Maybe it’s the gorgeous weather outside or just a rediscovered love for the outdoors, but lately I’m obsessed with using natural materials in interior spaces. And so, it seems, is everyone else!

Using wood in design is not exactly a new idea. Think traditional Swedish cottages, Atlantic beach houses, and pretty much the entire 1970s. But everything old is always new again, and the use of chunky wood furniture (finished or not) is really taking off again.

There is something relaxing about these hints of the wild, and getting in touch with the outdoors while indoors is never a bad idea.


Speaking of the great outdoors, we’ve just expanded to some pretty great outdoors of our own. This week we launched the Caribbean arm of Inhabit, and now have 40 incredible properties in The Bahamas and Barbados. Houses mere inches from the beach…talk about getting in touch with nature.

We’re really proud of these, and can’t think of a better place to be than on a beach, in the sand, with an elegant condo or bungalow ready to welcome you in the evening. So get packed, already!

See you next time, Inhabitants!


Part of the fun of Inhabit — what gets us up every morning and keeps us on the hunt for great properties — is showing our guests new places they might have never thought of, and bringing little-known awesomeness to their attention.

Then this week we added…PARIS! Hm. Paris isn’t exactly an out-of-the-way little burg. It’s not that popular cities are bad; Paris and Rome and San Francisco are popular for a reason! But chances are you already know about the Eiffel Tower, and you’ve heard of the Louvre (just in case, we’ve added it to the site, so don’t worry). But you might not know about the miraculous salt caramels at A l’Etoile d’Or, or that the best potato pancakes you’ll ever taste can be found at Boulevard Raspail Market. No matter how big and storied the destination, there are always hidden treasures to find. And that’s why we do this, because that never stops being exciting.

We’re bringing you the Paris that you might not meet if you just follow the tour group. And that, Inhabitants, is kind of a big job. We’d love to spend all our time wandering around amazing cities seeking out fresh experiences (the logistics of that are just murder!), but we can’t. Because of that, and just because we’re nosy, we’d love to hear about some of your favorite haunts in Paris. Or anywhere! You guys have great taste (I mean, you are reading this blog after all) so give us some ideas. And in return, we’ll try to keep bringing you the kinds of experiences that make life truly special.



Usually I’m not a big fan of synthesized words. Dramedy, edutainment, rockumentary…but sometimes there’s just no other way to describe something. Take “glamping”, for instance. Wait, what? Glamping, you guys. Glamorous camping.

When you think about camping, you think nylon tents and waking up with gravel in the small of your back. There’s definitely a time and place for truly roughing it, but if you’re like us, you want a little swank with your s’mores.

Enter glamping. Glamping Hub is the brainchild of David Troya and Ruben Martinez, who travel the world finding ridiculously lush places to stay — that just happen to be outside. It’s definitely a niche, but it’s such an incredibly cool one that I can’t stop scanning the pages and imagining my next vacation.

There are gorgeous glamping spots in the US, Canada, Africa, Europe, Australia, and Asia. So whether your taste runs to a Kenyan wildlife reserve or a particularly plush English yurt, you’re covered. Suddenly I’m liking the word “glamping” a lot.

It’s a really cool way to get back to nature without, you know, getting a rash anywhere unseemly. It also just looks plain amazing. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go drool over tents.


One of the central ideas at Inhabit is the concept of learning to travel in a way that reflects who you are. We are focused on aesthetics, but there’s more to us than that — and more to you. You love great design, and you’re also passionate about animal welfare; you name grape varietals like most people name television characters, and the urgent need for medical care in developing countries breaks your heart. You love staying in luxurious digs, but it means the most to you that everyone have a roof over their heads.

So what do vacation rentals have to do with the ASPCA, Doctors Without Borders, and Habitat for Humanity?

There’s this amazing organization called Geronimo that auctions off time at awesome vacation rentals all over the world, and donates at least 50% of the proceeds to hundreds of non-profit organizations. Property owners donate time, you go on vacation, and the charity that means the most to you gets much-needed funds. You can either search by travel location, or by charity.

