More Than Promised

Welcome to day 12 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  (More about heterotopias and liminal spaces.)  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.


“I love hotels for their solitude and comfort, but I believe a seedy one can have as much promise as a plush one.” — Freema Agyeman (actress)

When I booked the Sea Whale Motel in Middletown, Rhode Island, I had slight idea what we were getting. The online reviews were pretty good, but with a few dark negatives. We’d never been to this area, except passing through nearby on train, and though I knew Newport was classier, dressier, and much more expensive than I wanted, I worried that this little motel, on a main road, cheaper than almost any other accommodation in the vicinity, would fail to satisfy. I thought it might be sketchy, seedy, scary. Or located in some remote place that made it impossible to get anywhere without headache.

I worried for naught. Oh, it was slightly seedy, but in an upper-class sort of way.


Really, it wasn’t seedy at all. It’s waterfront, on Easton Pond where the drinking water comes from (along with adjoining Green End Pond). Easton Pond leads to Easton Bay and from there to the ocean. It’s only a mile or so to the Cliff Walk in Newport, and it’s easy to get to Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton, Jamestown, and the Kingstowns from here. The place is a real mom-and-pop motel; the owners were present every day, at the front desk, doing laundry, watering plants, just walking the grounds and chatting.

I enjoyed sitting outside in the adirondack chairs, watching the red-winged blackbirds in the mornings, and the ruddy ducks, which I hadn’t seen before.


We visited in May this year, when it was a little chilly to lounge outside except bundled in layers, but the deck is a nice feature for warmer weather.


The view from the deck to the pond (Newport to the left):


And from the lawn to the ponds:


Exterior (we were upstairs, with a deck):


The inside was perfectly motelish, with wifi that worked and two places to sit with computers. There were two entry doors from the outside, one in the front of the motel (off Route 138A) and the other in the back off the deck, above the parking lot.

room view from door
two double beds (there are also queen beds but I reserved too late to get one)
bureau, desk, closet space
table/desk, coffee maker, chairs, fridge, microwave


The Sea Whale was actually a nice unassuming respite in between bouts of fancy dining,


visiting an upscale auto museum,


touring a grand home and gardens, taking the Cliff Walk in Newport,


walking various trails and beaches (including Trustom Pond, Kettle Pond, Sachuest PointFogland Beach),


visiting the Portuguese Discovery Monument,


and driving hither and thither looking for some place we might want to live. It wasn’t plush but it gave us more than it promised, which is high praise for an unknown roadside motel.

after sunset at the Sea Whale


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