If you are driving toward downtown Flagstaff, Arizona and are trying to find Motel Du Beau, it might be easier if you’re in a convertible. Then you can just look up. Their massive neon sign was meant to be seen from far and wide when the place opened in 1929.
Back then, automobiles were still a luxury item and roadside motels were just starting to pop up. Canadian founder Albert E. Du Beau wanted to cater to the discerning members of this clientele, so he opened a motel with covered parking, tile bathrooms, carpeting, and double beds. All swanky offerings at the time.
Most Flagstaff motels these days can offer far more amenities than that, especially the new ones right near the interstate highway that replaced Route 66. But they don’t have nearly as much character as Motel Du Beau.
Flagstaff lodging is spread out among several areas. There are chain hotels in the newer areas of the city, around the university area, resorts nestled in the forests, and downtown historic hotels. Downtown Flagstaff hotels have one disadvantage for sensitive sleepers: the main set of railroad tracks heading east and west across the USA goes through here day and night. (Plus two daily Amtrak trains.) I sleep well and kind of like that nostalgic sound though, plus in the colder months you won’t have the windows open anyway.
The easy access to everything by foot more than makes up for that for the people who stay here. You can walk out the door to good restaurants, six brewpubs, and the visitors’ center by the Amtrak office.
Rooms at Motel Du Beau in Flagstaff
When owners completely modernize an old motel, they usually knock down walls and turn two rooms into one to accommodate modern demands for more space. Motel Du Beau has kept some of the original rooms intact for travelers on a budget, however, billing them as “very petite & cozy—just as they were in 1929.” Book these Economy rooms as a single or with someone you want to snuggle up with in a double bed, no TV. They do have a fridge and their own bathroom, however.
If you don’t want to share a bed but are still trying to watch the budget, the “Bunk Up!” option has two stacked bunk beds instead. You can reserve this and then share stories about summer camp as a kid.
The Deluxe rooms upgrade you to a queen bed, a desk, and cable TV in a larger space. Premium rooms have two beds, two desks, more closet space, and a larger fridge.
I got to splash out in the King Retreat room, which is like a junior suite. It has a king bed, sofa, larger desk area, a walk-in closet, and plenty of room for all your belongings.
There are two other higher-end room options. One is the Queen Suite. The bed is not king-sized, but there’s a separate living room with a sectional sofa and the only bathtub on the property. The Family Travelers Suite has a queen bed in one room for the adults, a bunk bed set-up in another for the kids.
Be advised that none of these rooms have air conditioning. Flagstaff is one of the highest elevation cities in the USA, at close to 7,000 feet, so it’s windows with fans in the summer, heaters cranking the rest of the year.
What’s Included at Motel Du Beau
When you stay at Motel Du Beau, parking is included and it’s likely to be right outside your room for easy loading and unloading. Coffee, tea, and juice are complimentary for breakfast, plus there will be some self-serve continental items like fruit, yogurt, oatmeal packets, and muffins. (There are a few great coffee shops and restaurants around the corner if you want something more extensive.)
A few sitting areas are scattered around the grounds and since the interior area of the complex is like a courtyard surrounded by the motel buildings, they’re away from traffic. The included WiFi works in the rooms and in the lobby with reading materials and games.
Off the lobby is a kitchen area that guests can use, a nice addition if you want a break from eating at restaurants. You can also use the laundry facilities here, which are probably a welcome site if you’ve been hiking around the numerous national parks and monuments or have been on a Route 66 road trip across the USA.
Unfortunately, the Nomads Global Lounge in the front of the main building was a Covid casualty when it had to shut down for months and it hasn’t opened back up. If it does, that’s a nice place to sit inside or out with a drink or to have a meal.
Rates at Du Beau are reasonable, running $59 to $99 most of the year before taxes. This is a privately owned and run business that is not paying out a commission to the online booking agencies, so book direct at the official website.
Editor Tim Leffel was a hosted guest of Motel Du Beau while researching a Flagstaff, Arizona article for another publication. As always, all opinions are his own.