For vacation rental owners, it’s a great way to do something good for the world while doing what you do best. You donate time and pick the charity, and your guests get a great trip and get to do good while they’re at it.

We’re really loving Geronimo right now; check them out and take a trip you can feel especially good about.


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When I travel, it’s the sense of unfamiliarity and newness that drives me. Being able to say, “I’ve never seen that before” is why I travel. Travel is letting yourself be a stranger in a strange land, navigating roads and customs, and experiencing a million tiny things for the first time.

And then, there’s that moment — around day three — when you’re tired and a tiny bit grouchy and you realize you forgot your leave-in conditioner and why in the world would anyone tuck the sheets in this tightly to the foot of the bed and suddenly it hits you: I am Not at Home. And all at once that exciting otherness turns into a yearning for familiarity. So how do you bridge the gap between the two?

At the airport I see people schlepping pillows and blankets, special shoes and eye masks, end tables and mattress toppers and wall sconces…and I wonder if they totally redecorate their rooms when they arrive, hanging art and re-carpeting all in the hopes of making away seem a little more like home. And I get it; it feels better to have that little touch of home — of self — around you when you’re in a new place.

What are your tips and tricks for staying comfortable so that travel keeps being fun after the first blush has faded? Get yourself to the comments and let us know, because we’re always looking for ways to make travel even better.

For us, vacation rentals are the perfect compromise. You’re in someone’s home, with all the comforts and touches of personality that help you relax and find your place in a new city. A fun bonus is that you get to pretend you live there (or maybe I’m the only one who does that).

Homey and relaxed in Sonoma

A farmhouse cottage you can call your own


Not surprisingly, we’re still thinking about our Portland adventure. On one of our epic afternoon jaunts (I think we covered the whole city at least three times on foot) we stumbled upon Merriweather’s Restaurant. It instantly became a recommendation on our site, because what we thought would be simply a charming local eatery turned out to be a force of local cuisine, supplying their kitchen from their own farm. Now it’s not news that locally sourced food is a popular thing, but it is inspiring how commonplace it is becoming, when it’s something that seemed so unusual just a handful of years ago.

Hydroponic Basil from Plant'It Earth in San Francisco

Of course Portland isn’t the only city that gets in on the locally grown fun. Here in San Francisco garden-supply store Plant’It Earth grows hydroponic basil which becomes lunch at nearby cafe, Mojo. The Mission district’s Stable Cafe sources its ingredients from local farms and suppliers. And there are countless other examples where those came from.

So why are we talking about it on a vacation rental blog? Well, local food connects you to the heart of a place. It’s one thing to slide into a booth at a national chain and order something you’ve had a million times. But it is a different thing entirely to eat (and live) like a local. The soil and water that grow the salad on your plate are part of the land around you. And the essence of a place is felt more easily when you use all your senses to capture it.

Farm-to-table at Merriweather's Restaurant

It’s one thing to get a room at a national hotel but another entirely to spend your time in a local home, wandering the local neighborhoods, pretending just for a while that you live there. While there’s nothing at all wrong with hotels (heck, we like them, too!), it’s a different experience to inhabit rather than just visit.

Getting a little esoteric here, aren’t we? Sorry about that. But this is why we do what we do — because we believe that throwing yourself into the tastes and smells and culture of a place is a the best way to experience it. it’s the difference between looking at a postcard and walking through a town square.

Everyone knows Sonoma is cool, but spending your trip in a hip, urban, and decidedly local home in Petaluma’s ultra-cool warehouse district opens you up to a side of the area you might not otherwise see. And staying in a classic Haight Ashbury flat is different than just reading about the Summer of Love.

Local cool in Petaluma

We’re here, and we hope you are too, to experience everything we can. To run headlong into new cities and learn what it’s like to actually live there, rather than just reading what’s printed on the flyleaf of the guidebook.

