Design People & Places

Disappearing Town Explodes With New Life—Thanks to Airbnb

“The town is basically one giant Airbnb.”
Sophie Kaemmerlé Avatar
Hochatown Airbnb


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Chances are that if you ask anyone living in Hochatown, Oklahoma, they’ll credit Airbnb for “creating” the town.

Hochatown, which sits on the shores of Broken Bow Lake, is technically only a year old. It’s 11 square miles, and its main road is U.S. Highway 259, a two-lane road. It doesn’t look like a vacation destination, but the town of just 219 residents has welcomed up to 50,000 visitors every weekend. Those visitors come to the area for its wealth of outdoor activities (such as kayaking, hiking, and camping) and are staying in renovated $1 million Airbnbs—of which there are over 2,000.

Inside Hochatown’s Airbnb Boom

Until November 2022, Hochatown was an unincorporated area, relying on McCurtain County to supply the resources it needed to function. But as the number of visitors grew and the area’s popularity increased (in part thanks to the pandemic and nearby city dwellers looking to stay in more rural areas), Hochatown found itself unable to keep up with the infrastructure maintenance and upgrades required to accommodate such a huge influx of people—and growth in Airbnb rentals. Many residents, seeing the opportunity for cabin-owning and short-term rentals as a business opportunity, invested in properties and flipped them, resulting in the extraordinary number of rentals available today.

These new Airbnbs are not the typical cabin in the woods. Many of these newly renovated homes are outfitted with such amenities as hot tubs, which put a strain on the town’s resources. The New York Times interviewed Leo Winegar, a cabin owner in Hochatown, who said, “If you don’t have a hot tub, you can’t rent. But if a pipe breaks, because of the lack of redundancy and infrastructure, half the town has no water for days.”

To support the budding business opportunity, the area needed to have full access to and control of its tax revenue. In 2015, honorary mayor Dian Jordan led the effort to incorporate Hochatown, with success in 2022.

An Uncertain Future

With concerns around the pandemic waning and more people considering international stays, the Airbnb boom and visitor levels have slowed down for Hochatown. According to the Times, citing data from AirDNA, occupancy rates fell to 55 percent in March and hit a new low of 40 percent in August. Many short-term rental owners have been forced to consider selling those properties at deeply discounted prices. While these numbers are likely disheartening for business and property owners alike, some, like Mayor Dion, are relieved to have the chance to catch up with the demand.

Hochatown Airbnb

Hochatown Airbnbs We Love

Despite its size, Hochatown, Oklahoma, is a nature-lover’s paradise with a wealth of activities to partake in including fly-fishing, camping, and more. Hochatown is also known for its distilleries. These Airbnb properties are excellent options for anyone considering visiting the year-old town.

  • Moonshiners Lodge: Moonshiners Lodge boasts a six-guest capacity with three bedrooms. The cabin is located on a 2-acre wooded property, offering plenty of privacy. Standout amenities include a hot tub, a smoker, and a swing set for children. With a near 5-star rating, it’s an Airbnb guest favorite.
  • A-Frame Charm & Luxury by Lake: This Hochatown A-frame cabin provides a true modern, luxury stay: With a fire pit, hot tub, outdoor fireplace, and so much more, it’s as chic and inviting as Airbnbs get. Designer-curated details don’t go unnoticed, either. This 5-star Airbnb sleeps 10 guests across five bedrooms.
  • The Tipsy Squirrel: Although it really is a 1-bedroom space (and with more modest pricing), the Tipsy Squirrel is still a luxury stay, say its owners. With amenities including a covered porch and hot tub, there’s no denying it. It’s ideal for those who seek to immerse themselves in the surrounding nature.
  • Dixie Lullaby: Romantic and luxurious, Dixie Lullaby is a stylish space that retains the charm of a cabin. Guests call this Airbnb an excellent choice for a couple’s getaway, noting the quiet, peaceful, and beautiful surrounding area.

Not your style? Check out other Airbnbs in Hochatown, Oklahoma.

What to Know Before Choosing Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the best vacation rental sites, and the go-to place for an alternative to expensive hotels. Users are likely to find that Airbnb has the most listings of all its competitors, but that doesn’t mean that those sites are not worth considering, especially since Airbnb fees can quickly add up. For a more well-rounded search (and assurance that you’re getting the best price for your stay), consider alternatives such as Vrbo or Expedia. Guests looking to stay in towns such as Hochatown may not have hotels to consider, so it’s crucial to understand how to choose an Airbnb for the best experience. Consider the following factors for the best fit:

  • Guest reviews;
  • Host responsiveness;
  • Cancellation policy;
  • Total cost, including deposit and added fees; and
  • Amenities.