By Jason Heidemann for the Orbitz Travel Blog
The Mother Road is a true thrill ride. America's most iconic highway meanders from downtown Chicago all the way to the Santa Monica Pier in California offering dozens of scenic vistas, kitschy roadside nostalgia and intimate encounters with small town America along the way. But having driven every inch of this scenic stretch of pavement, we can promise you that at the end of each long day you'll want a good place to rest your head. Small motels still abound, but if you're looking for something spiffier, here are the best Route 66 hotels.
Chicago Athletic Association: Chicago, IL
You'll want a good night's sleep before your first day on the road and this recently restored Gothic masterpiece is a true Windy City icon. Located just a literal stone's throw from the Route 66 starting point on Adams Street between Wabash and Michigan Avenues, the Chicago Athletic Association oozes vintage clubby cool including a lobby where you'll want to spend hours chilling, a rowdy fun rec room featuring pool tables and shuffleboard and gorgeous city views from City's Rooftop. Did we mention there's a Shake Shack in the lobby?
Magnolia Hotel: Saint Louis, MO
Much of the Gateway City has long since torn down or bulldozed over its original Route 66 diners, motels and vintage signage, but the Magnolia Hotel is in a historic building right off the route that in previous incarnations was famous for employing St. Louie's first female general manager and also originating the concept of chocolates on pillows. Today it's a genuine beauty where the lobby is aflutter with activity on weekends and whose rooms exude a style that is chic and minimal but also warm and inviting.
The Mayo Hotel: Tulsa, OK
The Sooner State takes its role in Route 66 history quite seriously and this includes all kinds of treasures including museums devoted to the Mother Road, quirky diners like ballyhooed POPS and the grand and opulent Mayo Hotel, a downtown treasure located a mere five blocks from where 66 cuts a beeline through the heart of the city. We love the historic facade, opulent lobby and the affordable suites which resemble lavish one-bedroom apartments. Do yourself a favor and hit up onsite cafe Topeca Coffee before hitting the road.