Stay in the world’s most renegade Airbnb, Slab City CA. Lots of people book their accommodation through Airbnb because they want to experience something different away from the usual tourist traps. Not many, however, are quite as different as a residence called California Ponderosa in Slab City, California. For £24 a night, visitors can live in an RV in this renegade desert community away from the normal trappings of civilisation and amongst a diverse collection of interesting people living alternative lifestyles. Geography normally separates this community from the outside world, but they have opened themselves up to visitors and proved to be very popular indeed.
What is Slab City?
Residents call it ‘the last free place in America’. Formed near the bottom of ‘Salvation Mountain’, a huge art installation created by Leonard Knight in the 80s, this is a place with no rent, no landlords, no tax and only the occasional visits from the police and local authorities. Residences cluster in and around the abandoned concrete slabs of a WWII military barracks called Camp Dunlap. People have made their home in shacks and RVs. The population rises and falls in opposition to the rises and falls of the temperature as the summer heat of the California desert is too much for most. People who feel they have no place in society – artists, retirees, criminals, anarchists and grifters – moved in, staked out a plot of land and built a home for themselves temporarily or long term.
One resident, George Sisson, brought in a couple of old RVs, built a shack and started to overcome the difficulties of being completely cut off from the usual urban conveniences. He worked out how to get water down from the nearest town three miles away and sorted out a sewage disposal system. In addition, he created an open fireplace and rigged up a power system using solar panels and batteries. To supplement his income from state benefits and food stamps, he opened one of his RVs up to tourists through Airbnb and visitors don’t seem to have been deterred by the only place to buy groceries being in the same town the water came from. In fact, travellers don’t seem to have been put off by any of these inconveniences and have been flocking to this fascinating encampment which looks a bit like something out of a Mad Max film but with more wacky art and a tent set aside as an internet café with wireless internet connectivity.
George’s Airbnb has been so popular that he has over 100 reviews so far and they almost all give him five stars for everything. One guest described it as “a beautiful, warm friendly, immersive gateway into an area and community that would otherwise be difficult to properly access as a visitor.” Another guest said, “The sky at night is magical, and the fire pit and light decorated trees provide a perfecting setting for grabbing a beer and hanging out with locals.” Many reviews described the experience of staying there as “unique” and even more praised George’s hospitality and the warm reception they received at Slab City.
Slab City is a thoroughly different holiday destination for the curious and adventurous. It also shows that you can literally open an Airbnb anywhere and someone will want to visit. If you’re planning an interesting new experience through an Airbnb stay, or a completely normal one, we have a travel insurance policy to suit you. Click here to begin your quote.