There’s no travel quite like a good ol’ fashioned, Route 66-flavored road trip. The vintage gas stations, souvenir tchotchke shops, and bi-level motels barely clinging to life, but beckoning passersby with the neon siren call of “Free HBO” — all hallmarks of a bygone era that helped define the term “Americana.” Now, one proud Idaho woman is adding to our nation’s tableau of strange roadside kitsch with a six-ton “faux-tato” Airbnb that may be the most Idahoan hotel room ever. We’ve never wanted to visit the Gem State so badly in our adult lives.
For some, it might seem like a half-baked idea. For travelers who love potatoes, kitsch, or both, the Big Idaho Potato Hotel is a starchy dream come true. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Boise on 400 acres of pristine farmland, the “potato-tel” is among Airbnb’s quirkiest stays. From the outside, it looks exactly like what it is: a windowless, 28-foot-long fake potato. Inside, the cozy, one-room suite accommodates just two guests. The decor is surprisingly stylish, but in-room amenities are limited to a queen bed, some chairs, a small kitchenette, and air-conditioning. Guests do have access to a bathroom, an indoor fireplace, and a hot tub in a silo nearby on the property.
Like the Oscar Meyer Weiner Truck hot dog, the starchy sculpture began life as the centerpiece of a potato-on-wheels. The one-of-a-kind vehicle toured the United States in 2012 to promote (wait for it …) Idaho potatoes and help raise money for various charities along the way. Kristie Wolfe, the current potato hotelier, traveled with the spud as a spokesperson. When the time came for the truck to receive an overhaul, Wolfe decided to buy the original potato and do something interesting with it.
“From day one I told the team that someday I was going to put that potato in my backyard and turn it into another rental. I even have design notes from those days,” Wolfe told Travel + Leisure. “When I heard [they were retiring the original potato], I made my pitch to the president to turn it into a little roadside attraction/Airbnb and they went for it!”
If it sounds ridiculous, it certainly is. But, consider that the Big Idaho Potato Hotel is booked at least a month in advance with travelers paying upwards of $200 per night for the privilege to stay.
Sadly, the walls are made of steel, concrete, and plaster, so don’t expect to eat your way out. You could, however, bring your camp kitchenware to whip up some potato biscuits while sipping a sweet potato beer inside a giant potato in the potato-est state in the country. We challenge you to find a more meta travel experience than that.