The Rockaways Artistic Playground: Playland Motel

This month’s Destination Design stays within the states and lands in New York’s own Rockaway Beach at a recently opened, campy destination called Playland Motel. Full of Beats, Eats, and Sleeps, this motel took an early 19th Century building and restored it with the help of twelve prominent designers and artists who designed individual rooms with their own aesthetic. The results are a designer motel catering to a younger crowd looking for a super fun getaway at the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn. (I dare you not to sing it.)


DJs and live acts grace the airwaves of the outdoor area of Playland, complete with sand, beach chairs, ping pong, and even a little cornhole.




Room by Simon Spurr that’s all about perspective and inspired by 1960’s abstract artists like Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, and Brice Marden.


An “outdoor”, forest-like getaway in the middle of Rockaway Beach from architect Nektarios Ioannidis.


Inspired by a song by the 60’s band the Groupies entitled “Primitive”, Robbie & Apples created an escape that’s all about a rebirth.


Pat Conlon designed this simple & clean room with iconic details and a modern beachy feel.


A true collaboration from the Rawlins Calderone Design group who directed a team of artistic individuals to complete this room featuring the stream of conscious drawings by artist Shantell Martin.


Rawlins Calderone Design room


Melanie & Marina were inspired by the Golden Mean from Ancient Greek philosophy and their room evokes beauty through symmetry, proportion, and harmony.


Melanie & Marina room


Artist Kate Pane’s girly room is all about ponies, glitter sunburns, and wet swimsuits.


The Cactus Room, from Federico Saenz-Recio, “explores the basics and investigates the problem of simplicity, celebrating the human error.”


Federico Saenz-Recio room


Javier Pedraza Polo created The Suspect, a cozy room with organic elements and artwork from Adrien Travis.


Javier Pedraza Polo room


Ben Pundole and Jessica Baker collaborated on the Captains Quarters (Belafonte) room, where the duo’s inspiration was, “If my yacht dreams collided with a Wes Anderson movie…”


Nadia Kaufhold gives an opulent, baroque-type space a modern spin, complete with a bloody twist.


Nadia Kaufhold room


“What if 1980’s Don Johnson drove a 1950’s Woody? AKA Don Johnsons Woody.” – Room by Design Department




What: Playland Motel
Where: 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Beach, New York 11694
How much: From approximately $200 a night
Highlights: In addition to the quirky rooms individually designed by artists, the motel is close to the beach and even has its own sandy play area with plenty of seating to lounge.
Design draw: Twelve kitschy, artist-designed room, each with their own design motif.
Book it: Call 718.318.1035 or email [email protected]

Are you packed?

Exterior, diner, and outdoor photos by Cheyenne Bosco.
Room photos by Cari Vuong.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.