I’m not an accommodations snob. I don’t think. I’ve stayed in tents, hostels, motels and on people’s couches. But over the years, as my income grew, so did the quality of the places that we stayed in while on vacation. In addition, travel was a part of my corporate life and over the years I stayed in some amazing places (while still being a budget-conscious employee – I swear!). I crisscrossed the United States from New York to Los Angeles to Miami to Portland and enjoyed high thread count sheets, rooftop bars and room service (all while getting work done – I swear!).
But times? Well, times have changed and that corporate credit card is long gone. I mean I have a corporate card, but the limit is, ummm, quite a bit smaller. And the corporation I now work for is smaller. Like super small. As in, just Jason and myself. And that means our vacations and work travel budgets have become pretty much non existent. So when we drive from housesit to housesit we’re looking for the most economical places to stay. Luckily Mexico is infamous for having a massive amount of auto hotels, otherwise known as rent by the hour, “no-tell motels.” I know what you’re thinking – primarily because I thought it too when I first heard about them and said there is no way that I’m staying in one of those, I’ll sleep in the car first. But here’s the thing. Here in Mexico? Auto hotels are pretty freaking amazing. Well at least some of them are. I know there are some, as my friend put it, ‘super shady ones.’ But there are a lot to chose from and many of them are incredibly clean, economical and highly secure.
Here’s how they work. You pull up to a window, pick what kind of room you want, pay for the number of hours you plan to stay, get assigned a room and then drive your car to your assigned garage, pull in and shut the door behind you. Since we travel with everything we own in the world in the back of our car, it gives me tremendous peace of mind to have the car right there and not worry about hauling all of our valuables in and out of a hotel. Also, when we’re just driving to get from place to place we’re really just looking for a place to shower, stretch out and get a few hours of sleep. It makes a lot of sense to pay only for the hours you need. And they are cheap. Oh so incredibly cheap. Like I said, some are definitely better than others, but you can spend $15-$25 US for an overnight stay at an auto hotel. And most of them offer room service of some kind or give you a list of places around that will deliver.
All of that being said, I’m pretty sure that places that rent by the hour and advertise as being discrete and private aren’t necessarily catering to travelers but rather those looking for some ‘extracurricular’ activity. In fact, based on what I’ve seen in the auto hotel rooms I can pretty much guarantee it. That room service menu? Sometimes has more than food and drink on the menu. And they provide more than mints on the nightstand. And some have some pretty creative furniture. You get the idea. But still? I cannot reiterate enough how convenient, cost-efficient and clean these places are. Don’t believe me? Take a look.
Back in the day when I had money for vacations and a nice corporate card I wouldn’t have thought about staying in a place that rents rooms by the hour. And I still wouldn’t turn down the offer of a nice, lovely stay at an all-inclusive resort or a friend’s couch for that matter. But the longer we travel around, the more I’ve learned to let a lot of my preconceived notions go and have found a whole other world. A world that is full of cheap, clean and convenient places to stay!