Road trip: Four unique stays and one chain hotel

This is not Llama’s normal type of blog post. This is a breakdown of our stays during our 9-day road trip from Lubbock to Death Valley, Tucson and Las Cruces, and the costs associated with each stay.

Llama wanted unique stays which reflected the character of the place and the trip. Route 66, hiking Death Valley, and quirky were the defining characteristics of the trip. He also wanted to try out a RV stay (future trips info gathering). Llama isn’t resort or fancy type folk. Llama and his companions loved all their stays and had no problems at any of them.

Llama paid out of pocket for none of the stays. The costs were all written off by credit card points. Travel hacking saved us $624.30 on this 9-day road trip.

Historic Hotel El Rancho, Gallup, NM

Fun, clean, comfy, reflected the movie past of Route 66

1 night $92.81 = 9,281 Cap One Venture points

El Rancho Hotel was the home of TV and movie stardom in it’s heyday and the hotel reflects this history. It was lighted with luminarias for the holiday season. The rooms are all decorated in period appropriate furnishings. Some rooms even have decorations featuring the star it is named after.

Beautiful ceilings run throughout the El Rancho and as well as period light recreations.
Llama was a little flummoxed by this “cell phone”. Oh Llama.
The hotel has the original elevator that you have to hand operate the both inner and outer doors. Very fun. You have to make sure and close both sets of doors when you exit or the elevator won’t change floors. The poor desk clerks spend a lot of time running up and down the stairs to shut the inner door.
Of all the stars’ pictures on the wall, Karol was very excited to see “Sarge” or Forrest Tucker. Karol loved F Troop as a child and this brought back great childhood memories.
Llama found this hotel loads of fun and enjoyed looking around for most of Christmas night.
Llama and Baby Yoda happily snuggled up under their cowboy blanket while Michael and Karol enjoyed a drink at the bar next door.

Canyon Lodge Seligman, AZ

Cleanest hotel I have EVER been in. Hands down. This small Route 66 heyday motel was immaculate. I’m sure you could eat off the floor if needed. This is so unexpected in this older hotel in a small town.

The Canyon Lodge staff were super nice and helpful. When Llama called from the Grand Canyon National Park to let the hotel know they would be late arriving, the staff took the time let them know that restaurants close at 8 p.m. in Seligman and it would be best if we ate in Williams. The next morning Llama found a better stocked breakfast than many big chain hotels; lots of fruit, oatmeal and cereal and packaged muffins. All of the rooms are themed too – Llama was in the Elvis Room!

1 night $78.40 = 7,840 Cap One Venture points

Unassuming but great inside.
All sparkly for Christmas.
I guess Michael was all shook up! We never saw The King but definitely felt his presence.
This bed was very comfortable and the pillows were the best of the trip. We were again surprised by this being such a small hotel in a small town. A bed and pillows can make or break your stay. Top marks!
Teeny bathroom for sure but everything was there and LOTS of hot water. That is one of the big differences staying in retro hotels, bathrooms are definitely a lot smaller. But it gets the job done.
Who doesn’t want a cozy little fire on a cold night! This was so charming. Llama left it on all night and it was just enough to keep the room comfy without having to run the wall heater.

The office had a little kitchen tucked behind it with grab and go breakfast. There was plenty to choose from and we didn’t start our day off hungry that’s for sure.

Seligman is the Route 66 town that the movie Cars is based on and the town has totally embraced the role. It was way below freezing and TowMater and friends were a bit frosty to start the day.

Airbnb Antonio’s Place RV rental, Pahrump, NV

Llama and his companions wanted to try an RV stay. Llama has some trips he wants to take in the future that either renting a RV or staying in a parked one will be the best way to see a more remote area. This seemed as good time as any to try one. Since their main goal of this part of the trip was hiking Death Valley National Park, the RV seemed to fit the character of the place. For places to stay, matching character was a theme of the trip.

This RV was clean, comfortable, and the owners were super nice. The only time Llams and friends were uncomfortable was their own fault. On a night when the outdoor temp dropped to about 20 degrees, Karol set the heat too low and they got cold during the night. A little adjustment and everything was just fine.

3 nights $190.58 = 19,058 Cap One Venture points

The owners even had a covered area for parking. Saved our car from ice one night and Llama is sure it saves others from the heat during the summer months.
Please of kitchen space and a nice sized refrigerator AND freezer!
Since the RV was stationary, there was plenty of hot water and we didn’t have to learn how to dump tanks.
Pardon all our stuff. It was really windy when Llama arrived and we had to unload quickly. He didn’t get pictures first! Instead he took up a spot on the bed and let Karol take pictures.

Part of the reason we got an RV or Airbnb was the ability to fix some of our own meals. The first night there, Llama and friends were tired and the ability to fix a light chicken salad dinner was perfect. Quick cleanup and into a comfy bed.

Hotel McCoy, Tucson, AZ

The most unique stay of the trip. This 1950s era motel that has been renovated to mod-style. Karol found it on the Chase travel portal and then watched a YouTube video on it. It was perfect. Llama could have easily just picked a standard hotel room, but they all wanted to try something quirky. Hotel McCoy fit that bill.

Each room is decorated differently. All art on the walls in the rooms and office common areas is from local artists and is for sale. The main area has a bar with AZ beers & wines, in the morning it is an oatmeal breakfast bar. They serve up steel cut oats and you can pick any toppings you want. Along with this is local coffee or herbal teas.

The staff are all young, lovely folks who really seem to love running the place.

2 nights

$308.51 = 24,680 Chase UR points

The entire exterior of the place is muraled by local artists.
When you arrive you receive tokens for a drink at the bar. The bar features local Arizona wines and beers. These Superstition Wines were very good.
Board game room for your relaxing pleasure.
Little shopping area that also has vintage games on display. Michael loves to look through shops.
Our room had a Tucson neon light that game the room a lime green tint when turned on. The art on the wall is for sale. You can even see some empty nails where some pieces have been purchased.
Small kitchenette area, plenty of space if you needed to fix snacks or meals.
This place stole all their hearts. Llama hopes to stay again when he gets back to Tucson.

Staybridge, Las Cruces, NM

After 8 days of unique stays, Llama chose this clean and comfortable chain hotel. It was just a one night passing through stay and it fit the bill. Lots of room in the suite to spread out and relax on our last night.

Basic IHG breakfast.

1 night

$125.21 = 10,016 Chase UR points

This night the group split up and watched a little TV in their separate areas. Though they all love traveling together, a little quiet time apart is a good thing.
This type of hotel is equipped for a long-term stay if necessary. We could store our snacks in the refrig to help keep the last of the food fresh.

Llama was glad his had booked this. Though, technically, the group could have driven further, the next stops would have involved mountains and passes. Since you never know during winter, it is best not to try that driving at night. As it turned out this was a good call. Eastern New Mexico and West Texas experiences a freak winter storm and Llama and friends could have found themselves trapped or worse.

What a great trip and Llama is SO happy with all the places he chose to lay his head.

How do you choose places? What is important to you? Everyone is different. Always, always….you be you and choose what makes your travel enjoyable.

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