11 Funky Places to Stay in North Carolina This Holiday Season

Shelby's inimitable Cozy School Bus rental.

By Vanessa Infanzon

November 10, 2022

From a hobbit house to a hippie bus to a shipping container on the beach, NC’s hosts get creative with overnight accommodations.

With the holidays coming, family get-togethers are inevitable. If the visit necessitates an overnight stay, consider a unique rental in North Carolina, rather than booking a room at the local hotel.

It supports local business owners and sometimes the prices may be more reasonable than national brands.

We perused short-term rentals for groovy places to lay your head this holiday season. Imagine the stories you’ll have to tell at the dinner table – maybe Aunt Jean won’t ask so many questions about your love life when you regale her with stories about bison, buses and tiny homes. Read on for more details.

Airstream on the River

If you’ve dreamed of touring the country in an RV, this is your chance to try it out before going on the open road. This 1984 Airstream is 34 feet long with a small bathroom, galley kitchen and a bed that requires climbing in and out. A wood stove will keep you warm on winter nights. The vehicle sits on the French Broad River and offers private river access. It’s within a bike ride on the Wilma Dykeman Greenway to the River Arts District and New Belgium Brewing Company. 

This renovated AirBnB rental, Belle of the Block Historic Home, was featured on the Magnolia Network recently.

Belle of the Block Historic Home

Eight-year AirBnB veteran and Superhost (seasoned host and provides a great experience for guests) Nancy Rosborough rents a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit and a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. The renovated home was featured on the Magnolia Network’s food-driven docuseries, “From the Source,” hosted by Katie Button, an Asheville-based chef.

Cherry Treesort: Live like a hobbit at this home built into the side of a hill in China Grove.

Cherry Treesort
China Grove
Fans of “The Hobbit” won’t have a hard time envisioning Frodo living here, a 400-square-foot home on 27 acres, built into the side of a hill. Its round door opens to an entryway that leads to the living area, bedroom and bathroom. 

The interior of the Cozy School Bus.

Cozy School Bus
Although this bus is red, relive your school days in a 1983 bus, renovated to include a double bed, bathroom with a shower, living area and an outdoor patio. 

Floating Condo
Lake Norman
Spend your holiday stay on a 48-foot motor yacht on Lake Norman’s shore. The yacht includes two queen staterooms, two baths, a galley (kitchen), a salon (living room), a party deck with minifridge and four TVs. The beach is private with a firepit.

Gangstas Paradise: Hip-Hop Loft
Decorated as a tribute to OG rappers and their music, this loft offers modern amenities in a building built in the early 1900s. Exposed brick, ductwork and wood make for a cool aesthetic. The kitchen, bathroom and living space sit below a loft bedroom and small workspace up a narrow spiral staircase.

That’s right. Rent a shipping container at Carolina Beach.

Modern Beach Container Home
Carolina Beach
With easy access to the beach, this shipping container has a contemporary and minimalist feel. The 320-square feet of space holds a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living area. Glass doors open to the outdoor deck.

Roost 20
Test out the tiny home idea before committing full-time. Roost 20 is a 20-foot luxury tiny home parked on a secluded section of a four-acre historic farm. Enjoy the handcrafted sofa, kitchen, full bath with a flush toilet and the loft’s queen-size bed. With views of Hanging Rock and sunsets, you may decide this is the life you’re meant to live.

Seaboard Coast Line #0887
Wake up to bison grazing in the field, next to this renovated 1960s train caboose. The train is on a 65-acre buffalo ranch in the Smoky Mountains. It has a full kitchen, one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a cupola with a full-size bed and a living room with a pull-out twin sleeper sofa. Guests can feed bison from Buffalo Creek’s viewing area.

Stoked Bus 


Give in to your inner hippie and stay on board the Stoked Bus, less than 10 minutes from downtown Asheville. It features a bed, kitchen, flush toilet and shower, air conditioning and a private hot tub.

Woodland Chalet
Set within the mountain retreat, Taproot Sanctuary, this treehouse requires a 150-foot hike on an incline to reach it. A living area, kitchen and bathroom fill the 12-foot by 12-foot space and the queen bed is in the loft. An outdoor shower promises hot water when it’s not below freezing. Guests can enjoy the forest from the deck.


  • Vanessa Infanzon

    Vanessa Infanzon moved from New York to NC for college and never left. When she’s not writing, she’s paddle boarding at the Whitewater Center.

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