Washougal Airbnb host named WA’s ‘most hospitable’

Erika Leavitt began renting 2-bedroom 'Little Creek Cottage' in 2020

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Erika Leavitt (left) and her husband, Joshua, gather near their rural Washougal residence. Airbnb recently named Erika, who has been hosting short-term guests in her Washougal cottage since 2020, as the state's "most hospitable" Airbnb host. (Contributed photo courtesy of Erika Leavitt)

A Washougal resident has been named the most hospitable Airbnb host in Washington state.

Erika Leavitt began renting the two-bedroom “Little Creek Cottage” on her rural Washougal property three years ago, and said being an Airbnb host is a natural fit with her full-time job as a real estate agent.

“A good host (provides) open communication,” Leavitt said. “I’ve done customer service jobs and customer relations jobs for years and years, so that part (of hosting) came really easy. I mean, it’s just like real estate, right? You just need to be personable to people.”

Airbnb, a San Francisco-based company that operates an online marketplace for short- and long-term home stays, recently took notice of Leavitt’s efforts, selecting her as the “most hospitable host” in Washington state for 2023.

“I’m really honored,” Leavitt said. “I was shocked. I think I do a good job. I think there’s other people that do an equally good job, but the fact that they (recognized me) is great — it puts Washougal on the map.”

In a news release announcing the “most hospitable host” awards, Airbnb noted that hosts must have 100% five-star ratings in the categories of cleanliness, check-in and communication in a minimum of 100 reviews to be considered for recognition.

“Hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers,” the company stated. “Host hospitality can take many forms — a spotless listing, a quick response to a guest need, a seamless and straightforward check-in process that makes kicking off a vacation easy, and going above and beyond to prioritize health and safety.”

Reviews of Leavitt’s cottage, which boasts a fully-stocked kitchen, hot tub, fire pit, horseshoe pit and a trail leading to a small creek, rave about the Washougal property.

“This cottage is amazing,” one recent reviewer wrote on Leavitt’s Airbnb site. “The host included every small touch imaginable — smores, hot tub towels, creek towels and sunscreen, kids’ games. (The) kitchen is well stocked. Everything in the cottage is new, clean and modern, but still feels ‘homey.’ The host was super friendly; she always answered our text questions. The outside has everything — a large, clean hot tub, grill, fire pit, porch and picnic table. We used it all. Loved it. Will be back again.”

Leavitt also invites her guests to visit the alpacas and sheep that graze in an adjoining pasture area.

“That’s unique,” Leavitt said. “I think that’s what kind of brings it to (another level). We don’t have the river, but we do have the alpacas.”

Leavitt said the animals have learned to sense when people are on the back porch of her Airbnb cottage and will run over to greet the visitors.

“I think they enjoy it as much as the guests,” Leavitt said of the alpacas and sheep.

Leavitt and her husband, Joshua, moved to rural Washougal from Utah in 2016. They purchased and remodeled the cottage, and started accepting Airbnb reservations in 2020.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” Leavitt said. “But with so many family and friends coming to visit, we realized it is such a nice, relaxing space. So when that house became available to buy, we jumped on the opportunity, and it’s been successful.”

Initially, the couple planned to rent the cottage long-term if the short-term Airbnb venture didn’t pan out.

“We were just like, ‘Let’s just try it for a while, and if it doesn’t make the mortgage, we’re going to have to do a longer term rental.’ But from the start, it just took off, and it was great,” she said. “It was one of those moments when you’re like, ‘OK, this was the right thing at the right time.’”

For more information about the cottage or to check its rental availability and pricing, visit