Tiny Richmond House Offers Cheap Getaway 

click to enlarge About 25 guests have stayed in Andrew Cauthen’s littlest inn.

About 25 guests have stayed in Andrew Cauthen’s littlest inn.

It's 6 feet wide and made of sheet metal, but visitors from as far as Europe are flocking to what might be Richmond's cheapest place to spend the night.

While some suburban name-brand hotels are running about $100 and up this Saturday night, a stay in Andrew Cauthen's self-described tiny house will set you back only $24. And while there isn't much more than a loft bed and an empty floor, he says that's the point.

"I always wanted to have a place where people could go and have space," Cauthen says — "charge up and be what they really want to be."

Cauthen built the house on top of a boat trailer in 2009, working from modified shed plans. The project cost around $3,000.

"When I first made it, everyone just said, 'Oh, that's Andrew doing more weird stuff,'" he says. "[It was] my fun answer to the housing crisis."

Cauthen, a skateboarder and musician who performs under the name Planet Awesum, moved the tiny house to his apartment on North Avenue near Battery Park six months ago. He registered it with the massively popular accommodation site Airbnb.com in April and has been host to about 25 guests so far, including a couple from England who came to salsa dance for the weekend. A visitor from Germany will arrive next week.

While the house has a fan and two skylight windows that keep it surprisingly cool, guests are allowed to use his apartment's kitchen and bathroom to make their stay a little less like camping. He offers a vegan breakfast and use of a bicycle as well.

The popularity means playing host has become something like his full-time job. Cauthen describes his role as "just realizing what people need, whether you give them space or take people down to the river."

The reviews on Airbnb are glowing.

"Simple, humble and cozy," one traveler writes. "This was the perfect calm retreat in the middle of the city!"

Another guest from Atlanta: "If you're looking for a unique experience, look no further."

Cauthen says he'd like to see Richmond become a hub for tiny houses and plans to build more. For now, he's booking guests as far in advance as next year.

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