From Home Alone to Hobbits: Unique Stays Across the World

By Room Service / BT Editor
December 16, 2022
Hobbiton home - courtesy of

Live the Home Alone experience at this Illinois hotel

The Kevin McAllister Experience - courtesy of the Graduate Hotel

It’s December, and depending on who holds power in the relationship, the TV is left perpetually on the Hallmark channel or rotates between a selection of actually enjoyable holiday movies that involve gratuitous violence – like Die Hard and Home Alone (come at me). If you’re a fan of the latter (and who isn’t?), it might be worth taking a trip to the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, where the Graduate Hotel has created a Home Alone-themed room decorated just like the McCallisters’ master bedroom. For those that don’t know, Evanston was a filming location for two of the films.

What’s in the package?

The aptly named King McCallister Experience sees the room decked out to replicate the master suite in Kevin McCallister’s house, featuring:

  • A large cheese pizza delivered in a Little Nero’s Box
  • A four-poster bed
  • A minibar and fridge stocked with Kev’s favorite snacks from the film
  • A classic TV running Angels with Dirty Souls
  • VHS of the Home Alone movies and the Grinch
  • An entire room filled with trinkets and details from the film, down to Paris flight tickets on the table and Brut Classic in the sink

Step inside a work of art at this geometric New York forest home

Geometric home in New York - courtesy of

This mesmerizing geometric art piece just happens to have space inside to live. Hidden in the woods of the Hudson Valley on 30 preserved acres, its curious appearance opens into a playful wooden masterpiece that offers something different from every angle. The reading window is a standout feature, as highlighted in Architectural Digest, letting the inhabitant feel as close to the surrounding forest as possible. Serene, brilliant, and thought-provoking.

About the space:

  • It has zero bedrooms, it can sleep 3! There is a futon queen bed, 1 sleeper futon sofa, one single futon bed.
  • At the entry porch, an orb of wood carved out of the house will welcome you into a play of geometry. Situated around one main volume and open to the second level, the kitchen is placed in the center.
  • Instead of fossil fuel, the house is heated geothermally. Instead of grid power, the house has electricity from the sun. We are sensitive to the environment and respect its ecological balance.
  • The wood stove is highly efficient and keeps the space warm in the Hudson Valley winter. Guest have access to a large supply of wood stacked outside the house.
  • The design allows the air to flow when all the doors and windows are open, in addition the floor heat is connected to be cooling in the summer.

Learn more or book your stay on Airbnb today.

Book a stay at the real Hobbiton for $10

Hobbiton home - courtesy of

Hobbits of the world, rejoice. For the first time ever, the real Hobbiton set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies is listed on Airbnb. While hundreds, if not thousands, of imitation stays have appeared over the years, the original set has remained open purely for day visits. But in celebration of the tenth anniversary of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the owners are allowing three individual two-night stays for up to four people. All for $10 a night.

Those lucky enough to grab one of the three stays will enjoy:

  • Overnight accommodation in your very own hobbit house (not the hole itself)
  • Personal daytime access to a private hobbit hole for afternoon tea and relaxation
  • An evening banquet at the Green Dragon featuring beef and ale stew and whole roast chickens
  • Second breakfasts and elevenses, of course
  • A private, behind-the-scenes tour of the movie set

How to book: As with other Airbnb listings, this isn’t a competition per se. The three dates (March 2-4, March 9-11, and March 16-18, 2023) will go live on the 14th of December. It’s down to you to be the first to grab them.

Experience the future of sustainability at this Canadian lakeside shipping container home

Lakeside shipping container home - courtesy of

Shipping container homes are all the rage these days, but it’s a challenge making such bland objects look attractive from the outside. Designer David Penner succeeded where others failed and made recycling sexy with this Airbnb stay. It’s a striking addition to the Canadian lakeside landscape, yet somehow manages not to feel out of place.

The towering balcony gazing out over the water is particularly wonderful, perfect for quiet Sunday morning coffee. Kick back and enjoy the views through the floor to ceiling windows, or cozy up on the EQ3 sectional in front of the woodstove and live your best life. Whether that's a glass of wine, a board game, or a favorite movie—this place is made for relaxing and reconnecting. Relive childhood slumber parties with the double over double bunkbeds or create new memories with your own kids. The yard slopes gently down to the lake where you can ice fish, snow shoe or hike.

