From the cozy allure of the early 1900s to the mid-century modern flair (and/or decor abominations) of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, then all the way up to the sleek sophistication of the 90s, each era had its own distinct look.
Old hotel rooms in the early 1900s
Early 20th-century hotels in the budget category were marked by an aura of simplicity, with sturdy wooden furniture, brass fixtures, and rooms often equipped with basic amenities like a bed, a table, a chair, and possibly a dresser.
What were hotel rooms like in the 1930s and 1940s?
In the wake of the Great Depression, many hotels had to cut back on amenities. Basic rooms usually included a bed, a chair, and perhaps a small desk or vanity. En suite bathrooms were uncommon in less expensive hotels — instead, guests often had to share communal facilities. Fancier hotels looked more like the room from 1935 shown just below, with more comfortable funishings.
1940s hotels: A transition to Modernism
As the 1940s began, design tastes gradually transitioned toward Modernism. Simplified lines, functional forms, and less ornate materials became more common.
The war effort necessitated more practical choices in furniture and fittings, as materials were rationed. That said, one could still find touches of Art Deco in more traditional establishments.
Old hotel rooms of the 1950s, 60s & 70s
As the decades rolled on to the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, there was a shift towards simplicty and more basic mid-century modern designs.
Hotel rooms and motel rooms were simpler — often colored with pastel hues, wood paneling, patterned bedspreads and curtains, built-in furniture, and quirky conveniences such as coin-operated televisions and “magic fingers” massaging beds.
Vintage 80s & 90s hotel rooms
The ’80s and ’90s saw a gradual move towards minimalist aesthetics, coupled with the introduction of in-room technology like color televisions and digital alarm clocks.
Modern hotel and motel rooms of today: The evolution of hospitality
Fast forward to now, and the scene has transformed. The hotel and motel rooms of today — especially those in luxury hotels — prioritize technology, sustainability, and modern design principles. Minimalist furniture and digital interfaces have become the norm, along with energy-efficient designs, easy-to-clean surfaces, and sustainability measures.
Contemporary hotel rooms (particularly those that have been built in the last 20 years) are microcosms of technological advancements, environmental consciousness, and contemporary design trends.
Overall, a comparison of hotel rooms throughout the last century to today paints a portrait of societal changes, technological advancements, and shifting design trends. From the simple charm of the early 1900s to the technological marvels of the present day, the evolution of hotels and motels demonstrates the ever-changing landscape of the hospitality industry.
Scroll down to see many more vintage hotel rooms and motel rooms from days long gone by, from the 1930s through the 1990s!
Vintage 30s hotel room wtih a cozy corner seating area
Old hotel room decor from 1939 – beds and chairs
The view inside a 50s Hilton hotel in 1956
Old Jacktown Motel room in Irwin, Pennsylvania (1950s)
View inside a room at the Lenox Motor Hotel in Boston (1950s)
Old 50s Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel room interior with 2 single beds
Westward Ho Motel in Grand Forks North Dakota room on a postcard (c1950s)
1950s motel room with poolside view
An elegant 50s Hilton hotel room (1959)
Retro hotel suite decor at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas (1958)
The 1950s Presidential Suite at the Congress Hotel in Chicago, Illinois
Presidential Suite at the Palace in San Francisco (1955)
Sheraton-Palace Hotel, San Francisco. One of the show places of the nation, San Francisco’s luxurious Sheraton-Palace has welcomed seven Presidents of the United States.
