After what has felt like the longest winter in history, I was itching to get out of the city and take in some new scenery. I learned pretty quickly that I wasn’t the only one looking for a weekend getaway – despite being in what I would consider ‘off season’ (who takes vacation in February...in Ontario?) there wasn’t much to choose from on Airbnb. A quick Google search led me to a gorgeous cottage on Serenity Vacation Rentals – a cute and cozy home with a private view of Lake Huron, and under two hours’ drive from home – and it was available! I booked in a heartbeat and started counting the days until my winter ‘staycation’.
The week of, I received a confirmation email from Serenity. It was packed with detailed information and thoughtful instructions, including what to bring and things to do in the local area. They even included instructions for the wood fired pizza oven! With all of my questions answered before I could even pose them (and believe me – I ask a lot of questions) packing was a breeze.
Ok – let’s fast forward to the good part. We pulled up to the cottage on Friday afternoon, and after a week of heavy snowstorms at home, we were absolutely delighted to find the driveway plowed! Lightly-packed bags in tow (thanks to our hosts’ detailed instructions, this may have been the first trip ever I didn’t overpack for) and with a personalized door code (so easy to remember – and also comforting knowing it had been changed just for us!), we checked in quickly and were unwinding by the fireplace in minutes. My staycation mates – my three dear friends, Aidan, Ally and Ben and their dog, Lola – and I felt at home from the minute we stepped in the door. The heat was already at a comfortable temperature, everything was easy to find (including the WIFI password), and our hosts even set out their dog bed for Lola to use! What we noticed right away – something that was entirely
different from our usual Airbnb stays – was that our cottage felt so much like home because... it actually was someone’s home! There were so many thoughtful details that were purely the product of our wonderful hosts’ deep love for this home. The bed sheets and towels were super soft – hotel quality. The furniture was stylish and actually comfortable. The kitchen had every utensil, spice and serving dish we
needed. We even noticed that the layout of the home was so functional that we each found ourselves gravitating to our favourite spaces as the weekend went on – Ally tucked away on the couch with a book, me perched on a stool at the coffee bar enjoying the view of the lake, and Lola curled up on the mat by the patio door, enjoying a beam of winter sun.
On the recommendation of our hosts, we had dinner in town at the local brewery and popped into the cute little shops, where Ally picked up a gorgeous apron for her mum’s birthday. We stopped back in on our way out of town Sunday morning to pick up a bag of coffee from the local roasters, after spending the weekend indulging in the beans our hosts had left for us. We spent our Saturday enjoying the comforts of home. Gathered around the massive kitchen island, chatting over coffee while Ally cooked bacon and pancakes. Enjoying a lingering breakfast at the sun-soaked dining table. An afternoon wander down to the frozen beach (featuring a roll in the snow, inspired by Lola). Finding our own little nooks for some quiet afternoon time. And then reconvening around the dining table, which was filled first with wood fired pizzas and wine, then delightful tarts we picked up from a bakery enroute to the cottage,
and finally, with board games.
As we rose the following morning and gathered again around the kitchen island, someone remarked to the group that we should start packing. There was a collective sigh – each of us cradling the mugs we had deemed as ‘ours’ for the weekend. “I kind of forgot we had to leave,” Ben said, and we quietly agreed. Our weekend stay – less than 48 hours – was so cozy so inviting, that none of us were feeling the usual pull to get back to our own homes. I scrolled through my email and found the straightforward checkout instructions, and we were packed and cleaned up in no time – leaving us just enough for one final game of cards before we were out the door.