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Motel One: A not-so-soulless hotel chain?

The review section is starting to look a little sad, so I thought I would try to add something. So let's go with the topic of Motel One.

I really like this Munich-based hotel chain. RS has won me over to trying to stay at charming, atmospheric, locally-owned inns and B&Bs, but for a quick visit to a city, Motel One has always provided a reliably great stay. I've spent at least one night at locations in London, Berlin, Vienna, Stuttgart, Bremen, and Leipzig.

The hotels have small, uniform rooms with limited space for luggage (so not for travelers who like to bring large bags), but the rooms do have some flare that make them feel stylish. Common areas on the ground floor are great -- full of atmosphere and often themed to the city. The bar serves limited food (snacks, not meals). The breakfast buffet has a nice diversity of offerings (at least pre-COVID-19) and is definitely very German in character (even in London).

The price is generally below 100 euro per night. I have always felt good about the Preis-Leistungsverhältnis (price-value ratio) after a stay. Finally, the hotel feels German, which is nice. I have stayed in US hotel chains in Europe 2-3 times; those always feel like I'm staying in a soulless US hotel. I like that the Motel One locations do not feel that way.

Posted by
1889 posts

I am a fan of Motel One. I've tried not to be, because clearly they are predictable. But in numerous cities, I've found that I just cannot beat the location for the price. And for me - single traveler, spending very little time near my room - the most valuable thing they offer is in minutes-to-destinations in a safe, central location. I can usually drop back in to my room quickly to take a break or change for the evening's activity.

Prague - perhaps a 10 minute walk to the center, 5 minutes to Namasti Republiky, but very convenient to the metro, bus station and tram lines; right next door to an ATM and a grocery store.

Vienna - the Motel One Wien-Staatsoper is a block and a few steps from the Opera House, even closer to a Ringstrasse tram stop.

Dresden - immediately adjacent to the Ferris wheel, which overlooks Zwinger Palace, a 3-5 minute walk; 2 minutes to a tram stop that takes you directly to the train station.

Warsaw - I didn't get to stay in this one, but had planned to for my 8 nights. Again, I just couldn't beat the location, even though it's not near the Old Town, it was centrally located for my sightseeing.

I also love that they typically have great storage space. My favorites are those that have USB ports next to the bed, though not all do.

Big fan!!

Posted by
859 posts

Another fan here. It's my default hotel when I'm back in Munich (or Frankfurt or Dresden now). The rooms are clean and simple but the common areas are where they shine, each one different and unique to the location.

DJ

Posted by
2407 posts

Nick,

Reading between the lines of your post, I agree with what your unspoken message is... there's no right way to travel. Glad you have a style that works for you!

Posted by
2795 posts

A huge fan of the Motel One. I especially like when the hotel plays up the local vibe in it’s common areas’ artwork and furnishings. They really strive for location, location, location and so do we. We can also count on a highly functional, clean room with AC in the summer. Their breakfasts are very locally sourced and affordable.

Posted by
379 posts

In Munich the Sendlinger Tor location is really good, nice central location, price was iirc about 10 euros a night higher than their other Munich locations, but well worth it for those visiting Munich for the usual sights. It is in that nice sweet spot of mid level price range with solid quality.

Posted by
1573 posts

This has never made it on to my radar at all, so I guess I should thank everyone who chimed in to give it a thumbs up.

Dave et al, could you expand a little bit on what you mean by saying these hotels 'feel German'?

I find myself holding my tongue, honestly.

Posted by
2407 posts

I guess I was the only one that mentioned the chain feeling German to me. I'm comparing to staying at US chains in Europe, which I've done a handful of times.

The US chains at a similar (or higher) price point where I have stayed had the same repetitive decor in their lobbies and rooms that they have in the US. Motel one has decor in rooms that is repetitive and utilitarian but comfortable and with some style -- especially the bathrooms, which are "Eurocool," as I like to say; the fireplace on the tv in the winter (or, less so, the aquarium in the summer) further builds a sense of gemütlichkeit. Ground floor common areas are often themed to the location; in Leipzig for example, I stayed at the Motel One Nikolaikirche, which is steps away from the church that held Monday prayers for peace that evolved into Monday demonstrations that contributed to the end of the DDR; the ground floor of the hotel is set up (in a stylish way) to tell the history of that. Breakfast, as mentioned above, is a very German layout, even in London. I remember reading a review of the London hotel that said something like, "If they don't learn to serve a proper English breakfast, they'll never make it here." It also helps that a bunch of people are running around speaking German 🙂, instead of US Americans speaking English.

