I’m betting most travelers have a preconceived notion about roadside motels. One that isn’t usually on the favorable side. On a recent trip to the small town of Kinston, North Carolina, my own opinion was put to the test with a hosted stay at Mother Earth Motor Lodge. Originally called Kinston’s Mid-Town Motor Lodge, it was built in 1963 for motorists traveling along HWY 70 and 11. In its heyday, guests from all over came for Kinston’s thriving music scene, food, and shopping. As the years passed, and the tobacco and textile industries closed, this small town saw fewer travelers. Eventually, the motel shifted to guests who rented rooms by the hour.
Today, the Mother Earth Mother Lodge has a new life as a fun and funky retro motel. Its decor made me feel like I’d walked into an Austin Powers movie set (all I needed was some gogo boots). Not only it is cool, but it is within walking distance of downtown and nearby you’ll find Mother Earth Brewing and the famous Chef and the Farmer and Boiler Room Oyster Bar.
The Mother Earth Motor Lodge offers its guests:
- Fun and funky decor and atmosphere
- Standard, economy plus and extended stay suites
- Three-ring outdoor pool (soon to be heated)
- 9-hole miniature golf and shuffleboard
- Picnic area with grills
- Beer, wine, and snacks for purchase at front desk
- Pet-friendly rooms ($25 fee, per day)
- Within walking distance to downtown activities and restaurants
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Mother Earth Motor Lodge – Could This Be The Coolest Motel in North Carolina?
The hotel’s lobby is your first introduction to the retro decor with bright blues, bold reds, bubble chairs, and 60s and 70s music playing. If you are like me, you’ll probably want to hang in the lobby for a little bit, pretend to make a phone call and sit in the bubble chair (word to the wise, getting into a bubble chair is harder than it looks).
After soaking up the lobby’s atmosphere, I had a quick and friendly check-in and headed up to my second-floor King Suite. On the way to my room, I got my first view of the three-ring pool. Unfortunately, the pool wasn’t open during my stay, as the hotel had recently opened, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed a dip as it was late spring and very warm.
My suite overlooked the pool and opened to a living area with mod furniture, a dining table, a television, and a wet bar.
The bedroom continued with the retro decor, a little brighter than the living room, and had its own television, a desk and closet. In between the two living spaces was a large bathroom with a shower.
In the motel, there are a total of 45 guest rooms, and they include standard economy, economy plus, and suites that sleep up to four and come with living room with a wet bar, table, refrigerator, and microwave. If you like a little more room while traveling, you’ll want to stay in a plus room or a suite. I prefer roomy accommodations, and I found the suite to have plenty of room and perfect for my three-night stay.
All rooms come with a complimentary continental breakfast, and access to the inner courtyard with a three-ring pool, miniature golf, ping pong, shuffleboard, and a picnic area with BBQ grills.
Travel Tip: The hotel does not have an elevator, so if you need a first-floor room be sure to ask for one.
Travel Tip: If you find yourself craving some treats you can purchase beer, wine, and snacks at the front desk.
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Mother Earth Motor Lodge – Guest Rooms and Amenities
- King economy ($109 and up)
- King economy plus ($119 and up)
- Double economy plus ($119 and up)
- King suite ($139 and up)
- Double suite ($139 and up)
Please note that rates adjust seasonally, and there might be special discount rates available.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free parking
- Refridgerator and microwave in suites
- Cable/satellite television
- Desk and lounging chair in plus rooms and suites
- Outdoor pool
- Laundry facilities
- Pet-friendly ($25 fee, per day)
- BBQ grills and picnic area
- 9-hole miniature golf, ping pong, and shuffleboard
Mother Earth Motor Lodge – Pros and Cons
- Retro decorated guest rooms
- Extended stay suite rooms with a wet bar
- Complimentary continental breakfast
- Outdoor pool (soon to be heated)
- Picnic area with mini-golf, shuffleboard, ping pong, and BBQ grills
- Free WiFi
- Free onsite parking
- Close to downtown activities and dining
- Pet-friendly rooms
- If you are not into bright colors, this will not be the hotel for you
- There is no elevator
- While the mod furniture in the living room is cool, it is not that comfortable
Would I stay at the Mother Earth Motor Lodge again? Yes! The style of the motel is funky and fun, and that in itself makes for an unusual experience. I prefer to explore by foot during my travels, and the motel is within walking distance of restaurants, shopping, museums, and the riverfront trail. Seeing this revitalized motel made me rethink what a motel experience can be. I hope that more hoteliers find ways to revive the hundreds of roadside motels that have fallen out of favor.
Kinston Travel Tips
Hotel Address: 501 N. Heritage St. Kinston, NC 28501
Closest Airport: Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (40 minutes), Raleigh-Durham International Airport (2-hours) and in town is the Kinston Regional Jetport.
Carless Options: There are shuttles and private cars for hire from the airport, but it might be more economical to hire a car, especially if you want to explore outside of downtown and the surrounding areas.
Dining Travel Tip: The foodie scene in Kinston is huge and you can read about my recommendations in Made for Foodies – Kinston, North Carolina. The town has some very well known restaurants like Vivian Howard’s Chef and the Farmer and Boiler Room Oyster Bar (I recommend the K-town burger) as well as Sugar Hill Pizzeria, North Street Pub and Deli, Hawks Nest, Ginger 108, Lovick’s Cafe (be sure to try their specialty “dough burger”) and Byrd’s Cafe. Libation fans will want to stop at Mother Earth Brewery and Mother Earth Spirits.
Activity Tips: If you are a lover of history, particularly Civil War history, then you’ll want to stop at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center, the CSS Neuse II, and the First Battle of Kinston Civil War Battlefield Park. There is also Gov. Richard Caswell Museum, the Community Council for the Arts, Harmony Hall, and Kinston Music Park. If you’d like to stretch your legs the Pearson Park Trail wanders next to the Neuse River. There are art installments along the path and it goes behind the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market, which is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 am to 3 pm.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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