Without a doubt, Airbnb, the company that offers often novel alternatives to staying in a hotel while traveling, has opened up a world of unusual accommodations from teepees to treehouses. My family has stayed overnight in tiny houses, a school bus, and a hardware store, among other unusual places, but we’ve never stayed in a church, which seems to be becoming more and more popular. In New England alone, there are at least four churches that have been converted into homes and listed on Airbnb. Looking further afield, travelers can find former churches to book in New York, Chicago, Texas, even as far away as Scotland. I’ve bookmarked these five in case my travels ever take me nearby.
Lambert’s Cove Church and Parsonage
Starts at $985 per night.
A former United Methodist Church built in West Tisbury in 1846 — the sign still hangs outside and the church and the original bell can still be rung — has been remodeled in typical Martha’s Vineyard fashion, which is to say, with an eye to vacationers interested in luxurious comforts. The property is composed of two separate buildings. The parsonage, the main house, sports a thoroughly modern kitchen, two bedrooms and bathroom. The church itself is a giant open master bedroom, with soaring ceilings, a separate bathroom with a soaking tub and dining area. The church isn’t zoned to have a kitchen, so the two buildings are rented together. A notable perk is the included beach passes to private Lambert’s Cove Beach, a short walk away.
Ski Retreat Converted Church
Starts at $240 per night.
The owners purchased this church in Dummerston, Vt., (which is just north of Brattleboro) in 2001 from the Roman Catholic diocese and renovated it into a two-family house. They rent the top floors as a three-bedroom space. It sports 25-foot-high ceilings, original stained glass windows, radiant floor heating and a large kitchen. The master suite was built in the choir loft and has an en-suite bathroom with a double-headed shower and a claw-foot tub. Two other bedrooms are located on either side of what used to be the altar.
Converted Church/Art Studio
Starts at $222 per night.
Located in Cornwall, Conn., this three-bedroom home, built in 1790, was once a Methodist meeting place, then served as a Masonic Temple for decades, before being bought by a local artist, who has put his eclectic mark on it. While renters have the whole house to themselves, there is a functioning artist studio in the back yard. Contemporary art is everywhere, from giant sculptures in the yard to abstract paintings inside. The Housatonic River is mere steps from the house and a lovely deck sits right on its banks.
Unique Luxury Church near Killington
Starts at $200 per night.
The couple who purchased this historic Methodist church, which was built in 1837 about 15 miles from Killington, Vt., went all out when they converted it. The three-bedroom house has a modern kitchen stocked with every appliance you could want (including even a popcorn popper and ice cream maker). Two full bathrooms have heated marble floors and one has a cast iron slipper tub and slate shower, while the other has a large walk-in shower. One of the bedrooms is located where the altar was and is next to the former church’s original organ. Eight stained glass windows light up the space and even the working bell was left in place.
Old Church with Pool
and Hot Tub
Starts at $285 per night.
The 115-year-old Leibhardt Church in the Catskills in New York has been transformed into a luxurious three-bedroom house, but extra sleeping options (couches and air mattresses) make it comfortable for up to 12 people. Unusual perks include a heated saltwater pool and jacuzzi. There’s an enclosed porch overlooking a pine forest with a wood burning stove and the kitchen is modern and fully equipped. Guests can also enjoy what they can pick in the vegetable garden on the two-acre property.
Kim Foley MacKinnon can be reached at kimfoleymackinnon