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Have you every asked yourself, “what’s the difference between a cabin and chalet? If you’re planning a Smoky mountain getaway, you should!

When you decide 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.  It is common to find visitors 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 vacation cabins after all!


Today, the term “cabin” is used to describe any mountain or vacation home in the Smoky Mountains.  But in fact, a cabin is traditionally a small house built from logs.

Different from a true house, a cabin is usually a simple structure.  A cabin is less “finished off” or less sophisticated in architecture.  The log cabin is a symbol of humbler origins.

Cabins are generally associated with rustic and rural areas of frontier America. The log cabin actually originates in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.  European settlers brought their traditions of using logs to build homes, barns, and other community builds with them to North America.

Factors taken into considerations when early settlers built their homes were numerous.  They includes size, number of stories, type of roof, the placement of doors and windows, and even the type of labor available.  The building site of the cabin was the most important consideration.  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 are now incorporated into the traditional design.  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.  Many chalets in Europe were used as seasonal dairy farms.

Today, the word chalet describes 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.

Ready to book?

The Great Smoky Mountains offer a wide array of rental homes.  We offer traditional cabin and chalets. We also offer modern condos and a few traditional homes.  Find your perfect Smoky Mountain vacation rental and enjoy!

Be sure to check out all of our vacation guides for planning your Smoky Mountain getaway.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest area information!

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