Posted by
1889 posts

Breakfast, as mentioned above, is a very German layout, even in London.

I do like their breakfast layouts, as a convenient (and predictable) way to start the day: I can go for hours on the protein. I will be sad if they are a permanent victim of the pandemic. I didn't know they were a Germany layout, though I do see how the English might miss their normal fare.

I haven't stayed in enough German (or non-German chains) to make an informed comment on their comparison.

Posted by
2407 posts

CWsocial--

Maybe breakfast assortment is a better choice of words than breakfast layout. The meat/cheese/bread + jams + boiled egg + yogurt/Muesli + peppers/cucumbers/tomatoes = German (at least in my mind).

Posted by
1956 posts

Yes, thank you for the reviews. Have never stayed at a Motel One but will look into them for future travel, especially if we return to Munich. We stayed at a hotel that did have Plumbing problems. The one front desk person couldn’t (wouldn’t) help us cause it was a weekend. Luckily it was only one night.

Posted by
978 posts

I’m a fan of both Motel One and Premier Inn. I usually travel with friends and some time during our trips we have discovered that one great way to preserve our friendships is that we build in nights in which we don’t have to share rooms. These chains make it possible to have our own rooms for less than $100 per night! It’s wonderful to not have to compromise, among other things, on the the room temperature or when to turn electronics off! I’m also the snorer of the group so I sleep better knowing I’m not keeping someone up.

Posted by
11250 posts

It also helps that a bunch of people are running around speaking German 🙂, instead of US Americans speaking English.

I found an equivalent situation in the Premier Inns in the UK. If you want to "meet the locals" in the UK, look no further than a Premier Inn breakfast room - because Premier Inns are heavily favored by UK residents traveling in their own country. Whereas the "oh so typically English" type of place, that foreigners think of as a "local" experience, is heavily favored by foreigners.

Nothing wrong with staying in either, of course. But the idea the one place is "inauthentic" and the other is "authentic" is silly. They're just different.

Posted by
17898 posts

Averse as I am to a big chain, cookie-cutter motel, with the closing of Pension Lindner, this one I might try. I really like a more traditional, family run type German hotel, but the location and price for the Sendlinger Tor Motel One are about right. The only thing about them that bothers me is that breakfast is not included in the first price you see, but that seems to be the norm for Munich hotels.

Breakfast can be included for 11,50€/P; that's about $13.50 in American dollars, but tax and service are included. That's more like a $10 breakfast over here before you add tax and a tip - pretty reasonable. And the Sendlinger Tor location is almost across the street from my favorite Munich breakfast cafe, Wörners.

BTW, I don't see anywhere on their website that they say if there is a lift, but with 8 stories, I can't imagine there would not be one. Can anyone confirm that they have a lift?

Also, can anyone say if the majority of people staying there seem to be American or German?

Posted by
1889 posts

Every Motel One I've stayed in has had a lift - usually several, fairly large and fast lifts - though I've not stayed in that one.

Posted by
88 posts

We have stayed at the Sendlinger Tor location several times. Very convenient, small but stylish rooms. The breakfast is top quality , only continental and worth the price. The breakfast room does get very crowded and the seating is more like a cocktail lounge than a breakfast room. Mostly Germans and other Europeans and a smattering of Americans and other nationalities when we have been there which was off season late spring and December. and yes there is a lift. Gets booked up fast.(before Covid so who knows what it will be later}.

Posted by
212 posts

After discovering Motel One, we too, are big fans as we don't like spending much money on hotels since we don't spend much time in the room, basically needing a comfy and clean place to shower and sleep. Motel One provides that, and as someone stated, a modern Eurobathroom.