Until next time,


Classic Gem in the Heart of the City


Well, our Pacific Northwest adventure (at least this part of it) is at an end. We spent a week wandering starry-eyed around Portland, eating food from carts and, well, way too many red velvet cupcakes. Seriously, it was a problem and we’re both on red velvet detox now (I’m not even going to mention the Voodoo Doughnuts Incident).

Portland is one of those cities everyone waxes rhapsodic about at every turn. And if you’re of a certain contrary bent, you might resist loving it simply because everyone else does (Rebecca was forced to listen to my meandering story of how I never wanted to see Dirty Dancing because everyone thought it was so great). But Portland (and Dirty Dancing — let’s be frank) is fantastic.

I’d be remiss in my blogging duties if I didn’t mention the food. Portland is the home to a crazy array of food carts. And while the phrase “food cart” may evoke images of fried dough and pale yellow cheese sauce, in Portland it translates to hand-rolled sushi and fresh pierogi.

We got to meet with Brent, CEO of fellow vacation rental whiz kids Second Porch, and get invaluable advice on how to grow, and how to enjoy the process along the way.

When we weren’t snapping photographs and eating cupcakes, we were making inroads for our expansion! That’s right, Inhabitants, we’re expanding to Portland! Savvy site sleuths might have already noticed that we have added two Portland properties to our family: the luxe Pearl condo owned by the über-fabulous Michelle, and a hip, comfortable condo nestled between the Pearl and Nob Hill. But we’re just getting started. We realized that if we love Portland that much, chances are our stylish readers will, too. So stay tuned as we head north and bring you even more awesome places to call home.

Until next time,


Oh, and one more thing: are you checking out our Facebook page? If not, you should be, because all sorts of silliness, tons of pictures, and upcoming contests are in the works.

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This guest post is brought to you by Matt Carroll and who, as you may remember, is a site we love using to split the cost of group travel.

Vacations are supposed to be a time of fun, relaxation, and recovery. You travel to escape the stresses of work, home, and the incessant demands on your time and energy. Your vacation, your trip; it’s all about you, until you hear…

“MOM! I can’t find my underwear!”

“Dave…I think I lost the passports”

“Laura, you better call the embassy. Mike got caught feeding the lemurs again.”

Oh right, your travel companions.

Vacations can certainly be more fun with friends or family but as the group grows so does the responsibility. Unfortunately, this can often fall to one person (you) who spends the whole trip buying the tickets, counting heads, and converting dollars to pesos in order to bail someone out of la cárcel.

If you’re the one booking your group’s rental on Inhabit Vacations right now, chances are you’re also the one your friends, coworkers, or family depend on to be responsibility-captain. At WePay, we believe doing things together should be simple, fun, and secure. By enabling groups to collect funds safely online (and send automatic reminders to individuals who’ve yet to stake their share), we help ease the financial headaches that plague those charged with the task of collecting funds and coordinating fellow travelers.

Of course, paying for your group vacation is only half the battle. You’ve also got to plan where you’ll go, what you’ll be doing, what kind of lodging you’ll require – all while trying to accommodate a diverse set of personalities. Never fear. We’ve got you covered. To ensure that your trip is worth all that saving, planning, and effort, follow these four steps:

1. To Escape Debate: Delegate

Being the principal organizer of a group is a little bit like being a Major League Baseball manager: No one notices you when things go right and everyone blames you when things go wrong. Help yourself to avoid the arguing and frustration by delegating some responsibilities. Give one person the duty of researching transportation and to another give the task of finding housing options. If you’re taking care of the entire destination planning for a family trip, assign someone else the job of all pre-departure arrangements. Not only will you have more time to enjoy your travels, your companions will feel that they have a say in the itinerary, too.

