Friday Fun: Stay in a Gingerbread Hotel

 

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and while lots of us travel, it isn’t always for fun. So in case you need a sweet break from the festivus fracas, check out Gingerbread BNB. This booking site allows you to take a virtual vacation in the name of a good cause— and here’s the fun bit: these holiday hotels are made out of gingerbread and candy. Choose from one of three confectionary constructions: a super-modern pad, a traditionally rustic cabin, or a retro-style camper, then choose the amount of nights you want to “stay.” The price you pay for those nights, which ranges from US$5 to US$20 a night, is then donated to Robin Hood, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York City.

The details in the residences are examples of some truly remarkable candy crafsmanship: savor the Swedish fish hanging in the cabin and the mint cookie abstracts adorning the walls of the modern pad. My favorite edible element is the nut-mix chimney in the rustic cabin—a detail I’ve noted for the next time I foray into gingerbread development.

So go ahead, “treat” yourself (and someone in need) with your own little gingerbread getaway.

Photos via http://www.gingerbreadbnb.com.

Yosemite National Parks in Photos

 

Adventures in Glamping: Yosemite National Park

Last Saturday morning, I woke up not the usual sounds of the clanking garbage trucks, honking traffic, and weekend morning rattle of one of the most populous cities in the country, but to the steady rushing of rain on a canvas roof. It took a minute to orient myself in the cozy gray light—then I remembered that we’d traded our city digs for the white and wood of a hillside yurt, just outside of Yosemite National Park.

It was the first year we weren’t traveling for Thanksgiving Day, so we decided to take advantage of the long weekend and head to the mountains. We knew it was going to be cold and potentially snowy, so we ruled out a tent and decided to embrace the “glamping” trend by renting one of the yurts at Yosemite Lakes Resort.

For centuries, yurts have been a portable, bent dwelling structure traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia as their homes. More recently, they’ve become one of the hot-ticket abodes to rent for those too weary (or wary) to go tent-camping.

Yosemite Lakes, a division of Thousand Trails, has two yurt villages—a hillside yurt village and a river yurt village. We accidentally drove to the river yurt village first, and though it sounds picturesque, we ultimately decided we’d made the right choice to go for a hillside yurt. The hillside yurts were positioned far off the main road, which meant they were nice and quiet, and had lovely mountain views.

For two nights, we paid $261 for our yurt, and it easily rivaled some hotel rooms we had paid more for. In terms of food prep, it came equipped with a kitchenette (full fridge, stove top, microwave, and full-size coffeemaker), dining set, and a propane grill on the front deck, which meant we could leave our heavy camp stove at home and forgo the charcoal, which can be hard to find this time of year. (For those who want a more rustic experience, it also came with a grated fire pit, for campfire roasts and dutch ovens—and we definitely took advantage of it for s’mores roasting later in the evening!) Our yurt also had a full-size futon and a small TV, a queen-sized bed, and a propane-powered cast-iron stove for heat. Linens were included. It was so cozy to lay in bed with a nicely controlled fire to keep us toasty! Our bathroom was (almost embarrassingly) larger than our bathroom in San Francisco, with a shower, closet space, and shelving for toiletries.

Do note though, that the yurt location is completely off the grid in terms of cell service and Wi-Fi. We loved it—it felt great to completely unplug. In case you do need to check email, there’s Wi-Fi at both the check-in area and the Family Lodge.

In terms of location, ours was one of the most conveniently close campgrounds outside of the park. Evergreen Lodge is closer to Heth-Hetchy Resevoir, which is an extension of Yosemite, but to get to Yosemite Village, you had to take an incredibly long and windy road. Yosemite Lakes was a pretty straight shot (about five miles) to the park gates, and then a spectacular drive down to the Valley.

In truth, we’d ruled out Yosemite Lakes because it looked at first glance like an RV campground. But it kept turning up in searches, so eventually I looked a little harder. It is technically an RV campground, but they also have the yurts as well as cabins for rent. It was too chilly for outdoor activities while we were there, but it had a mini golf course and a pool, and in the family lodge (which also had Wi-Fi) there was a pool table and ping-pong, a robust take-one-leave-one bookshelf (mostly with dishy romance novels and YA fiction), boardgames, and a popcorn machine.

Though this was our first foray into glamping, it definitely had its upsides. It was incredibly convenient not to have to schlepp all our more hardcore gear out of the city (and out of the closet), but still be so close to nature. And while we like to imagine we’re more hardcore than this trend, I can easily see us on another yurt adventure in the not-so-distant future.

It’s a Small World for Airbnb

Carve out a few minutes today to check out this amazing ad by Airbnb. Tired of CGI, the creative teams at Airbnb used real miniature-making techniques to create a teensy-tiny world, which the viewer tours on the back of a train. Mechanical transitions make the set feel like it’s unfolding right in front of your eyes, and hundreds of lovingly crafted details—the moss on the side of the road, the gilded architectural details, tiny bricks and doors and people reading newspapers—make the viewing experience positively enchanting.

(Even more fascinating is the making of video, also included below). My favorite quote from the creative:

“What made the concept attractive to us is…the part of making the world a smaller place. That’s what Airbnb stands for and what magically happens when you travel and when you have local experiences.”

There’s a part in the video where the rooms are literally rotating around the train, peeling back door by door to reveal another room, then another room. It’s a wonderful way of illustrating how the world opens up the more you travel, and the constant motion and flow of the train makes you feel like you’ve completed a jolly little journey by the time the spot is over.

Santa Cruz in Photos

After spending the bulk of the last eight years on the chilly east coast (notable exception: that one time in Thailand), I have to admit, I’m loving the warm fall weather. We took a day trip down to visit my younger brother on one of his last undergraduate weekends—sunshine and blue skies all the way! California dreamin’…

Adventurous Hotel Rooms Around the World

David and I just booked a long weekend trip to Yosemite, where we’ll be yurt camping. I’m pretty excited—I’ve always been fascinated with unconventional (well, for the Western world) dwellings and buildings that let you get close to your outside environment. I know yurt camping (ugh, do I have to call it “glamping”?) has gotten really big recently, and I got to wondering what were some other alternatives that fell between tent and hotel on the lodging spectrum?

Lucky for me, Buzzfeed UK came out with a post today featuring unique lodgings around the world. From cave rooms in Greece to treehouses in Costa Rica to rooftop huts in Israel, this is a list chock full of adventurous places to rest your head. What’s the craziest place you’ve ever stayed while on vacation? Anyone done igloo camping?