Six of the best Route 66 motels and hotels in the USA

BLUE SWALLOW MOTEL, NEW MEXICO

Since its inception in 1939, the Blue Swallow Motel has been a resting place for weary travellers on the Mother Road and to this day, the family-run business maintains its passion for preserving tradition. Situated in the heart of Tucumcari, New Mexico – one of the better-preserved towns along this state's section of Route 66 – the motel successfully marries a wonderfully nostalgic air with modern conveniences. Set out in an L-shaped courtyard, each of the rooms has been meticulously decked out in 1940s and '50s vintage style but with flat-screen TV, fast Wi-Fi connectivity and 600-thread-count sheets. Several rooms have garages, too – this place is a haven for vintage car enthusiasts, a bonus if you're into all things Americana. From $US60 a night. See blueswallowmotel.com

WAGON WHEEL MOTEL, MISSOURI

Although now completely restored, this claims to be the oldest continuously operated motel on Route 66. Built on the heels of the Depression in 1935, the property was fashioned from a hardy blend of stone and mortar to withstand the harsh dust bowl conditions and its present incarnation reflects these origins. Rooms are comfortable and clean with hardwood floors and mod cons – there are even rooms with Jacuzzis – and service is welcoming and efficient. The on-site Connie's Shoppe is also a great place to pick up a souvenir or book on Route 66 history, while the outdoor firepits make for a great spot to congregate and trade road stories. From $US60 a night. See wagonwheel66cuba.com

BOOTS COURT, CARTHAGE, MISSOURI

Designed by a former farm machinery salesman named Arthur Boots, this hotel's site was picked due to its prime location on the convergence of highways 71 and 66, an area Boots nicknamed the "Crossroads of America". Opened in 1939, the hotel is notable for its streamline moderne architectural style with smooth stucco cladding and distinctive rounded corners, and the more recent restoration projects have ensured it still oozes that unmistakably retro air. With further restorations ongoing, great care has gone into preserving the period feel, there are no televisions in the rooms – only radio – (who knows you might actually read a book instead?) and the place looks great at night with its neon exterior. From $US66 a night. See bootsmotel.homestead.com

WIGWAM VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Comprising 19 newly refurbished wigwams in a San Bernardino lot, this is a truly unique alternative to your average motel. Developed by Frank Redwood in 1933, it was originally designed as a means of showcasing his Native American artefacts but grew to become one of the region's most celebrated lodgings. Redwood got the idea for the teepee-shaped rooms from an ice-cream stand he'd noticed in Long Beach, California and went on to build seven motels, though now only three remain. Don't assume you'll be shivering through the night, wigwams come with heating, shower, electric doors and Wi-Fi, while the common area includes a swimming pool and 24-hour motel office. From $US74 a night. See wigwammotel.com

LA POSADA HOTEL, ARIZONA

This stunning Arizona hotel has become something of an institution for history-loving Route 66 aficionados. First opened on May 15, 1930, it embodies the visions of Elizabeth Jane Colter, the hotel's esteemed architect and its present owner, Allan Affeldt. Conceived to be the finest hotel in the south-west, its construction alone cost nearly $US1 million (a fortune back in 1929). But despite the grandeur, the hotel was closed in 1957 to make way for the Santa Fe Railway offices. However, since a successful $12 million restoration project in the late 1990s, the property has been restored to its former glory, with a Mexican-inspired theme and a wonderful restaurant – the Turquoise Room – serving fine south-western cuisine and excellent cocktails. From $US139 a night. See laposada.org

RAIL HAVEN MOTEL, MISSOURI

Built on an L-shaped complex, this 92-room motel may have been remodelled but still captures the air of a bygone era. A fetching blaze of green neon encircles the exterior trim, vintage cars adorn the parking lot, there are 1950s gas pumps outside the main lobby and signs from old petrol stations adorn the back walls of several rooms. There's an agreeably laid-back air to this hotel, with chairs outside the rooms encouraging guests to sit out with a beer and have a yarn, as well as an outdoor pool and hot tub providing the perfect place to iron out those road trip kinks. The motel is centrally located in Springfield, within striking distance of Hammons Field baseball stadium and Pythian Castle built in 1913. From $US64 a night. See bestwestern.com

Guy Wilkinson travelled at his own expense.

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