Carol: Is McKinley Motel an Actual Motel in Ohio?

In the romantic drama film ‘Carol,’ Carol Aird and Therese Belivet embark on a road trip to Chicago, Illinois. After the anxiety of the divorce proceedings between the former and her husband, Harge, gets too much to handle, she persuades Therese to accompany her on a journey so that she can disconnect from her concerns. During their trip, they stop at McKinley Motel before reaching the city of Chicago. There, the duo comes across Tommy Tucker, a private investigator masquerading as a salesman. This interaction becomes a critical moment within the story as the information Tommy gathers jeopardizes Carol’s divorce proceedings and the custody battle for her daughter. Even though the viewers may not be able to visit McKinley Motel, there is a real establishment in Cincinnati that deserves our attention!

The Real-Life Counterpart of McKinley Motel

McKinley Motel in ‘Carol’ is a fictional motel conceived by screenwriter Phyllis Nagy. Therese encounters Tommy Tucker in the motel when she goes out at night. Tommy introduces himself to Carol when the duo goes for coffee the following day. The true intention behind Tommy’s innocent conversation is revealed much later when the viewer is informed that he is a private investigator hired by Harge, Carol’s husband. The stakes in the unraveling narrative that revolves around the tender relationship between Carol and Therese become higher than ever when they first encounter Tommy at the motel.

‘Carol’ was primarily shot in Ohio. The scenes set in McKinley Motel were filmed in Hollywood Court Motel at 10599 Reading Road in Cincinnati. The Hollywood Court Motel is in the Evendale neighborhood, and like its counterpart in the film, it hosts a lodging and restaurant section. So, the scene in which Carol, Therese, and Tommy are getting a cup of coffee while holding a conversation was shot in the same establishment. Although the characters have a brief stay at the place before heading to Chicago, it is in the confines of the fictional McKinley that Carol comes face-to-face with the one who jeopardizes her prospects of gaining custody of her daughter.

Image Credit: Miss Belivet/Tumblr

Even though McKinley Motel does not exist in reality, the fictional establishment is a memorable part of Carol and Therese’s relationship. The two women spend a night together for the first time in the motel, which brings them closer. Their relationship is slowly taking shape on the road trip, and their interactions in the motel play a significant role in the same. As the night progresses, Carol and Therese test their perfumes on one another. It is a small moment but a sign of their deepening attraction. The intimacy they eventually share is born on the night they sleep in separate beds in the motel’s presidential suite.

Read more: Carol: Is Frankenberg’s a Real Department Store?