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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

AirbnJA

Janeites love making pilgrimages to the places where Jane Austen—or at least her relatives--once lived, worked, or ate. But for some fans, a mere visit to those hallowed spots is not enough. They want to stay.

 

For the past few years, those Janeites have been able to satisfy their cravings by renting Goodnestone House, a mansion in Kent once owned by the family of Jane Austen’s sister-in-law Elizabeth, married to Austen’s third-oldest brother, Edward. Or they have been able to opt for a stay in the less sprawling precincts of 4 Sydney Place, the Bath townhouse where Austen, her parents, and her sister, Cassandra, lived from 1801 to 1804.

 

And now comes a new golden opportunity for this kind of immersive Austen tourism: Airbnb has just begun listing short stays in a three-bedroom apartment in Chawton House, the Elizabethan mansion in Hampshire, England, where Edward's own family once lived. The apartment's Austen bona fides are impeccable: Jane Austen herself lived in the cottage down the road and visited the Great House often.

 

If you’re at loose ends over the coming holiday weekend, the Chawton apartment has Christmas week dates available at $301 per night (with a four-night minimum). For next year, members of the North American Friends of Chawton House have been offered an early opportunity to lock in three-night stays, and the general public gets its shot starting January 1.

 

Judging from the pictures, the apartment in question, usually used to house academics visiting Chawton’s research library, is cozy, if not exactly elegant, and renters will have round-the-clock access to Chawton House’s gorgeous grounds. The 2024 prices, which the North American Friends report will be £200 per night ($255) from February through April and £250 per night ($319) from May through September and at Christmas, aren’t exactly cheap, but then again, the place does sleep six.

 

The apartment lacks a TV, but appropriately enough, books are available. (Less appropriately, so is Wifi.) If you’re entertaining fantasies of curling up after hours with a cup of hot cocoa and one of the Chawton library’s priceless first editions, however, you’re in for a disappointment: Although daytime admission to the main part of the house is included in the rental fee, that area is protected by an alarm system after closing time.

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