Late Checkout

Get Your Pink Fantasy on at the Trixie Motel

Owner Trixie Mattel dresses up her Palm Springs palace in drag.

@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel

If you’re tooling around Palm Springs and see a bright pink oasis rising in the distance, it’s not a mirage. It’s actually the Trixie Motel, the first and only hotel owned and operated by a world-famous drag queen.

The seven-room roadside motel was created by RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel, who has themed each of the rooms around one of her interests, from pink flamingos to cowgirl chic. (Mattel’s real name is Brian Firkus, but she’s professionally known by her drag moniker.)

Since winning Drag Race, Mattel has become a multi-hyphenate talent, releasing certified albums under her name, launching her own cosmetics company, and finding success with shows like UNHhhh and Netflix’s I Like To Watch. She’s got 1.5 million followers on her own YouTube, almost 3 million on her dedicated Instagram, and hundreds of thousands of fans checking her out on dates around the world each year. Even RuPaul seems to be jealous of her fame.The idea for the Trixie Motel started “with a great pun,” says Mattel. “Trixie Motel was just a joke my partner and I would throw around,” she says, explaining that originally the pair thought that maybe they’d buy a house in Palm Springs, paint it pink, and rent it out.

@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel

While trolling Zillow, though, Mattel found the property that would later make that dream a reality, and the pair said, “Let’s just go see it.” Several million dollars and a massive renovation later, and Mattel was in the motel business.

While there are certainly other places to stay in Palm Springs, the Trixie Motel aims to be more of an experience than a crash pad. “Airbnb experiences are serving gentrification.com.org, so I just wanted to do something with more personality where we could actually contribute to Palm Springs,” says Mattel.

@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel

Though the motel is certainly tinged with a sense of retro flair, it’s not your cookie cutter mid-century remake. Mattel says she specifically went out of her way to avoid being “a cringy millennial” with “some kind of Pinteresty space,” instead choosing to take inspiration from the character of Trixie Mattel.

“Honestly,” Mattel says, “Trixie is very Palm Springs. She’s very California. She’s Americana, and she’s very ‚Äė60s.” Mattel and her team, including designer Dani Dazey, just chose to work from Trixie’s existing character bible, thus creating a space that’s as uniquely over-the-top as its owner.

@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel

Rooms at the Trixie Motel include “Queen Of Hearts,” which boasts a heart-shaped, shag-carpet-framed mirror hanging above the bed, and the “Yeehaw Cowgirl” suite, which has a custom-made velvet horseshoe bed and a pink, brown, and blue cow print accent wall. Other room themes include “Malibu Barbara,” “Flower Power,” “Pink Flamingo,” and “Atomic Bombshell.”

“When we talk about motels and we talk about hospitality in general, there’s a desperate void of personality and intention,” says Mattel. “With our motel, everything is one of a kind. Everything is bespoke and hand-painted and imaginated. It’s a strong choice and a big gesture, and plopped right in the middle of reality, it’s this little slice of impossibility.”There’s also a honeymoon suite on site, which Mattel says could come in handy down the road, when the motel is available to fully book out for events. Mattel notes that she is ordained, and for the right price, will totally officiate a wedding at the hotel. (She says the previous owner even told her that she had married a topless lesbian couple while they floated in the pool.)

@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel
@trixiemotel

While Mattel is too busy to spend much time on site, she says she wants to have a relationship with the motel. “One of my dreams,” Mattel says, “is that, the first weekend we’re booked out fully, I’m going to go in there in full drag at about 9am and bring my DJ deck out to the pool, and I’m going to wake those whores up.” There will be pool parties and pride parties at the Trixie Motel, naturally, but Mattel says she also wants to “really gag people when they go to the bar and I’m just back there serving drinks.”

The motel is available to book now, though it won’t officially open until Labor Day weekend in September 2022. Still, buzz is already building, both because of Mattel’s Discovery+ show about the hotel’s renovation, also titled Trixie Motel, and the sheer visibility of the building. “We’re not even open yet, and I would say two cars every hour stop just to peek over the fence and see what it is,” Mattel says, “because people just can’t believe it.”

Rooms at the Trixie Motel start at $550 a night, and there’s a two-night minimum stay.

