"Every night in a different place / I'll meet you tender lady / You're my no tell lover."Also called a "fleabag hotel", it's the sleazy motel that rents rooms by the hour. The clerk doesn't ask what for, and doesn't want to know. The No Tell Motel is where philandering affairs and criminal deals take place. Human nature being what it is, that also makes it the site of gruesome unsolved murders. Long story short, if you have something you can drink, smoke, snort, shoot, or fuck but don't have a convenient/affordable place to carry out the activity in question at, you go here to do it. Low-lifes on the run, prostitutes turning tricks, and the detectives who want to talk to them, will all end up here sooner or later. See also Smithical Marriage, and Love Hotels for Japan's more glamorous (or cleaner, at least) equivalent. Detectives usually end up here by Going by the Matchbook. May also be a Hell Hotel.
— Chicago, No Tell Lover
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has one. It ain't called "Immoral Motel" for nothing.
- During Marvel's Civil War, Spidey, Aunt May and Mary Jane ended up stashed at one of these after he switched sides. The hourly rate was more than the rate for a whole night, to Peter's confusion.
- The Sandman: The Corinthian is first encountered in one of these— along with a sleazy owner dropping off room service and a teenaged male prostitute tied up in the bathtub. Of course, he ends up dead. It's quite possible that this is the Corinthian's regular modus operandi, but he was on the road already, after all.
- The entire Sin City series starts off in one of these as Marv is framed for murder.
- The entirety of the first issue of Project Riribirth takes place in a crumbling, disgusting motel room where a broken, destitute, and ailing Tony Stark waits to die.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Yuki, the bar girl prostitute in The Warped Ones, takes people to hotels like this for 30-minute stays.
- In Highlander, the motel that The Kurgan stays at in New York apparently has at least one door-to-door hooker (Candy). It's neither shown nor explained exactly what he does there. (For anyone else it would be obvious, but this is The Kurgan we're talking about.)
- Seen in 12 Monkeys, where Bruce Willis and his psychiatrist visit one to work out just what the hell is going on with their lives in privacy.
- When he is released in Psycho II, Norman Bates is shocked to find that this is how the Bates Motel is being run. He promptly sacks the manager, the hilariously sleazy Dennis Franz.
- In Time also has their own variation.
- La Habitacion Azul (The Blue Room), a Mexican film, has this in its title, where the manager of the hotel especially rents the eponymous blue room for lovers and their escapades.
- In a Laurel and Hardy movie they are running from their awful, and armed, wives. As the two men run behind a hotel, the wife raises the shotgun and fires. At the sound of the shot, men jump out of every window, in their underwear with their pants in their hand and run down the alley.
- In Apartment Zero Jack picks a man up at the airport, takes him to a seedy hotel, has sex with him, and then murders him for his passport.
- Umberto D: Apparently the boarding house is gradually becoming this. Umberto comes home to find that Antonia is renting out his room at 1,000 lira per hour to people who want a place for sex.
- Apparently in Home Alone 2, the motel the McCallisters are staying in Florida according to the condition and their shocking gasps.
Uncle Frank: It didn't look this bad on our honeymoon...
- Bosch: In Season 1 Raynard Waits takes a male prostitute to a hotel advertising adult movies.
- Vlad Taltos and Kiera both find one of these immensely useful in Orca. Which fits the trope quite well, considering they are, respectively, an assassin on the run from an organized crime syndicate and the best thief in the entire Empire.
- L.A. Confidential has two examples - one is El Serrano motel, where Buzz Meeks waits to be snuck out of the USA ( he doesn't make it) and Victory Motel, headquarters of Mobster Squad run by the resident Magnificent Bastard Dudley Smith, where out-of-town gangsters arriving in L. A. are hauled over and persuaded to leave and never come back (usually through applying cut rubber hose).
- The Black Dahlia has The Red Arrow, which appears again in White Jazz.
- In the Maggody mystery novels, Ruby Bee absolutely refuses to acknowledge that this trope applies to the motel she owns, even though it's an open secret that's what all the passing truckers rent rooms for. The only one who doesn't use it for his trysts is Mayor Jim Bob, who takes his girlfriends to Farberville's No-Tell Motel to be farther from his wife.
- In Tipping the Velvet, Nancy visits one of these while working as a rent boy.
- In Nevada, David rents a room at one of these in San Francisco's Tenderloin district to make it easier to buy the two things he's interested in: heroin and hookers.
- Shown perfectly in the "Full Moon" episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.
- CSI's Las Vegas has lots of these, generally complete with dead body.
- In one episode, Brass even (kinda sorta, but not really) jokingly says that when people die in motels like these, it's generally not reported for quite a while, because the owners keep renting out the room until the smell of the corpse has gotten bad enough that it can no longer be ignored.
- Another episode sees three homicides in the same room over a period of a few weeks. The owner has put hallucinogenic drugs in the air freshener, which results in Hodges going crazy and almost killing someone.
- With more hotel-like places, appears in The Bill, such as with the Chandler-McAllister relationship. The one that ended with him raping her on their wedding night and then shooting himself during a Hostage Situation as she was in labour (with him in the room).
- In an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Arthur Carlsen tries to spice up his marriage by taking his wife back to the hotel they stayed at when they eloped, but since then its aspirations have declined a bit...
Carmen: "Arthur, there's a machine in the bathroom that sells... things."
- In an episode of Happy Days, Joanie and Chachi had to stay in one when they took a trip to a Beach Boys concert without permission. The episode is even titled "No-Tell Motel".