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Most Festive US Cities to Visit for the Holidays

Sleigh bells are ringing, snow is glistening, while Mariah Carey serenades shoppers at department stores — it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Which of the 200 biggest U.S. cities most resemble a scene out of a Hallmark movie? LawnStarter made a list of 2022’s Most Festive Cities and checked it twice. They looked for cities with bags of fun, like holiday festivals and European-style Christmas markets serving delicious goodies. Of course, no winter wonderland is complete without snow, so LawnStarter also measured the average snowfall in each city to find the most Instagram-worthy backdrops. Buffalo, New York Rotary Rink in Buffalo - courtesy of To rub icy elbows with your pal Jack Frost, head to Upstate New York. Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester are true winter wonderlands, boasting excellent walk scores and the highest average snowfalls among all 200 cities. There’s plenty of merrymaking to be had in these frigid cities, but you’ll need the warmest pair of winter boots — or even snowshoes — and a well-insulated coat. The region already hit an icy milestone, a historic 4 feet of snow in a single day, back in November. Buffalo, NY is especially festive, as the city also boasts a second place ranking for most ice skating rinks. While it may not have as many festivals or shopping options as some of the other top-ranked cities, Buffalo is the perfect place for those looking to enjoy the wintery outdoors. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Philadelphia's Christmas Village - courtesy of Philadelphia took a respectable sixth place in the list's "merrymaking" and "entertaining" categories, and has the fourth most skating rinks on the list. The city of brotherly love is home to one of the most exciting holiday markets. Inspired by the Germans, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village takes center stage at LOVE Park every winter. Treat yourself to waffles, gingerbread, and bratwurst, then wash it all down with some warm mulled wine. Let your kids take a spin on a vintage carousel, while you browse through trinkets and other crafts from international artisans. Chicago, Illinois Christkindlmarket - courtesy of Chicago ranked as the fourth overall most festive city, taking second place in the "eating and drinking" category. In addition to great food, Chicago has the fifth most shopping centers and department stores making it a great place to find gifts for everyone on your list. Visitors will want to be sure to stop at the city's annual Christkindlmarket, modeled after the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany—and try some authentic Glühwein, or mulled wine, imported all the way from Germany. The market starts in mid-November and ends Christmas Eve. Denver, Colorado Mile High Tree - courtesy of Denver ranked high for "frolicking" and "eating and drinking" categories, and tied with a handful of other cities for second most holiday markets. Visitors will find the Mile High Tree lit up at Civic Center Park and several festive light displays at the Denver Botanic Gardens. While not directly located in the city, Denver is also a gateway to the Rocky Mountains and several wonderful ski resorts and pristine snowy mountain scenery. For an extra festive experience, consider making a short trip to the Victorian-inspired town, Georgetown. Now in its 62nd year, the Georgetown Christmas Market describes itself as “the quintessential winter town event, right out of a Christmas movie.” Don’t miss St. Nicholas touring the town or the Georgetown Community School carolers singing a traditional Swedish Christmas tune. Las Vegas, Nevada The Venetian Christmas Tree - courtesy of For some people, cold weather might not sound as enticing. Despite the lack of snowfall, Las Vegas took the #2 overall spot for most festive city thanks to its plentiful holiday shopping options. Those that love the holidays but prefer warmer climates will find this city to be the best option for a festive way to celebrate. In addition to the typical gambling and nightlife fun of sin city, Las Vegas has the second-most holiday festivals, second-most shopping centers and department stores, and fourth most holiday decoration shops. New York, New York Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree - courtesy of Kids from 1 to 92 will find it hard to sleep in The City That Never Sleeps. New York is the #1 overall most festive city for the second year in a row. Earning over 32 points more than Las Vegas, our silver-bell medalist, the Big Apple dominated four out of five categories in our holiday ranking. It has the most holiday festivals, most holiday markets, most holiday decoration ships, and the fifth most ice skating rinks. No other city holds a fir-scented candle to America’s most popular tourist destination. It would take a miracle on 34th Street to beat the city with the most holiday festivals, attractions, music venues, gift shops. Only in New York will you find time-honored traditions like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting, and the Times Square Ball Drop. So, if you want a unique holiday experience, add New York to your bucket list. — Click here to read about all the other festive cities that topped LawnStarter's list.


