cabin exterior. woods. tree. hammock
Courtesy Airbnb 
Places to Stay

My Favorite Airbnb in California: A Romantic, Secluded Cabin Near Los Angeles

It's packed with amenities like a hot tub, freestanding fireplace, and a secret movie room.

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As my partner and I drove up California’s San Bernardino Mountains last December, I watched the weather change from mild and gray to bitterly cold and stormy. We were told that snow was coming, so we pulled over and a local helped put snow chains onto our tires. Needless to say, we were a far cry from the motorways of London, where I live.

We soon arrived in the small town of Running Springs, passing a handful of stores en route—I could hardly believe we were just an hour and a half from Los Angeles. We followed the winding roads to the end of a small neighborhood and there, hidden among rows of pine trees, was Lightfoot Cabin, the Airbnb we had booked for Christmas.

The Airbnb hosts had set up a warm welcome: a beautiful wreath hung from the front door and the fire was roaring inside the rather spectacular freestanding fireplace in the living room. As we entered it immediately warmed our freezing hands—although I was almost too preoccupied with the feeling that we had stepped into a scene of a Hallmark movie to notice.

The cabin was even more captivating than the photos in the listing; hard to believe, as those photos had stopped me in my tracks when planning this trip. I imagined us cuddling up in front of a fireplace and sipping mulled wine while wrapped up in blankets inside a private, cozy cabin—it felt like the most romantic way to spend Christmas, and Lightfoot Cabin had it all. Aforementioned fireplace, check. Cozy loft bedroom, check. Adorable kitchen with all the tools for making endless hot drinks, check, check, check.

In person, everything about this place felt special, from the beautiful, dark exterior to the perfectly considered small bench to leave your shoes. The cabin was small but spacious enough for two, and packed with amenities like a hot tub and large deck, complete with space heaters for the winter. The interiors were designed with mid-century features, making the aesthetic modern and fresh, while the wood paneling throughout maintained that traditional cabin feel. The kitchen's mint Smeg fridge and breakfast bar provided everything needed to make coffee and pancakes (essentials for a romantic stay, if you ask me). The window over the sink overlooked the forest of evergreen trees, which certainly made washing up feel like less of a chore. Those views are one-upped, though, by the bedroom’s A-frame window, with a scene that makes you feel like you’re looking into a landscape painting.

The lofted bedroom's windows look out over the forest.

Courtesy Airbnb 

The living room invites you to lounge all day.

Courtesy Airbnb 

Each day spent here was more idyllic than the next. We played Al Green on the Airbnb’s record player, cooked fluffy scrambled eggs and pancakes for breakfast, and soaked our bones in the hot tub on the deck overlooking trees that looked like they’d been dipped in powdered sugar. Come nighttime, we settled into the secret movie room downstairs—not shown among the Airbnb listing’s photos, it features an enormous projector, popcorn maker, and help-yourself jars of candy.

While it was hard to pull ourselves away from the romantic Airbnb, we took a scenic, 15-minute drive to Snow Valley Mountain Resort where you can ski, sled, or simply play in the snow with a day pass. We let ourselves become kids again, riding sleds down the snowy hills until our legs grew tired. On the way back to the cabin, we picked up dinner from the Old Country Coffee Shop & Diner, grabbing an only-at-a-diner combo of carne asada and homemade pie. The stop was also a friendly reminder that we were close to Hollywood after all, as it served as a filming location for the TV show Homecoming.

I never thought I was a mountain kind of gal (I’m usually a beach lover), but there is something to be said about the peace and tranquility of being surrounded by nothing but trees and nature. I imagine this place would be perfect rain or shine—and I know it was certainly wonderful in snow. Truthfully, it’s hard to find a single fault with the home, so it makes sense that many guests before me left glowing reviews. Whether you are from California or visiting from afar, add this magical mountain stay to your itinerary—you won’t regret it.

More Airbnbs we love in Running Springs:

An airy, design-forward loft 

Bed & bath: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Top amenities: 100" HDTV with Roku, hot tub, fire pit, movie theater 

This three-bedroom loft features entertaining amenities that will bring the whole group together. One of our favorite rooms is the movie theater which features a 100-inch screen and has Roku streaming capabilities for the whole family to enjoy. Located near Lake Arrowhead Village and Skypark, guests get to enjoy 10 percent off entry to the latter during their stay.

A family-friendly cabin 

Bed & bath: 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths
Top amenities: Public Goods toiletries, toddler-friendly utensils, oil diffuser

It can often be hard to keep a young family occupied during vacation, but this cozy, rustic cabin pulls out all the bells and whistles for the kids. The spacious house includes a basket of toys, crafts, and a car set. While the kiddos are occupied, rest easy on one of the three available decks and take in the view of the San Bernardino mountains.

A secluded gamer's haven near Big Bear

Bed & bath: 2 bedrooms, 1 bath
Top amenities: Keurig, electric grill, Gamecube, a scavenger hunt with a prize you can keep

A hidden adventure awaits inside this A-frame located in the San Bernardino Mountains. The two-bedroom cabin has a wide array of games to enjoy over the weekend. The host also has included an immersive scavenger hunt for guests to complete during their stay, and yes—you can keep the prize. If you feel like venturing out, swimming, fishing, and hiking opportunities are located at  Big Bear, which is 20 minutes away. 

A contemporary cabin

Bed & bath: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Top amenities: Ping Pong table, exercise equipment, hammock

This custom-built cabin features a fully equipped kitchen, board games, weights, and yoga mats. The A-frame features unique, colorful artwork that brightens up each room you step into. Just a short drive separates you from lively outdoor activities at Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, and the Snow Valley Ski & Mountain Resort.

A farmhouse-chic stay

Bed & bath: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Top amenities: Goodfellow toiletries, record player, French press, wood-burning fireplace

This three-bedroom cabin is the ideal retreat for those looking to take a step back from city life. Chic, minimalist design can be found throughout the house. Green accents in each room—from the backsplash in the bathroom to the dish towels—perfectly match the secluded, emerald forest that fills up the windows.

Looking for even more Airbnb recommendations? We've got you. Continue your search here: