When perusing the online site, Airbnb, for a place to lodge and rest, Harrison County has a host of cozy selections to consider.
From charming guest houses to quaint cottages to downtown sanctuaries and serene country living, the town is full of places for an individual or entire family to enjoy.
Being a part of the Airbnb community is equally rewarding for owners as they’re able to provide an inviting home away from home as well as make an adequate extra income with less hassle by renting out their haven through Airbnb’s listing service.
“It’s just really such a fantastic job,” said Diane Solomon, owner of the Country French Studio, a luxury studio apartment located in the heart of downtown Marshall, one block from the historic courthouse square.
“I really recommend it to people,” she said of using the Airbnb platform. “You’re on a national registry; and thing that’s so nice about Airbnb is that they screen the people and they send me a picture of who’s coming, so that way the people that are coming are who they are.
“It’s safe and you feel good about it,” said Solomon.
Another plus about the company is Airbnb does all the advertising for the hosts. The service also handles all payments, including security deposits.
“All you have to do is have a nice place,” said Solomon.
That’s a plus that Claudia Lowery, owner of Gingko Tiny House, likes, too.
“You don’t have to worry about collecting the rent, or that it would be late,” said Lowery.
“I don’t charge hardly anything for my place,” Lowery said of her comfortable, eclectic one-bedroom home she offers in a country setting.
“It works for these people that travel and work,” she said of the Airbnb service.
“I like Airbnb because they provide a good deal of liability for their post, so I don’t have to take anything out extra,” Lowery explained. “They take the money, and put it in my bank account. They collect taxes. Everything is done through Airbnb.”
BECOMING AN AIRBNB
Lowery began offering her Airbnb listing two years ago.
“It was basically a little small one-bedroom house, very small house that was on my property that belonged to my brother, and when he passed away I inherited it and I decided to rent it out and try Airbnb, and I had stayed at an Airbnb before,” she said. “I decided to clean it out and fix it up and take some pictures and list it and see what happens.”
It proved to be successful. Within a week, Lowery started getting bookings. She’s stayed booked since.
Lowery said she’s always enjoyed her own Airbnb experiences throughout her travels; thus, she knew what type of experience she wanted to offer to her own guests.
“We enjoyed it just from a standpoint of it was different than staying in a motel,” said Lowery. “It was more personal. Sometimes you’re in a family’s home. It just kind of depends on the type of place that we stayed, but I’ve stayed at several different types and just through experience I know what I look for when I’m traveling.”
Lowery said she started off offering her place for one or two nights, but eventually expanded it, requiring guests to stay at least a week with a discounted price.
“I charge by the day, but if they stay a week they get a discount. If they stay a month they get a substantial discount,” said Lowery.
Her guests have ranged from nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, oil field workers and various other professions.
“We’ve met all kinds of different people,” Lowery said, sharing she’s hosted guests from France as well as Australia, and keeps a guestbook of travelers from around the world.
“We’ve had people traveling (all) across the United States,” said Lowery.
Another benefit to operating an Airbnb is the financial security it provides.
“It doesn’t cost much to maintain the house,” said Lowery.
And now that she’s retired, the former teacher and past president of the Marshall Regional Arts Council shared she has more time to operate it.
“It’s a nice little extra income,” said Lowery.
What attracts guests to her Gingko Tiny House is the peace and quiet the dwelling brings.
“That’s the one thing people notice about staying out there,” said Lowery.
The property sits on 21 acres amongst the pine trees.
“It’s so quiet. We don’t have loud neighbors,” said Lowery. “It’s a regular home. It’s really comfortable, fully furnished. You have privacy.”
The fact that it’s located in a secluded area off of Interstate Highway 20 is also a plus.
“I’m between Waskom and Marshall,” Lowery shared. “A lot of people like that because my access to I-20 is easy.”
“It’s a real middle class (home); it’s not high-end at all,” she said. “I think people like that.”
“It’s just country living,” said Lowery.
Solomon, owner of the Country French Studio, said her guests enjoy the downtown atmosphere her dwelling provides.
“It’s in a real good location,” said Solomon. “I’ve had it two years now.”
The Airbnb is located in the former iconic Woolworth building, a 100-year-old structure that Solomon now owns.
“I’m in a wonderful location,” said Solomon. “I’m at the corner of Main Street and the square.”
