‘No one realises how beautiful it is to travel
until he comes home and rests his head
on his old, familiar pillow.’ // Lin Yutang
You’ve probably seen this quote knocking around on the internet. If not, then I’m glad I’ve been able to introduce you to it. It’s a good one, and I can definitely relate to that feeling of bittersweet fulfilment after returning home from a trip: the mixture of bitterness at the travels being over, and sweetness at being somewhere familiar and comforting.
Having said that, there’s also something wonderful about finding that comfort during your travels. A lot of the time when I’m travelling, the place that I’m staying feels temporary. It’s either a busy hostel or a homogenous motel room. Both are fine, but for me, both are also reminders of being constantly on the move.
What I love are those rare places where I really feel like I can relax.
We were lucky enough to find 5 of those on our 3-week Western American Road Trip. Interestingly, only one of them was a hotel (although it was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in). The other 4 were all places booked through Airbnb.
1 // KARIN’S ECO CONSCIOUS ARCH APARTMENT IN TRINIDAD, CALIFORNIA
We checked into Karin’s place early in the evening. In the soft pale light infused by the fog, the building appeared like a mirage in the middle of an English country garden. It smelled floral and fresh. There was a hush about the place, caused by the fog and the surrounding sequoias, and although we’d driven less 2 minutes from the highway, it felt like a world away.
It was advertised as ‘eco conscious’, and it definitely lived up to that. Everything was organic, from the fruit in the bowl, to the towels and bedsheets. All of the fruit was local produce, Karin told us, except for the strawberries, which she said ‘just looked so good, I thought, I have to get those for my girls’.
That was us, by the way: her girls. The friendliness and openness with which Karin (and her adorably fluffy cat) welcomed us was so lovely after over a week on the road staying in hotels & motels. And she gave us great local eating recommendations (I can personally vouch for Beachcomber Cafe & the Lighthouse Grill).
It wasn’t till we were getting ready for bed that night that my friend Lizzie turned to me and asked if I could smell something.
‘I don’t know,’ she said, ‘Something smells really bad.’
It took us ages to figure out what had happened: our noses had grown so used to all the beautiful fresh clean smells in the apartment (rose soap, fresh fruit, organic chocolate…) that we’d forgotten what we smelled like. Or, more accurately, what our dirt-laundry-filled backpacks smelled like. Tip: don’t take smelly travel clothes into paradise unless you’re prepared to face a couple of home truths! Oops.
2 // POLO TOWERS IN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
1/ Enormous beds
2/ Views of the Strip
3/ Rooftop pool
I think that pretty much sums up Polo Towers.
Of our 5 homes-away-from-home, this was the only one that was a hotel. (It was also by far the nicest hotel we stayed in – thanks Mum & Dad!) But it had a separate living room & kitchen, and was set back a block from the Strip, which meant it was quiet enough to spend time catching up with one another, while still being right in the middle of Vegas.
And after all, who doesn’t love watching the sunset from a rooftop pool?!
3 // NANCY’S COZY CABIN IN PEMBERTON, BRITISH COLUMBIA
This cosy cabin in the mountains is the ultimate proof that bigger isn’t always better.
It may be small, but it’s perfectly formed, and for us this part of the trip was all about getting back to nature. There’s something so perfect about waking up, going outside with a bowl of fresh fruit & granola, being greeted by the wagging tail of Nancy’s dog, George, and looking up at the mountains from the comfy perch of a hammock.
About 20 minutes outside the small town of Pemberton (where Mt Currie Coffee Company is the perfect cafe hour, by the way), Nancy has created a perfect little haven. There’s the horse in the paddock, George the dog, an affectionate ginger cat wandering the grounds, and all around are trees and mountains.
Even better, there are a couple of stunning lakes just a short drive up the road, and Nancy kindly lent us a few floaties so we could cool off in the water.
This little cabin in the mountains may not look much from the outside, but it was our perfect little piece of paradise at the end of a very hectic trip.
4 // YURT GLAMPING IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Confession: I’ve always wanted to stay in a yurt. I thought it would feel like camping but a little bit more fancy. Actually, it felt way more like luxury accommodation than I’d imagined. Four-poster bed, anyone…?
Like Karin in Trinidad and Nancy in Pemberton, Ted & Lisa have created their own little haven in Seattle’s Admiral District. The yurt is in the bottom of their garden. (For ‘garden’, read ‘grotto’ – I’ve never seen so many fairy lights in all my life, and anyone who ever set foot in my teenage bedroom will know that that’s saying something.) It’s a magical space, and a delight to sleep and hang out in.
My only disappointment was that we were too busy exploring Seattle to have time to use the sauna!
5 // KATRINA’S BASEMENT STUDIO IN ASTORIA, OREGON
We were greeted by Katrina and two of her adorable little girls (who showed us, among other things, how to make snow angels on the fluffy carpets). The room was cute, we had breakfast provided (though I can also massively recommend coffee & pastries at the Blue Scorcher), and our own entrance to the apartment.
But what really clinched it was the washing machine, which Katrina very kindly let us use. Remember what I said about our backpacks starting to whiff? Astoria was a fortnight into the trip, and all I can say is: thank goodness for Katrina and her washing machine!
< photo from Airbnb >
BTW: this post isn’t sponsored by Airbnb, though if you join & book a trip after clicking through from this page, we both get money off our next trip. (Win!) Regardless, all opinions are 100% me.