- Sam and Dean Winchester of Supernatural check into No Tell Motels together fairly frequently. This does not help their reputation at all.
- In the pilot of White Collar, Peter Burke checks Neal Caffrey into one of these on the grounds that it's one of the few places a person can live for $700 a month in New York City. Neal improvises.
- In an episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse stays at one of these, where he smokes some meth and has sex with a prostitute.
- On Boy Meets World, Shawn's father dumps him at one of these when he leaves to chase after Shawn's mom, though it's not seen on screen.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: These were Faith's digs during her time in Season 3, pushing her character as The Lad-ette and she even uses it as a one night stand (well two nights) with Xander. The Mayor upgrades her to a condo, but advises to maintain her old place as a cover.
- All over the place in Law & Order: SVU. The detectives are always frequenting these places to pick up suspects (and witnesses of the shady variety.)
- In the well-known Law & Order episode "Empire," Detective Curtis takes a witness played by Julia Roberts to a motel to keep her safe over a weekend. The defense attorney later accuses Curtis of cheating on his wife that weekend and uses the phrase "no-tell motel"; it's clear by this point that the witness was manipulating Curtis in an effort to help the accused murderer get away with it.
- The Golden Girls:
- Blanche is frequently referred to as making regular use of these, especially renting them by the hour. In one instance, she unknowingly books the girls into a hotel full of prostitutes, and gets them (the prostitutes and the girls) arrested; she chose it because it had the most men in the lobby.
- An episode of the follow-up series, Golden Palace, details Rose's efforts to keep their hotel from becoming one of these.
- The motel where Earl lives in My Name Is Earl.
- The Starlight Motel, Cabot Cove in several episodes of Murder, She Wrote. If an out-of-towner was staying at the Starlight, it meant they were up to no good one way or another.
- In the Full House episode "On the Road Again," Jesse and his family (along with Joey) check into a hotel that Jesse used to stay at, but has gotten rather sleazy over the years. The room is quite small, there's a blinking neon sign right outside their window, there's a coin-operated TV, vibrating beds and toilet (and the wires in their room are crossed, so putting a coin into the TV activates the vibrating beds.)
- One features in the Heart song All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You.
- The Panic! at the Disco song "Build God, Then We'll Talk" is about one.
- In Poison's "Look What the Cat Dragged In" song, the second verse starts off in a No Tell Motel.
- After escaping their abusive home at the circus, Conjoined Twins Evelyn Evelyn find jobs at one of these. It's not the best job but is better than their previous ones.
- Lupino's hotel from the first Max Payne game, which you have to blast through twice, was of this type.
- "King Arthur & the Knights of Justice" (SNES Action-RPG game) had a motel called literally "No Tell Motel".
- Featured, in all places, in the explorable landscape of the game Bully. You can't take girls there, of course, being fifteen (and rated T) but... well, other people do.
- Galerians features one of these, complete with drug pushers, a sketchy maintenance man, pedophilic priests, men making nuclear weapons and a whore.
- Fallout: New Vegas has the Bison Steve hotel, where you can find ransom notes and a murder/suicide. It's also where a group of criminals are currently holed up.
- No More Heroes Motel in No More Heroes is the residence of one Travis Touchdown. While it does seem bright and cheery, don't forget it's in Santa Destroy.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has the Luckee Star Motel in Hollywood. After witnessing some brutal stuff there, you can ask the manager if he was aware of a dead body in one of his rooms. His response? "That early in the evening? Well, I guess I'll have to call the cops then."
- Homestar Runner: The Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Decemberween special is called "Cactus Coffee and the No-Tell Motel". There is, of course, neither a No-Tell Motel or cactus coffee involved, but Eh! Steve's mouth does explode the universe, and Ready For Primetime does a tiny, tiny dance. Even Strong Bad is stumped and he created the show.
- The motels frequented by Mayor Quimby in The Simpsons. In particular, the "SLeEp-eAZY" Motel that Marge and the kids stay at during the episode "The Cartridge Family", complete with prostitutes at the entrance, coin-operated TV, vibrating beds and Bible, and a corpse in the pool. Not to mention that whoever runs the place spies on the customers using video cameras. Homer, Marge (and Mayor Quimby) go to one closer to a Japanese style Love Hotel in "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" too.
- The Family Guy episode "Screwed The Pooch" hits all the notes in this tune: prostitutes, sleazy proprietors, crime, roaches, non-working switches, Murphy beds, insane residents, people on the run, America's Most Wanted, police raids.
- The Ocean View Hotel that Arthur and his family go to in "Arthur's Family Vacation" (which always has a vacancy) is like this; there's no view of the ocean, the room has pictures coming off the hinges, lousy mattresses on the bed that sink under weight, leaky ceilings, and an abnormally small pool (to which D.W. comments "Our bathtub is bigger than this!")
- Rocko's Modern Life, king of the Parental Bonus and Getting Crap Past the Radar extraordinaire of The '90s, has a cut scene with one named the No Tell Motel. The cut version of the episode just shows the exterior of the hotel. What they didn't cut just makes it even worse once you know what this trope is about!
- This trope was referenced in Chowder, where a hotel is called the No Tell Motel. We don't actually see this trope in action, though.
- Parodied in the American Dad! episode "A Smith in the Hand", has Stan pleasing his urge to masturbate at the 'Bates Motel (note the apostrophe).
- There is a hotel shamelessly called the No-Tel Motel in the sleazy part of Tucson, Arizona. According to the Tucson Weekly, it lives up to its name.