Solomon, who was initially oblivious about Airbnbs, began operating one following the passing of her husband.
I love it,” she said of offering a place for travelers to stay. “The people are awesome.”
Besides its downtown charm, another thing that’s attracted guests to the downtown sanctuary is the fact that Solomon allows pets.
“One of things that I do that I didn’t even know nobody else does is I do take dogs,” she said.
“I didn’t have any idea that that was helpful,” she chuckled. “They travel with them, so it’s difficult for them to find a hotel or anything (that will accept dogs), so that’s good.”
The Country French Studio also appeals to many parents of East Texas Baptist University athletes.
“I’ve gotten a lot of ETBU baseball parents and volleyball parents,” Solomon shared. “They come and stay … one of them for three months. “I’ve really gotten in with the ETBU crowd and that has been great.”
Solomon said she’d love to see more Airbnbs locate downtown.
“Because its downtown, the lawyers want to book with us,” she said of the lawyers who travel from abroad to litigate high-profile patent cases in Marshall’s federal court, located on the downtown square.
“They like the idea,” she said of the attorneys’ desire to have a place to lodge downtown.
Solomon said having an Airbnb is ideal.
“It’s a bonanza,” she said of the service. “It’s kind of like Uber. You use your own car with Uber, but with Airbnb you use your own piece of property. It’s fun.”
Solomon said she too has hosted a diverse group of guests, which she enjoys.
“I had two Asian people and they did not speak English at all. They had to use a translator,” she shared. “It was fun, of course.”
Solomon said she typically offers one night of lodging for up to two guests.
“I’d say 60 to 70 percent of my people are literally just on their way to somewhere else,” Solomon said. “They arrive as late as 8 (p.m.) or 9 o’clock and are gone by 7 in the morning.
“In my case, you get an apartment downtown for the same cost you would at Motel 6,” she added.
“I get a lot of travelers, but of course the long-term ones are better,” Solomon noted.
She said having an Airbnb has been a rewarding experience, and something she would encourage anyone with an available dwelling space to try.
“I think it’s the bomb,” Solomon said of the Airbnb service. “There’s just all kinds of ways to make money with Airbnbs. People use little motor homes, she-sheds, even rooms.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for anyone that has a spare bedroom in their home. Any kind of unused dwelling could be turned into an Airbnb,” said Solomon. “If it’s cute and has some charm to it, you’re in; and especially if you’re willing to take a dog.”
In addition to the normal accommodations, Lowery noted she and her husband, Rick, offer some recreational activities at their Gingko Tiny House property. An artist, Lowery welcomes guests to tour her 900-square foot art studio that’s on the property. Limited use of the fully-stocked studio is offered for artists passing through. Guests can also enjoy the Lowerys’ pond.
“We have bass in our pond. It’s just a nice, peaceful place,” said Lowery.
And because the Lowerys also live in another home on the property, they’re able to respond to guests in a timely manner when needed.
Lowery said her guests cook on their own, but she may surprise them with a pan of homemade biscuits every now and then.
She encourages anyone interested in joining the Airbnb community to do so.
“There’s several around Marshall. I have a few friends that have rentals,” she said.
“If a person has time and a rental property it’s something they might consider,” said Lowery. “Some people offer Airbnb ‘experiences’ like you can come for a night, come for an art lesson, and have a whole package deal. You can tailor it to what a person might likes and you can prepare dinner.
“It’s just a way to make a little extra money,” she said. “It’s not for everybody to do, but it’s definitely a different kind of experience.”
A GLIMPSE OF MORE LOCAL AIRBNBS
Places like The Little Green Cottage, a guest house in Marshall, can accommodate up to four guests at $59 per night; Sunset Cabin, in Marshall, accommodates two guests at $56 per night; the Quaint Michael-Novaes House, in Marshall, offers a private room for two guests at $33 per night; The Hidden Gem, in Marshall, is a guest house for two guests at $75 per night; the historical Patillo/Key Home, in Marshall, offers the entire house for four guests at $85 per night; the former auto restoration and speed shop in Hallsville offers a race-themed BNB that accommodates up to eight guests; the Petunia of Haralson Village, located in Hallsville, offers an entire townhouse for up to six guests for $125 per night.
Some amenities at the lodging sites listed include WiFi, free parking, kitchen, air conditioning and a laundry room. Utilities are also included.