Staycation inspiration: Designer Inn and Suites

Complete with pink carpeting, these themed rooms will make you feel as if you’re back in the ’80s.

Sydney Novak

If you’re staying put in the Ames area this summer but want to do some budget-friendly traveling, Toledo, Iowa might be your next destination.

Almost exactly an hour drive from Ames is Toledo, Iowa, a small town with a few restaurants, a Goodwill and public pool. Not exactly a tourist destination, right? Well, if you have a thing for gaudy, retro-inspired hotels, this might be the place for you.

Designer Inn and Suites is a locally run hotel that has themed hotel rooms available for booking in addition to traditional hotel rooms. The themed rooms have kitschy decor, heart-shaped jacuzzis and some even have mirrored ceiling details, depending on which themed room you opt to stay in. 

Each room sleeps two adults and rates are approximately $122 after tax, varying on weekdays. The rooms range from a lovers suite, rainforest theme, Arabian nights theme, northern lights theme, crystal cave theme, Roman theme and a Las Vegas-inspired room — appropriate for being so close to Meskwaki Casino. 

Depending on your taste or preference, inviting a friend for an overnight stay for roughly $66 each can make for a fun getaway. Bringing along a bottle of wine, a disposable camera and bubble bath for the jacuzzi might be perfect if you’re a lover of all things retro and can forgive some of the “tackiness.” 

The hotel is older and not quite outdated, but like many hotels that have themed rooms, lacks some of the typical amenities of other chain hotels. This is not a place where you can order room service. The pool is closed due to COVID-19, and some of the traditional hotel rooms have reputations for not being cleaned properly.

If none of these things deter you, there are some other things to do in the area. The Meskwaki casino is a five minute drive for those 21+, and they have a buffet and restaurant inside. John Ernest Vineyard and winery is a short drive from the hotel as well.

For those under 21, feel free to bring DVDs, because your room will have a player instead of pay per view.

It might not be a glamorous stay in the city, but this is definitely an affordable option for those who appreciate novelty. Imagine you’re taking a vacation in the 80s to a themed resort, or a newlywed couple on their honeymoon. It would be difficult not to appreciate the uniqueness of at least one of these hotel rooms. 

Between the dimming lights, mirrored ceilings, heart-shaped beds and jacuzzis or the icy looking walls, it’s clear that plenty of thought and effort went into the designs of these concept rooms.  

Finish your getaway with the complimentary breakfast at the hotel and head back to Ames. This is a great vacation to take for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to take off from work, or for those getting bored of the day-to-day.

Split between two people, this trip would cost about $80 each.