An outdoor fire feature or no?

Due to another post where a guest nearly caused a big fire I’m debating whether to add a fire pit or not. I’m in an area (mountains) where people love an outdoor fire feature of some sort as well as a hot tub. I don’t have either currently. Right now I have a long term guest so I have time before I make my Airbnb listing live. Of the two things, I was thinking a fire feature would be more affordable and easier to keep up. A firepit with concrete or rock surround in a large gravel seating area was my first thought, but based on this post I’m thinking an enclosed option like a chiminea or similar may be a better idea. I also found a freestanding unit that is a cooking thing as well as a fire feature, as I don’t have a grill this may be good, but it is a bit away from the house so maybe cooking isn’t an option. My space is really for couples so a small unit is feasible.

I can feel my insurance woman shuddering, just by me reading about this.



Freestanding unit + significant distance from house = high likelihood guests will move grill someplace you don’t want them to.


Insurance was also my first thought. I suggest checking with insurance before considering either option.


I did think of that briefly. But as we are in the mountains there isn’t really anywhere to move it. The area I’d use is pretty much the only flat space near the carriage house. Plus, like I said it’s a couples retreat so I can’t see two people moving a bigger unit easily. Also, we are right next door in the main cabin. Could happen though. The area is about 30 feet away from the actual cabin, however The rental loft is a space above a garage so they do have to travel up and down a flight of stairs with food if they want to cook on it. Having a fire feature or a hot tub really is a big draw and gets listings way more views and bookings from what I gather from fellow hosts. Sigh.
I have checked with insurance, it’s not an issue as most of the rentals in the area it’s a given. I live in a crazy area, building codes and rental regulations as such are almost non existent lol.

In the thread to which you refer that same host posted a link to a standing fire pit thing that looked safer. Or an outdoor fireplace with chimney Or just an outdoor fire table (but they suck the propane like crazy so you’d have to consider that in your pricing). In a place like CA I would not have any wood burner outdoors.

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Do you live on site?

I have a fire pit and guests who use it love it and mention it. I wouldn’t offer it if I weren’t on-site to check on things, though.

Some people are really clueless about fire, but they feel like they’re channeling Jack London To Build a Fire as soon as they’re near the 45 parallel. They won’t admit they need help. One family burned half a bag of my clothespins and were fanning their half-ass smokey fire with my nice chair cushions when I came out to help.

If you’re not around to manage things, I’d stick to something like the fire tables which have simple on/off operations.

I put some instructions on the lid of the bin with fire supplies, which has helped.


Lord have mercy. …

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OMG, that made me laugh. Clothes pins? So they left a pile of metal clips in the ashes?

Yes, we are on site. Our cabin is connected to the guest cabin via a covered catwalk.

The clothes pins could have been the curvy ones with a round “head” at the top that have no metal spring/clip…

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If you are a remote host please remember that just because your listing is for couples/two people it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to bring more people. Just read this forum for the horror stories. And if there are no flat or safe places to move it to, that has never stopped a determined drunk from moving it right where he wants it. Guests have no vested interest in your property. Always keep that in mind.

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Yep, luckily they were this kind.

This was the same family that walked in on me napping in my half of the house, in the face of all manner of “private” signs. :woman_facepalming:

Not the brightest bulbs. Glad nothing other than clothespins were harmed during their visit!


I have fire pits and they are very well utilized by guests. I would try to get one with the most spark screen coverage. If you are in an area prone to droughts you may need to remove them during such times.

Not as convenient, but before I provided them, some people would bring their own.

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Like @JohnF and @RebeccaF my first thought was about insurance. Have you discussed this with your insurance people?

But on an equally practical level, are you happy to clean it (or pay someone to restore it to its glory) at every turnover? I wouldn’t be.

Not many people these days (if any?) have grown up with open fires, knowing how to light them, how to deal with them and how to damp it down and so on. I’d be really concerned about guests who’ve had too much wine…

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I don’t think that is necessary. It is not a bathroom, kitchen or a bed.


This is true. We don’t clean the fire pit. It’s basically a self-cleaning oven. lol.

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Occasionally (depending on how often it is used) ashes would need to be removed but certainly seasonally (yearly?) would be no problem to do, especially as you are there anyways.

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hot tub yes, anything related to fire, no. your insurance will go up. it’s a fire hazard.

I have an outdoor fire area (lord help me, but it is a camping listing, @Primdawg) and an over-the-fire tripod grill. I am always cleaning the thing. I cannot count the number of meat scraps, steak, I think, I have scraped off. Sure, it’s for the cleanliness stars (guests like to mess up nice clean things), but also so the raccoons don’t start dropping by for smorgasbord.
I have fire guidelines, streamlined so maybe they will get read, framed on the listing wall. Why framed? Because guests early in my hosting days, screwed my list of instructions into a torch and used it to get the fire going.
Other burned up things: the walking sticks (just a collection of good-for-walking sticks that guests and I have collected, obvious to most but not all), metal utensils (these get dropped into the fire by accident), two stump seats from the sitting area, a doormat I made from sticks (bound together at the base of the stairs very obviously as a mat - guests had loved it, well, until they burned it up).
What you are looking at is not for cooking, but they won’t let that stop them. I have an indoor woodstove as well (lord help me, but it is a camping…) and a clear rule about no cooking of anything inside. They think marshmallows don’t count, even though the rule says marshmallows do count. What a sticky mess.
Good guests do love a fire, though, and don’t hurt anything. It has been mostly good and little bad, and I think that goes for anything.


I think this stupidity beats the wooden clothespins stupidity posted about above. Any chance this was all the same party?