Until late 2011 this was the site of The Thunderbird Motel, which seems not to have aged well judging from reviews. Let's be clear - although the address and structure of the buildings are the same, this is no longer The Thunderbird Motel.
We rented two rooms for the annual Jazz in the Valley weekend, one with two queens the other a single queen and kitchenette. Being within walking distance was high on our list of requirements - actually having rooms available was obviously pretty important too! Most of the hotels at the South end of town fill up quickly for this last weekend in July, so we felt lucky to find rooms available.
Location : about 0.6 of a mile from central Ellensburg - 15 minutes or so to walk. The parking area is huge and surrounds the fenced pool area. Arriving from Seattle on I-90 take the first exit for town and it's pretty easy just to follow W University Way in. Dining options in the immediate neighborhood are pretty limited - better to plan to walk in to town.
The property : probably dating from the late '40s when cross country driving too off, this is the archetypical motor lodge. A large U shaped arrangement of two story buildings with parking bays directly in front of the doors. Late 2011 the property appears to have been acquired and converted to a Motel 6 franchise. The renovation has included extensive renovation inside and out. Reception is bright, airy and houses several vending machines along with ice and coffee.
Rooms : Decor is consistent with the "bold new look" that is being rolled out to Motel 6 locations nationally, and actually works pretty well. The look is bright, clean and colorful. Everything apart from the bathtub is new; flooring, paint, furniture, sinks, toilets, A/C - all new and all very nice. Tiled/laminate floors may seem a bit cold to the feet, but they're much easier to keep clean and overall more practical than carpet. There's plenty of storage, good reading light and flat panel TVs. The Wi-fi is free and fast enough to stream Amazon Prime without any hiccups at all, though Netflix had a bit more trouble.
Sleep quality : Even though the bed is a simple mattress on platform design it proved very comfortable. Pillows are synthetic (my preference) and quite full/firm - again very much as I prefer. Bed line consists of a sheet and two very light coverlets - in cold weather you'd be relying on the heater to keep the room warm unless they have heavier blankets for winter. Perfectly comfortable for a summer visit. Thanks in part to new A/C units, which are nice and quiet, plus dual pane windows and solid walls the room was quiet. Curtains are heavy lined and do a good job of darkening the room and there was very little plumbing noise from adjoining rooms. We had two nights of good quality sleep.
Motel 6 is no longer the bargain basement it once was, and there are much more comfortable hotels in the area that are only somewhat more expensive - but typically they're not as close to the center of things and booked well in advance. Overall our stay was good value, the location suited us very well and we had a very comfortable stay - would stay again without hesitation.