Sure, you'll sleep in an awesome place, but at these pads, the owners are what really make your stay exceptional
A comfortable bed, a good location, and some cool art make for a nice vacation rental, but what if you show up to your oceanfront bungalow in Indonesia and your host has left you a surfboard, or you arrive in Colorado and the guy who hand-built your cabin also has tips on where to find the best powder stashes? Now that’s a trip you’ll remember.
Stephane and Allie Bruni-Riendeau
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Stephane and Allie Bruni-Riendeau are the caretakers of Revelstoke’s Moment Guesthouse ($88), which is owned by the parents of the co-founder of Moment Skis. After you check in, you can test a pair of demos from the Moment fleet in the garage. There’s a ski boot room with boot dryers, hiking and mountain bike trails across the street, and a basket of Clif bars up for grabs. Plus, Stephane is a ski filmmaker who will shoot a personalized video to capture your trip, and Allie is a DJ and yogi who will host yoga sessions at the house if you want.
Prakash and Pramila Dhakhwa
Long-distance mountain biker Prakash Dhakhwa runs this homestay with his family in the historic Dhakhwa House in Patan, Nepal (from $60). You can rent a studio loft, single room, or a two-bedroom, each with access to a rooftop terrace and steps from Golden Temple and Durbar Square. Black-and-white photos by Dhakhwa’s father line the walls. His wife, Pramila, will cook you a traditional Newari dinner in the dining room. Going trekking? They’ll store your luggage while you’re away.
Eben and Darcee Mond
Silver Plume, Colorado
Silver Plume is an old mining town an hour west of Denver. There’s not much there besides a few year-round locals, a surprisingly cool bar housed in a former bakery, and stellar access to some of the highest peaks in Colorado. Stay in Eben and Darcee Mond’s Cozy Mountain Cottage, a historic bungalow first built in 1880 and hand-restored by Eben in 2012 ($125), and he’ll tune your skis in his basement shop and offer beta on local backcountry zones. Better yet, your stay comes with a free ski pass to nearby Loveland.
Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington
Squaw Valley, California
Mountain guide Adrian Ballinger and pro climber Emily Harrington spend a lot of time away on expeditions. When they’re gone, they rent out their condo near the base of Squaw Valley ($195). Along with the sleek one-bedroom space, you’ll get access to their cruiser bikes with studded snow tires and ski racks, an espresso machine and a bag of local coffee beans, and a huge stash of climbing and skiing guidebooks, which you can browse while perched in front of the wood-burning stove.
You’ll come to remote Lombok to get away from Bali’s main tourist scene, but you might as well come to visit Bruce Robinson, who owns six bungalows on the beach in Gerupuk Bay (from $40). Robinson, a Southern California surfer who spent years living in Hawaii before relocating to Indonesia, will set up motorbike rentals and surf lessons in front of the house. He’ll even paddle you out to a secret surf break in the middle of the bay.
Beth and Cody Harris
Castle Dale, Utah
Salt Lake City-based climbers Beth and Cody Harris met and got married in Yosemite, lived the van life, and later built their own sailboat, which they sail out of the Seattle area all summer. You can rent either half of their renovated four-bedroom home, called Boulder Haus, in Castle Dale (from $72), 2.5 hours south of SLC and just minutes from Joe’s Valley, a world-class sandstone bouldering area. The Harrises lend out climbing guidebooks and a Black Diamond crash pad, and they’re more than happy to offer tips on climbing in the area.
San Sebastián, Spain
Joseba Rekondo, who manages five private rooms in an apartment building in the Old Town area of San Sebastián (from $34), will make you feel like a lifelong friend who’s been invited to crash at his place. He grew up in the area and will show you the best bars, food, live music, and surf breaks. Rekondo will even set you up with a surf lesson through Zurriola Surf School. The accommodations look like well-appointed hotel rooms but feel like a communal hostel, thanks a shared kitchen and bathroom down the hall.