2. Flexibility Is Your Friend

People love options. Have you ever seen the size of the menu at The Cheesecake Factory? We can’t get enough of our choices. So while you may be forced to make many of your arrangements in advance, give yourself and your group some room to call an audible and switch the play (forgive the obligatory football metaphor, but it is Super Bowl Week after all). Besides, no matter the destination, you’ll learn soon after arriving that there’s only so much the guidebooks can tell you in advance. Beware the dangers of being married to your schedule. That rock formation may be fascinating and I’m sure the wine tasting is truly exquisite, but traveling can be exhausting. Give yourself, and others, some unstructured downtime to recoup.

3. Separation Is Natural

Whether going away for a long weekend or several weeks or more, it’s always great to have companionship on the road. But even the best of friends can begin to rub each other the wrong way. With maximum exposure to one another flaws and pet peeves become glaringly apparent; in the blink of an eye Sleepy, Bashful, and Sneezy can transform into Gassy, Moody, and “Oh-my-God-would-someone-please-get-him-a-Claritin.” Surrounded by tourists both familiar and strange everyday can wear a person out. Try to plan some time for people to pursue personal interests and have some alone time. It might just save your trip – not to mention your friendships.

4. Be a Traveler, not a Tourist

You’re already halfway there just by landing at Inhabit Vacations, which puts you in the heart of a neighborhood of your destination. Nothing against Holiday Inn or Marriot (except for the issue surrounding those towels they claim I stole – I thought they were free, okay?), but a sterile hotel room is basically the same wherever you go. Every city, town, and village has its own unique culture and identity. Why miss out on that? Hotels (and fronting the cash solo for your trip) are for tourists. Wouldn’t you rather be a traveler? Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way.

(Rebecca’s note: Thanks to WePay for the helpful tips and reminders about staying sane when traveling with a group!)


The travel review site TripAdvisor released the results of its annual survey this month. After tallying results from over 1,400 travelers who responded, here are 5 key trends that can help us all better prepare for the year ahead.


Inhabit's very own paradise lodge in Kenwood, in the thick of Wine Country. An ideal destination for groups and families, this is one reason travelers are flocking to vacation rentals.

1. People are falling in love with vacation rentals

In 2010, 33% of respondents had stayed in a vacation rental. A full 40% plan to stay in a vacation rental in 2011. The US vacation rental market, already estimated at $24 billion, is clearly set to expand in the coming year.

2. Elbow room and amenities matter more than price

While travelers love the value vacation rentals offer, they prioritize things like the extra space and convenience of having a kitchen. Specifically, 28% of travelers cite space as the main draw of vacation rentals, compared with 13% who cite the lower cost compared with hotels. Price matters, but it isn’t what matters most.

3. Photos, photos, photos

The biggest determinant of whether someone rents a particular property is the photos. In the survey, 42% of respondents cited photos as the biggest influencer, compared with 27% for traveler reviews, and 13% for price.

4. Internet is king, but friends matter too

A whopping 70% of travelers found their vacation rentals on a vacation rental site; 55% found their rental on a travel site. Word of mouth still counts for a lot, as 25% found their vacation rental through a friend or family member.

5. Opportunity knocks

Perhaps the most poignant finding from the survey is what a large opportunity still awaits this industry. While some savvy travelers have rented vacation homes for decades, out of the 2/3 of travelers who did not stay in a vacation rental last year, 22% said they simply hadn’t thought of it. Another 14% said they felt they had a better idea of what they were getting from hotels. A big opportunity exists for us all to tell travelers about the world that awaits them, once they let vacation rentals unlock the door.

As a little addendum, another trend some Inhabit hosts are noticing is that travelers are booking more during the low season to take advantage of off-season rates. What other trends are you noticing emerge in your business?


One of my favorite things about my job is that I have to stay current on all the cool things other people are doing. Inhabit is constantly evolving, and getting inspiration from our peers is one of the ways we stay fresh.

In the course of my digging, I sometimes come across ideas so great that I just have to share them with the world. Here are two that have struck my fancy of late.

