chair legs, holes in the wall, are just some of the fine amenities at the Sunrise Inn. One guest was approached by a man looking for substances as he had heard there was a “cooker” on that floor.
Another guest said that the Bates Motel would offer a better night’s sleep.
Apparently the concierge has a practice of photographing guests’ drivers licenses in case they turn up missing. Yikes.
9 9. Econo Lodge Sumter, SC, USA
Econo Lodge is a chain of motels that specialize in cheap rooms. Many are probably fine. Some are not. The Econo Lodge in Sumter, South Carolina, is most definitely not fine.
What can you expect from the Econo Lodge in Sumter? You can expect to find, carpets blackened with grime, dirty doors, dirty bed sheets, mirrors in the dining hall with food smeared on them, broken coffee cups, cockroaches, and what looked like urine stains in the front office. Urine in the reception room!
8 8. America’s Best Value Inn, Madison, WI, USA
America might not be perfect, but it definitely has better value to offer than this inn in Madison. America’s Best Value Inn has a lot of problems. For one, they neglected the first rule of real estate: location, location, location.
The motel is situated right next to a landfill and the smell is...putrid.
The clientele was “less than stellar” and, apparently, there’s a rusty, old, laundry machine sitting in one of the rooms. Those aren’t the kind of amenities that people are looking for.
7 7. Rodeway Inn in Dickinson, ND, USA
Dickinson, North Dakota, only has a population of about 22,000, yet this is the second time it has appeared on this list. Dickinson is actually growing rapidly due to North Dakota’s oil boom and this has led to some problems, including an increase in vagrancy and crime. Hence the abysmal hotels.
The Rodeway Inn has been called “the creepiest motel ever”.
How has it achieved this designation? By providing busted doors with broken locks to a number of rooms, stains all over the bed sheets and carpet, and a noisy and smelly fridge.
6 6. Club Aqua Gumbet, Gumbet, Turkey
Club Aqua in Gumbet, Turkey, does not present itself as a “motel”. But its reviews make it seem every bit the equal of these rundown US motor lodges. While the actual state of Club Aqua appears to be much less glamorous than its website would have you believe, the real problem at this Turkish “resort” appears to be more with the staff.
Most of the motels here are rundown and gross and are overseen by hapless, unhelpful, but often well-meaning staff. Not at Club Aqua, where one guest complained that "The head chef exposed himself and the caretaker was perving on my 13-year-old daughter". That’s not good.