Unique Vacation Rentals: Cool Places to Get Inspired

unique vacation rentals

By The Hospitable Team

One of the main reasons why a lot of travelers prefer accommodations in short-term rentals to staying in hotels is the unique experiences they offer. In fact, each vacation rental home or apartment is different from the rest and provides something new.

Moreover, many unique vacation rentals differ significantly from a typical apartment or a traditional family home. Let’s take a look at some unique rental properties listed on Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. These extraordinary rentals attract travelers looking for cool experiences to make their stay memorable.

You may also want to check out our list of the most expensive Airbnb listings.

Unique Family Vacation Rentals

Vacation rental homes are a popular alternative to hotels, especially for people who are traveling with their families. They’re private, spacious, and often more affordable. Here are unique family vacation rentals that are really fun places to stay.

Toy Story Experience, El Paso, Texas

This bright and cheery El Paso vacation rental incorporates the movie into its decor. The home features three bedrooms and two full baths and is a perfect place to bring the whole family. It has many fun features, including a kid-friendly living room with a fireplace, comfy seating, and a “you’ve got in friend in me” photo backdrop.

The Bloomhouse by Lodgewell, Texas

Situated in the hills of West Austin, the Bloomhouse represents the symbiotic interaction of man and nature and is a celebration of creativity and magic. This extraordinary rental was built in the 70s and meticulously restored looks like a giant seashell unicorn, and the entire structure has no straight lines or corners. The interior of the Bloomhouse features cherry wood accents, cabinetry, and shelves carved in situ to complement and enhance the natural shapes.

Olivais Santa Clara Lodge, Cambuí, Minas Gerais, Brazil

With sunsets to die for, cows in the next field, olive groves, and a jacuzzi with possibly one of the world’s most extravagant mountainside views, this stay offers a Brazilian farm experience steeped in nature. Guests receive a caring welcome, with homemade food including bread, garden veg, and olive oil. 

What guests love 

  • The hammock next to the campfire with open-sky views
  • Traditional parrilla barbecue
  • Stunning vistas
  • Family-style, personable hospitality

What you can learn

Offer relevant extras. These hosts know their guests come for food and nature, so they suggest nearby tours—including an organic strawberry plantation, a dulce de leche factory, and hiking and biking routes.

The Kellogg Doolittle House, Joshua Tree, California

If a jumbo jet and a James Bond villain made a house, it would be this place, hidden away in the ancient rocks of Joshua Tree, California. Designed by architect Ken Kellogg and master craftsman John Vugrin, it has a one-of-a-kind winged roof, breathtaking angles and views, and jaw-dropping touches throughout.

What guests love

  • That the artistry and design continue inside as well as out
  • The history and architectural story
  • High attention to detail
  • Incredible, isolated location

What you can learn 

Get the staff. The hosts charge a lot to stay here, and have service options to match. They know guests may want the option to hire a chef, driver, security, concierge, nanny, spa treatments, and sports gear. 

13 BR Great Escape Lakeside, Clermont, Florida

Hosts may typically shy away from large groups on Airbnb, but this “megahome” positively encourages parties, with accommodation for 43 people. It’s packed with too many games to count, including a laser maze, escape room, giant chessboard and piano, arcade machines, canoes, pool, and two waterslides.

What guests love

  • Endless number of activities, equipment, and things to do
  • Suitability for little kids and, well, big kids!
  • Responsive and enthusiastic hosts
  • Beautiful lakeside location

What you can learn

Think big. Airbnb may have cracked down on unwanted gatherings and “party houses,” but this property absolutely embraces family fun, and unapologetically invites guests to go big or go home.

Enchanted Tiny Tower nestled in the Berkshires, Lee, Massachusetts

Like something out of a fairytale, this whimsical home helps guests embrace their inner princess or prince. With rounded wooden walls, dainty furniture, and a canopy bed, this property’s forest surroundings must surely contain a flock of singing birds that help you get dressed in the morning. 

What guests love

  • Beautiful, cottage-core decoration
  • Incredible privacy
  • Coziness and warm, easy-to-use pellet stove
  • Little welcome gifts left by the hosts

What you can learn

Stock the place with surprises. Many Airbnb hosts leave supplies. But these hosts take it even further to please guests, including s’mores goodies, a bottle of cider, and personalized welcome notes.

