Since it was founded in 2008, Airbnb has completely changed the world of hospitality. In addition to hotels, hostels, and other traditional vacation rentals, you can now stay in an actual home when visiting somewhere new, which brings down costs but brings up local authenticity in your travels.
This doesn’t just mean someone’s comfy little house or cute apartment, however. With over three million listings in 191 countries and over 65,000 cities, you’re bound to find some unusual properties with Airbnb. Over 1,400 of their listings are castles — but you can also go grand with mansions priced at four figures, historical forts, or even an entire island to yourself. There are also such unusual lodgings as old airplanes or a hotel in the shape of man’s best friend. Since the dawn of domesticity, people have achieved incredible architectural feats and created elaborate décor in their pursuit of homemaking. With Airbnb, you finally have the chance to enjoy some of these, for at least a short period of time.
Here are 20 of the most over-the-top rentals that we found.
Augill Castle in northwest England has 15 spectacular rooms to choose from for your countryside English vacation for just $266 a night, with a 25 percent discount for week-long stays. Built in 1841, the castle is now a family home that can also be rented out entirely for a party of up to 30 people. Guests staying at Augill have access to the entire 15-acre estate, including its towers, turrets, and secret garden. While dinner at the castle can be purchased separately, a scrumptious breakfast is included. Children, who are more than welcome, also have special meals provided for them. You can also host a party or even your wedding at the castle!
For just $108 a night, up to four people can stay in this airplane parked about two minutes from the Atlantic. Avion GRU is a 1963 Grumman aircraft-turned-lodging located at a camping site on the western coast of France. Equipped with a television, full bathroom, and kitchen, the plane also has a bedroom with a double bed and a living room with two single beds. A swimming pool with water slide is also open on-site during the summer.
Near the Suffolk coastline, Belle Grove is about a two- to two-and-half hour drive from London. Known locally as “The Dragon House,” this sizeable farmhouse has only two bedrooms for you to choose from, for a $392-a-night stay. The interior contains all sorts of eclectic decorations and a staircase which winds around a raw tree trunk. Guests are treated to a "Welcome" glass of wine, breakfast, and a guided tour by the builders/owners of the home. Due to its popularity, availability is limited to stays of no more than three nights.
Thanks to Airbnb, it’s now easier than ever to rent your very own private island — for only $595 a night. Bird Island is so popular that it’s already fully booked two years out, and while they do have a waiting list, cancellations are rare. Up to six people can be accommodated on this “Robinson Crusoe type of adventure” 20 minutes off the coast of Belize. Bookings can be made in increments of four or five days, although an extension to six days is possible. The island has a main house and a separate cabana, which will have full facilities by 2018. Another self-contained cabana is slated for completion in September. While the island has a well-stocked pantry, you are required to bring your own meat, veggies, and drinks for your cooking. Amenities also include a refrigerator, filtered rainwater system, local telephone, Wi-Fi, solar power grid, and wind generator. Guests also have access to kayaks, knee boards, inner tubes, and a small rowboat for fishing and snorkeling endeavors.
This medieval castle was built in Ireland the 1400s but renovated in the last ten years, having been restored using traditional materials. With turrets, a master bedroom, two guest rooms, a living room, dining room, and storage rooms, the rent for Caherkinmonwee Castle starts at $158 a night. The castle’s age also lends itself to certain quirks: the bathtub, for instance, is in the living room.
Shaped like two seashells, this gorgeous home is a gated property on Isla Mujeres, just eight miles off the coast of Cancún. Just up to four guests can take advantage of its two king-size bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, private pool, barbeque, and fully-equipped kitchenette for $308 a night. Casa Caracol also includes free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, cable TV in both rooms, a CD player, bottled water, and maid service.
