This motel is famous not because it’s glamorous, but because it provides free rooms to people in need

The Lincoln Tunnel Motel in North Bergen, New Jersey may not be the most upscale guest house you’ll find in the city, but it has gained a huge following online due to its noble mission.

Brian Acosta Arya, 34, better known online as “Brian the Motel Guy” does more than just rent rooms at the family-owned inn—it also provides housing, food, and services to people in need.

Brian’s father, George, gave him partial ownership of the motel in 2012. In doing so, he became part of the family business years after saying he “doesn’t go down the motel way.”


But Brian is certainly happy with that. Now, their 41-room motel provides homes for people who have been displaced by COVID-19 or other personal tragedies.

“I was doing the night shift while I was pursuing my acting career during the day,” he told CBS News.

Shift work at the cemetery was tough, so Brian decided to bring his love of creativity and acting to his hotel job to make things more fun.

He started making funny videos on TikTok about the humble inn with his co-worker, “Steven the maid,” who often dressed up as a maid for TikTok.

Brian Acosta Aria at the Lincoln Tunnel Hotel

Their silly clips have gained more than 858,000 followers on the platform, and not just because they make people laugh. Some of their videos are actually inspirational and honest.

In one clip, Brian pretends to talk to his 16-year-old self. His younger version is shocked because he works in his father’s motel, but presently Brian assures him that they are “helping people”.

One day, an idea suddenly occurred to him. What if he offered a free night’s stay to anyone who follows them on TikTok? At that time, the epidemic struck.

“People started to quarantine, lockdowns started happening, and then we started to see an influx of non-housing people,” Brian recalls. “You know, they can’t afford the rent anymore. So, they came to our hotel. And that doubled from there.”

Brian Acosta Arya and his father, George

Brian allowed anyone in need of a place to stay to rent a hotel room for free and promoted it on TikTok as a “Free Room for You” program.

This generous act inspired many others to do one themselves. Some TikTok followers have participated in the hotel by sending donations in the form of food, money, and toiletries to the people who live there.

People will come in and don’t want to rent a room, but say, ‘Hey, I want to rent this to the next person.’ “This is unbelievable,” Brian said.

Brian Acosta Arya and co-worker Stephen show off donations received at the motel

Students from a local college found him on TikTok and started donating food from the school’s free pantry to the hotel’s tenants. People across the country also helped clear Brian’s Amazon Wish List, which contains a list of supplies he’s copied from other similar initiatives.

Now that temperatures are starting to freeze outside, the need for motels and donors is even stronger. Fortunately, the community continued to advance.

According to Brian, someone who requested anonymity dropped about 20 care packages they made themselves. They had to give it to a random person walking down the street, and he did just that.

Brian Acosta Arya with Kelly Clarkson in "The Kelly Clarkson Show"

So far, Brian said he’s given 50 to 60 free rooms. Nearly half of the residents who lost their homes at the start of the pandemic are still in the hotel.

Brian’s popular TikTok posts earned him a guest on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in November. There, the program gave him $5,000 so he could help more people.

“I want the Lincoln Tunnel Motel to be a beacon of hope for this community and my followers around the world,” he said. “And if the best thing I can do to spread this ray of hope is to give space to someone in need, I’m happy to do so.”

Hear Brian talking about the Lincoln Tunnel Motel’s free stay program in the video below.

You can follow Brian on his social media accounts: TikTok | Instagram | Twitter.

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