The Best Hot Springs Near Reno, Nevada

There are more hot springs in and around Reno than anyone knows what to do with. Some are through resorts while most others are natural. Some of them even have campsites near to offer an overnight soak under the stars. Here are the top 10 favorites! 1. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs This hot spring, near Mammoth Lakes, CA, is open year-round, has beautiful views, and always has close to perfect water temperature coming in anywhere from 95-105 degrees. Upon arrival, there is a boardwalk leading to two hot spring pools. One of the pools is much larger and deeper than the average hot spring pool appealing to bigger groups. They both have cement and have been built-up to keep them in pristine condition. 2. Hilltop Tub Hot Springs Yet another hot spring in Mammoth, CA with a view of the Eastern Sierra. This pool is on the littler side so arriving early or going during the week may be key to getting a secluded experience. It is a man-made stone pool with a valve for slight control of the temperature. This is one of the places that nude soaking is more popular. 3. Travertine Hot Springs Travertine Hot Springs, California - Courtesy of Shaw This area is easily accessible and has multiple pools making it easy to share which is needed at this high traffic popular hot spring. The name of these pools most likely came from the rich gray travertine mud that lines the floors and is known for its restorative properties. This is one of the places that nude soaking is more popular. 4. Buckeye Springs This warm waterfall like experience pours down from the springs above into a warm pool between the banks of the Buckeye creek (CA) and a steep sidewall. The sound of the falling water brings a different kind of relaxation to the hot springs. There is nearby camping at Buckeye Campground. This is one of the places that nude soaking is more popular. 5. Soldier Meadows Hot Springs There are 4-6 places to get in the hot water ranging from the 90’s to the low 100’s in this area. They are made up of damned pockets along the hot spring’s river (NV). This is a great hot spring to go to if the plan includes staying overnight. There is a cattle ranch near that offers lodging or tons of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campgrounds to choose from. 6. Trego Hot Springs Though the Black Rock Desert is most popularly known for Burning Man every summer, it is also perfect for visiting several hot springs that give the spring soakers a different vibe than the others on the list. The views of the playa combined with the pond-like hot spring is unlike any other. This is technically on private property but there are BLM signs guiding the way to the hot spring. This is ideal for those who do not want to walk because you can park right next to the hot spring. (Trego, NV) 7. Spencer Hot Springs Spencer Hot Springs (Austin, NV) - Courtesy of This spring includes natural pools and an enclosed pool with a metal tub and an in-ground spring. Some reviews say that the bottoms of the pools are soft sand, and the water is cleaner than one would expect in a natural pool. There is also a beautiful view of the Toiyabe Range. It is easily accessible (still on a dirt road though) and free to camp. Or, for a more civilized stay, the town Austin is not too far away. This is a great place to visit for those who are new to hot springing. 8. Fish Lake Valley Hot Wells This is a popular place for those with campers and ATV’s. Unlike most other hot springs, this one comes with amenities such as BBQ’s and firepits. The hot springs here are a large concrete pool and two natural ponds with a view of the White Mountains and Boundary Peak. (Dryer, NV) 9. Bartine Hot Springs This is perhaps the most unique tub of the hot springs on the list. The pool here is a three-seat stone tub that was dug into the ground. There is a breathtaking view in all directions, in and out pipes to keep the water nicely circulated and clean and has carpet on one side for a more comfortable area. The bottom is known to get a bit slippery from algae. The walk in can be muddy and finding the hot spring has proven difficult in general, though there are directions to follow. (Antelope Valley, NV) 10. Resorts If the natural approach is not for you, there also resorts that have luxurious hot springs. They are worth the time and consideration. Steamboat Hot Springs (Reno, NV), Carson Hot Springs (Carson City, NV), and 1862 David Walley’s Resort , Gardnerville, NV (my personal favorite because of the beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Carson Valley) all offer a range of services and a spa-like experience with facials, massages, steam rooms, and of course, hot springs and pools. Don’t forget these tips when planning your trip to one of the hot springs! 1. Dress accordingly. Some hot springs require a little walk or hike after parking the car. If the plan is to stay later into the night, bring a set of warmer clothes. And while we’re on the subject of clothes, it is also important to note that most hot springs are in remote places. This means that there is not a dress code, and some may take advantage of that for a nude soak. 2. A lot of people are out looking for adventure and a chance to experience the springs, share the space. 3. Just like anywhere else, leave the area cleaner than when you found it. Our planet needs our help. Be respectful to the land and future visitors. 4. Some springs on private property. This does not mean that they cannot be visited but pay close attention when there are “no trespassing” signs 5. Some hot springs can be difficult to get to without a bigger vehicle. A lot of them require at least a short drive on dirt roads. 6. The temperature of the hot springs is ever changing. Because they are naturally-fed, there is no guarantee that they will be cool enough to get in. Some hot springs have seriously burned or even killed people and their pets so always check the temperature beforehand. Haley Beyer was a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020.

