“Welcome to 1939,” announced proprietor Nancy Mueller as she swung open the door to Room 6. We really could have been stepping back in time at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, judging by the vintage furniture, a chenille bedspread and a real, working 1939 black rotary dial phone on the desk. A smoke detector and a television were the only visible hints that we were in the 21st century. This would be our home for the night, the fourth and last of the vintage Route 66 motels we stayed at during our road trip to Phoenix.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in U.S. Long Cuts. We are merging U.S. Long Cuts with Midwest Wanderer, adding a “Beyond the Midwest” menu option.
The twelve-unit Blue Swallow Motel embraces Route 66 nostalgia more than any of the motels we stayed at along the route, with details like the phone and retro steel patio chairs outside each room, inviting you to sit outside for a spell.
The retro bathroom has an old-style sink and just a small shelf for toiletries. The shower is apparently the original, cracked tiles and all.
Adding modern conveniences, like the television setting on an antique treadle sewing machine cabinet, took up space that would have been open in days gone by, making maneuvering our luggage around the room cumbersome. Too cramped for both of us to comfortably work, we gave up and relaxed outside in the patio chairs until dark instead.
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The motel was built with garage stalls between several of the guest rooms. Today restored classic cars are parked in some of the stalls, and the inside walls are painted with adorable murals of the Pixar animated movie Cars.
The Blue Swallow, one of the few motels that stuck out the decline in business when I-40 took traffic away from Route 66, is a Route 66 icon. The movie Cars even adopted the “100% Refrigerated Air” neon sign for its fictional Route 66 motel.
Tips for staying at the Blue Swallow Motel:
- Check-in time is between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Mountain Time, so plan your arrival accordingly.
- If you haven’t seen Cars, watch it before you take a Route 66 trip. To be honest, I hadn’t seen the movie Cars before our trip, so I watched it when we got back home –and then I understood why everywhere along Route 66 we saw tow trucks painted like Mater and other references to Cars.
If you go:
The Blue Swallow Motel is located at 815 E Route 66 Blvd. in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Check and compare rates at TripAdvisor.
Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or book a room through these links, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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