Want a Good Vacation? Go to a Motor Lodge in Saratoga

There’s a stretch of Seattle’s State Route 99 — Aurora Avenue — that passes by a sprinkling of seedy motels rotting on the roadside before the bridge takes flight over Lake Union, where it climbs to a height of 167 feet, an elevation which aids in its notorious accolade of being the second most popular spot for suicide jumpers in the USA (230, since construction in 1931). One motel, when I lived in Seattle, threw a party before demolition crews rolled in and knocked the place down. The raucous fiesta was a mix of grunge and garbage and art and decay, and it made, in some weird light, the motel seem glamorous while doomed. That appeal isn’t lost on my generation — the Millennials — and the motel or motor lodge holds some vestige of lure for those who were never subject to the worst of its woes.

The Brentwood Hotel represents a much brighter fate for the motel, thanks to a collection of four Brooklyn-based designers working as the design firm Studio Tack. Situated on one corner of the Saratoga Race Course, Studio Tack purchased the dilapidated Brentwood Motel over the summer, completed renovations in the fall, and opened again as the Brentwood Hotel this winter. The 12-room lodge still holds the charms of a motel — direct access from car to room, a crunchy, gravel motor courtyard, and a long, single-story L-shaped structure with an A-frame roof. But, the refresh now allows for modern amenities, like Máquina coffee in the mornings, unstained Italian cotton sheets, shiny brass bathroom components and speedy wi-fi.

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Matthew Ankeny