Out of all the highways I’ve traversed in my life, I-95 is probably the one with which I’m the most well acquainted. As someone who has spent most of their life on the East Coast, it’s rare that I’ll take a big road trip without hitting it at least once.
This year we took one road trip in particular that took us down hundreds upon hundreds of miles of I-95. We were driving from Pennsylvania to Florida, and it was going to take two days.
Usually, when I book this route, I find a hotel somewhere around Fayetteville, NC or Santee, SC. This time was a little bit of a different story.
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Why I did things differently.
I’m back to traveling again, but I’m still being careful with coronavirus.
Catching it sounds like a great way to ruin a trip, and I’m not eager to roll the dice with Long COVID complications for my family or the people around us.
Part of my COVID travel precautions include booking properties with windows that open, as good ventilation is one of the best ways to prevent an infection is the first place.
You’d think that would be an easy feat, but it’s not. If a hotel was built in the recent past, its windows likely don’t open at all.
I had a particularly hard time finding one on I-95 that would be even marginally close to the ‘halfway’ point. I spent countless hours browsing Open My Hotel Window and calling individual properties up and down the corridor.
Finding a property took a lot of extra work for this specific trip. But I’m kind of glad it did.
Because this little sojourn led me to my new favorite hotel off of I-95. It’s an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss.
Here’s where to stay in North Carolina off of I-95.
Believe it or not, the property I found wasn’t in a bigger town like Fayetteville. For a minute I even thought I might book a place in Lumberton, but that didn’t work out.
No, ultimately my favorite hotel off I-95 ended up being a bit further north in Rocky Mount.
Favorite Hotel off I-95: River and Twine
My favorite hotel off I-95 ended up not being a hotel at all. Instead, it was a tiny-house community that’s specifically built to be a hotel alternative.
River and Twine hosts a handful of clusters of tiny homes, each gathered around a fire pit. Each unit is freestanding, and there are combination garbage/recycle bins located all around the well-kept landscape.
When I booked it, I was a little unsure of the location. It’s just 10 minutes off the highway, which is great. But the pictures made me wonder just how rural an area it was. I enjoy backcountry camping as much as the next person, but I wasn’t trying to pack my own mess kit or cook over the fire for this particular trip.
I need not have worried. When we got there, the parking lot was literally shared with an enclave of fancier-than-fast-food restaurants, sites of historical note, and shopping establishments. Next door and lining the street was residential housing.
It was far enough removed from those things to be a quiet, restful property. But it was also conveniently located enough that I was able to get us breakfast the next morning without gathering kindling.
Inside the tiny houses of River and Twine
Inside, the tiny houses of River and Twine are pretty much the exact same size as a room you’d get at a hotel. They’re longer and skinnier and taller, but at the end of the day it felt like the same square footage and accommodated the same number of people.
They also had the same amenities as a hotel. Our room had:
- Mini fridge.
- Kitchen sink.
- Miniature shampoos, soaps and conditioners.
- Towels and full linens.
- A cubby to store your luggage and clothes.
- A table and chairs.
- Delightful coffee.
The bathroom didn’t have a bathtub — just a stand-alone shower. But that was the only real difference.
The bed situation was where it got even more fun. The room we booked was the equivalent of a hotel room with two full beds.
One bed was up in a loft. There were lights and windows in the loft space so you could control the environment somewhat separately from the ‘downstairs’ if you wanted to.
The ladder up to the loft was sturdy, but if you have mobility issues or a fear of heights, there’s no downside to staying in the ‘downstairs.’
When you first walk in, you’ll notice a fouton. Don’t let the (usually true) stereotypes fool you. This full-size fold out is thick and comfortable just like a nice bed would be.
The people at River and Twine
Our stay was quiet — no rowdy fellow tiny-house stayers. No audible disruptions from the businesses nearby.
It’s actually self check-in, so we didn’t deal with anyone at all while we were staying on the property. And I kind of liked that. We saw other guests going about their business, but no one was intrusive, which was nice. Because as much as we like making friends, we were really just there to get a good night’s sleep.
As far as the people who operate River and Twine, they went out of their way to follow up with me the day-of to ensure a frictionless check-in process. I appreciated it because getting an email is one thing, but talking to a human being is another layer of assurance that this leg of the trip will go well.
Is River and Twine a good value?
The rate I paid to stay at River and Twine was comparable to what I’d pay for a hotel room of a similar quality. I did book during shoulder season, so bear in mind that hotel prices always fluctuate depending on the season — whether the rooms are tiny houses or traditionally stacked together like condominiums.
Plus, with a hotel room, you don’t get the same unique experience provided by River and Twine.
I also maximized my stay by using rewards programs. Right now, you can, too.
How to book River and Twine
I found River and Twine on Hotels.com. I like using Hotels.com because they have consistently competitive rates. Sometimes I’ll even find a super great rate by using their Secret Prices feature.
They also have a rewards program. You get a virtual stamp card, and for each night you book using the site, you’ll earn a stamp. After ten stamps, you get a free night.
Currently, they’re running a sale where members can save 30% or more on hotel bookings made by Dec. 24, 2022.
But they’re always running some type of great deal for their members. For example, when I booked this hotel, they had a promotion that gave me 20% off and two stamps for every single night booked. I am ridiculously close to that free night reward thanks to it.
Membership is free, and you can get started here.