Airbnb: ten unusual places to stay

Steve Vickers

written by
Steve Vickers

updated 06.05.2024

Tired of the usual bed-in-a-box hotel rooms? As Airbnb takes over the world we had a rummage for some unusual places to stay listed on the site.

Owl house, Merseyside, UK

If you like owls, you’d be wise to check out this bird-like bolthole just outside Liverpool. Built at the bottom of a garden, the eco-friendly cabin has two eye-shaped windows on the front and – as this owl can’t swivel its head around – a big glass pane at the back, providing views over the sea and sand dunes. Inside there’s a feather-soft bed, but unfortunately there’s no bathroom; when nature calls guests pop into the owner’s bungalow.


Pyramid cottage near Bariloche, Argentina

Okay, so it’s not quite the Great Pyramid, but this cute wooden cottage near the Chilean border is impressive in its own way. From the wide windows, edged by warm timber boards, it’s easy to make out the toothy peaks of the Andes. At night, guests can head up to the glass point on top for a spot of astronomy and discover whether this pyramid – like its Egyptian cousins – was built with knowledge of the stars.

Tree house in Cornwall, UK

Ever since tree-house hotels started sprouting up around the world, the focus has been on smart design. Take Sweden’s Treehotel, for example, or these new spherical pods hanging from trees on Vancouver Island. This dinky tree house with views over Falmouth Bay takes back some of the childish innocence, with knotted sticks running along the walls and the chunky trunk of an ash tree climbing past the table.


Houseboat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Although it’s most famous for its bikes, Amsterdam has – thanks to its labyrinthine canals – a prodigious number of houseboats. They come in all shapes and sizes but for long-term stays this floating flat southwest of the centre, with its sleek lines, high ceilings and free wifi, has got to be one of the smartest options. And if you do fancy cycling, you’re in luck: bikes are included in the rental price.


Looking for other options? You'll find them in our guide to the best places to stay in Amsterdam.

Astronomy hotel, Coquimbo, Chile

Sleeping under the stars has never been more comfortable. These geodesic domes in Chile are built with a bed close to the roof, which retracts back to reveal the heavens. That leaves plenty of floor space for sofas and armchairs, which guests can kick back in while reading books about the constellations. With the combination of low humidity and high altitude, clear skies are almost guaranteed.


1SQM House, Berlin, Germany

A great option for budget travellers (or anyone of a masochistic persuasion), this place offers a whole square metre to stretch out in. The idea is that guests pay €1 per night and can then enjoy use of a tiny, portable house. After dark, they flip it over onto its side and bed down for the night. There aren’t any reviews online yet and, as the house is more of an architectural experiment than a regular accommodation option, would-be guests have to apply in advance using Facebook.


Private igloos, Ilulissat, Greenland

These aluminium domes on Greenland’s west coast are sure to give you a taste of Arctic life. Watch as icebergs drift across the fjord outside, or step out into the snow for a frozen evening beneath the northern lights. The sleeping spaces are cosier than anything you’d find in a real igloo, with electric heating and cable TV. Though with a place like this, it’s really the location you’re paying for.


Riad, Marrakesh, Morocco

Like sipping mint tea and shopping for spices, staying in a riad is one of the classic Marrakesh experiences. With Airbnb, you can have one all to yourself. This calm courtyard complex, which owner Nicole Francesca spent years decorating with local art, is in a relatively quiet part of the medina. Hidden among the metal lanterns, terracotta pots and waxy green houseplants is a little dip-in pool – perfect after a sweaty day in the souks.

Doghouse, Idaho, USA

This barking-mad B&B overlooking the prairies of rural Idaho invites visitors to spend a night or two in the doghouse. The beagle-shaped building sleeps four, welcoming “responsible dogs” who turn up with well-behaved humans. Guests who appreciate the owners' canine carvings, which decorate the bedrooms, can buy a doggy bag full of them from the onsite gift shop.


1920s train, Virginia, USA

The final destination for this 1926 caboose is Natural Bridge, Virginia. Although originally built for use by train crews, it’s been lovingly restored as a kind of top-end sleeper carriage, complete with cherry floors, red cedar walls and modern amenities like air conditioning. The double bed was custom made by Amish craftsmen, and there’s space in the cupola for little ones to sleep in. All aboard!


NB: Prices are for November 2013. Correct as of 25th September. Airbnb service fee not included. Feature image courtesy of Airbnb.

Explore more of these destinations using our range of Rough Guides, and don't forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Top image © EnziHa/Shutterstock

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