Nixon Hotel Room Interior in Pennsylvania (1950s)
Hotel Blackhawk executive suite room in Davenport Iowa (1950s)
Canopy bed in a vintage hotel’s honeymoon suite in Peace Bridge, Buffalo (c1950s)
Terrace View Court motel room in Knoxville Tennessee (1950s-60s)
Old Shamrock Motor Hotel in Louisiana room interior (1950s)
The bedroom decor at the Kirby’s Hotel in Rochester New York (c1950)
Retro 50s motel room in yellow and brown
Old room at the Harvest Drive Farm Motel and Restaurant, Gordonville, Pennsylvania
Late 50s hotel room decor (1959)
Old Del Ray Motel in Indianapolis, Indiana (1950s-1960s)
Vintage 50s motel room with maid on the full-size bed (1959)
Cheap old motel room with two beds and green shag carpet (1960s)
Mid century modern hotel room – Hilton chain (1962)
1960s guest room at the Philadelphia Marriott hotel (1964)
Vintage bi-level suite at the Dallas Marriott Hotel (1964)
Orange and brown 60s motel room (1965)
Retro 60s hotel room with a black and white TV set (1966)
Pink bed and decor at the Heritage Grand Hotel Fort Mill South Carolina (c1960s)
Retro 60s hotel room decor from the Broadwater Beach Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi
Retro room at the Pittsburgher Hotel in Pennsylvania (c1960s)
Vintage 60s guest room interior – Dutch Village Hotel in Delaware
Vintage Fresno Hyatt Lodge guest room in the 60s
Vintage Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island in Hawaii (c1967)
The Lady Hilton hotel room – Designed for women (1967)
Crossroads Motor Lodge Gatlinburg, TN
Vintage 60s room at the Charterhouse Motor Hotel in Washington DC
Red room at the Commodore Hotel in New York City (1960s)
Vintage room with a view at the Sea Shore Hotel in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii (1950s-1960s)
Vintage Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in Cocoa Beach, Florida (1960s)
Poipu Beach Hotel in Kauai, Hawaii (1965)
Poolside room at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in South Bend Indiana (1960s)
Pine-covered walls at Motel Athens in Ohio (early 1960s)
Vintage Lakeland Motel room in Port Clinton Ohio (1950s-1960s)
Old Knights Inn room in Ohio (1960s)
Kansas City University Medical Center hotel room decor (1960s)
1960s Western Capri Motel room in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Inside a room at the Executive Motor Hotel in Buffalo, New York (c1968)
Blue guest room at the old Broadwater Beach Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi (1960s)
1970s Days Inn motel room with flowery yellow bedspreads
Gateway Downtowner Motor Inn in Newark New Jersey (1970)
Large patterned purple retro decor at a Holiday Inn hotel (1976)
Retro 1970s Holiday Inn hotel motel room (1972)
Orange and yellow room at the Hershey Motel – Seaside Heights, New Jersey
The 70s decor at the 1722 Motor Lodge in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
A room at the Gateway Downtowner Motor Inn in Newark New Jersey (1970)
1970s Kauai Beachboy Hotel Room Interior, Waipouli Beach in Hawaii
Inside the old Capri Motel in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts (c1960s-1970s)
Divine Gardens Inn Hotel room view – Turlock, California (c1970s)
An old Cumberland Falls State Park Hotel room in Kentucky (1970s-1980s)
Retro 80s motel room at the Peppermill Resort Hotel in Mesquite, Nevada
Vintage 80s Days Inn floral hotel room decor (1984)
Brown and beige vintage 1980 hotel room decor
Garfield the cat for Embassy Suites hotels (1986)
1980s Circus Circus hotel – Las Vegas
Vintage 80s Little America yellow hotel room in Flagstaff, Arizona
Mediterranean Suite at the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans Louisiana (c1980s)
Room at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas (c1980s)
Stardust Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland (1980s)
Vintage 80s Days Inn hotel scene
Vintage 80s Little America red hotel room in Flagstaff, Arizona
Retro 80s Little America hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona
Overhead view plan for 1980s Guest Quarters All Suite Hotels (1985)
Maui (Hawaii) hotel room in 1990
This vintage Embassy Suites hotel room on Maui came with a 35″ cable TV, free VCR and even HBO.
Pickett Suite Resorts at Disney World Village in Orlando, Florida (1990)
Retro 90s Embassy Suites hotel room