Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Signal Mountain’s Lyn and Brett Johnson had long been daydreaming about a cabin on their wooded property since they moved from California in 2019. Disappointed by builders’ quotes on the job, when early pandemic stay-at-home orders went into effect, Lyn decided just to start with a substructure. “Other people were baking sourdough bread; I ordered a 100-foot tape measure,” she says with a laugh. She purchased a Davis Tent from Colorado, a style often used in elk hunting, and raised it over the base. It was intended to be temporary, but the tent was so beautiful that the Johnsons set aside their plans for a future cabin on the site. Brett used wood from the property to craft handrails around the edge of the deck, which sits 17 feet off the ground.
Tucked away on the Johnsons’ eight acres, the tent includes a screened-in patio, a fire pit, hammocks, a small fridge, a two-burner gas stove, a microwave, an outdoor shower affixed to a giant oak tree, and a private outhouse with a flushing toilet. Inside, the Glamping Tent is decorated in a clean palette of white and tan and includes a king-size bed and a twin daybed with trundle. Lyn updates the decor inside based on the guest’s theme of choice: Spring in the Woods, Out of Africa, Summer in the Garden, Fall in the Forest, or Winter in the Wild.
The Johnsons refer to their property as Paradise Meadows, and with the success of their Glamping Tent has come the Tiny House, an additional rental option on an adjacent piece of land. Decorated in retro pastel pinks and greens, you’ll have a queen-size bed in the loft and a full-size sofa bed downstairs, with views of a neighboring cattle farm. “I felt like I was building a film set or an experience where people could step out of normal life into something whimsical, something retro, something totally different,” Lyn says, noting that she hand-felted all the cushions and furnished the property with items she found in local antique, thrift, and charity shops.
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
A boutique treehouse hotel located on Lookout Mountain just below Rock City, Treetop Hideaways is a one-of-a-kind rental with two options for your next trip to the Scenic City. Touted as rustic and refined, The Luna Loft Treehouse is made from reclaimed 1860s barn wood and boasts 16-foot windows that were originally a part of an old warehouse. Inside, you’ll find a gramophone speaker in the kitchen; a penny floor and copper-lined whiskey barrel shower in the bathroom; plus complimentary wine, s’mores, artisan coffee, and high-speed internet. Originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign, this treehouse has lots of natural light and sleeps three to five people.
Treetop Hideaways’ second property, The Elements Treehouse was made with luxury in mind: heated floors, black beadboard, and a glassed-in shower with a tree growing straight through it. Built with the help of Pete Nelson from the television show Treehouse Masters, the project was also a partnership with the brand Dove Men+Care. This treehouse sleeps four. Both properties are fully climate controlled and have views of the valley below.
The Dwell Hotel
Originally built as The Colonial Hotel in 1909, The Dwell Hotel’s ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s-inspired vibe has been praised by Southern Living, Conde Naste Traveler, National Geographic, The New York Times, and the Travel Channel. Renovated and re-designed by travel-lover Seija Ojanpera in 2016, the property is small but packs a punch. Described as “a swanky take on mid-century modern,” The Dwell experience tends to begin with a seat in the parlor with a cocktail.
In interviews, Ojanpera has said that when she first bought the hotel, it was “dusty Victorian,” but today each room has a theme, a bold design, and a statement piece: a retro painting in burnt oranges and browns, black and white wallpaper geometric, faux grass in a frame, sitting chairs in a bold marigold yellow. Located in the heart of downtown, there are 16 rooms on-site. The Executive Suite, known as The Mod, has an exposed brick wall at the head of the bed and burnt orange velvet stripes accenting the breakfast table. The King Balcony Suite, dubbed The Argyle, has a diamond-printed wallpaper in pink, tans, muted yellow, and gray. The New Yorker seats you by the fireplace in a pair of green velvet bucket seats with orange accent pillows.
*Because of the size of the property, children under age 12 are not permitted.
Welcome Valley Village
Frank and Nicole May first began investing in short-term rental properties within the Chattanooga area, at the foot of Lookout Mountain with a community of Tiny Cabins. In October 2021, they tried their hand at something further from the city, purchasing Welcome Valley Village in Benton, Tennessee. “We fell in love with the seclusion of it,” Nicole says. “I think Frank and I both said, ‘Wow, this is where I want to spend time. This is where I want to unplug. This is where I want to unwind. This is where I want to sit and rest.’ There’s something so refreshing about the moving waters of the Ocoee River.” The property is 17 acres and home to six cabins, three glamping-style covered wagons, a bath house, and a pavilion on the water. The wagons are gathered together around a fire pit, while the cabins are spaced around the property for privacy.
Located 45 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Nicole says the rural backdrop is part of what makes the rental special. “The value of the drive is just being still. You don’t even have to leave the property. There’s a hiking trail that goes a mile circling the property. The river is right there if you want to paddleboard or float. Parksville Lake is close by. In the winter, there’s just a stillness about it, this quiet, this peace.”
The rentals on-site vary in size. Popular among large families, Creek Crest is a 1,100-square-foot two-story lofted cabin with wood paneling, three bedrooms, and a private outdoor fire pit and riverside seating. The Chilhowee Family Cabin has four bedrooms; a large furnished back porch; three smart televisions; and a second basement living room with foosball, ping-pong, and air hockey tables. The Conestoga Wagons are modeled after 19th-century designs and are temperature controlled. Each wagon is assigned a private three-quarter bath in the bath house, and guests also have access to a utility room with a washer and dryer.