Missouri’s most hospitable Airbnb host is 50 miles from St. Louis

Red Mule Ranch in Wright City
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 5:28 PM CDT
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WRIGHT CITY, Mo. (KMOV) - Host of the Red Mule Ranch listing on Airbnb, Donna Lauck, was named the No. 1 most hospitable host in Missouri by Airbnb.

The property she lists on the site is a private 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom bunkhouse on her farm in Wright City. Sitting 50 miles west of St. Louis City, The 85-acre farm is full of hiking trails, a creek, a pond, pastures, stables, five horses and, of course, a mule.

Airbnb released a report highlighting hosts in all 50 U.S. states. The criteria to achieve most hospitable host was a 100% rate of 5-star reviews in the categories of cleanliness, check-in and communication. Hosts also needed a minimum of 100 reviews. Airbnb reports Red Mule Ranch has had nearly 200 reviews without ever once getting less than a 5-star review in those categories.

“I was very humbled,” Lauck said. “I just couldn’t believe it, but I really attribute it to my guests. I have never had a difficult guest or anybody that I wouldn’t have loved to hang out with.”

The Listing

The rustic 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom bunkhouse accommodates two guests. One-night stays are offered on Fridays and Saturdays with a homemade breakfast included and cookies inside when you arrive. All the produce and fruit is local and the eggs are fresh from the chickens on the farm.

Outside the bunkhouse is a private porch with a checkerboard barrel table, chairs, a wood burning stove and a porch swing. Guests can relax and watch the horses and deer grazing in the pastures while eating breakfast.

The five breakfast options are all made from scratch are: quiche Lorraine, waffles (plain or pecan), pancakes (plain, blueberry or chocolate chip), omelets and biscuits and gravy.

Lauck also provides homemade desserts for birthdays or anniversary celebrations for an extra charge. She makes lots of apple pies and cobblers. A lot are comfort pies, like coconut cream, chocolate cream, key lime, cherry pie and peach pie.

The Property

Guests won’t want to stay inside while visiting Red Mule Ranch because there’s so much to see outside the bunkhouse.

Guests can check out the 35 acres of hiking trails, visit the creek, feed the fish in the pond, go fishing or take the paddle boat for a spin. They can hike up to a teepee that’s right by the pond. They can even go down to the barn and pet the horses and feed them carrots.

There are plenty of animals to see outside of the barn. Along with five horses and a mule, Lauck has two Jack Russell Terriers Eddie and Wally, and three cats. Lauck says they’re happy to keep guests company if they’d like. They’ll hop on the porch swing, sit with you by the fire and even escort you wherever you want to go on the property and on the trails.

“If the guests want to go on a hike and they just want the dogs to go with them, they’ll go with them and they’ll scout ahead,” said Lauck. “I think the guests just feel sort of reassured they’re not going to get lost and Eddie and Wally will take them to the creek and they’ll scout for deer and squirrels and whatnot.”

About Donna Lauck

Lauck started listing her guesthouse on Airbnb in 2018. At the time, she was a few months away from retiring from Siteman Cancer Center in St. Peters as a Washington University nurse supervisor. Lauck’s nursing career had spanned 45 years, mostly in oncology.

“One of my daughter’s friends from college saw our little guesthouse and said, ‘Why don’t you do an Airbnb?’ I didn’t know what that was, so I checked into it and I guess within about a week I was signed up,” she said.

Demand exploded quickly, so it was a good thing she was retiring, she said. Now, five years later, she doesn’t see any stopping.

“I have just really enjoyed it,” said Lauck. “I’ve enjoyed meeting people. I have so many different guests. They’re all unique and special. I just love them all. I just seem to get the best guests ever and I really do appreciate the guests because they’re the ones that gave me the good ratings.”

A lot of the guests that come to Red Mule Ranch are from the St. Louis area, Kansas City and Southern Missouri. She also has guests stay the night for weddings in Innsbrook and at Cedar Lake Cellars, as well as people traveling across the country to a destination or for a big move.

“I had a unique situation where a family was moving across the country from Maryland to Seattle, Washington with three triplet boys, 5 years old,” she said. “That was a lot of fun.”

For about 20 years, Lauck had thought about opening a bed and breakfast. It was always sort of a dream, but the business side of it scared her, she said. Now with Airbnb, Lauck can take care of the guests while Airbnb takes care of the bookings.

“It’s been fun talking to people. I love hearing peoples’ stories and their adventures and what they like.”

If you’re interested in booking a stay at Red Mule Ranch, you can do so on Airbnb’s website here.