Budget Hotels: What $35 A Night On A Road Trip May (Or May Not) Get You

I always appreciate a great hotel. But sometimes after driving for 15 hours during a road trip, you want a quick and budget-friendly place to catch a few hours of sleep.

Now for $35 a night, I never have high expectations. Usually, when staying in a very cheap accommodation I generally check out a couple of reviews to make sure no one has been murdered there and then take a chance for the night.


I had a particularly interesting experience not long ago, where during one road trip I stayed in two different hotels, both of which had that catchy $35 price tag attached. One of which left me pleasantly surprised. Here was my experience:

The $35 Hotel Room I Somewhat Expected

Now since this hotel was $35 a night, I do not have too much room to complain. I generally know what to expect in these situations. Since this is a budget accommodation and since it already has its own negative reviews, I won’t be worth mentioning the name of this particular place.

Somewhere in Little Rock, Arkansas, I was exhausted after spending the large majority of the day traveling in a car. We had been on the road for several days and the trip was nearing an end.

After checking in, everything kinda started falling apart. At first glance, it looked ok, but after taking our shoes off and essentially sticking to the carpet, I must say I wasn’t too excited. From what I’m aware of, carpet isn’t generally of a “sticky” texture.

There was a fridge, which I thought was nice until I opened it and discovered the mystery meat item wrapped in a paper towel inside (I’m thinking it was fish).

There was also a few stems on the bathroom sink, from what I’m assuming were either from grapes or weed. The towels provided were so rough I felt like I was exfoliating my skin when drying off.

Honestly, I could have looked past every single one of these details if it hadn’t been for the bed. I have really, really, really low expectations when spending $35 a night. I hardly even care if the bed is comfortable. But after pulling the sheets down, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sleep there. The sheets were covered in hair, fingernails, and random pieces of I don’t even know what.

With a clean bed, I can sleep nearly anywhere. This was definitely a place I would have left if I hadn’t been so exhausted.

The Pleasant $35 Hotel I Hoped For

Since this was somewhat of a surprise to me, I am happy to name this hotel! The Knights Inn in Albuquerque was the budget hotel I dreamed of for a road trip.

This hotel was older than the previous, but it was so much better kept for that that detail hardly mattered. Not only was the staff friendly, giving us great recommendations for places to eat for dinner, but the room was not bad at all.


Photo from KnightsInn.com

With the typical retro decoration that you would expect in budget accommodation, I settled in, not sure what I was going to find in the room.

After looking around, I was pretty pleasantly surprised. Everything worked, nothing seemed dirty, this was off to a great start.

A little hesitantly, I decided to look at the bed. After pulling down the covers, I found a single cigarette burn on one of the sheets. I was a little apprehensive about this, but after further inspection, the sheets were perfectly clean. So what they had a burn mark? I could not have cared less about this tiny imperfection in an otherwise fantastic cheap hotel!

The Takeaway

I hate reading reviews of hotels, especially ones that are as cheap as $35 a night, and reading complaints about how the room looks outdated or that there was a tiny television set. You definitely get what you pay for, but sometimes, it turns out, you get lucky!

My advice would definitely be to read reviews, and not just look at the overall rating. If you are looking for a quick and cheaply priced hotel, I doubt that you’ll care very much if the decorations are from the ’80s, while others may have unrealistically high expectations.


10 thoughts on “Budget Hotels: What $35 A Night On A Road Trip May (Or May Not) Get You

  1. Good post. In our 60 day cross Canada/U.S. trip, we had one bad motel and one bad B & B experience (new owners). We were able to fix the motel experience by asking for one of the “renovated” rooms. The B & B, we left before eating the B. Travel is an adventure, not for the faint of heart. Allan

    • Yes, I most definitely agree with that! Can’t let a not perfect experience get you down. Thanks for your comment!

  2. My husband & I are planning a trip from Ky to somewhere around Wilmington NC, around July. It’s roughly a 13 hr drive one way. I’ve been keeping our options open……camping, cabins, hotels, Airbnb. When I’m reading reviews & I see one that says “bugs”, I’m out! I don’t care of the cost or location…..it’s a no! The camping, (tent) in NC……I worry about bears lol I’ve never seen a bear in Ky, so that has me nervous. I was looking at pics submitted by ppl that stayed in this particular campsite in Asheville NC. It’s beautiful……sets on a mountain top. Then there was a pic of a black bear. Nope! Coyotes? Bobcats? Raccoons? Sure! Bears? No! It’s all what you’re used to lol The reviews for cheap hotels……”Not clean, filthy” The definition is diff for everyone. But bugs/roaches? No!

  3. Oh I’ve had some scary cheapo hotel stories, from Oxford MS to Ely NV…but I’ve also had horror story from 5-star places, from asbestos in NYC to soap with “curly hair” in Miami… It’s never easy! 😀

  4. Moscow , the one on the way to Portland OR from Canada has a type 1 motel , but on the plus side Moscow also has a great pub with amazingly good food and excellent beers , sleep was not so difficult that way but in the morning you are happy to leave

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