Trixie Mattel
Trixie Mattel
Trixie Mattel

Trixie Mattel’s favorite Palm Springs hangs:

  • Blackbook: “I love this gay bar called Blackbook, because they have a food menu that’s very vegetarian friendly. During filming, my partner and I would decompress there after screaming about plywood and stuff all day.”
  • Iconic Atomic: “Iconic Atomic is a vintage store that has amazing retro housewares and retro clothing.”
  • Chill Bar: “When I was filming and I would get really stressed out, I would message Chill Bar Palm Springs and say, ‚ÄėIt’s Sunday. Can I come DJ?’ and they’d be like, ‚ÄėSure.’ They’d give me like 50 bucks to come DJ during the daytime and just play a bunch of disco.”

Toucans Tiki Lounge & Cabaret: “I love Toucans. They have great drag shows. When we were filming, I’d always take my celebrity guests to Toucans to go watch drag shows.”

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Marah Eakin has worked in entertainment media for over 12 years, including a decade-long stint as an editor at The A.V. Club. She’s since written for publications like Vulture, The Ringer, The Strategist, Wired, Input, Uproxx, Byrdie, Parents, and Tudum. She lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and rowdy twin toddlers, and can be found on all social media platforms under the handle @marahe.

Late Checkout

Sleep Inside a Restored Train Carriage on a Black Sand Beach In New Zealand

Experience the romance of the train travel era.

hapuku carriages


There’s a term for someone with a strong affinity for anything related to trains and rail travel‚ÄĒ ‘Ferroequinology’. It’s not the easiest word to roll off the tongue, so instead, they like to go by ‘railfans.’ There is a long list of reasons why some people are obsessed with trains, but nostalgia seems to be the driving force for seeking vestiges of train rides past. For some, it’s the charm of an opulent interior and polished wood walls on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express ushering them back into the heyday of luxury steam strains. For others, it’s the chance to watch the world go by on a scenic rail journey. Either way, you can’t deny even today, there is still magic in train travel. Preserving that magic is a new wave of train carriage accommodations, providing railfans and anyone curious about what it’s like to sleep in a train carriage from a bygone era the chance to do so.

One particularly unique ‘train b&b’ is Hapuku Carriages, in the small coastal town of KaikŇćura. Planted opposite a black sand beach on one side and colossal snowy mountains on the other is a restored carriage built in 1921. It was previously used as a guard’s van, then shearers quarters for workers.¬†In 2007 it was removed from the farm and is now sitting on Mike and Susie-Lee’s little slice of paradise.

Mike is a collector of quirky and unusual things, and Susie-Lee is a painter, often seen wielding pastels and charcoals in her studio in the evenings. Together, they restored and decorated the carriage, instilling the romance of the train travel era with art and cosy rugs. There’s even an outdoor bathtub for guests to enjoy a long soak while admiring the KaikŇćura mountains.

hapuku carriages


While the train carriage is unique and a major draw for railfans, the Pohutukawa Cottage next door should not be overlooked. It’s renovated using as many recycled materials as Mike, and Susie-Lee could get their hands on, including special touches from The Art Deco Mayfair theatre in KaikŇćura and materials from The Adelphi Hotel built in 1918. The kitchen is custom-made from recycled cross arms off power polls and other native timbers. In the open-plan living and dining room, pops of colour from vintage leather chairs and seats scream retro and rustic charm. Although, the modern conveniences make it a comfortable place to base yourself, with the main town in KaikŇćura an easy seven-minute drive away. The cottage also has an outdoor tub and a deck, perfect for relaxing with a cheese board and wine, watching the sun dip behind the mountains.

Upon arrival, Susie-Lee welcomes guests with a glass jar of homemade granola, a stocked fridge for all your breakfast needs, and a friendly smile. There might also be wine in the fridge and a cheeky chocolate or two on the table. You feel right at home from the moment you’re handed the keys. After you’ve settled in, wander down the driveway to the beach, which is a two-minute walk from the carriage and cottage. The seemingly never-ending black sand beach is deserted most days. Enjoy the spectacular views of turquoise blue waters stretching over deep, dark black sand, leading to a backdrop of dramatic snow-tipped mountains. It’s beyond wondrous and one of the only places on the South Island where you can see the mountains meet the sea.

Venture into town to sample local delicacies. We also suggest stopping at Bernie’s Diner for a quirky experience. There’s a Cadillac museum in the basement. KaikŇćura is known for its marine encounters, including large pods of dolphins, sperm whales, and countless native fur seals. They’re everywhere, basking on rocks and beaches.

Book your stay here.

MORE: Feast Your Eyes on Christchurch, The South Island’s Gateway to Adventure, Wine, and Art

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