Experience Cortland is rounding up unique Airbnbs across Cortland County. Stay tuned throughout the year as we highlight accommodations and their nearby attractions to ensure guests have an inspiring experience. Please note, locations and their amenities grow and change throughout the year. Contact the host directly through Airbnb if you have any questions.
The heady scent of horseflesh and sweet hay instantly washed over me as I stepped through the massive barn doors. Sara Potter's melodic voice floated across the riding arena, "Eyes up, elbows forward. Lighten your seat as you squeeze with your legs." The big chestnut mare leaped into a canter, and her young student blithely smiled. I settled in along the rail to watch the lesson as Darling, the resident barn dog, pressed against my side. When the lesson finished, Sara offered me a tour of her immaculate stables and the room I'd be calling home for the evening.
We began our tour in the lounge. It's a grand space with lofted ceilings, two stories high, skirted by a catwalk connecting the rooms on either end. A massive wrought iron chandelier hung front and center, its light glinting off the wall-to-wall windows, revealing an uninterrupted view of the indoor riding arena. On a busy afternoon, this space is filled with students and boarders, watching lessons, perusing through the equine library, or catching up over a drink and nibble. Tonight, the overstuffed chairs and comfy couch are all mine to enjoy by the blush of the potbelly stove.
I followed Sara as she headed into the adjacent kitchen. She beamed proudly as she showed me around the freshly renovated space. There is a full-sized fridge, a coffee station with all the fixings, and an old-fashioned popcorn maker that reminded me of trips to the theater as a child. She instructed me to help myself to anything I might need, and I instantly felt at home.
We turned around, passing through the lounge again, to the other side. She pointed out the fully stocked bathroom along the way, before heading into what I can only describe as the most glamourous bunkhouse—the room host four beds, a small sitting area, and a crackling wood-burning stove. Precariously balanced between wildly bohemian and equestrian chic, this space is warm and welcoming and entirely charming in every detail. It's late spring, and the evenings are still cool, so Sara tossed another log on the fire for me, embers sparking back to life. I threw my overnight bag on one of the hand-carved beds and made my way to the adjacent barn. It's feeding time and Sarah has graciously allowed me to tag along.
Hungry nickers greeted me as I stepped into the second barn. I wasted no time filling my arms with hay, tossing flakes into the racks of each stall. Sara spoke lovingly of every horse as she rationed out their grain and explained to me the entirety of the 100 acres was mine to enjoy. Not one to waste a sunset, I zipped up my coat against the evening breeze and headed out to explore. Walking past the outdoor jump arena into a small gulley, I heard the creek before seeing it. Gurgling over the rocks and into a small pond, I find Darling hunting along its shore. Spotting me, she merrily lopes over, her tongue lolling out.
Together we ascend the hill, along the bridle path between the paddocks. The setting sun was deep radiant pink. A lop-eared donkey brayed for scratches, and I was only too happy to oblige her. I stood at the crest of the hill and gazed down over Big Easy Stables, aglow in the golden light. As the peepers began their nightly chorus, Darling's head cocked, and she trotted down the hill to the farmhouse. It must be her dinner time. I took her cue and headed back to the bunkhouse for my own dinner and wine.
The lounge was empty; silent save the popping of the fire. I padded across the tiled floors in stocking feet, heading towards the kitchen to retrieve my tacos and bottle of rose. Back in my room, I drug the wingbacked chair in front of the fire and enjoyed my meal with a book I'd been meaning to finish for far too long. Before I knew it, the warmth of the fire (or perhaps the rose) had lulled me to sleep. I sank into the softest memory foam bed and drifted into the most profound slumber.
I awoke in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to explore. Grabbing a cup of coffee and tossing on my boots, I wandered out for a sunrise hike. Sara was already out tending to morning chores, and all the horses were chewing contentedly. I marched back up and over the hill, beyond the paddocks, into the cross country field. Just past the rolltop jump, I turned around to take in the sweeping views. I was astounded by how far I could see, ridgeline after ridgeline of rolling green hills. I instantly regretted not booking a morning ride with Sara.
I finished my coffee and slowly made my way back, taking time to stroke every velvet muzzle that peaked over the gate at me. Packing my bags was bittersweet. I hated for this dreamy getaway to come to a close. But, in the end, it was made sweet knowing I would undoubtedly return for many seasons to come.
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