Vintage and boutique: Midtown’s long-empty Best Bet Motor Lodge is transitioning into a boutique motel and hangout spot

“There is something beautiful about the idea of the motor lodge; it’s such a piece of America and so much the idea of the American West,” said Piper Stremmel.  

She and her husband, Chris Reilly—owners of Fourth Street gems The Jesse Hotel and Abby’s Highway 40—are in the process of transforming the Best Bet Motor Lodge in Midtown into a boutique motel. They intend to make it a comfortable resting spot for travelers—and a fun hangout spot for locals. 

Before opening The Jesse in 2019, their team tried to find a motor lodge, but none were for sale that would fit their vision. The challenges of The Jesse felt more surmountable, with only six rooms. Now, with an expanded and seasoned staff, Stremmel and Reilly are ready to take on the more significant task of a bigger concept. 

The newly renovated motel has the charm of a classic motor lodge, but with some stylish nods to the future. I was struck by how cozy and hidden it feels, despite the fact that the building sits right on a pedestrian thoroughfare in Midtown. With a total of 21 rooms, including ADA and pet-friendly ground-floor rooms, Best Bet Motor Lodge is set to become the largest motel in Midtown. After operating The Jesse for a while and learning a few lessons, the team made a list of goals for this property, including better noise-dampening and two-room suites for families—a comfort normally only found in more corporate hotels. 

“We are both nervous and excited, but ready,” said general manager Sarah Castillo. 

The Best Bet also plans to add a new, sweaty luxury: Reno Sauna Club, which will at first be an amenity for guests and eventually grow into a membership-based facility for the public. The club will feature saunas located in a custom-made airstream trailer, showers, cold plunges and other wellness-focused offerings. 

“We thought a lot about these other spaces where we spend our time—what we can bring to fill the time between events or going out—and the sauna is something Chris and I are very passionate about,” Stremmel said. 

The motel’s double-glass doors open into an ample lobby space, where there are a bar and snack offerings. Fun amenities like s’mores and pet-friendly happy hours will be available both to motel guests and the public. 

“With The Jesse, we found a way to bring together people visiting Reno and people who live here,” said Mikaila Bird, the operation’s PR and communications manager. “We hope to deliver that third place, not a dinner spot or a bar, but a place you can sit by the fire pit and have a great beverage right in the heart of Midtown.”  

The team also plans to collaborate with other businesses in Midtown—with events in the parking lot, for example. 

While The Jesse is home to one of the largest agave selections in Reno, and Abby’s Highway 40 is a snapshot of Reno dive-bar culture (with enough schnapps to fill a pool), Best Bet’s beverage selection will be more limited, at first. The bar has all the bones for expansion when needed, but for right now, the goal is to offer familiar styles of wine from producers all over the world, comfortable beers, and a longer list of non-alcoholic options. They will feature drinks like spritzes, simple classics and canned and bottled cocktails from around the country. After all, nothing says “motor lodge” like a margarita in a can. 

The Best Bet Motor Lodge, slated to open this spring, is located at 941 S. Virginia St., in Reno. For more information, visit or