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Welcome to August: high season in Narrowsburg. The shops and restaurants are busy with visitors. The Delaware River is full of rafters and kayakers. And the nightly accommodations around town are booked solid.
In the early 20th century, boarding houses were the “hotels” of the area. The proprietors of these three- and four-story homes with loads of bedrooms and massive front porches would welcome city dwellers off the train and give them a place to decompress in the mountains for a week, a month, or the whole summer. In the 1930s, there were about 40 boarding houses in Narrowsburg, and a room would cost about $3 a night. Some of Narrowsburg’s original boarding houses have been converted to private homes (Villa Marie on Bridge Street). Some didn’t survive fires (The Homestead in Luxton Lake). One near me on the Ten Mile River (The Pines Farms) has been transformed into a clubhouse for a hunting club.
While boarding houses are a thing of the past, Narrowsburg currently has two inns. The Narrowsburg Inn (182 Bridge St.) prides itself on being the oldest continuously operated inn of its type in New York State. It has a bar and restaurant on the main floor, and five rooms upstairs ranging in price from $95 to $125 a night. The newest addition to town, the Moon River Inn (240 Bridge St.) just opened this summer. The 1860s farmhouse, located a stone’s throw off Main Street, features three updated rooms that range from $200 to $250 a night.
Today, however, most Narrowsburg visitors stay in private homes they book online with Airbnb.com. Airbnb is a website that allows people to list their homes and apartments for nightly or weekly rental. Narrowsburg alone has close to 40 home listings on Airbnb, which range in price from $89 to $295 a night.
I’ve been an Airbnb host since 2013, and I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. My guests enjoy living like a local, even if just for a weekend. And in addition to charging a small fee to the host and the guest, Airbnb collects a 5% room tax, which goes directly to Sullivan County. In 2017, the county’s revenue from Airbnb room tax totaled $146,102.28. If my math is right, that means Sullivan County Airbnb hosts brought in almost $3 million last year alone.
Now if we just could get Uber and Lyft in Sullivan County, visitors could get around without a car.