Monday, June 21, 2010

Cut it Out, Detroit! The Motorama Motel

A few readers have complained to me that my blog isn't
"cosmopolitan" enough, that it doesn't leave my small world of cereal, Buffy and fashion and venture out into the real world. That it doesn't fit today's jet-set lifestyle of waking up in Toronto one day and flying to Italy the next. Well, readers, I've heard you. And I want you to have the world.

Starting NOW, my blog will feature traveling posts, where I share my tales of traveling the world. I'll discuss cultures, cuisine, airplanes, tips and even practical stuff like the weather. My goal with these new "cosmopolitan" traveling posts is to inspire my readers to see the beauty and wonder that is out there waiting for them in the world, if only they go out and find it.

Ergo, my first travel post is a review of the Motorama Motel located in Detroit, Michigan.

LOCATION: 100 W 8 Mile Road, Ferndale, MI, 48220, USA (close proximity to Detroit)
CONTACT: 1-248-547-9770 (phone)

Some back story first: When my girlfriends Velvet, Heather, Leslie and I were planning a road trip, the obvious choice was Detroit. The only question was "Where should we stay?"

We spent some research time on Google maps and checked out reviews of nearby hotels. Here's a choice sampling of reviews of several Michigan hotels:

The Knights Inn:
"Worst hotel ever! Stained sheets, bugs in room dirty stained carpet, door didn't lock properly. Towels dirty & stained. I would not stay there again if it was free!"

"We ordered a non-smoking room that REEKED of smoke and had two ashtrays in it. There were no clocks...There was hair on my fiance's pillow when we got there that wasn't ours. There was silly string hanging from a lamp and on the wall that never got cleaned previously."

America's Best Value Inn:
"It needs to be torn down and rebuilt. It's dirty doors are broken and dirty carpets needs replaced lighting is bad. I had to clean my own room. Laundry is terrible. Its a not suitable to be even rated. ...‎"

and lastly,

The Royal Inn Motel:

"Employee here rapes woman!‎‎"

Of the same motel: "Reasonably-priced, handicapped-accessible rooms feature king- and queen-sized beds and standard amenities; fireplace and Jacuzzi tubs available at some locations....‎"

Ohh, a Jacuzzi!!!

So after weighing the pros and cons of each establishment (clocks/no clocks, silly string in room/no silly string in room, rape/no rape), we made the obvious choice and decided to book our stay in the MOTORAMA MOTEL. It had zero reviews (that's a good thing, right?!) and after seeing the street view pic which looked like an empty lot, how could we resist?


Here we are, so happy and clean and excited to spend the night in Detroit. We're pumped about the Motorama Motel and all that it potentially has to offer us (we're also a little excited about checking out Butch Walker and the Black Widows that night in a fancy Detroit nightclub, the Magic Bag. Yes, that's the real name. And yes, we felt funny telling the Border officers that we were heading to the Magic Bag for a night o' fun. ).


This was one of the first sights that greeted us after walking into the Motorama Motel's spacious lobby--the broken ice machine. Which was really disappointing, because after a five hour car ride (one hour spent sitting in the massive traffic line at the Border), we all wanted to relax with a bucket of ice. Not meant to be, I guess. However, the front desk DID have single Magnum condoms for $2.00 each. That's way cheaper than in Canada!

The staff man at the desk gave us a key and told us we should take a look at our room before paying. I figured it was maybe like how when you order wine in a fine restaurant, they pour you a bit to taste before you commit to the entire bottle. It was not like that. After struggling with our door for an embarrassing amount of time, we finally managed to bust into our room. We were greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke and wet, possibly moldy dogs, which was strange because we requested a smoke-free room and were told we couldn't bring wet dogs. After realizing we only had about 30 minutes before our Butch Walker concert, we paid our $60 fee (plus a $5.00 deposit for the key and TV remote control).


Velvet and our deluxe platinum suite 128.

So, of course the first thing four gals want to do after a five hour car trip is use the washroom, maybe take some quick showers, wash hands and freshen up for a special night in Detroit.

