Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Room Entry at Sunrise, The Hollow, Barre, Vermont

When I get to travel for my various photography projects, I do everything I can to avoid staying at chain motels. Plastic cookie-cutter sameness, and overpriced to boot. It's almost always possible to find something much more interesting, unless you have to stay in a big city.

Outdoor Breakfast Nook, The Hollow, Barre, Vermont

Last Thursday I thought it would be easy to find an interesting place around Montpelier, VT, but was frustrated in the search. Moving south toward Barre didn't get any better, until we came all the way out the south end of town and stumbled on The Hollow Motel.  The place was built in 1940, when "motor hotels" were still a relatively new phenomenon. This one was built to be the most lavish place in town. The sign out front still touts "giant rooms" and it's the truth. Easily half again as big as those cookie-cutter big-chain rooms.

The Pool at The Hollow, Barre, Vermont

The huge lobby is a real period piece. One of the things I don't like about the chains is that they've all gone "security conscious," so the rooms no longer have exterior doors. You've got to go through the lobby and down hallways to reach your room, which is a real drag with multiple cases of large format camera gear requiring four or five trips. Old style motels let you drive right up to the door of your room so to unload and reload in the morning takes, like, two minutes flat. At The Hollow, you drive right up to the door of ground floor rooms. For rooms on the second floor, you drive through a tunnel in the south end of the building, up a hill, and then park right at your door from the back.

It wasn't advertised, but WiFi popped up the moment I opened my MacBook Pro. The free breakfast was better than most places and included something I've never encountered before, a do-it-yourself waffle-making station. OK, the carpet in our room was pretty worn and would have been replaced years ago at a chain place, not all of the light bulbs worked, and the grill and sink at poolside were no longer in service, so I suppose someone might be put off by those things. But we thoroughly enjoyed the place.


Don and Sher said...

The days of a more simple life. Last March while enroute to Florida we stopped just off 95 at a large motel, about 10:30 I heard shots being fired, I called the front desk and the clerk said, "Oh you heard it to." Sometimes these truckers shoot off their guns." Well anyway the deputies showed, didn't come to my room but interviewed me over the phone. Things have changed.

Mike Mundy said...

Waffle Machines in Monterey.

Carl Weese said...

Mike, I guess it shows that my traveling has been curtailed for several years. I'm a bit behind the times, but should begin to catch up on my drive-in theater hunting trip next month.

Rich Gift Of Lins said...

In other words, you found a place to stay that still had character as well as convenience. Once upon a time and on business, I stopped in such a place with my bike near Cleveland. Going for evening bike rides after work was great, I just had to leave via the front door and not wheel my bike past reception.