The Caboose house at Caravan (Photo: Caravan)
We’ve all heard of trailer and RV parks, but one couple decided to take that simplistic spirit to a new level by opening a hotel featuring only tiny homes. Though the tiny house movement is picking up steam, Caravan — The Tiny House Hotel is the first of its kind. “We knew there was a strong interest in tiny houses,” says co-owner Deb Delman. “But there weren’t many options available to see and feel what it would be like to live in one.”`
Having a combined passion for alternative living and a background in environmental planning and design, Deb and her husband, Kol, started by building their own tiny home. Eventually, they noticed a vacant lot next door and came up with the idea to have a property filled with tiny homes for people to stay in and experience a simpler life. “We wanted to have a place to showcase the possibilities of small living and housing,” says Deb. “And also expose travelers to a unique take on Portland.”
Bunks and a kitchen in one of the Caravan’s tiny houses (Photo: Caravan)
While individuals list their tiny homes on sites like Airbnb and HomeAway, Caravan is the first commercially zoned tiny house property for guests. Located in the popular and funky Alberta Arts District in Portland, Oregon, the property has five homes built by locals, each with its own unique, creative, and artistic features. “Our model is to rotate them over time, so we can continue to bring in the latest and greatest models,” adds Deb. With rates starting at $125 a night, the homes accommodate 1–4 people depending on availability. Each tiny house has electric heat, a bathroom with a flush toilet and hot shower, and a kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, and hot plate. “You actually get a lot more privacy than a typical hotel, because you have four walls all to yourself,” says Deb. “But you also get that great sense of community and unique amenities not offered anywhere else.”
Caravan—The Tiny House Hotel (Photo: Caravan)
The homes are situated in a circle around a central gathering place reminiscent of campgrounds, but in an urban setting. Guests can mingle, swap stories around a campfire, and even check out one another’s one-of-a-kind tiny home. “People are loving it,” adds Deb. “People appreciate being someplace unusual and unique and having that balance of private and being able to meet other travelers.”
And like any hotel, Caravan offers travelers amenities to help them enjoy the best of what Portland has to offer and relax in true vacation style. “As the owners, we meet and check in every guest and are available to answer questions like a personal concierge,” says Deb. “We’ve also partnered with a local restaurant to provide room service until 2 a.m., and every night we have all-you-can-eat s’mores.” There’s also a BBQ, a fire pit, Adirondack chairs, a hammock, and lots of funky, locally made metal, stained glass, and recycled art decorating the compound.
Guests gather around the fire pit at night. (Photo: Caravan)
Caravan is conveniently located near Portland attractions like the famous Grilled Cheese Grill, a bike co-op, shops, galleries, tattoo parlors, a rooftop bar, and a school bus restaurant. If you’re in town on the last Thursday of the month, you can experience the infamous Last Thursday art walk.
And if you want to make it a family affair, the hotel rents out the property for events. “You can rent out the whole place,” says Deb. “It sleeps 20 people total, and we’ve even hosted weddings.” As the widespread appeal of tiny houses grows, so too will the hotel and possible other locations. “There’s been such a huge interest in the one year we’ve been open that we’ve actually started Sunday tours and have gotten calls about opening other tiny house hotels,” says Deb. “It’s really exciting and feels like it’s just the beginning of a lot of big things.” I guess that’s why they say great things come in small packages!