...Hey! I think we found the source of the wet, moldy dog scent. We could probably also do some CSI-type dusting and find DNA of the last inhabitants of our room, who are most likely in nursing homes now, rocking and reminiscing about the golden years of the Motorama Motel.

...And a closeup. All forms of showers were quickly nixed. As well as hand washing. A pact was also made never to remove our shoes while in the room, even while asleep.

Looks like we're having fun, right? Just a few girls pre-drinking Miller Lite (nice....), listening to some tunes and putting makeup on before a concert. WRONG. We had to get ready in complete silence because a group of men pulled up in a pickup truck outside of our room and began banging on the room right next to ours and yelling for the residents to come out. We instantly froze, turned off our music, pulled our curtains shut tight and ceased all talking, except for quickly devising an emergency exit plan (me lying down on the floor, doing a kip up and then knocking both men out while Heather, Leslie and Velvet run out of the room). You can see the fear in Velvet and Heather's eyes if you look closely.

Here's the device that we placed all of our faith in, our door lock which looked like someone had taken a shotgun to it.

The men soon needed a break from their terrifying antics and took off in their pickup truck to pick up more beer and chainsaws. We used this time to take in more of our room's amenities and quirks.

What's this? Some ketchup on the ceiling? Ketchup looking suspiciously like dried blood? Oh well, no harm in a little ceiling blood. As long as it's not on the mattresses, right?!



After a mild freak-out re: blood bed, we realized maybe we were taking the wrong approach to our room. I mean, we're in Detroit. In a motel that offers rooms by the hour. OF COURSE there's blood on the bed/ceiling! It was time to embrace Detroit and her many customs. So after Velvet and I called the non-blood bed, I went to hang up my coat in the closet, which happened to be occupied by an extremely heavy piece of wood. We played the "what the hell is this?" game with it for awhile before realizing it was the blood bed's missing headboard.

See the bare patches of wood and all the chipped paint above the bed? Missing headboard territory. And yes, Heather and Leslie got stuck with both the blood bed and missing headboard bed. And yes, they are complete slobs. You two deserved the bed of shame.


We talked to some of the band and told them we were staying at the Motorama Motel. They were all like "Ohhh shittt." Instant street cred.

After an awesome three hour concert, we cabbed it home to our sweet abode, drunk but definitely not drunk enough.

You know what's fun? Stains on bedspreads that magically appear when you take a picture of them! Also fun: sleeping fully clothed to avoid any kind of contact with the sheets, using towels as pillowcases and seriously debating whether we should sleep in Leslie's two -door compact car. We did all of these things and more at the Motorama Motel!

Someone broke our "never take off your shoes while in the room EVER" pact and that same person really regretted doing so. Note jacket used as pillow and a refusal to sleep under the blankets.

Finally, the soft sunbeams of morning shone into Room 128. The daylight really brought out more of our room's subtle charms that we had somehow managed to miss the night before in our Miller Lite haze. Like artwork! In a frame! Sure, the glass frame had a huge, jagged crack in it and the picture was a bit unoriginal, but we appreciated the effort.

Motorama Motel, seriously, take the time to thank your interior designer. They served you well.

We decided to get the hell out of there about five minutes after we woke up, so we threw our stuff into bags and hightailed it. Conveniently, we were already dressed head-to-toe (H2T) from the night before, saving us about one minute. Which we actually appreciated.

On the way out, we ran into Motorama Motel's hardest working employee, the cleaning man. Notice how he's equipped with merely a vacuum. Zero clean bedding or towels, no disinfectant spray, no cleaning agents and NO MINTS. That's okay, vacuuming is really important too; most Motorama guests probably rave about the lack of apparent dust balls on the floor. And strangely enough, our room was still somehow dusty.

D plus. They earned the plus because we survived the (terror-filled) night and walked away with only a few suspicious-looking red (bed bug? Towel as pillow marks? ) bites. A Detroit souvenir.

