Updated: Mar 15
During one of our long walks in the Finger Lakes region (Upstate New York) we got to talking about tiny houses, yurts and other peculiar lodgings that must exist around Ithaca. After some research, we fell upon a tiny house village named Karenville - aptly called after its creator. We could not miss this opportunity - we had to see it! Getting there was a tad tricky- the GPS got easily confused (you're better off following Karen’s directions if you book with her or request a visit.) Upon arriving, we saw a bunch of tiny roofs that were connected by pathways of cut grass as if you were in a fairytale labyrinth...
We took one of these pathways to enter the village and were greeted by Karen herself. Here was this woman welcoming us into her fantasy world, her playful arena full of funky, tiny creations. As soon as she talked to us, we could feel the passion she had for what she was continuing to build. On the tour of the tiny village, Karen was describing every creation as if she was a kid showing us her doll houses. She started with the heart of her village which consisted of a store/kitchen/dining room where every occupant could cook their own food and try the fresh farm eggs generously offered by Karen. The items in the store were “sold” at an incredible discount of a 100%. There was space to cook outside and inside and then eat at a table outside or a tiny cafe inside where the kitchen and store were located. After a meal, one could enjoy a cup of tea, a book or a conversation inside the gazebo with plexiglass windows full of messages of love and gratitude for what Karen had created.
The Summer after (and the one after!) we booked our own lodgings in Karenville. The first time we stayed in one of the “huts.” All three of us slept in one… Now mind it, we are very skinny people! It was tight, but boy, that view from the window, when at night you feel like you are sleeping in the fields, was well worth it! Of course, as the sun rises, so does the heat inside the tiny hut and you are forced outside pretty early in the morning. But that coffee tastes 10 times better when you drink it in Karen's gazebo, nestled into a cozy swing...
The Summer after we booked the luxurious hotel (every tiny house has its own name…) Dear friends, remember, that by luxury - we mean the super whimsical tiny space and a big-enough-for-two bed that faces a huge window with a view of the meadow. There is no bathroom and not even a sink inside (you wash your hands using a “field” sink with a jug full of water next to it.) But again - the view from the window and the magical atmosphere of Karenville is well worth it. Even though a hot shower with a strong pressure will not be an option, you will enjoy a shower under the skies: one of the two showers in Karenville is without a roof. The way the showers work is you heat up some water, pour it into the bucket installed inside the showers and enjoy your 3 minute bathing ritual. Surprisingly, 3 minutes is quite enough! As a matter of fact, taking a shower under the skies was one of our favorite things in Karenville and heating up that water took mere minutes that simply flew by in a conversation with other guests or Karen herself.
Bottomline is this: even though you will not get the luxury of the newly built high tech tiny houses at Karenville, the price of the accommodations paired with the super friendly atmosphere and the absolutely beautiful magical world Karen created in the tiny village easily place Karenville among our favorite alternative stays.
Keoni, Irina, Tim