Holiday inns

The New York Times checks in with big praise for hip Austin-area motels

New York Times checks in with big praise for hip Austin-area motels

Austin Motel 2017 pool
Bunkhouse, which operates Austin Motel and several other area lodging properties, gets a shoutout from the Times.   Photo by Nick Simonite

A Hill Country motel and an Austin lodging company just got some love from none other than The New York Times.

The Times recently cited the Stonewall Motor Lodge, east of Fredericksburg along U.S. Highway 290, and the Austin-based Bunkhouse lodging business in a recent article about Americans’ growing attraction to modernized motels.

The newspaper notes that when the Stonewall Motor Lodge, established in 1964 just west of what now is the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, was revamped in 2019, “stone walls became cedar, carpet became hardwood, and custom headboards and bedspreads were sourced from independent designers.”

The Times reports that the Stonewall Motor Lodge, complete with nice linens, live music, and complimentary charcuterie, has been booked up since last summer.

“We’ve been getting a lot of people who say they’ve never stayed at a roadside motel before,” manager Tim Henke told The Times. “There’s a stigma that motels are hole-in-the-walls, but we’re a high-end motel.”

Another proprietor of high-end motels mentioned by The Times is Austin-based Bunkhouse, founded by local hospitality entrepreneur Liz Lambert. New York City-based Standard International bought a majority stake in Bunkhouse in 2015.

According to The Times, Lambert is credited with the “mod-motel-makeover trend,” having converted “the once-sordid” Hotel San José in South Austin into a posh property. Bunkhouse now owns eight properties, nearly all of which are renovated midcentury motels, as well as Jo’s Coffee.

“It’s been the perfect kind of hotel during the pandemic,” Amar Lalvani, CEO of Bunkhouse, told The Times. “COVID has given certain things a boost. And motels are one of them.”