Vintage trailer is a unique Airbnb vacation rental in the Malibu hills, with sweeping views of Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Mountains.
You know how everyone always writes “I’ll be back!” — and there’s always an exclamation point — in vacation rental guest books?
This is the story of an “I’ll be back” promise kept at a hideaway on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
The first time I stayed in the Malibu Airstream trailer, I drove through a gate onto a ranch in the Malibu hills with scrub brush and gullies that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood western. As I followed Rob, the caretaker, I hoped my low-to-the-ground Mini Cooper could make it up the steep, rutted dirt road that leads to the vacation-rental trailer.
If you go
Two Airstream trailers are available for rent on the Malibu hills property. They can be booked through the Airbnb site.
•The 1957 Airstream with Pacific views rents for $145 a night: airbnb.com/rooms/820227
•The 1971 Airstream doesn’t have an ocean view, but sleeps four. $135 a night at airbnb.com/rooms/1077343
We arrived at.a plateau where the shiny 1957 Airstream Flying Cloud sat, with 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains.
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And, thanks to Airbnb, it all belonged to me — for the night, at least.
Rob showed me the ropes of the sweetly geriatric, off-the-grid trailer. Use water and lights mindfully, he said. He noted that there were no outlets, so make sure your phone is fully charged before you get there.
He left me to it, and I knew the first thing I wanted to do: set up my battery-powered record player on the table outside the trailer. I’d brought a pile of vinyl and wanted to hear how it sounded in the open air of a wilderness that says: Yeah, L.A. is high-rises and shopping malls and freeways, but it will never be fully tamed.
I kept the volume low, because noise carries in the canyons, but it sounded wonderful. The ‘70s California vibe of Ray LaMontagne’s “Supernova” echoed off the aluminum of the Airstream and the sunbaked hillsides, and it felt as if I’d stepped into a groovy Malibu past.
As the sun started to drop, the traffic on Mulholland below shifted from motorcycles and Ferraris racing to the sea to sedans and SUVs moving tiredly inland from the beach. Finally, it was just small packs of cars, their beams looking like the posse hunting Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Then, it was the big moment: sunset. You don’t get a better front-row seat at day’s end in California than the comfy chairs lined up like sentinels guarding the view of the Pacific.
The pleasures of the place were at once low-key and spectacular: the shades of a sky as it darkened, a dog barking a few canyons over, the space station gliding over the Pacific like a bright star and disappearing into the black silhouette of the mountains.
Finally, I got out of my chair and started thinking about dinner. The trailer’s kitchenette is small but functional, with a gas stove and oven, a large fridge and decent-sized sink. It’s stocked with the basics for cooking, but next time I would bring a bigger pot or two. (More on that later.)
Even smaller is the bathroom. You climb over the two-person bed to reach it, and you don’t have much room for moving around. But remember, this is like ultracool camping. This is not a hotel.
I ended the day by reading some Southern California noir by Ross MacDonald and fell asleep trying to see the meteor shower on tap for that night — but the full moon was determined to outshine the stars.
The next morning, I slept in and missed the sunrise. But the late-morning view of the ocean, with the barest hint of marine layer, made me wish it wasn’t time to pack up and leave.
But I knew the Airstream was waiting for me if I want to escape the city, without actually having to escape the city.
P.S. I’ve already been back twice.
I even spent Thanksgiving there with my family. We booked the Airstream on the hilltop and another one elsewhere on the property, a later-model Airstream in a canyon that doesn’t have views but does have more space.
Yes, you can cook a holiday meal in a trailer kitchen. As a vegetarian family we didn’t do a turkey, but with some coordination and an edict against too many cooks in the kitchen, we had a wonderful meal.
I didn’t even have to write it in the guest book to know: I’ll be back.