4 waterfront town rentals that are both affordable, luxurious

Washington, N.C., is a quaint waterfront town that is perfect for a weekend getaway or an extended stay. For those looking to explore all that Little Washington has to offer, apartment and housing rentals give visitors a localized experience that is both affordable and luxurious.

Posted Updated

Latisha Catchatoorian
, WRAL Digital Solutions
This article was written for our sponsor, Washington Tourism Development Authority.

Washington, N.C., is one of our state's hidden gems. With a lush and scenic waterfront, small town charm, and southern hospitality aplenty, it's the perfect place to spend a weekend or book an extended getaway.

While upscale accommodations typically come with a hefty price tag, Washington has an array of options that fall into the category of "affordable luxury." Hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts are popular choices, but the city also has an impressive roster of Airbnb rentals and other rentals that give visitors a localized experience.

If you're a visitor looking to explore all Washington has to offer or even if you're a regional local longing for a staycation, consider one of the following reasonably-priced lodging options that don't compromise on amenities.

The Apartments on Main are two different spaces owned by superhost Felicia Burroughs Huggins. The renovated building where the apartments are located was built in 1900, and the two two-bedroom apartments are some of the few nightly rentals in Washington's historic downtown district.

The first apartment has amenities like an in-unit washer and dryer and a smart TV. The second features an open floor plan, hardwood floors and a fireplace. Both share a large roof-level deck. Due to their location, the apartments are just steps away from the waterfront, restaurants and shopping.

"We have many people come to Washington to visit our beautiful, historic waterfront town to shop and dine, and now they can lodge right in the middle of it all," Huggins said. "Whether you are in town for a wedding, an ECU football game, a family reunion, work, coming in off a boat, looking to move down east, or are just getting away for a relaxing weekend, we offer everything you need with all the comforts of home."

Huggins moved to Washington in her 20s and has operated her hair salon business, which is just below the Apartments on Main, in downtown Washington for more than 25 years. She said the people of Washington, who she calls "the friendliest and most caring," give the town a "real Maybury feel."

This studio meant for two guests is an artsy loft apartment located in historic downtown Washington. Its large windows overlook Main Street and the space evokes a contemporary-yet-classic aesthetic. A fully-equipped kitchen, a bathroom with all linens and toiletries provided, and a side-street entrance make visitors truly feel at home.

Owner and Washington local Barbara Hardy runs the Loft with her husband and adult children. Since she owns and runs the Secret Garden Gallery boutique right below the apartment, she is readily available for patrons should needs come up.

"I was born and raised in Washington. I went away to college and lived in a couple of other places before moving back. When we did, we found a space downtown and moved our business there," Hardy said. "But there was this apartment upstairs. It used to be the old American Barbershop, and as a child, I would go there with my father on Saturdays when he'd get his haircut."

Hardy and her husband, who are both artists, lovingly filled the space with curated art and unique items that complement the 12-foot walls of the naturally sunlit loft she remembers visiting in its former life. She said it's been a full circle experience.

"Washington is such a great town," she said. "With the Airbnb being right downtown in the heart of the arts district, there are restaurants around, the river is a block away and the theater is next door. There are all kinds of cultural events. You can walk to see all the old houses and beautiful gardens. There's a ghost walk that happens. We feel really fortunate to have this lovely spot and everyone loves it."

Originally built in 1913, this red cottage shares a garden and terrace with its sister Airbnb cabin right next door, the Original Washington "Sleeper Car."

The Caboose is a studio unit with a living area, kitchenette and private bath. Both cottages sleep four guests and have a rich local history.

"This historic site was originally the Norfolk-Southern Cafe and was located next door to the train depot," states the Airbnb listing. "In the 1930s, the building was the site of small grocery stores and meeting spaces, eventually becoming a popular coffee shop called 'The Coffee Caboose.' In 2019, the space was converted into a private house located steps from the waterfront, and downtown dining and shopping."

Property owner Mary Anne Nunally Foy's ties to Washington run deep — she lives in a house that was built in 1890 and originally owned by her grandfather after World War II. She said the Caboose is unique because of the thousands of people who have been in and out of the building throughout its rich history. She even has pictures of the circus unloading from the depot and elephants walking by the front of the Caboose.

"It's a magical building that loves people," she said. "Visitors can have their own little house in the middle of the historic district, and it's very affordable compared to hotels."

As an Airbnb host, Foy said she has met people from all over the world and said everyone seems to love her beautiful town as much as she does.

This stately, four-bedroom brick house features a living room with a gas fireplace, an expansive kitchen, a large, screened-in porch, and a downstairs master suite just within walking distance of Washington's harbor. The traditionally decorated home feels both modern and classic with touches like oriental rugs, while the built-ins and architectural elements reveal true craftsmanship.

"Our rental is unique for several reasons," said owner Mandy Monath. "It is an entire house in the historic district. There are very few rentals like this and it's great for families or groups that want to stay together. We have made a point of keeping our rates affordable because we love the idea that we are bringing people together. Our house is the perfect space for wedding parties, book clubs, girls' weekends, writers' groups, family reunions and friends in town for special events."

Monath said affordable luxury is possible in Washington because real estate prices and taxes are fairly low. Though she and her husband currently live in Raleigh, they plan to retire in Washington and are very excited to do so.

"When we first visited Washington in 2017, we could not believe this beautiful town was so close to Raleigh. We had always wanted to live in a waterfront town and in a historic neighborhood — Washington offered both," Monath said. "We come to Washington regularly to manage the house rental, and every time we walk through the historic district and down by the waterfront we are struck once again by the beauty of this little town."

She added, "Washington is a great place to visit or live. We look forward to moving to Washington because this is not only a beautiful place, it is a real community. By listing our vacation rental through the local tourism office, we have met so many great people who love this place and have contributed greatly to its charm and success."

This article was written for our sponsor, Washington Tourism Development Authority.


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