I would recommend the Motel One Vienna Hauptbahnhof, right across the street from the station, and an easy walk to the Belvedere. Also liked the location in Salzburg-Mirabell. Not charming, but for an economic alternative in the touristy city, it served our purposes. Also liked the location in Innsbruck across from the station. I find if we reserve the king bed, or superior room, which is often just 10 or 15 euros more/night, the room is a bit larger. I travel with a large piece of luggage, and never had an issue. If you join Motel One's frequent stay program, you receive one free breakfast. Now, wherever we go, my first search is for a Motel One.

Posted by
2407 posts

Participation in the "Be One" program (not so much a frequent stay program as a "let us track you" program) gets you one free breakfast (just one time), but it also gets you a "free" bottle of water with each stay.

Posted by
2795 posts

@Lee We’ve stayed at a Motel One in 4 different cities and all had adequate lifts. Our favorite and first Motel One was Sendlinger Tor in Munich. We really enjoyed all the German speakers in the common areas at breakfast and later in the day in repurposed bar/ lounge areas. The clientele seemed to still be a lot of youngish professional Germans and some holiday makers from around Europe. There were rarely any children though because of the small stylish rooms. I hope the secret isn’t out and there will still be a lot of German conversations in the lounge when we are able to return. Our most recent visit was September of 2019.

Good tip to join the beOne loyalty program, we did on our first stay 10ish years ago.

EDIT: the first time we stayed in the Munich Motel One (back when there was only one) was on the recommendation of a trusted friend from Berlin.

Posted by
306 posts

Lee--We too loved Pension Lindner. Have you tried Hotel am Viktualienmarkt? We stayed one night there at the end of our trip when PL was full. We stayed at PL for 5 night at the start of the trip. HaV was very similar in pricing, breakfast setup, and great location. I would absolutely stay there again, FWIW.

Posted by
1 posts

My wife and I stayed at Motel One locations in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt for two nights each last December and loved them. The price for the convenience of being near the attractions was fantastic. The rooms are compact compared to what you may be used to in the states but they are setup smartly. The staff at all of the locations were friendly and welcoming. I will be traveling back to Germany in the future and would stay at a Motel One again.

Posted by
4664 posts

I really like Motel One. The only problem I have is that the rooms are often a bit lacking in storage space, and in places to sit other than on your bed.

Posted by
1889 posts

Funny how perceptions can be so different. One of my favorite things about Motel One is their storage. I especially have liked the rooms with open shelving space, rather than drawers or cupboards, so that I can see everything. And I like the hanging bars in some rooms where I can hang clothes to dry.

But I'm a solo traveler. The storage space that is perfect for me may be insufficient for two people.

Posted by
75 posts

Our dear German friends who live in North Rhine - Westphalia recommended Motel One to us; it's where they stay when visiting Berlin & Munich. We looked into both for our 18 year old nephew's solo trip abroad in 2019, but they were completely booked for his time period. One thing to note: at that time, none of the rooms had telephones. Can anyone who has stayed recently confirm this?

This might not matter to anyone traveling with a smart phone, but as a female who on occasion travels solo, an in-room phone that quickly connects me to the front desk is a pretty important safety feature. I once had the unnerving experience of being woken up in the middle of the night by someone yelling and pounding on my hotel room door. When I looked out the peephole it was clear he was drunk and had mistook my room for someone else's, and opening the door would have been far too dangerous. I immediately called the front desk and asked for security to come intervene, which they did very quickly. If I had to rely on my smart phone, I would have been fumbling around trying to find the phone number to the front desk.

Posted by
1889 posts

None of the Motel One hotels I have stayed in (Vienna in 2018, Prague in 2018 and 2019, Dresden in 2019 and nearly Warsaw in 2020) had phones in the rooms.

Their FAQ states:

Are there telephones in the rooms?
No, Motel One rooms have no telephones.

Posted by
11250 posts

My Hub hotel in London didn't have a phone in the room either, nor did the Pension Peters in Berlin (a Rick Steves favorite).

It's becoming an issue that everyone is assumed to have a phone, so hotel rooms don't always have them. I always make sure to program in the hotel's front desk number. And the Hub had an app which had a function to call the front desk. But if one is traveling without a phone, I agree it's definitely a problem if there's no phone in the room.