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Four Unique Places to Stay in Kentucky Custom to cozy, artsy to airy, Lawrenceburg has a bounty of unique places to stay the night.

By Patti Nickel

Lawrenceburg, Kentucky surprises with a selection of unique accommodations guaranteed to please every guest – from travelers on the Bourbon Trail to those who appreciate a designer’s home-away-from-home.  Here are four examples of the wonderful overnight experiences on offer. 

Bourbon Barrel Retreats

When Tony and Christina Happeny decided to open a tourist accommodation on land near the Anderson/Nelson County line, they ran into just one obstacle……they couldn’t find a builder willing to build it. It seems that their idea for the property was just too difficult for builders to entertain.  So, what did they do?  Easy – they built it themselves.

By the end of August, the Happenys will be ready to open Bourbon Barrel Retreats, a group of seven cottages which will expand to include two more by the end of the year.

The cottages are approximately sixteen feet in diameter, have a single bedroom for two people (and a pet should you choose to bring one); a kitchenette complete with refrigerator, coffee pot and hot plate for cooking; full bath; and sitting area with a bistro table and two chairs, couch and end table. Three of the cottages will also come with a hot tub.

Seems simple enough, so why did prospective builders balk at the project?  Oh, did we forget to mention that each cottage is an exact replica of a bourbon barrel?

Since November of 2022, Tony and Christina have worked 12-hour days, seven days a week on the project. “I’ve probably used 100,000 screws to hold the walls together,” says Tony, a former salesman of robotic equipment. “And I’ve used some 150 gallons of stain,” chimes in Christina, an oncology nurse before becoming a DIYer.

Luckily, the couple had some prior experience before tackling their newest venture.  Their first project, a glamping dome in Altamont, Tennessee on a plateau of the Cumberland Mountains, was chronicled on the Discovery Channel’s Building off the Grid. “You might say we learned on the job,” says Tony with a laugh.

Why the oddly shaped configuration of the accommodations? The Happenys say it was the proximity to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail that was the deciding factor.  “We anticipate our demographic will be active retirees and empty nesters with a passion for bourbon,” says Tony.  “We expect our guests will want to continue their bourbon experience with the type of accommodations they choose.” Just wait until they see the large circular window mimicking a barrel top that is the focal point of the bedroom.

The couple will happily plan a bourbon-centric itinerary for guests, who can return at the end of the day to the Retreat’s common area to swap bourbon stories around the fire pit. Afterward, they will be off to bed with the satisfaction of knowing that they are sleeping in the only barrel-shaped accommodations in the United States.

 Twinflower Cabin

If you are looking for a (semi) isolated cabin in the woods which nevertheless has all the comforts of home and a stylish décor that would be appropriate for House Beautiful, you’ve arrived at the right place (after ascending a winding gravel driveway, that is.) Just 10 minutes from Beaver Lake and 15 minutes from downtown Lawrenceburg, Twinflower is the ultimate romantic destination for couples (adults only, saltwater hot tub, outdoor dining table lit by lanterns).

As it sleeps four, Twinflower Cabin also makes for a great girlfriends’ getaway or even a weekend retreat for good friends, according to Katie Petry, who owns the property with her husband Michael.

Katie, an artist, and Michael, a musician, are all about creativity, and it shows in every detail of the cabin.  A cast iron stove was transported from southern Indiana to add a nostalgic touch to the living room, while a soaking tub and posh linen robes turn the bathroom into a spa (the spa theme can be continued in the outdoor hot tub just off the expansive deck).

The upstairs bedroom is an homage to an artist’s loft, albeit with a comfy King-sized bed.  Being artists themselves, it’s a vibe Katie and Michael want to encourage in their guests. “We got our inspiration from the previous owner, who was a writer,” says Katie, “and we got the name from a book, Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson which I love and keep here in the library for guests to read.

She also admits to a more personal reason for the name. “We have two daughters – a six-year-old and a two-year-old – that we call our little flowers,” says the proud mom.

