Wandering Thoughts

The Origin of Bates Motel

The name Bates Motel evokes a particular scene from the film “Psycho”- the protagonist being knifed to death in a shower by an unknown perpetrator.

Preceding this famous or rather infamous scene, the protagonist- after stealing her boss’ money- has left town and arrived at Bates Motel- at first look foreboding.

Once inside, the motel takes on a calm and sanguine atmosphere due in large part to the caretaker, Norman Bates’ seemingly demure demeanor. Yet, the audience soon finds out something much more ominous is lurking behind the doors of Bates Motel.

Where did Hitchcock come up with the name Bates Motel? Is Bates Motel based on a real place? If so where, is it?

Before Alfred Hitchcock, there was Robert Bloch- the author of the source novel, “Psycho”.  Some say Bloch drew his inspiration from a motel by the same name located in Couer d’ Alene, Idaho. Initially a depot for army officers pre and post World War II, the property was eventually sold and turned into The Roadway Inn. Subsequently, the lot was purchased by a Mr. Randy Bates-  a local accountant- and was renamed Bates Motel (even before the movie was released).

Rumor has it that Robert Bloch stayed in the hotel during the 1950’s. As his novel was published in 1959 and the film not produced until 1960, it’s highly possible the motel influenced Boch’s “Bates Motel.”  Though there was never a caretaker by the name of Norman Bates or Norma Bates, ghost sightings and other hauntings have plagued the hotel since its inception, making it a perfect place for inspiration.

If you would like to read more information about the original Bates Motel, check out this link: Bates Motel- Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

Are there any more Bates Motels in existence? Was it just an eerie coincidence that Robert Bloch’s hotel shares the same name as the one in Coeur D’ Alene? Did Hitchcock know there was a real Bates Motel?

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”- Alfred Hitchcock


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