One of the more expensive rentals on this list, prices at the Château des Briottières start at a whopping $10,406 a night! Built in the eighteenth century, this luxurious château in the Loire Valley has been owned by the same family for seven generations and can accommodate up to 35 people with 17 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms. Guests can also enjoy the estate’s heating swimming pool, sauna, tennis court, and park and garden. Other available activities include biking, billiards, ping-pong, massages, and trampoline games for the kids.
The cube houses of Rotterdam have long been an attraction for visitors, and now you can stay in one yourself! With rooms starting at $151 a night, the rental consists of a row of houses tilted 45 degrees and resting on a hexagon-shaped pylon, so that the house represents a tree and the entire row a forest. Made up of three main floors, the house comes with a TV, DVD player, free Wi-Fi, fully-equipped kitchen, and two bedrooms — one with a queen-sized bed, the other with two single beds. There is also one bathroom with a shower and double sink. About 50 minutes from Amsterdam by train, it’s a fun and whimsical place to stay when visiting the Netherlands.
The Dog Bark Park Inn is run by a husband and wife team in rural Idaho. Specializing in chainsaw art, the duo spent 18 months in the mid-1990s carving wooden dogs non-stop until they made enough money from their sale to invest in and build Sweet Willy, as he’s known to the locals. Taking the form of a 30-feet-tall beagle, Sweet Willy accommodates four people with a queen bed and two twin foldout futon mattresses in the loft of the lodging. Guests have access to the inn’s books, games, and puzzles, as well as a full bathroom, air conditioning, coffeemaker, and a kitchen with a small fridge and microwave. Breakfast is also included, and although there is no phone or television, Wi-Fi is now available as well. Available to rent from April through October, rooms start at $124 a night.
Eaton House — known for obvious reasons as “The Pink House” — is an explosion of flamingos, unicorns, and fabulous femininity. Located in the English county of Essex, the residential home is an enormous and growing work of art that costs $2,651 a night for a stay. The house contains six bedrooms, a double mezzanine sofa bed, a slumber party room (with up to eight beds), seven bathrooms, a reception area, two lounges, a studio space, two fully-equipped kitchens, barbecue facilities, a garden, and both an indoor and an outdoor theater. Additional amenities include Wi-Fi, a fireplace, disco ball, hot tub, light-up bar, pool table, 52-inch HD TV with both Sky and Apple TV, portable sound system, and massage chair.
Over six hundred years old and officially considered a heritage destination, Fort Rampura offers a quintessentially South Asian experience in northern India for just $161 a night. The fort is owned by a family that still resides on the premises and who are kind enough to share generations-old family recipes by feeding you fantastic home-cooked, traditional meals. Guests have access to landline phones and mobile and internet connections, as well as the host family’s personal library and antique billiards table. Enjoy nearby bird watching, boating, fishing, tractor and bullock cart rides, air rifle target practice, and more in the great outdoors, as well as board games and carom when inside. India offers the chance to peruse the weekly bazaar, listen to village folk singers, or experience a mustard oil massage at the local barber’s. As with much of rural India, you may also have to endure the occasional power outage, which means showering with a bucket of hot water.
Legend has it that this five-acre Edwardian estate, built in the early twentieth century, was the home of the escape artist Harry Houdini. About a seven-minute drive from Beverly Hills and Sunset Strip and 11 minutes from Universal City, the Houdini Estate has four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, three fireplaces, internet access, satellite TV, a heated pool and Jacuzzi, a barbecue patio, and an hour of hiking trails nearby. Among all this are hidden tunnels, terraced gardens, caves, and even a deep-water tank in which Houdini allegedly practiced his amazing escapes. The property was apparently the home of Houdini’s widow for years after his death in 1926 and the location of a party she held in honor of 500 magicians. After a fire in 1959 damaged the premises, the mansion and its gardens were restored, giving it more modern features. Rates start at $1,000 per night.
