What’s a Chalet and What Is the Difference Between a Chalet and a Cabin?

So you’ve decided to take a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.  Naturally you want a great place to stay while visiting.  The region offers a wide variety of vacation hideaways, from condos to cabins to chalets, featuring every type of amenity.

Many vacationers seek an escape from the “big city” feel of their homes in favor of a more “traditional” mountain dwelling, but find themselves confused by the choices available.  What for example is the difference between a cabin and a chalet?  Have no fear – we are here to help, we are experts in Gatlinburg cabins after all!

The term “cabin” is often used these days to describe any mountain or vacation home, no matter what it looks like or how it was built.  But in fact, a cabin is traditionally a small house built from logs.

Different from a true house, a cabin is usually a simple one-story (or maybe one-and-a-half story) structure that is less “finished off” or less sophisticated in its architecture.  Throughout American history, the log cabin has been a symbol of humble origins.

Although generally associated with rustic and rural areas of frontier America, the log cabin has its origins in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. As European settlers came to North America, they brought their traditions of using logs to build homes, barns, and other community buildings.  Size, number of stories, type of roof, and the placement of doors and windows and even the type of labor available to build the cabin were all factors taken into consideration when early settlers built their pioneer homes.  But the most important consideration was the site upon which the cabin was to be built.  A frontier cabin needed to provide adequate sunlight and drainage in order for the occupants to effectively cope with the trials of life in the frontier.

The modern-day log cabin is more of a “log home”, or a traditional style house built from milled logs.  These logs are visible on the outside of the house and, for rustic appeal, often on the inside also.  Modern amenities have been incorporated into the traditional design so that occupants can enjoy the best of the 21st century in a more humble dwelling.

A chalet, on the other hand, is a wooden dwelling with a sloping roof and widely overhanging eaves.  The chalet has its origins in Switzerland and other Alpine regions.  Originally the term was used to describe the hut of a sheep or goat herder and many chalets in Europe were used as seasonal dairy farms.

Today, the word chalet is used for any cottage or lodge built in the traditional Swiss style.  In some vacation spots, a chalet is a building that features dining areas, spas, and other tourist-focused amenities.  Some don’t even look like the traditional Swiss structure.

The Great Smoky Mountains offer a wide array of rental homes, from the traditional cabin and the Swiss inspired chalet, to modern condos, houses, apartments, and architecturally unique bungalows.  So find your perfect Smoky Mountain vacation rental and enjoy!

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