Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Original Holiday Inn Ashtray

Submitted by Allee Willis August 17th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

When the first four Holiday Inns were built in 1953, this was the ashtray that was sitting in the rooms. Heavy glass with raised lettering and cigarette rests, the shape is perfect 1950’s, the font iconic. I don’t go out of my way to collect Holiday Inn artifacts, but through the years I’ve amassed cups, matches, ashtrays from all the decades, postcards, playing cards, ice tea spoons, room keys and more. I even have this sign from a Holiday Inn somewhere in California. It’s rusty but you would be too if you baked outside for the last 60 years.


I’ve always loved the concept of Holiday Inns, the first roadside chain motel founded on the concept that if you knew what you were getting you would feel as comfortable as if you were home. The rooms were all basically the same – clean, family-friendly and really easy to get to because signs like this were in clear view of the highways. And in the 1950’s everyone was on the road. The war was over, the cars were massive and beautiful, and the American middle class mindset was such that they thought they might soon be vacationing on the moon. I didn’t own this Studebaker until the 1980’s but the parking lots of Holiday Inns were all stuffed full of eye-popping gems like this so that as soon as you turned into them you were psychologically prepped to enjoy your stay.


This was taken in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in 1986. I got a room one day to write because I couldn’t concentrate at home.


I never smoked in my car so it remained as pristine and lovely as one of the rooms in a Holiday Inn. If I had smoked though, I might have lifted this from my room so my ash was deposited in something as stylish as my car.

holiday inn ashtray_4659

But, alas, I bought it on eBay along with this postcard, longing for the days when life was this beautiful, convenient, stylish and cheap.