This hundred-room haveli, or mansion, was built on a ten-acre plot of land in northwestern India, and you can book a room for as low as $64 a night. Guests can enjoy the estate’s gardens, a large swimming pool, lounge, library, coffee shop, and fully stocked bar. Outside the mansion, you can also take part in village and painting tours and camel cart rides, or visit the Tal Chapper Wildlife Sanctuary. Indra Vilas also has a travel desk, a doctor on call, and Ayurvedic massages for your convenience.
Enjoy a continental breakfast among a host of friendly animals willing to walk and eat with you. The Love Nest, a private room with an extra-large deck located in Southern California, has a serene and quaint charm that you can experience for $145 a night. After being woken up by a rooster’s crow or a noisy and hungry burro named Romeo, you can enjoy an outdoor shower in full view of Mount San Jacinto before hopping into the old-fashioned and Instagram-worthy claw-footed tub.
Windmills are iconic to the Netherlands, and now you can stay in one while you’re there! Not far from Amsterdam, the Mondriaanmolen Windmill has three bedrooms, each with a double bed, a kitchen, living room, and two and a half bathrooms. For $333 a day, you can get all this as well as the rental of two bikes to ride around the countryside.
Treehouse on the outside, three-bedroom, four-bath luxury rental on the inside, the Punta Sayulita Treehouse, an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, will take a chunk out of your wallet with a rate of $2,060 per night, but it’s more than worth it. Equipped with a fully-loaded kitchen, fully-stocked pantry, and fully-beautiful view of Sayulita Bay, it offers guests the chance to enjoy their meals at the large dining table or on the balcony. A comfy living room featuring a flat-screen HD TV and a stone hot tub are also available for relaxation at this tropical location, and you also have access to the community beach club, equipped with all sorts of watersports equipment, as well as an infinity swimming pool, fitness center, library, game room, and spa services. The beach club also provides you with a kitchen and dining hall for parties, as well as Xotu, an international cuisine restaurant for the days when you don’t feel like cooking.
Experience London by staying in a small apartment within the clock tower at St. Pancras International Station for just $166 a night. The apartment has two rooms with double beds, each equipped with its own kitchen, sitting area, and bathroom. You’ll have a great view looking out over King’s Cross Station and the city of London. No need to worry about an hourly deluge of deafening sound; the St. Pancras Clock Tower, while built like an Italian campanile, doesn’t actually have any bells.
This home made out of bamboo is perfect for a Southeast Asian vacation and will cost you $335 per night. Built in 2010, Sunrise House was built in the Ayung River valley on the Indonesian island of Bali. It has four floors with three double-bed rooms, three bathrooms, a lounge, workspace, kitchen, and dining area. Guests can also enjoy the house’s media room, plunge pool, and private garden. In addition to a bamboo structure, the Sunrise House also has bamboo blind and bamboo furniture, and there are multiple bamboo-related workshops and tours nearby. Food options include cooking for yourself (there are grocery stores nearby), room service, private catering, having a Balinese chef cook just for you at the house, or delivery from nearby restaurants. A car and driver can also be provided.
This beautiful fort on 150 acres of land in Rajasthan has been converted into a resort with 22 luxury suites. Owned by the same family for over 200 years, Talabgaon Castle has a Rajput-style architecture and beautiful gardens for you to explore. For just $129 a night, guests have access to all this, as well as 24-hour room service, a library, rooftop terrace, swimming pool, and pool bar, as well as multiple activities available, such as a camel safari, jeep safari, horseback riding, and performances at the castle at night.
Designed in the late eighteenth century by the famed architect Giuseppe Valadier, Villa Pianciani resides at the top of a hill in central Italy. The wonderful panoramic view of the Umbrian countryside, which is also wheelchair accessible, is worth the $1,861 a night price. Up to 23 people can stay at Villa Pianciani, which has 11 bedrooms, a swimming pool, and a park. While you can come here for just an Italian vacation, the Villa is also open for reunions, weddings, business retreats, and other larger gatherings. A private chapel behind the mansion is also open for use, as is a secret garden.
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