These Hotels Let You Live The Airstream Life Without All The Driving


Over the past decade, there’s been a spike in interest over small spaces. Trends like tiny houses, vanlife, shared offices, and food trucks point to a more judicious use of space across a number of industries. And the Airstream trailer, which was initially built in 1929 for travel, is now being used not only for hitting the road but in the retail, restaurant, and housing sectors as well. The caravans are also getting incorporated into the hospitality industry — an Instagram-friendly alternative to traditional hotel rooms.

We love creative accommodations whether they be treehouses perched high above an old growth forest or underwater rooms with a 360-degree view of vividly colored sea life. So, we’re all about the rising popularity of the Airstream.

The following list of hotels offers the chance to overnight in these iconic travel trailers. Our picks highlight of aesthetics and locales — ensuring that people looking to experience the Airstream life without taking a road trip or spending a fortune have plenty of options.

El Cosmico: Marfa, Texas

Looking to tap into the American history of self-determination epitomized by hippies and nomads? Look no further than art-centric Marfa, a desert oasis in the southwest, where El Cosmico can be found. This eccentric, trendy hotel takes inspiration from the colors and culture of India and translates them into a number of sleeping options, including safari tents, yurts, teepees, and Airstreams, which range in size from the Small at 13 feet to the Extra Large at 42 feet. All of the trailers have been restored with marine-varnish birch interiors and furnished in an eclectic, global style. Don’t expect WiFi, as it intentionally is not offered. But you can expect awesome minibars and the supplies you need to roll your own herbal smoke.

The hotel prides itself on being a “hub for occasional happenings that elevate the mind, body, and creative spirit,” so time your trip to coincide with art classes, songwriting workshops, cooking classes, yoga, music festivals, and concerts if you can.

Caravan Outpost: Ojai, California

Despite being located near the town center, Caravan Outpost feels tropical — thanks to the tall palms that shadow its eleven Airstreams. The freshly-refurbished trailers sit in a circle around a patio area, where guests can meet and mingle around a bonfire for s’mores or at pop-up dinners and small concerts. As for the Airstreams, they are completely remodeled and boast the freshest conveniences, including record players and vinyl that can be swapped out at the General Store to match your tastes, refrigerators, basic kitchen utensils, and showers. However, there are also lovely communal showers and bathrooms, which feels essential. The trailers sleep one to five people, and trying to get a group of five to use a small bathroom in a trailer can be a logistical nightmare.

The hotel delivers cool on every level, even the guests. Expect road trip honeymooners, Hollywood folk heading north, and Bay Area tech people driving south. This is all to the good. Given the hotel’s commitment to a union of modern chic and retro quirks, the people it draws are generally those who like to travel outside the box, and they make for stellar banter.

The Shady Dell: Bisbee, Arizona

Many of the hotels on this list are boutique properties that utilize the cool energy of the Airstream to add to their overall vibe, but The Shady Dell actually dates back to 1927, when it was opened to provide a place for weary travelers along Highway 80 to camp and park their trailers. It has legit trailer cred in a big way. And that history feeds into the current iteration as a constellation of Airstreams and other vintage trailers. Expect the retro radios to play era-appropriate programs and televisions to broadcast in only two colors. Any books and magazines you find will be completely period, as will furnishings. When you want to enjoy the gorgeous Arizona evening weather, step outside and make the most of your own little patch of Astroturf.

This is a bit of a theme hotel, so every trailer has a unified décor. The 1955 Airstream is all about Western touches, which manifest as brightly striped Mexican blankets and tchotchkes sporting sombreros. If you want to branch out from Airstreams, consider the 1947 Airporter bus transformed into a Polynesian Palace, with a hand-carved outrigger bar and resident Tiki God.

Bel Repayre Airstream and Retro Trailer Park: Manses, France

If you’re interested in mixing classic American travel trailers with some of the most beautiful sights in France, Bel Repayre can’t be beaten. Located atop a hill, complete with sweeping views of the surrounding Pyrenees Mountains, this trailer park isn’t set in a touristy locale, which is the draw for most guests. Instead of spending nights in a vintage caravan and days wandering busy city streets snapping pics of French food and noteworthy sights, guests just chill. Wake up to grab fresh bread and croissants at 8:30 a.m., then walk the landscaped gardens, fly a kite in the large field, play some table tennis, kick it trailer-side on a sunbed, and enjoy watching the sun dip low from the Canadian red cedar hot tub.

Although not every trailer is an Airstream, they are all vintage. And perhaps the coolest perk is that two Airstreams have been converted into a bar and a food truck on the property.

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#belrepayre#appollo lounge#bar#retro#airstream#camping #glamping #france

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AutoCamp: Santa Barbara and Guerneville, California

With a location in Santa Barbara and one in Guerneville, AutoCamp has established itself as a reliable brand for people looking to do some luxury airstream camping. They’re opening a Yosemite location in February of 2019, too — meaning residents of the Golden State don’t have to go far to get the Airstream experience.

We’re big fans of both current locations, but we think the Guerneville one is slightly cooler because Sonoma redwoods and the Russian River make for a powerful backdrop. Regardless of which location you visit, you can expect flat TVs, plush Casper queen-sized beds, clawfoot tubs, patios with electric grills, and a mid-century modern aesthetic. These hotels also maintain fully stocked shops where you can snag local wine and beer, as well as snacks and camping essentials.

Certainly, Airstream hotels are trendy right now but AutoCamp’s driving motivation to use the trailers comes from concern for the preservation of the environment. By employing small space design, they are able to indulge a love of hotels and travel while reducing their overall environmental footprint. That’s very cool.

Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat: Joshua Tree, California

Joshua Tree has a hipster-vagabond appeal that began cementing itself as part of pop culture in the 1960s — when rock stars were big on desert trips. That appeal hasn’t waned in the intervening decades. If anything, it’s only increased as the internet has allowed creative urban refugees to continue working from this bohemian outpost. For people who need some of that desert energy without actually moving there, the delightful Hicksville — with its themed trailers — is ideal.

The site delivers on some gimmes, like The Pioneer (Western-themed) and The Integratrailor (alien-themed). But you’ll also find The Lux (themed for the punk band The Cramps), and The New World (named for Roger Corman’s studio) — a 40-foot trailer with bunk beds that convert into an editing suite.

The whole place runs on solar power and offers a ton of activities. Guests should for sure spend time in the heated saltwater pool, play some mini golf, and take in the sunset and the stars from the hot tub on the roof deck.

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BaseCamp Young Hostel Bonn: Bonn, Germany

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#indoorcamping #glamping 😊

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This is a legitimately weird hostel. So bizarre is it that we consider it a travel must… if only for one night. You simply have to experience it in person. With 13 vintage travel trailers, two sleeper trains, two Volkswagen buses, a rooftop tent on top of a GDR Trabant, a ski gondola and four Airstream trailers, there is a total of 120 beds on offer. That’s impressive, but it’s not strange. What makes this joint weird is that all of the vehicles are located in a former storage facility, making it the only indoor vintage faux camping locale on the planet.

Outfitted by German television and film set designer Marion Seul, each caravan has a unique theme that includes small front yards and oddball historic props. When you get hungry, wander outside BaseCamp and grab grub at the food van or toss back a few at the beer garden. This place is a wonderland.

The Airstream themes are Hollywood, Dallas, Bollywood, and Beachcamp. The overall vibe for each is strongly vintage Airstream, with a layer of themed décor. Bollywood is fully wood grained Formica cabinets and counters with some Indian fabrics and images of Hindu Gods. It’s not the luxurious aesthetic offered at some of the other destinations on the list, but it’s too odd to be overlooked.

Shooting Star RV Resort: Escalante, Utah

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More days like these, please.

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If people are going to Germany to stay in a Dallas-themed Airstream, then it should be no surprise that they would also travel to Utah to stay in Hollywood-themed Airstreams (although it still seems weird somehow). Designed to mirror the dressing trailers of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, the eight custom-designed Airstreams are specific to a star and a film. Choose from Ann-Margret’s Viva Las Vegas retreat, Robert Redford’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hideaway, Cary Grant’s North by Northwest refuge, Humphrey Bogart’s Key Largo sanctuary, Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot haven, John Wayne’s The Searchers shelter, Elvis’ Blue Hawaii paradise, Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s hidey-hole, and Lauren Bacall’s The Big Sleep nook.

Each set up tries to represent the feel of the film’s era and the actor’s character, but you can also expect flat screen HDTVs, queen-sized beds, showers, and fully outfitted kitchens.

Another awesome aspect of Shooting Star RV Resort is the outdoor movie theater, where you can reserve a classic car in which to sit and watch the film. You could bring your own chair and take a seat instead, but why would you forgo a sixties Cadillac for a lawn chair?

Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel: Landers, California

We love Kate Pierson of the B-52s, and although “Rock Lobster” has a special place in our hearts, lately it has been her work as a designer and owner of lodgings that has us captivated. We included Kate’s Lazy Meadow in our list of awesome cabins and her Lazy Desert outpost has some of our favorite Airstreams in the country. Six shiny silver trailers have been outfitted by Mayberry-Walker who created the Love Shack in the 1989 music video. The trailers are a riot of color and retro touches and range from 19 to 32 feet. All of them sleep two and have a bathroom and a small kitchenette. And as the hotel is in the high desert, guests will be glad to learn all the caravans are equipped with A/C and heat as well.

Landers is located just far enough from busy traffic and city light pollution to make watching the stars at night absolutely life-changing. Plus, you’re a reasonable drive from Joshua Tree if you want to take in that scene as part of your trip.

Grand Daddy Hotel: Cape Town, South Africa

One of the chicest stays in Cape Town, Grand Daddy Hotel has 26 standard rooms, a Mediterranean restaurant, two cocktail bars (one on the roof), and a rooftop cinema. But it’s best known for the seven themed vintage Airstream caravans on the roof. It’s a mini trailer park complete with landscaping and mailboxes. And when we say themed, we mean it. The designers went all in when they developed the aesthetics. We like the Beach House with its large mural of waves and palette of blue and white. And City Flights is actually papered with the personal aviation maps of the hotel’s owners. These are the most luxe Airstreams on this list. Between the artful design, the rooftop location, and their relation to the city, these have all the style of the travel trailer trend without any real feeling of roughing it.

Inspired by the movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, in which Juliette Lewis’ character lives in an Airstream, hotel owner Jody Aufrichtig traveled to Ohio to purchase the trailers.

The Vintages Trailer Resort: Dayton, OR

With a name that makes reference both to the region’s wineries as well as the midcentury caravans, The Vintages gives guests a chance to experience retro travel without having to negotiate life on the road. Located in the 14-acre Willamette Wine Country RV Park, The Vintages groups its immaculately restored accommodations in a small village that makes you feel like you are stepping back in time. And although the retro vibe is strong, it is more Instagram bait than kitsch nightmare. The mattresses are plush. The linens are fine hotel quality. Even the coffee is of the gourmet pour-over variety. And all of the trailers have a small patio area outside with a grill, a table, chairs, and an umbrella — so you have room to cook and chill outside if you want. To continue in an out of doors vein, borrow a few of the property’s cruisers and go for a ride or take a swim in the pool.

The interior designs really are appealing here, and each is unique. They aren’t themed as much as they are well styled. So be sure to bring a camera if you choose to stay here and maybe a vintage prop or costume.