Mad Men Meets David Lynch
Review by Todd Perley
I am a connoisseur of non-franchised, cheap motels. The funkier and weirder, the better. This kind of kink often ends in disaster. Broken showers, slimy ice, mystery smells, bedbugs. I once saw two maids throwing down in the parking lot using amenities from their carts as projectiles.
If you want a less…harrowing experience on an American roadtrip, may I recommend the Koolwink Motel?
Remember 1962? Yah, me neither. Yet I have a nostalgia for an era for which I was not present. This retro gem is tucked away in the hills of eastern West Virginia, (somehow surrounded by Maryland on three sides), just two hours west of D.C.
The lobby plays sappy 1950s lounge music, as the staff greet you with smiles so genuine, it’s frankly alarming. There will be amiable chit chat as you check in, because they are actually interested in your travels, and what brought you to Koolwink. When I tell them we drink from their logo’ed glasses (available for cheap purchase at the front desk) at home in New Orleans, their eyes dance with delight. Family owned since 1936, that sense of family comes through...and includes you.
The rooms are non-ironically mid-century modern, and bafflingly immaculate. Deep pile shag wall to wall so clean you could drop your baby on it as you kick off your shoes and imagine Peggy Olson doing the same sixty years ago. There is a brook that babbles at you behind the motel as you fetch a bucket of ice for the whiskey you (hopefully?) brought, because sitting in the gazebo is going to require a Don Draper-like cocktail to complete the effect.
In any big city, the overall vibe would be hipster-kitsch, but out in sweet little Romney, it’s just honest vintage, and expertly-maintained by the Mauk family for ninety years. On your next mid-Atlantic road trip, venture off the ugly interstates a bit to visit the Koolwink and bask in a bygone era. But with WiFi.
The Koolwink Motel, 24350 Northwestern Turnpike, Romney, WV 26757.
Rooms from USD71, see their website here.