My advice to my fellow travellers considering a stay at the Motorama Motel would be to bring your own sheets, pillows, pillow cases, blankets, shower curtain, shower shoes, snow suit (or wet suit, as long as it encases your entire body leaving no skin exposed) for sleeping, some sort of weapon for protection (unless you're really good at kip ups) and maybe a car to sleep in after you're still grossed out by your beds.

Goodbye, Motorama Motel. I look forward to writing my Google review of you.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed my first cosmopolitan travelling post and that you feel a little more inspired to see the world! If so, I've done my job.


  1. While I would probably not stay here again if you paid me $1000, the "cleaning" guy(who had about 4 teeth, BTW) recommended that we stay in room 117 next time, it's "a lot nicer". A bit of advice we could have used the night before.

  2. Velvet,
    Why do you never visit your mother in Wisconsin? You could bring your rowdy friends, except Leslie, who is too mean. Sam could take home a nice cat, to replace her has-been one. You could have free food, as long as you cook it yourself, and a wonderful Land's End bed that blows itself up like magic.
    I know, I's not Detroit....which is actually my point...
    Love, Mom

  3. Maybe we'll take a special trip there next time, and see the new house! Haha Leslie, you're not welcome :)

  4. Although our mattress was blood stained, as well as the ceiling above us...I take comfort in knowing that you guys slept closest to the door that didn't close/lock properly. Especially when crazy screaming pick-up truck guy was on the loose.

  5. Heather, you always put the brute strength closest to the door. You know that.

    And I would love a trip to Wisconsin and I'm sure has-been Money would, too. We love blow-up mattresses!

  6. Awesome blog ... hilarious (and enlightening). I couldn't help but do some research on the frightening Motorama Motel, and here's what I found:

    In August, 2009, Det. Blanchard received information that Methamphetamine Lab was operating at the Motorama Motel. Through a controlled purchase of Methamphetamine using a confidential informant Det. Blanchard was able to confirm that a Methamphetamine Lab was in fact operating in room 227 of the Motorama Motel. Det. Blanchard completed a search warrant for the room and contacted the Michigan State Police Emergency Support Team to execute a tactical entry into the Methamphetamine Lab. Det. Blanchard also contacted the DEA and requested the Methamphetamine Lab reaction team to respond to complete the cleanup of the lab. The search warrant was executed, lab dismantled, and suspect Ronald Sellers was taken into custody. Sellers was charged with possession of methamphetamine (10 year felony) and operating a methamphetamine lab (20 year felony). Sellers pled guilty to all charges and is currently incarcerated at the Mound Road Correctional Facility with a maximum discharge date of 08/09/2029.

    By the way, you are a very interesting and BEAUTIFUL person! Gorgeous with long or short hair.

  7. I was doing a Google search for the Motorama Motel, and came across your posting. I drove by in 2006, and was afraid that it might be just as your pictures show. I now live in Atlanta. I was curious because about 35 years ago, my father ran this motel, as well as the 8-Wood. I was talking to my 13 year old about growing up and spending a lot of time in a motel as a kid. I am disheartened as to what happened to it. It used to be a terrific, wonderful, well respected establishment, where people cared. They were forced to take care of it. While my family has been away from the Motorama for years, I still somehow feel that I must apologize for your experience. My father (rest in peace) would be livid if he saw what became of this.

  8. Holy cow! Both of these comments blew my mind for different reasons.

    I'm both surprised and not at all surprised that a room at the Motorama was used for a meth lab. I'm more surprised that it wasn't our room, lucky number 128. It would have explained the blood and other various stains. I'm really impressed by your detective work, Anon 1! Thank you for letting me know about the meth lab and reaffirming the decision never to stay at the MM again--underground drug circles can really ruin a pre-drink session. And thank you so much for the compliments--I'm really glad you like the blog :)

    Anon 2, thank you also for sharing that information. I was so surprised to hear that your family history is linked to the Motorama Motel. I can definitely see how it could have been a much different hotel back in the day, and it's sad how much things have changed. Please don't feel you have to apologize--I'm sure if we stayed there while your family ran it, it would have been a lovely experience, instead of a frightening one. Do you happen to have any pictures of the Motorama Motel when your family ran it? I would love to see/hear more about its history.