1. WePay

Vacation rentals are simply perfect for group travel. Comparing the price of multiple hotel rooms to a multi-bedroom house, even the ickiest of hotels is almost always pricier. Plus, it’s so fun to cook group meals in decked-out kitchens, rather than uncomfortably split the bill at a restaurant.

The only downside to sharing a vacation rental home with a big group is collecting money from everyone. Inevitably, one poor sap gets stuck acting as group treasurer, footing the bill on his credit card and hounding his friends to cough up their share. Talk about a vacation buzz kill!

Pay up, buddy!

A company I recently disovered called WePay helps ease the pain of collecting money for group events. In a nutshell, WePay makes it super simple to collect money from your friends–you simply enter your friends’ email addresses and the amount to be collected from each person. WePay takes care of the correspondence and the payment processing (50 cents if they pay with bank transfer, or you can offer a credit card option with a fee of 3.5%).

I’m very much a fan of group travel, and very much against shaking down friends for money, so I am thrilled that WePay is there to ease the process! Book your next bachelorette party or family reunion in a vacation rental and collect money with zen-like composure.

2. One Fine Stay (the “Unhotel”)

Say you’re the owner of a posh London flat who travels frequently. What a shame that your flat sits empty…and hey, wouldn’t it be nice to make some extra cash while you’re away by renting it to tourists? But you’re far too busy to market and manage a full-out vacation rental. Well sir, One Fine Stay has your number!

This wonky British company basically turns people’s homes into little hotels while the owners are out of town. They offer white-glove service, carefully catalogue each item in the flat, and promise to put it back just the way the owner left it.

My new thing: houseboat unhotels.

I had a million questions swimming my head within 5 seconds of finding this site. Luckily, co-founder Greg Marsh and Evan Frank obliged me and answered all million. Yes, the concept is basically to set up a hotel with rooms scattered across the city. Yes, they know it’s a logistics nightmare. That’s why they consider themselves to be a logistics company. Yes, it’s ambitious. And yes, I will so use them next time I’m in London.

Don’t you just love it when people have good ideas?


A Vacation Rental with a Side of History and Art

by Rebecca December 20, 2010

I was lucky enough to be invited to stay in a beautiful vacation rental in Taos, New Mexico. Taos is a magical place to begin with, but this particular home captured the wonder of the area so spectacularly that I just had to share it. The owners have inhabited the Taos estate for several years […]

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The Scoop on the New Sonoma Vacation Rental Permit

by Rebecca November 23, 2010

As you may have heard, Sonoma County is the latest community tightening its regulation of vacation rental properties. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance in early November requiring vacation rental owners to obtain a permit starting January 2011. The ordinance requires existing vacation rentals with 6 or fewer rooms to obtain a […]

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Weekly Round-Up: Tourist Stalking, Drinking Away Your Troubles, and Some Quick Therapy

by Rebecca November 19, 2010

The final weekend before the holiday season officially starts is upon us, and we’ve got some nice escapist diversions lined up for you. This weekend is the Vinters Market at Fort Mason. Tastings are included in the ticket price of $40/$50 (at the door). Time to stock up for your holiday parties! If you really […]

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Off-The-Beaten-Path Wineries Around Sonoma

by Sarah G November 15, 2010

As we all know, the Sonoma Wine Country has tons of wineries, which can make for a fun weekend getaway. But where’s the fun in elbowing your way to the wine tasting counter, or yelling over the shrill sound of tipsy tourists when trying to engage in a conversation? I don’t know about you, but […]

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Weekly Round-up: Animation Fest, Food & Wine Fare, and iPhone Auto Correct

by Sarah G November 12, 2010

Happy Friday! Has everyone adjusted to Daylight Saving yet? Yeah… didn’t think so. Is everyone ready for the coming holiday season? Yeah… didn’t think so either. Well, on a completely unrelated note, enjoy this week’s Weekly Round-up! Local Events Here’s a really awesome sounding event– The 5th Annual SF Int’l Animation Festival (Nov. 11-14). This […]

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