Photos by Laura E. Kelly
Part of the Bluebird by Lark range of motels, the renovated retreat is a must-see on a day trip from the Hudson Valley.
If you’re in the mood for the road (and who isn’t these days?), The multi-faceted town of Saratoga Springs is a great stop for road trips, although once you find yourself You are stopped there, you may find it difficult to leave. Just 30 miles north of Albany on I-87, this historic town with its vibrant arts scene, classic architecture, spas, iconic racetrack, lush parks, and range of fine dining and drinking options might keep you occupied. For days.
The city has a range of mid-century luxury hotels and motels, but smack in the middle is the all-new Spa City Motor Lodge, a smartly updated version of the classic roadside accommodation of yesteryear, conveniently located in historic Broadway, a mile and a half long. This upscale motel is an affordable option that caters directly to families and groups of friends, car travelers looking for a stylish Saratoga experience, and in the city without a massive price tag.
Roadside motels (or motor lodges) are having fun. Whether it’s a nostalgic desire for simple, free-spirited travel, or a practical desire for outer-corridor hotels in a COVID-aware world, more and more travelers are consulting them. And more and more hotel companies have shown themselves eager to make the big investment in revamping mid-century antiques into memorable travel experiences.
Spa City Motor Lodge opened in June 2021 and is the first in a new line of Bluebird motels by Lark, the New England-based boutique hotel company that specializes in adaptive reuse and recycling of properties. first class. For example, this property – one of four refurbished Bluebird lodges launched this year on Cape Cod, Stowe and Hunter in the Catskills – was an eyesore of downtown Saratoga that had long since fallen into disuse, until ‘she catches Lark’s attention. Working with California-based design firm EDG, Lark had fun executing a new take on a classic mid-century motor lodge that manages to be both old-fashioned Americana and site-specific, highlighting featured local art and books by authors who wrote bestsellers during their residency in another cultural gem of Saratoga: the Yaddo Writers Colony.
A modern classic in Saratoga
In the case of Spa City, the renovation began with painting the exterior an eye-catching black. Next, Lark designed an airy communal atrium from what was once a decrepit swimming pool. Then he remodeled the rooms as purposely minimalist – a serene retreat from the road trip and bustling city.
The entrance to the lodge has a distinctive retro wooden sign, which hides a cozy observation deck above. The most striking feature of Bluebird’s Spa City is its sunny atrium courtyard, with a number of casual seating groups and tables for group outings. Much of that seating is placed atop a filled pool, with the pool cleverly evoked in a painting on the poured cement floor and a long communal table at one end as a diving board. A coffee station called “The Deep End” is on the other end. Above the large space is a renovated glass ceiling through which the light pours.
With 42 rooms and nine different room types, this roadside hostel can accommodate groups of any size. Couples looking for extra space will appreciate the King Balcony with direct access to a shared balcony and the sunny interior courtyard. For those looking to work from the road, the interior courtyard provides common space, while the Double Queen, King, King with Balcony, and King Deluxe rooms all have dedicated desks.
Each simple but sophisticated room has high ceilings with freshly painted white walls (no falling wallpaper), shiny concrete floors (no funky-smelling rugs), and white linens and towels (no bedspreads) in brown cashmere). Additional touches include books and artwork from local designers and Levelor shades that block light for the windows. All bedrooms face the glass-topped atrium, allowing its sunlight to gently wake guests in the morning through a large frosted-glass side window. It offers light and privacy, a rare commodity in original mid-century motels.
Bluebird’s nod to its self-serve motel archetype is evident with minimal storage for clothes (though it does provide two white cotton bathrobes) and a small cube fridge in the room. There is a good size car park right outside the lobby (and a free municipal garage right behind the lodge). Anyone who needs a Java fix can search for the common coffee and water station in the atrium. But frankly, why linger there when there are so many gourmet cafes and restaurants right outside the door?
An unbeatable location for a day trip to the Hudson Valley
About what’s right outside the door: The Motor Lodge is right in the center of Saratoga’s dining and shopping district, next to the Wine Bar and across the street from Le Merc Cuisine and Bar and Canteen, two gems of the city’s premier food scene. A few blocks are the favorites of visitors Seneca, with rustic and creative meals by a CIA-trained chef, and Tatu Tacos & Tequila, with artisan tacos and drinks (don’t miss the churro waffle and ice cream dessert).
Self-guided walking tours abound in this quaint town. Walk a few blocks south to the well-maintained Convention Park, the rambling city green created in the 1800s to showcase the city’s various mineral springs, with a historic casino and merry-go-round to boot. Head north on Broadway past the shopping district and you’ll come across beautiful turn-of-the-century mansions with horse racing grounds and gardens lining the road to Skidmore College. A few blocks from the Spa City Lodge is the Beekman Street Arts District, home to artisans and galleries. For those who like guided tours, the family Saratoga Spring Ghosts Tour offers a historical walk through the beautiful night of Saratoga among the ghosts of yesteryear.
Finally, an entire afternoon could be spent at Saratoga Spa State Park, a short drive to downtown Saratoga. There, visitors will find walking trails, a well-maintained golf course, a Victorian-era public swimming pool, the grand historic Gideon Putnam Hotel, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) with live music, the National Museum of Dance and a classic car museum dotted among many bath items from Saratoga’s heyday as a spa town.
Spa City Motor Lodge
The Spa City Motor Lodge offers mid-range prices ranging from $ 101 to $ 359. Prices go up and down depending on room size and what is happening in Saratoga for your chosen stay dates. (Hint: Expect more expensive rooms during music festivals at PSPC and the horse racing season in August.)