I wanted to experience SOTB after having passed it dozens of times over the last 40 years. Decided to stay overnight to get the full effect. Yes, the place is OLD, and tacky, but you already know that. And if you can appreciate the neon retro-cool of classic roadside America, it definitely delivers. It's Las Vegas meets Route 66.
But if you have good childhood memories here, and you want your own kids to discover the place, you might find it creppy and depressing. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. The amusement section, PedroLand, didn't appear to be operating, even though the desk clerk said it opens at 10AM. So if rides are important, call ahead to verify. I paid the one dollar to ride to the top of the sombrero observation tower, and made the requsite cheesy souvenir purchase in the main Mexico Shop. The SOTB postcards are quite good, and at 12 for a buck, a real bargain. Otherwise I didn't go into any other shops or attractions, instead roaming the mostly vacant grounds taking photos.
Under another huge sombrero is the Peddlers Steakhouse, with an interior right out of 1974. The food was good and the service very friendly and attentive. There's a nice salad bar included with my meal as was fresh-baked bread. It's apparent that the place is also a favorite with the locals.
On to the motel. They didn't have my reservation (made by phone the day before). I half expected to find a dedicated long-term staff enthusiastically making the best of what they have to work with. But except for the restaurant mentioned earlier, most employees were courteous yet disinterested, as if they could just as well have been working at the local Pic 'n' Pay the week earlier. I reserved a "standard" room and was placed in the section near the outdoor pool. The a/c wouldn't cool, so the clerk changed me to the room next door. The room seemed clean enough but oh-so-dated. Except for some framed K-Mart art southwestern scenes above the beds, the Mexico theme doesn't carry into the non-descript decor and furniture. There were maybe six other cars in the motel complex; security is very active here and makes frequent passes through the complex, a nice feature. Grounds are poorly kept, lawnmowing seems to be the only attention paid to the exterior. The outdoor pool was padlocked and did not open during my stay; the interior pool is available..if you get a wristband at check-in. I declined.
The DEALBREAKER - The bedding, including the pillows, sheets, blanket, and matress- was pathetic! Something in the mix gave off a faint funky smell at times. There's no good excuse for an allegedly reputable hotel to be using items of such poor quality (and age). A real shame, especially since this is so fixable if the owners would only make the effort. Perhaps they should put as much attention into their beds as they do their billboards.
Everything else about the place is tolerable if one has the right frame of mind. There's a newly-renovated wing towards the rear called "King's Row" with updated large rooms, but it looks closed like so many other sections of the complex. If I were a billionaire with a playful streak, I'd buy up the entire place and renovate it into the showplace it ought to be (and maybe once was). Until then, my advice is Stop, Look, and Leave.
Enjoy the terrific nighttime neon show, have a meal at the Peddlers Steakhouse, check out the tower...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC