At its best, Airbnb offers more than just an affordable place to stay that's part of a network of rental properties in 192 countries and more than 34,000 cities: It promises a way to escape and gain new perspectives when traveling. Dwell also discovered there are plenty of spots on site that provide exceptional examples of modern design and architecture, with personal touches that go well beyond a nice welcome basket (in-unit halfpipe, anyone?). Some of our favorites include a cabin within a loft in Williamsburg, an architect-designed beach home in Australia, a retro-future capsule hotel in Tokyo, and an off-the-grid dwelling in the California desert, perfect for any nature lovers (or NSA whistleblowers).
A team of Thai architects and designers took Thoreau’s natural guidebook as gospel when creating this eco-friendly tree house, which sits on stilts made from reclaimed wood and bamboo. The listing’s own storytelling—imagine sitting on the daybed with a glass of wine and that special someone, listening to the wind wind through the coconut trees and wind turbine—sounds like Harlequin crossed with Mother Jones, but, cliches and eco-consciousness aside, it sounds very inviting.
Listing at Breathtaking Chao Praya River View
While the colorful, green-and-pink accents in this mid-century styled loft demand attention, it’s hard for any furniture to overshadow the working half-pipe in the center of the 1,500-square-foot loft in Boyle Heights. While the outdoor patio and BBQ, accessible by a large roll-up door, strongly suggests grilling and evenings drinks al fresco, you may want to bring your deck just in case.
Listing at LA - Large Creative Skate Loft!
Artists Terry Chiao and Adam Frezza found a creative solution to taking on roommates to make rent in New York; build a free-standing cabin in their factory-turned-studio loft and rent it out to visitors. The buzzed-about rental has its own Tumblr and an array of press clippings. The relaxed atmosphere and sunny, airy interior may be all the recommendations a traveler needs.
Listing at A Cabin in a Loft in Brooklyn.
While this resort town rental is lit up with blocks of solid colors on the striking side of the Pantone scale, visitors will likely fixate on the shades of blue visible via the panoramic Pacific view. This coastal spot about 60 miles from Sydney also boasts a geometric roof and deck, further accentuating the ocean and sky awaiting outside.
Listing at "Life is good...at the beach!"
The colorful results of a designer’s project to renovate a tableware factory, this multi-floored loft includes a kitchen/showroom that should be center stage for it simple but striking use of patterned fabric. Even better, the view from the street-level glass window—anybody strolling through Ginza can see that you did pick the coolest spot to stay in Tokyo.
Find the listing here: Specious Apartment in Ginza
That’s how Tom Dixon described this "exercise in design," a retrofitted water tower he purchased in 2005 and redesigned, which is now available to rent. It’s a hike up six flights of stairs, but those who book and make the trek can take in panoramic views from North Kensington.
Listing at Amazing round room in the sky
For those journeying to the Crescent City, this may be the perfect place to refuel. The 2,000-square-foot station turned open loft space in Bayou St. John has been retrofitted with gas station-chic furnishings (sconces made out of headlights, drawer pulls created from hood ornaments) and boasts a hot tub and a rooftop deck. It’s self service, but it’s unlikely many guests will complain.
Find the listing here: Gas Station Modern Renovation Look
Fifth Element Micro-Apartment in Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)The units inside the Nakagin Capsule Tower, designed by Kisho Kurokawa in 1972, are relics of a future imagined but not achieved, white plastic spaces with a bank of appliances, a minimum of comfort and a vision of small-scale living measuring roughly 7.5 x 12 x 7 feet. There’s no extra charge to share the historic space with someone, though that may be more of a challenge than you expect.
Find the listing here: Historical Nakagin Capsule Tower
Dwell profiled this counterintuitive desert concept near Joshua Tree, an uncoupled, environmentally friendly escape with glass walls and cross-ventilation instead of air conditioning and shade. Wrapped in glass, the waystation is more a watchtower for the desert scenery. Just imagine the stars at night as you huddle around the indoor fireplace. Named the "iT House" as a reference to the "It Girl," not any IT (there’s no wifi here), it’s an ideal space to disappear amidst the thermals and 100-plus temperatures.
Find the listing here: Off-grid itHouse
The brainchild of a local architect and designer who financed the construction themselves, the Berne Street Treehouse, located on Atlanta’s BeltLine system of parks and trails, provides a literal bird’s-eye-view of the forests surrounding downtown. The upper room (pictured), bathed in sunshine from the skylight, opens to a series out outdoor terraces.
Find the listing here: Both Floors Modern Glass Tree House
Providing a modern update to the predominantly Victorian style of surrounding suburban homes in Paddington, this urban home is bathed in natural light during the day and offers the respite of a Japanese garden on property.
Find the listing here: Architect's Own Central Sydney Home
Vacation-worthy beaches are as numerous as one-name soccer stars in Brazil, but this exceptional oceanfront rental offers something a bit different. Sure, the swaying hips of Ipanema aren’t in sight. Instead, you and up to seven other friends can enjoy one of a handful of private beaches, drink on the terrace, perhaps grill fish you caught in the property’s fishing boat or oysters you’ve lifted from neighboring rocks. After a few days stay, the house won’t be the only thing integrated with nature.
Find the listing here: Exceptional property private beach
One of a series of retreats designed by Malaysian architect Ng Sek San, this two-bedroom space is as ethereal and spacious as the mosquito netting hanging from above the beds. San’s design creates myriad environments within the space from the reserved garden to the multi-textured living space and calming bedrooms.
Find the listing here: Family Guesthouse for 8 in KL City
While the owner claims this designer apartment is where Bond would stay in El Born, the rustic rooftop could even drag M out of M16 headquarters for a Spanish holiday. Panoramic views of the Catalan playground contrast nicely with the sleek, slate-colored interior, which, based on the incredible perspective, probably isn’t where you’ll be spending most of your trip.
Listing at Petit Lego Barcelona WiFi 007
Situated in a more relaxed part of Spain, this converted container hotel offers a condensed rooftop escape, a quiet private pool and crisp, unobtrusive design. The flat includes a pair of cycles to simplify your stay.
Find the listing here: Container home, a unique house!
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During the course of his career writing about music and design, Patrick Sisson has made Stefan Sagmeister late for a date and was scolded by Gil Scott-Heron for asking too many questions. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Nothing Major, Wax Poetics, Stop Smiling and Chicago Magazine.