Artistic expression is encouraged here, but so is communing with nature. “We have an easy-to-moderate loop trail that begins practically at our front porch and crosses a creek that parallels the property,” says Katie. There is opportunity to see plenty of wildlife such as deer, wild turkey, foxes and rabbits. “There are also butterflies and birds – lots of birds,” she says.  “We keep binoculars for our guests to bird watch.”

While the cabin comes equipped with yoga mats, games, record player and books on topics from gardening to spirituality, the one thing it doesn’t have is a television. As Katie says, “we want this to be a place where you relax and reconnect with yourself.”

Kentucky River Bourbon Cabin

If your idea of paradise is sitting in a hot tub on a deck overlooking the Kentucky River, or enjoying morning coffee in Adirondack chairs on a front porch with a view of the woods, then Kentucky River Bourbon Cabin is the place for you. Located six miles from downtown Lawrenceburg, the cabin is enclosed by woods, a fact that owners Melissa and Josh Gowen feel accounts for its high occupancy throughout the year.

That, and the scenic route taken to get there. “The whole drive is through the woods,” says Melissa, adding that the road crosses multiple bridges before it arrives at the cabin.

As scenic as the drive is, it’s the cabin that’s the real attraction.  Melissa describes the décor as “having a cabin feel with a modern flair.” Contributing to the cabin feel are the A-frame wood ceilings, warm woods, stone fireplace and antique furniture. As for the modern flair, that would be a completely outfitted custom kitchen and a custom bath where a tankless water heater allows for endless hot water. “Fifteen people in a row could take a shower and still have hot water,” says Melissa. The two bedrooms (one a loft) means it’s an ideal retreat for four people, according to Melissa. 

“80 percent of our guests come for the Bourbon Trail or horse activities,” she says, “but we also get families who want to encourage their kids to get unplugged and into nature.” Toward that end, they have installed a fire pit, and have facilities for cornhole and lawn darts.  Future plans call for a horseshoe pit.

Still, for those not wanting to go completely off the grid, the couple has installed a 70-inch TV in the living area and TVs in each bedroom. We’re betting that a TV is the last thing some guests care about when checking in.  Why?  Kentucky River Bourbon Cabin was featured as one of the Top 10 romantic getaways in the state by Louisville-based Leo Weekly (wink).

The Neat House

When Allen Warford opened The Neat House with his brother Luke in a Lawrenceburg neighborhood in August of 2022, he had two things in mind. “We used the word neat to refer to bourbon, but also because we want to provide a clean, comfortable, safe and yes, neat environment for our guests,” he says.

Mission accomplished.  The Neat House – only five minutes from downtown Lawrenceburg – features a living room, three bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, one-and-a-half baths, and a small wraparound deck with fire pit. “We have room for up to six people,” says Allen, who adds that the average length of stay is three to four nights. “Our demographic is a bit more all-encompassing than some of the other area properties,” he says.   “While we do have folks coming for the Bourbon Trail, we also have them coming for weddings and family holidays.  “And we have a whole separate category of business travelers who are looking for something more home-like,” he adds.

Allen, who went to architecture school at the University of Kentucky, admits to favoring the minimalist design of Mies van der Rohe, a German-American architect recognized as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture. In describing the aesthetic of the Neat House, he says it is mid-20th century modern mixed with farmhouse. “Every element was very intentional,” says Allen, “from the leather ottomans and a mid-century light fixture spanning 10 feet across in the living room to the shiplap on the walls above the kitchen counters.  “The first two are modern touches, while the last is quintessential farmhouse chic.”

The artwork they chose consists mainly of large canvases, including some very Kentucky-centric pieces, such as the blueprints of bourbon stills found in the sitting room. In keeping with the modern vibe, each room has a different color scheme.  The kitchen, living room and sitting area are done in neutrals and earth tones, while the bedrooms have pops of bold colors such as bright blue, olive green and burnt orange.

Allen, who describes himself as the design expert and Luke as the people-pleaser who ensures everyone has a good time, says his most gratifying experience as a host is to read the Neat House guest book. “It’s really cool to see people appreciating what Lawrenceburg has to offer.”

For more information on these and other Lawrenceburg accommodations, go to