InspirationBudget Travel Lists

Top 5 Budget-friendly North American Ski Resorts

From Park City to Panorama, HomeToGo has researched the price of skiing across the continent, taking into account the latest prices and search trends for the upcoming 2022-2023 season. The report includes 50 of the ultimate ski havens from 15 states across the USA and Canada, so that you can carve out your winter travel plans without getting buried by debt. Scaling mountains of data and research, this year's report compares the affordability of lift tickets and overnight accommodations, as well as the search trends of skiers planning their vacations. Ski resorts provided their latest pricing data for lift tickets during peak season periods and HomeToGo data was used to find the average price per person to stay in a 6-person vacation rental. So strap on your skis and get ready to drop into HomeToGo's 2023 Ski Season Report! #5. Lake Louise Ski Resort Courtesy of Lake Louise Ski Resort Located in Alberta, Canada, the Lake Louis Ski Resort is home to 4,200 acres of diverse terrain over four mountain faces (that’s 164 runs, with the longest expanding over 8 kilometers). Feel the thrill that comes from exploring the unique layout of ski runs, with beginner, intermediate, and expert routes from nearly every chair. Visitors can also work on jumps, 180s, and tricks in some of the biggest and best designed park terrain in the world. Don't forget to take in some of the best views of Banff National Park on the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $111.74 Median Accommodation Price: $35.65/person Total: $147.39 #4. Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort Courtesy of Mount Hood Meadows Located in the Mount Hood National Forest, Mount Hood Meadows is just 90 minutes away from Portland, Oregon. The variety of Meadows' terrain is what makes it so unique and popular.The wide-open terrain off of Cascade Express (voted most popular cruising terrain in Oregon) offers incredible panoramic views from its 7,300-foot elevation. Advanced skiers and snowboarders seek out the steeps in the front bowls, or drop into the seemingly endless pitch of powder-filled Heather Canyon. Explore the double black steeps, gladed tree runs and cliffs through access gates into Private Reserve and S&R Cliffs. Beginners learn on the gentle slopes of Buttercup and the Ballroom Carpet. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $79.00 Median Accommodation Price: $65.05/person Total: $144.05 #3. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Courtesy of Kicking Horse Resort Located in Golden, British Columbia, Kicking Horse can be both a fun, family excursion or a challenging endeavor. With 120 trails across nearly 3,500 acres of terrain, there are opportunities to shred gnarly powder or glide along gentle slopes. In fact, it is known as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada due to its ridges and bowls which are constantly stashed with deep snow. For thrill seekers, Kicking Horse is home to a 1,300-meter vertical drop, the sixth largest vertical drop of any North American ski resort. Meanwhile, beginners are welcome to explore the gentle glades for an incredible on-snow experience and lovely mountain views. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $105.82 Median Accommodation Price: $23.77/person Total: $129.59 #2. Kimberley Alpine Resort Courtesy of Kimberley, British Columbia prides itself on its small-town charm and real mountain experiences. The region receives an average of 13 feet of snowfall each season. It features 80 named runs, 1,800 acres of terrain and a variety of ski-in or ski-out accommodations. The Purcell Range of the Canadian Rockies offers stunning scenery and a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the powdery snow, regardless of experience level. Skiing is not Kimberley’s only activity either, guests are welcome to try dog sledding, snowshoeing and snowboarding. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $84.00 Median Accommodation Price: $40.61/person Total: $124.61 #1. Mission Ridge Ski Area Courtesy of Sitting 12 miles from Wenatchee, Washington, this ski area is built into a 2,000-acre basin on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. With 300 days annually of sunshine, it sits higher and drier than other mountains in the area. It’s known for its light, dry powder, which provides a smooth ride for the whole family. Mission Ridge has more than 36 designated runs with trails, chutes, screamers, bowls and even a 2,250-foot vertical drop. Whether you shred the slopes or explore the backcountry, Mission Ridge provides family fun and amazing mountain views. Adult Lift Ticket Price: $97.00 Median Accommodation Price: $18.13/person Total: $115.13 To explore the rest of the ski resorts on HomeToGo's list, click here.