  9. You girls are lucky nothing happened to you. Assaults and robbery occur at that place on a daily basis.

    A shady fellow.

  10. before you judge all motels in detroit do your research

    1. Do your homework, also. The Motorama is listed above as being in Ferndale. Reminds me of when the media stated the brawl in the Palace happened in Detroit, when it happened over 40 Miles away and no Detroiter was involved in the fight--only those from suburbs.

  11. Hey Shady, we certainly were lucky. When our moms saw this blog post, I think they were collectively horrified and not too pleased with our poor judgement.

    And anonymous, oh, believe me, if we learned nothing else from the Motorama Motel, it was the importance of doing research. We are actually fans of Detroit and have returned since for various reasons. Will we return to the Motorama? All signs point to unlikely.

  12. thanks for the delightful recount of your adventure. I laughed, I cried, I am choosing a different hotel

  13. Anonymous Motel Owner's right-You Canadians shoulda stayed there 40 years ago, that Giant Spark Plug RULED

  14. That's so cool! I had no idea of that history--thanks for sharing that link. Ah, the glory days of the Motorama Motel. Kinda sad when you think about it.

  15. This is a known hang-out for drug addicted prostitutes. I usually stay for business in Warren at the Quality Inn, but my local friend and I would drive down to 8 Mile, the last time we had a blonde in her 20s who looked OK in the parking lot by the street but who was all druggie scarred and methfaced in the light of the room

  16. The Motorama is in Ferndale , not Detroit. But I think blog is very funny. Going to prostitute hangout and drug place and rating it. It would be like ignoring five star resturants and going to fast food

  17. Me My mom and dad and brother stayed there for 9 months. if u ever go there. the cleaning guys name is orlando and he was really nice. the owners name was phill and there was a tranny who stayed on the north side for like ever. did i mention our teacup chihuahua

  18. Definitely a place where rooms rent by the hour. Prostitutes in every room. You can rent a room for a week for about $250. The previous poster who commented on 20s blonde, my friend had a 20s with blondish-brown hair who serviced him in her room.

  19. I am an afficionado of that part of town for the rates of the room and of the girls who service us very competitive and within my budget. I have paid $30 for an afternoon. I have paid $40 to a blonde who goes by various names (Adrianne, Victoria) and received multiple shots on goal within differing ports of entry.

  20. You really nailed it with this blog. So funny. xo from Detroit

  21. Next time stay in the De Lido (Featured in the HBO series HUNG in the intro). Its kitty corner across 8 mile but technically in Detroit. Sadly it looks from the outside to be in better shape and likely cleaner but still would be a "Fun" experience.

    Sad Ferndale resident:)

  22. This sounds like a lovely place to stay.


    I have to stay here sometime

  24. Haha. I am currently living at the Motorama because my fiancé works two jobs that are literally a couple of blocks from here. We don't have the money to put down on a place to move in, so it's convenient to pay the 200$ a week we are paying. Have only been here for 2 days now, but I like to think its cute and grunge-y. Definitely not a Hilton. Anyone who rents a room literally on 8 mile shouldn't be expecting anything better. It may technically be Ferndale, but you literally cross 8 mile into Detroit. I figured this all went without saying(the room conditions) but I suppose you aren't from around here! I mean as soon as you pull up your view is people sitting on a street corner with begging signs, obvious prostitutes, obvious everything. I can't believe you paid 60$ for a night here! Either way, this place is getting blocked on their operating license.. so I soon will not have this charming little "apartment"! Because for some reason people come here expecting BETTER than a bunch of drug addicts and whores. LOL. I like to imagine this place is the equivalent to the Marco Polo, a hotel Kurt Cobain lived in. One day people will be like. "Oh right, that famous chick, she use to live at the Motorama!" Rags to riches baby. ;D