Review: Getaway tiny houses – with kids

I first heard about Getaway, a chain of properties scattered throughout the US (largely within a short drive from major cities) that offer the opportunity to unplug and get out into nature by renting a tiny house without wifi, when a friend sent me an article about an outpost opening about 40 minutes from here. This particular location is technically considered a Getaway from Chicago (significantly further away), but that’s kind of their market. They appear to be aimed at young urban professionals with a demanding, fast-paced lifestyle who are looking for a chance to escape and simplify for a bit. Since our location had yet to open there was a promotional rate of $129/night which felt more than reasonable, so we decided to book a two night stay for early July. As the date approached we began to worry that maybe we weren’t exactly the target market they had in mind and that getting away with three small children in a quiet tiny house community might be a terrible idea, but we went for it so I thought I’d write a quick review.

As far as I can tell, all of the houses have a similar layout and design. The sleek black vertical wood siding makes for a very cool modern backdrop with not a hint of trailer (you know, despite the wheels and trailer hitch). They offer both one-bed and two-bed options, with the highest number of guests for one site being four. We asked before we booked if we could sleep five if our kids were up for it and they told us it wasn’t a problem, but it’s worth noting that the house is stocked for four: four cups, four plates, four bowls, four sets of cutlery, four bath towels. One of their selling points is that while this is an opportunity to get out into nature, with a fire pit and adirondack chairs (four of them at our site), this isn’t camping; I would say that it’s glamping or better. We’ve actually booked a cabin up in Mackinaw City several times and that requires bringing our own bedding, towels, dishes and cookware in addition to food and clothing. In this case we only packed clothing and food since they provide everything including shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Getting away, so to speak, was much more convenient and I think that’s what they’re going for.

The stack of books they provided was very on brand: a book of card games (with deck of cards), Walden, and two beautiful coffee table books on the architecture of cabins and tiny houses and modern day hunters and gatherers.

The interior is very efficently designed. It has a modern yet natural vibe with light wood paneling on all of the walls and ceiling. Our house contained two queen beds, the top lofted (the kids thought the loft was the bees knees), and the bottom bunk far enough below that an adult could sit upright in bed and lean against the wall to read without hitting their head. Both beds had two reading lights mounted to the wall (but in my opinion they were far too bright for one person to read while the other sleeps). The high ceilings (to make room for the loft) made the place feel less claustrophobic than it might otherwise.

#LoftLife

There was a small table with two chairs and a bench on the other side that served double duty as a step to reach the loft stairs. There was a cute red mini-fridge, a two-burner electric stove, and a sink with a dish drainer. There was even a vent for cooking, and high quality pots and pans and knives. Given the hipster vibe of the place we weren’t surprised to find a goose neck kettle and individual pour-over coffee available for use (they bill you after the fact – but they do provide cream, sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil for free).

The house was fully heated and air conditioned, which was much appreciated since it was 90 degrees outside during our stay. While small, the bathroom was more than adequate with a standard toilet and stand up shower (that’s the door to the bathroom behind me in the photo above). We found the hot water to be in somewhat short supply, but we made it work.

If you decide to have a campfire they stock a nearby bin with bundles of firewood and fire starters and bill you after the fact if you use them (they were reasonably priced). They even provide a lighter. They do publish rules that fires need to be out by 10:00 p.m. for quiet hours, and we felt that was a bit early (especially since we chose to catch sunset at the lake one night and that put us back at the cabin at about 9:50 still wanting a campfire, but we risked it and it turned out fine). One of their big selling points is that you will have to disconnect, and we truly did have terrible phone service out there but there’s a landline in the house in case of emergency (or otherwise). The place did have a vibe of, “quiet is expected out here” and that caused us a little bit of stress from time to time since our kids aren’t always quiet, but we did see at least two or three other families with children during our stay.

In the end I would recommend it, for people with or without kids. They even allow dogs (and provide a long cable thingy to anchor your pooch to the picnic table, I don’t have a dog so I don’t know what those are actually called). Kristin and I did note that it’s probably a more satisfying getaway if you truly have the abilty (and desire) to read, write, draw, sit and contemplate life. With small children that may or may not be feasible, and there aren’t exactly entertaining amenities on site. We’ve found campgrounds with playgrounds and the like to make parenting on vacation a bit easier, but that’s not what this particular chain is going for. We were in the Barber Creek location and since we’re familiar with the southwest Michigan lakeshore we had some idea of where to go for fun (to be clear, this site is NOT on the water – we were a solid 25-30 minutes away from Lake Michigan), but I’m not sure we could have kept our kids entertained on site for several days. I’ve also noticed that the rates have gone way up, as high as $369/night on some dates, and I don’t think that I would pay anywhere near that much in this particular market. I’ve rented an entire house steps from Lake Michigan with a hot tub for less than that.

The place was cute, and it was novel to stay in a tiny house (the kids came home and immediately watched several episodes of tiny house shows on HGTV). My parents came out to visit one afternoon for a glass of wine (something that I think may also be forbidden – they really don’t want these to be party sites, and I can respect that) and it was a lovely to share the picnic table and a good conversation without the distraction of phones or other screens. If you could use more of that in your life and you live near one of their outposts you might check out Getaway.

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