Menu Filter

The Astro Motel – Mid Century For the Modern Traveler Santa Rosa, CA

Posted on: June 11, 2018



When planning a trip, Mod Betty knows it is a challenge to find vintage-era lodging that is worth more than a quick snapshot. So it’s a thrill to share our stay at The Astro, a Sonoma County California stop that celebrates its 1960’s motel history while also offering amenities and local charm to appeal to today’s modern traveler.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Driving past the beige corporate hotels cluttering the 101 off-ramp, you know something interesting awaits as you notice The Cyclisk – a sculptured spire made from hundreds of recycled bicycles. A few moments later you’ll spy the zig-zag roofline and rocket shaped sign of The Astro and know you’re in the right place.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Originally opened in 1963 as part of a small chain (as seen in Heather David’s book Motel California on display in the office) it had been a down-on-its-luck “no-tell motel” for decades.

But in 2017 a team, headed by chef Liza Hinman from the nearby Spinster Sisters restaurant reimagined it into a Santa Rosa destination, offering a good night’s rest while also highlighting the local creative culture throughout the property.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Every one of the 34 rooms have been reinvented from the floor up, so no trace of its once-seedy past remains. Each is individually decorated with vintage furniture so no two rooms are alike.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

One thing that is guaranteed to appeal to the collector in all of us, is that not only is each room decorated with vintage furniture art and accessories – but that everything is for sale! So if you see something in your room you just can’t live without, inquire at the office, and they’ll help you out. In the future there are plans for a vintage shop opening up onsite as well.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

The cement floors are buffed and glossy, with scatter rugs softening your landing. Casper mattresses and pillows are topped with crisp cotton linens, which contrast with the locally cut live-wood headboards. Who would ever believe that a hotel bed could be so comfy!

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

A knowing nod to us modern folks who rely heavily on our mobile devices, bedside outlets are easily accessible and outfitted with USB ports for easy charging. And but of course, there are flat screen TVs and free wi-fi.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Rainfall showers are lined with handcrafted tiles from Sonoma Tile Makers  and even the cast concrete sinks are made by a local artisan. Mini-bar snacks are an assortment of interesting tastes from around California.The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa - CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Your room is not the only place where this attention to detail is evident, as Instagram-worthy possibilities abound outside as well!

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Pops of color highlight the doors, and the metal railing so common to motels of the era was updated with a “circuit board” pattern by a local Santa Rosa artist.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa - CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

The once paved parking lot area has been transformed into a lush courtyard, replete with fruit bearing trees,  artistic sculptures and sinker log centerpiece.

Astro Motel Santa Rosa CA Retro Roadmap 2018

Mod Betty delighted in the use of breezeblock throughout – not only as decorative endcap accents of the building but also more cleverly laid on their backs to become a patio area, a perfect place to enjoy the complimentary local Flying Goat coffee and delicious pastries from Spinster Sisters offered  gratis every morning in the Lounge.

And oh, that Lounge!

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

What a colorful spot. Cheerfully decorated with vintage finds and signs from an eclectic assortment of eras, you can play Goldilocks (like Mod Betty did) picking out which vintage chair is the comfiest.

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Music hums from a vintage stereo tucked in the corner (with posted instructions for use for those not in the know) and it’s a great place to say hello to fellow guests before they set off on a bike ride (bring your own or rent one here). The place is very bicycle friendly – pro-cyclist Andrew Hampsten is an investor in the motel. 

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

The staff is super friendly suggesting local watering holes and places to explore within easy walking or driving distance from the motel, including the landmark Luther Burbank Gardens just across the street.

Within a few minutes walk you can grab dinner at Spinster Sisters and check out the up and coming SOFA (South OF A Street ) arts district. Or if you’re interested in sampling some of the local craft brews, head downtown. Russian River Brewery makes the famous Pliny the Elder, and we lucked out at Happy Hour at the Third Street Aleworks.

Santa Rosa California Railroad Square - Charles Schultz

Take a tip from Mod Betty and plan much more time to explore Santa Rosa than we did! We could’ve spent hours poking around Historic Railroad Square, where you’ll not only find a number of fun vintage / independent shops, but you’ll also spot some Charlie Brown characters, a nod to cartoonist Charles Schultz lived here for decades. I wanted to “collect ’em all!”The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

Next time we’re in the area I can totally see us making the Astro a base camp for a more in-depth visit to wine country, and envision hanging out with pals in the lounge or out in the courtyard before heading into town.

I love the fact that the local community saw the opportunity to transform this place into a 21st century motel – and did!

Not only do they harken back to its original charm, but also look towards the future to make it enjoyable for contemporary visitors (who might not think of staying in a place called a motel.) A win-win for all of us!

The Astro Motel - Santa Rosa CA - Retro Roadmap 2018

//