You (And Your Beagle) Can Spend the Night in This Beagle-Shaped House

Whether you're staying in a treehouse in Atlanta or a seashell-shaped house in Mexico, Airbnb offers some of the world's most unique rental properties. But how about booking a place that's adorable, too?

In 2003, artists Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin opened the Dog Bark Park Inn B&B (a.k.a. Sweet Willy), a beagle-shaped home in Cottonwood, Idaho (pop. 900), which is located four hours from Boise. The house became a popular stop for sightseers, so a few years ago they started renting it out via Airbnb.

"Stay in a giant dog," the Airbnb listing reads. "That's right, it’s a beagle-shaped one-unit inn where being in this doghouse is a good thing and comfortable to boot!" But it’s not just any "giant dog"—it’s the world’s biggest beagle. In the late 1990s, the couple built a 12-foot beagle named Toby on the property. Then they decided to build a bigger beagle—a 30-foot tall one—and use it as a guest house.

“Toby got some attention, but Sweet Willy put us into the stratosphere,” Conklin told Roadside America. “People just are fascinated when you build a big dog and invite the world to stay in it.”

The five-star-reviewed home looks just like a beagle, right down to the brown and white coloring, realistic eyes, and dog collar. The couple even built a replica of a fire hydrant near Toby and Sweet Willy. To access the house, guests must climb up to the second-story deck. The home fits four guests and has two bedrooms—one in the dog’s belly’s and a loft in the dog’s head—and one bathroom, conveniently located in the dog’s rear. You’re allowed to bring your own dog as long as it’s “responsible” and its humans are “well-behaved,” and the dog must get along with a golden retriever who lives on the property.

Next door, Sullivan and Conklin operate a visitor’s center, their artist studio, and a gift shop, where they sell their chainsaw-cut wooden dogs. (Those same dogs appear on one of the headboards inside the house.) The couple doesn't live in the house—they live up the hill, in a house that looks nothing like a pooch. Since Sweet Willy doesn’t have a kitchen, Sullivan and Conklin provide all their guests with light breakfast foods, like homemade muffins.

There aren't many other houses in the area, so you could eat muffins, gaze out into the prairie and distant mountains, and read the provided in-house dog books in total privacy. But for those guests who do want to leave the house, you can go jet boating on the Salmon River, visit Hells Canyon, or learn about indigenous history in Nezperce, Idaho, a mere 20 minutes away.

The current rental price is $132 per night, but the house is booked through April 17, 2020, and Airbnb stats say the home has been viewed more than 500 times in the past week (so you'd better book soon). But, as Insider points out: If you're determined to find some sort of offbeat lodging in Idaho, you could always crash at Boise's Big Idaho Potato Hotel, which—you guessed it—is shaped like a giant potato.

The Surprising Reason Hotels Have Ice Machines

Ice machines can be found in virtually every American hotel.
Ice machines can be found in virtually every American hotel.
Imageegaml/iStock via Getty Images

For some, there is no bigger thrill while traveling than to discover an ice machine close to their room. Taken for granted at home, ice becomes a precious commodity in hotels. It’s become part of standard lodging accommodations, along with a clean set of sheets or an ironing board.

But ice wasn’t always a gratuity. In fact, the reason hotels have made free ice machines permanent fixtures is because ice once came with a price tag attached.

Back when the Holiday Inn was a burgeoning franchise in the 1950s, founder Kemmons Wilson noticed that rival hotel operations charged extra for ice. As someone looking to break into the hospitality industry, Wilson was looking to improve the guest experience and thought that gouging his lodgers for ice was a poor way to go about it. At a Holiday Inn, ice could be fetched for free.

Because the Inn was a franchise with a uniform set of standards, each new location that opened brought with it the same policy about free ice. Other hotel chains looking to compete with the increasing popularity of the Holiday Inn began to concede. Soon, ice was a no-charge benefit for virtually all hotels.

(Wilson had other thoughts about hotel surcharges. Some chains tacked on $2 extra for each child, a policy he did away with. The Holiday Inn became a massive success, though not all of his ideas landed. Wilson once wanted to install a trampoline in each location, an ambition that ended when a child hopped on one and crashed through a window.)

Of course, a machine handled by multiple guests needs regular cleaning and maintenance, and not all hotels necessarily keep up with the task. A 2012 CBC investigation found bacteria, including E. coli., on ice machines at six major hotel chains in Canada. Ice machines and dispensers should be cleaned monthly.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]

9 Royally Interesting Facts About King Cake

iStock
iStock

It’s Carnival season, and that means bakeries throughout New Orleans are whipping up those colorful creations known as King Cakes. And while today it’s primarily associated with Big Easy revelry, the King Cake has a long and checkered history that reaches back through the centuries. Here are a few facts about its origins, its history in America, and how exactly that plastic baby got in there.

