What’s the Difference Between a Cabin and a Cottage?

Whether you’re a nature loving couple seeking solitude or a family looking for a cozy getaway, cabins and cottages both evoke images of tranquility and rustic charm. Modern cottages and cabins have changed drastically over the years, and their differences aren’t as pronounced as they used to be, which can make it more difficult to differentiate between the two. Before you book your next vacation rental, let's delve into the differences between cabins and cottages to help you choose the perfect accommodations for your next trip.


The word cabin likely evokes images of towering pines, serene lakes and crackling fireplaces, but what exactly is a cabin? A small dwelling constructed from logs and other simple materials from the land is considered a cabin. Often nestled in remote or wooded areas like forests and mountains, cabins are typically smaller than cottages and have a more rustic feel. Cabins typically prioritize a minimalist approach to amenities, and may not include utilities like electricity and water. This simplicity fosters a sense of self-reliance and allows you to appreciate the simple pleasures of a quiet escape.

A cottage on the other hand might conjure images of quaint charm, idyllic seaside settings, and a sense of comfort and community. More of an ambiguous term, a cottage is generally a small home often located in a rural area or along a waterfront. It can be made of various materials including wood, brick or stone and tends to look more sophisticated than a cabin. Some might lean towards a rustic aesthetic, featuring natural wood finishes and a connection to the surrounding environment, while others might exude a more whimsical or fairytale-like charm. Cottages aren’t confined to specific locations and usually come equipped with amenities.


Cabins and cottages share many similarities, but there are a few key differences to keep in mind as you book your next vacation. Both are typically small, cozy, and rustic homes, perfect for a weekend getaway or a long vacation. Cabins tend to be more secluded and simple, while cottages are often closer to civilization and offer more modern amenities. Cabins are usually made of logs or wood, and prioritize the outdoor environment, while cottages can be made of a variety of materials and can be found in all sorts of locations. 

Location, Location, Location

  • Cabins: Often tucked away in remote, mountainous regions or nestled amidst dense forests, cabins offer a true escape from civilization. Imagine waking up to the sounds of nature and having starry nights unobstructed by light pollution.
  • Cottages: Cottages can be found in more diverse locations, from beachfronts and lakesides to charming villages and even outskirts of towns which allows for easier access to amenities and attractions while still offering a retreat-like atmosphere.

Size and Amenities

  • Cabins: Typically smaller and more compact dwellings, cabins prioritize a cozy atmosphere. Amenities might be limited, encouraging guests to focus on connecting with nature and unwinding.
  • Cottages: Cottages can vary in size, offering options from cozy hideaways to more spacious accommodations. Amenities can also range from basic to luxurious, with some cottages boasting features like fireplaces, hot tubs, or even in-house chefs.

The Experience

  • Cabins: The rustic charm of cabins fosters a sense of adventure and self-reliance. Imagine evenings spent by a crackling fireplace, sharing stories and enjoying the simple pleasures of a secluded escape.
  • Cottages: Cottages can exude a more romantic or whimsical atmosphere, perfect for couples' getaways or family vacations. Think charming details, flower-filled gardens, and a feeling of stepping into a storybook setting.

Ultimately, the choice between a cabin and a cottage depends on your preferences, so whether you seek a rustic cabin nestled amidst towering pines or a charming cottage overlooking a sparkling lake, both will offer unique vacation experiences. 

Are you looking for a secluded mountain cabin escape in Tahoe? Explore cabins in the Old Greenwood in North Lake Tahoe’s premier golf community. We offer stunning vacation rentals year round across the country. Call us at 888.598.6353 with questions or email reservations@eastwest.com for help planning your next trip.