Road-tripping in a vintage travel trailer might be the most iconic image of mid-20th-century Americana. But owning one (never mind restoring it), towing it, and finding a place to park it on vacation can feel like a tall order. If you want a taste of that same retro charm with all the convenience and modern amenities of a traditional hotel, these four places deliver.
Situated atop a nondescript parking garage in the heart of Melbourne is Notel. It’s the sort of place that embraces its speakeasy-inspired, “you have to know it’s there” sense of cool. In fact, it’s only accessible through a hidden door near a ground-level coffee shop. Here, just six beautifully restored 1970s-era Airstream trailers make up the entire “hotel.” The five standard rooms have been outfitted with a stark, ultra-modern, white-on-white decor that feels purpose-built for Instagramming. The flagship “Airstream With Benefits” boasts a lit-up hot tub and a private deck overlooking the city’s famed Flinders Lane. Free booze and snacks are included in every minibar. Plus, there’s free valet parking, Wi-Fi, and Netflix via comped iPad Pros, and HP Sprocket Photo Printers in every room for memorializing all those rooftop moments you promised you’d never talk about again.
In a city renowned for its edgy, counter-cultural arts scene, Hüttenpalast fits right in. Situated in a repurposed vacuum cleaner factory in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood, the quirky caravan hotel combines all the charm of traditional travel trailer camping with plenty of retro bohemian flare. Each of the eight trailers was uniquely painted and decorated by a different local designer. The accommodations are rustic but include the essentials: Wi-Fi, communal bathrooms, public garden areas, and a free breakfast buffet. Be warned though: none are soundproofed. Take that for what it’s worth.
Grand Daddy Hotel
Cape Town, South Africa
If you demand a bit more luxury with your travel trailer camping experience, Grand Daddy Hotel delivers. From the outside, the Cape Town property appears like any other downtown boutique hotel. But a quick ride in a vintage elevator reveals the hotel’s Rooftop Trailer Park Experience. Here, overlooking famous Long Street, seven authentic Airstream trailers have been repurposed as one-of-a-kind guestrooms. Each has been designed with a unique theme that reflects elements of a typical South African road trip. The Grape Escape room celebrates the country’s world-famous vineyards, for example, while Roaring With Colour is a bold nod to the game reserves at Madikwe and Sabi Sands. The interiors all received a top-down makeover to include modern amenities like queen-sized beds, wet baths with private bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and mini-fridges.
Hicksville Trailer Palace
Joshua Tree, California
The desert does strange things to the human brain, and Hicksville Trailer Palace proudly embraces all of them. The Joshua Tree-based “palace” pulls inspiration from trailer-park chic, road-trip-flavored Americana, and Raising Arizona. Every guestroom trailer boasts an unforgettable, over-the-top design. The Fifi, for example, is adorned with a garish pink-on-pink decor that includes a lighted vanity and a wig collection; The Pee-Wee is the original gypsy vardo trailer used in the 1988 movie Big Top Pee-wee; and The Sweet seems purpose-built as a ’70s porn movie set, eschewing a bed in favor of long, curvy couches, an electric fireplace, and a vintage record player. Outside, guests can enjoy target practice at the on-site BB gun shooting range. Plus, there’s mini-golf, darts, an archery range, and a seasonal pool. That it’s all set amid the remote California desert only adds to the weirdness.
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