The EconoLodge, 19755 NE Frontage Road, Shorewood, Illinois, surprised me. Most chain motels (especially in the “budget” category) tend toward bland uniformity of layout, color scheme and furniture choices. Not here.
I was in north central Illinois to attend a family funeral, so location not décor was foremost on my mind. Where I stayed had to be near the places selected for the calling and the services. I wouldn’t be spending much time in my room.
The EconoLodge was closest, so I booked it.
From the outside, there’s nothing distinctive. As I drove up, I noted a spare canopied entrance in front of a long rectangle of two stories of cubicles, all with exterior doors. A huge parking lot separates the motel from the frontage road and from its neighbor, a car dealership.
But inside, wow! Stepping into the lobby, I had no doubt this was a motel owned by an immigrant from the Indian subcontinent. The turquoise front desk topped with turquoise stone was accented with both faux and real plants and fanciful flowers.
As has been reported extensively, it’s estimated that at least half of the motels in the United States are now owned by Indian Americans — some 3/4 of whom have roots in Gujarat province. This is no doubt one of them.
Arriving at my designated room, I found all the expected amenities, including free WiFi and a small refrigerator topped with a microwave. But — the walls weren’t beige. One was a bold oxblood red. Instead of an insipid botanical on the wall, there was a print of that wonderful collage of license plates forming a map of the United States.
The furniture wasn’t that bland mass-produced kind that (thankfully) disappears from memory, but looked to be hand-selected mis-matched vintage pieces — headboard, side tables and chest of drawers united in thrift shop chic by their deep brown wood color and black-and-gold accents. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom acceptable, and the room was surprisingly quiet.
In the morning, a Continental breakfast was on offer, including my three essentials: coffee, orange juice and bagels. It was the perfect choice, and cost me less than $60 for the stay.
It’s easy to make a reservation at the EconoLodge Shorewood, part of the “Travel Simply” brands of Choice Hotels, at any of the hotel booking sites.
(Photos courtesy of the EconoLodge Shorewood and by Susan McKee)