Photo: Practice Hospitality

This Flagstaff Hotel Makes The Perfect Stop in America's Iconic Dark Sky City

Epic Stays
by Molly O'Brien Nov 29, 2023

Along Route 66 as it cuts through Flagstaff, Arizona, the Americana Motor Hotel is a groovy trip back in time and into outer space. The hotel’s location along the country’s most iconic highway adds a heavy dose of sentimentalism to an already vibrant motel that gives travelers an eclectic spot to stop and stay in town.

The property feels simultaneously retro and futuristic — perfectly blending a sense of nostalgia with the comforts of modern technology. Its forward-thinking attitude includes sustainability measures like drought-tolerant landscaping, a menu of aluminum canned beverages, and even EV chargers outside.

pool at americana motor hotel

Photo: Practice Hospitality

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There are 89 thoughtfully decorated rooms, a year-round heated pool, a fenced-in “Barkyard” (like a “backyard” — but specifically for pups) where furry family members can hang out (and a dog wash station), as well as a spacious human-focused “Backyard” area, dotted with firepits and telescopes to explore the night sky (Flagstaff was the world’s First International Dark Sky City, after all).

The hotel’s transformation preserves its original 1962 vibes while updating its amenities and decor to feel like a special overnight experience. A main feature of the property’s design was considering the city’s dark sky parameters and not shining too much light from the property’s paint or sign (inspired by the 1962 original).

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Arriving at the groovy lobby

lobby at americana motor hotel

Photo: Practice Hospitality

The motel is a long, two-story, angled building. The lobby is adjacent to the roadway, and the exterior entrances to the rooms overlook the backyard space with its pool, lawn games, and fire pits sprinkled throughout.

The lobby itself is a work of art, with vibrant colors like bright yellow couches adorned with galaxy-patterned pillows — even the floor is covered in a set of geometric designs. There’s a little shop in the lobby selling snacks and souvenirs, and the front desk, which is flanked by two mounted kayaks, each featuring a neon “VI” for Route 66, resembles a vintage travel brochure rack, printed visitor brochures, paying homage to the days when these pamphlets were the ultimate guide to exploring a new city.

There are also comfortable couches, board games, and a long communal table with power outlets (great for remote work ventures). The artwork and architectural elements are said to have been inspired by the surrounding natural landscape of this mountain town — and there are numerous references to the number “66” hidden throughout the hotel indoors and outside as a tribute to the great Route 66 roadway.

Guest rooms at the Americana Motor Hotel

room at americana motor hotel

Photo: Practice Hospitality

Visitors can choose between Full, Queen, and Two Queen guest rooms, which are decorated in a warm palette featuring tones of rustic brown, navy blue, and orange. There’s a purposeful combination of textures — including retro wooden furnishings and rich textiles that aim to be felt as a sort of “rustic futurism.” Posters in the rooms showcase photographs from a simpler but still scientific time, with images of astronauts who used this area to train for moon missions in the Cinder Lake Crater just outside of town.

These design elements combine with “eye-popping” carpets with swirling stripes, headboards inspired by 1970s ski gear, writing desks, and my favorite part of the entire experience staying on-site – a REAL spinning disco ball — in every room.

Every detail in the rooms is purposefully designed — including the red shower hardware and geometric white tiles of the bathroom, which were chosen to evoke images of NASA’s Apollo moon landing equipment.

The $15 daily amenity fee goes toward self-parking, WiFi, a welcome beverage upon check-in, a morning coffee station in the lobby, a reusable aluminum water bottle, use of the year-round heated pool, access to on-site fire pits and outdoor seating, use of the on-site yard games like bocce and corn hole and the lobby board games, bike rentals to explore, use of telescopes for stargazing, and access to the pet area (there’s no added fee for pet owners).

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yard at americana motor hotel

Photo: Practice Hospitality

Exploring Flagstaff from the Americana Motor Hotel

Flagstaff is an outdoorsy mountain destination home to Northern Arizona University. It feels like a classic college-town enclave with plentiful hiking, biking, and skiing opportunities — and the Americana Motor Hotel is a fantastically fun spot to set as a home base for exploring. The city itself can even be a great home base for exploring Grand Canyon National Park, which is a roughly 90-minute scenic drive North, or for snowsports at the nearby Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort.

In the historic downtown district, grab coffee at one of the dozen cozy local shops like Late for the Train. This spot is right on the main drag, with a spacious outdoor courtyard hosting plenty of seating. I enjoyed getting some fresh air outside next to the cozy fire pit while visiting during a chilly time of year.

Grab a brew at Lumberyard Brewing Co., which serves great beer and tasty food in the historical Halstead Lumberyard Building. Built in the early 1900s, the building has today been lovingly restored and transformed into a bustling, modern taproom. Stop into local shops like Crystal Magic, a local Arizona gem store (there’s also a location in Sedona) offering nearly 400 types of gems, minerals, jewelry, books, and more trinkets.

And don’t miss the Lowell Observatory. This iconic scientific facility has supported the study of astronomy for over a century. It’s here where scientists first discovered Pluto back in 1930. Today, the property welcomes more than 100,000 eager visitors to campus each year to learn about space using the observatory’s telescopes, with insight from the brilliant on-site educators.

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