Consider the potato. A lowly tuber, it has fed the world, sprouting roots in the most hostile of soils and filling the emptiest of bellies with a satisfying, starchy meal. Now, consider the Big Idaho Potato Hotel. Like its namesake crop, this six-ton steel, plaster, and concrete structure has taken root in unlikely ground—400 acres of farmland 20 minutes outside of Boise—and promises shelter to intrepid vacationers.
From its realistic, brownish-gray, lumpy exterior to its spotless white-plaster-and-Millennial-pink interior—complete with AC, a custom-built bed, and lifetime bragging rights—the Potato Hotel provides cozy digs to curious couples.
It all started, as so many great things do, with a clever marketing ploy. While Idaho supplies almost a third of the United States’ potatoes, in 2012 the state’s Potato Commission, knowing it couldn’t rest on its laurels (or is it spuds?), commissioned the construction of a giant, hollow, fake tuber as the centerpiece of its 75th anniversary celebration. Borne on the back of a massive red truck, the 28-by-12-foot tater that could was supposed to have a year-long tour. It ended up traveling the country for seven years, finally retiring in 2019. (Perhaps its only regret is that it didn’t meet Lou the enormous traveling lutefisk on the way.)
Upon the spud’s retirement, Kristie Wolfe knew that its best days were yet to come. A tiny home builder and Potato Commission employee who had accompanied the potato on its grand tour, Wolfe sensed its inner potential. Armed with the giant replica tuber, a 400-acre farm, home renovation skills, and the blessings of the Potato Commission, Wolfe transformed the castoff carb into a cozy getaway. The complex is complete with a nearby silo-cum-spa-bathroom, including a working fireplace, and is now available for rent.
“We knew this would be something that folks would get a kick out of,” Potato Commission CEO Frank Muir told the Idaho Statesman. “No one could predict it would be worldwide interesting.” But indeed it was. Once more, it seems, gratitude goes to the humble potato for bringing the world together in a great global sisterhood of spud.
Know Before You Go
The Big Idaho Potato Hotel is available for rent for $200 a night, plus taxes and fees, on Airbnb.