Best Cities for Long Layovers

Don’t let delays and cancellations dampen your travel spirit — kill time with a mini excursion outside the airport. But which cities are worth the jaunt? Lawn Love ranked 128 U.S. cities served by the busiest airports to determine 2023’s Best and Worst Cities for Long Layovers. They looked at each city’s share of delayed and canceled flights and average departure delay time. They also searched for cities that are easy to navigate, especially from the airport, and offer plenty of fun things to see and do without breaking the bank. New York, New York New York, NY - courtesy of Florian Wehde on Big, bustling cities reached high altitudes in the rankings, with New York topping the list. NYC has high delay rates, with the fifth-longest average departure delay. If you’re crunched for time, you might not make it all the way to Times Square from LaGuardia or JFK. But if you’re stuck for hours, it’s not hard to venture into the city for a Big Apple adventure. Stay the night in a former airport terminal at JFK Airport’s TWA Hotel, previously the TWA Flight Center. Admire 1960s-era architecture while enjoying modern amenities like the world’s largest hotel gym, an airplane-turned-cocktail lounge, and a rooftop infinity pool with a view of the runway. Chicago, Illinois Chicago - courtesy of Sawyer Bengston on Chicago has the most delayed departures and the third-highest share of canceled flights. O’Hare’s CTA Blue Line makes it easy to get out of the airport to explore the city. Devour a deep-dish pizza, or catch a comedy show if you have the time. If you’re stuck in the city for the night, you can get some rest at Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel. Los Angeles, California Manhattan Beach, California - courtesy of Dez Hester on You can expect relatively more punctual flights in Los Angeles, but if you end up with a delay, you’ll have plenty of attractions to occupy your time. Keep LA’s notorious traffic in mind if you do decide to explore the city — a delay of at least 12 hours should make the detour worthwhile. Grab your dream and your cardigan, and get out of the airport for some fast food at In-N-Out Burger. If you want to get some sun and sand, Manhattan Beach isn’t far from LAX, and the FlyAway Bus service allows travelers to explore everything Downtown LA has to offer. If getting back to the airport in time isn’t worth the risk, LA has the second-highest number of airport lounges, which are a great option for travelers who need to stick around. San Francisco, California San Francisco was ranked the second best city for walking, as well as one of the top when it comes to number of attractions—that combination together makes it one of the best for a spontaneous excursion. Travelers coming through SFO airport can access the city via the BART transit system. Take a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, try fresh Dungeness crab at Fisherman's Wharf, or hop on a cable car. For tourists with a shorter layover, passing extra time at SFO can be just as enjoyable as it has the third most airport lounges out of all cities ranked. Miami, Florida Miami Beach, Florida - courtesy of Antonio Cuellar on Miami tied with Chicago and Washington, DC as the easiest to explore on foot, but perhaps gets the edge over the other two with its exceptionally sunny and warm weather. Tourists can take a bus from the airport or even ride Metrorail's Orange Line to enjoy a quick trip to Miami Beach. Take in some sun with a walk down South Beach, or head to Little Havana, the center of Cuban culture in the US. No time to leave the airport? No problem—relax Miami International Airport's on-site spa or in the yoga room in Terminal H. Boston, Massachusetts Another easy-to-walk city, the city center of Boston is quickly accessed via a short commute on the T's Silver Line. Take stroll through the North End to find delicious Italian food and baked goods, go shopping on Newberry Street, or walk the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail which takes visitors through 16 historical sites significant to the founding of America. For travelers with kids, a Boston Duck Tour or trip to the New England Aquarium will keep everyone in the family entertained. Las Vegas, Nevada Slot machines in Las Vegas - courtesy of Benoit Dare on You can hit the slot machines as soon as you land in Las Vegas at Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran International Airport). Stretch your legs with a workout in the fitness center or on the Fly Fit walking paths marked throughout the airport. If you’re traveling with kids, they can get their energy out in the aviation-themed Kids Play Area. You can also see plenty of art or learn about the history of flight in the Aviation Museum. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina When it’s not packed for spring break, you can find a comfortable place to stay overnight in Myrtle Beach which has the most accommodations in Lawn Love's ranking. If you’re stranded in The Grand Strand, there are also plenty of attractions outside the airport if you don’t feel like lounging. Myrtle Beach State Park is not far from the airport and has a pier and boardwalk where you can stretch your legs and breathe in some ocean air. If you have several hours to spare, head to Broadway at the Beach, where you can shop, eat, catch a show, or get an adrenaline rush at the theme park. Portland, Maine You might be more likely to get caught up in a snowstorm in northern cities like Portland, Maine, which had second-highest share of canceled departures. The airport is fairly close to the city center, so if the winter weather isn’t too bad, you can easily take a short drive to check out this charming city. Grab a beer and relax at a local brewery or winery. If you have enough time, take a trolley tour to explore the city, or hop on a ferry and cruise around the coast. Burlington, Vermont Downtown Burlington, Vermont - courtesy of Burlington, Vermont had the highest shares of canceled departures (likely due to the snowy weather that often impacts Portland, Maine). Of all places to be stranded, this town can be a pleasant surprise addition to your travels. Explore Church Street Marketplace, the city’s historic pedestrian mall, which has plenty of options if you’re hungry or itching to shop. If you need to move around after a long flight, you can bike or walk along Lake Champlain on the Burlington Greenway — keep an eye out for Champ, the mysterious lake monster. — For the full list of rankings, visit