1. The King Cake is believed to have Pagan origins.

The king cake is widely associated with the Christian festival of the Epiphany, which celebrates the three kings’ visit to the Christ child on January 6. Some historians, however, believe the cake dates back to Roman times, and specifically to the winter festival of Saturnalia. Bakers would put a fava bean—which back then was used for voting, and had spiritual significance—inside the cake, and whoever discovered it would be considered king for a day. Drinking and mayhem abounded. In the Middle Ages, Christian followers in France took up the ritual, replacing the fava bean with a porcelain replica engraved with a face.

2. The King Cake stirred up controversy during the French Revolution.

To bring the pastry into the Christian tradition, bakers got rid of the bean and replaced it with a crowned king’s head to symbolize the three kings who visited baby Jesus. Church officials approved of the change, though the issue became quite thorny in late 18th century France, when a disembodied king’s head was seen as provocation. In 1794, the mayor of Paris called on the “criminal patissiers” to end their “filthy orgies.” After they failed to comply, the mayor simply renamed the cake the “Gateau de Sans-Culottes,” after the lower-class sans-culottes revolutionaries.

3. The King Cake determined the early kings and queens of Mardi Gras.


A Mardi Gras King in 1952.

Two of the oldest Mardi Gras krewes (NOLA-talk for "crew," or a group that hosts major Mardi Gras events, like parades or balls) brought about the current cake tradition. The Rex Organization gave the festival its colors (purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power) in 1872, but two years earlier, the Twelfth Night Revelers krewe brought out a King Cake with a gold bean hidden inside and served it up to the ladies in attendance. The finder was crowned queen of the ball. Other krewes adopted the practice as well, crowning the kings and queens by using a gold or silver bean. The practice soon expanded into households throughout New Orleans, where today the discovery of a coin, bean or baby trinket identifies the buyer of the next King Cake.

4. The King Cake's baby trinkets weren't originally intended to have religious significance.

Although today many view the baby trinkets found inside king cakes to symbolize the Christ child, that wasn’t what Donald Entringer—the owner of the renowned McKenzie’s Bakery in New Orleans, which started the tradition—had in mind. Entringer was instead looking for something a little bit different to put in his king cakes, which had become wildly popular in the city by the mid-1900s. One story has it that Entringer found the original figurines in a French Quarter shop. Another, courtesy of New Orleans food historian Poppy Tooker (via NPR’s The Salt), states that a traveling salesman with a surplus of figurines stopped by the bakery and suggested the idea. "He had a big overrun on them, and so he said to Entringer, 'How about using these in a king cake,'" said Tooker.

5. Bakeries are afraid of getting sued.

What to many is an offbeat tradition is, to others, a choking hazard. It’s unclear how many consumers have sued bakeries over the plastic babies and other trinkets baked inside king cakes, but apparently it’s enough that numerous bakeries have stopped including them altogether, or at least offer it on the side. Still, some bakeries remain unfazed—like Gambino’s, whose cinnamon-infused king cake comes with the warning, "1 plastic baby baked inside."

6. The French version of the King Cake comes with a paper crown.


iStock

In France, where the flaky, less colorful (but still quite tasty) galette de rois predates its American counterpart by a few centuries, bakers often include a paper crown with their cake, just to make the “king for a day” feel extra special. The trinkets they put inside are also more varied and intricate, and include everything from cars to coins to religious figurines. Some bakeries even have their own lines of collectible trinkets.

7. There's also the Rosca de Reyes, the Bolo Rei, and the Dreikönigskuchen.


"Roscón de Reyes" by Tamorlan - Self Made (Foto Propia).

Versions of the King Cake can be found throughout Europe and Latin America. The Spanish Rosca de Reyes and the Portugese Bolo Rei are usually topped with dried fruit and nuts, while the Swiss Dreikönigskuchen has balls of sweet dough surrounding the central cake. The Greek version, known as Vasilopita, resembles a coffee cake and is often served for breakfast.

8. The King Cake is no longer just a New Orleans tradition.

From New York to California, bakeries are serving up King Cakes in the New Orleans fashion, as well as the traditional French style. On Long Island, Mara’s Homemade makes their tri-colored cakes year round, while in Los Angeles you can find a galette de rois (topped with a nifty crown, no less) at Maison Richard. There are also lots of bakeries that deliver throughout the country, many offering customizable fillings from cream cheese to chocolate to fruits and nuts.

9. The New Orleans Pelicans have a King Cake baby mascot—and it is terrifying.

Every winter you can find this monstrosity at games, local supermarkets, and in your worst nightmares.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER