Search Airbnb for properties in Westport, and you get plenty of hits.
For Norwalk, Fairfield, Weston, Wilton …
Rentals here are sparse. But with only a few rooms at the Inn (Longshore), demand is high.
That’s why folks coming here for whatever reason — checking it out for a possible move; visiting for a wedding or party or other celebration; a job interview or short-term work; even a vacation — can now book a new spot.
And a very convenient one.
Last month, Karena Piedmont welcomed the first guests to The Benjamin. The newly converted 2-story home on Franklin Street can be rented as a 2-bedroom downstairs, a 1-bedroom upstairs, or together. (There are interior and exterior stairs. Each floor sleeps 4 people.)
This is not Karena’s first rodeo — or Airbnb.
She lives in Wilton, but knows Westport well. The owner of Real Estate University in Norwalk, she’s trained many Westport agents.
Karena already owns rentals in Wilton and Newport, Rhode Island. But she long had her eye on under-Airbnb-ed Westport.
The Franklin Street property was perfect. She bought it, and turned what had been a downstairs business and upstairs apartment into an attractive home-away-from-home.
She remodeled the interiors, bought all new furniture, and painted inside and out.
Franklin is one-way, connecting Charles Street with Saugatuck Avenue. There are a few multi-family homes, but it’s seldom thought of as a residential area.
Still, Karena says, it’s perfect for an Airbnb.
“Some people don’t like hotels. They like to cook their own meals, and hang out in what feels like home,” she says.
Of course, right now hotel options in Westport are — well, let’s say “limited.”
Her first guests last month were an eclectic bunch. Two were looking at Westport before buying homes here. Another drove 10 hours from Canada, for a pickleball tournament (presumably not in Westport). Others were here for a Longshore wedding, but wanted to stay together (not in separate rooms at the Inn).
All gave The Benjamin 5-star reviews. Among the highlights: excellent restaurants within walking distance, proximity to the train station, and the ease of working with Karena.
With the Saugatuck train station a few yards away, guests do not need cars, Karena says. There’s plenty to do in the area (including dining — she put menus for nearby restaurants in both units).
As for the name: Karena wanted a strong historical figure (her Newport Airbnb is Araminta, for Harriet Tubman’s legal name).
“The Benjamin” seemed perfect for this one. After all: It’s on Franklin Street.
Karena calls the price “on the low end. It’s $168 a night for the downstairs (with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, living room, eat-in kitchen, a porch and patio); $150 for the upstairs. Both floors are $375 a night.
That’s not too many Benjamins for Westport’s newest rental property, right?