Mouse House with Pool, Clermont, Florida

Appealing to both kids and adults who are kids at heart, the Disney Mouse House is a single-family home with three luxurious Disney-themed rooms. It has everything travelers need to make their Walt Disney vacation memorable. Guests can also relax by the pool or challenge the family in the game room.

As you see, you don’t need to own a rental in an exotic destination to create a fantastic experience for your guests. You can remodel your existing vacation rental to attract more travelers and make it more profitable. And using rental software like Hospitable.com, you’ll be able to automate almost all your routine operations and make your short-term rental business more efficient, saving time and money.

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Unique Cabin Rentals

Here are our top picks of unique cabin rentals that are the perfect escape away from the everyday hustle and bustle of modern life.

Appalachian Container Cabin

It’s a tiny home built from shipping containers in the Smoky Mountains. Surrounded by trees and mountains, the lovely modern cabin is thoughtfully designed, comfortable, and functional while still energy-efficient and visually inspiring. It was recently featured on the new HGTV/DIY show “Containables.” But the main reason to stay here is probably the breathtaking views overlooking the Appalachian Trail.

The Sunset Dome, Tulbagh, Western Cape, South Africa

As if a stay in a geodome wasn’t enough of a talking point, this unique getaway looks out over a glass-like lake within a 270-hectare farm in the Witzenburg mountains, South Africa. Guests can luxuriate in their very own outdoor bathtub, barbecue on the terrace, and sink like the sunset into cozy, velvet-covered chairs.

What guests love 

  • The serene location and sunsets that live up to the dome’s name
  • The day-to-night nature sounds
  • The host’s attention to detail and design
  • Nearby hikes, and visits from the farm dog

What you can learn

Ensure accurate listings. These hosts pre-empt questions and disappointed guests by making it very clear that the location means bees, flies, or ‘shongolos’ (millipedes) will likely make an appearance. 

Remote Dessert Bubble Dome, Joshua Tree, California

Many Airbnbs boast uninterrupted views, but this transparent dome in the desert guarantees them more than most. With a 360° vantage point, open ceiling, and fire pit, this secluded bolthole has curtains to ensure privacy, but otherwise brings you as close to nature as possible without actually being outside.

What guests love

  • Accurate photos that show what the property is like in real life
  • Incredible sunrise and sunset views
  • Restroom connected to the dome
  • Privacy and seclusion

What you can learn

Update your decor seasonally. With stunning views, this Airbnb needs no extra clutter. Yet, the hosts keep it special with seasonal updates (like Christmas cushions in December). Small touches like this help to promote your Airbnb in the winter or the off-season, for strong revenue all year round.

Off the Grid Cabin in the Green Mountains

It’s a rustic spot surrounded by trees and a perfect place for a secluded escape in the green mountains. This cozy cabin is ideal for adventure seekers. There is no electricity and no Wi-fi, but there are battery-powered lights and a wood stove to keep travelers warm on chilly nights. Travelers can easily hike to Libby’s Look for panoramic views or walk to the nearby swimming hole.

The Roundabout Cabin near Portsmouth, Ohio

This unique circular cabin is nestled on four wooded acres along Pond Creek. It has an open-concept design, so there are virtually no doors between the bedroom, shower, living room, and kitchen. The rooms wind around the central stone fireplace with varying levels, and walls of windows blur the lines between inside and out, connecting travelers with nature in every room. Guests can also enjoy the outdoors from the patio.

Unique Beach House

Staying in a unique beach house is an ideal option for travelers looking for an instant escape to luxury, adventure, and endless summer.

The Pole House at Fairhaven, Australia

With a design that dates back to the Seventies, the Pole House is one of Australia’s most iconic homes. Suspended 40 meters above Fairhaven Beach, the unique beach house instantly became a landmark, a manmade natural attraction. The Pole House was recently renovated, and now it has floor-to-ceiling windows, modern furniture, and the walkway to this vacation rental home is like walking on air.

The Shell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

This one-of-a-kind house, also known as ‘Casa Caracol,’ offers spectacular views of the Caribbean. It’s one of the most romantic places to take a vacation. The house is situated in a gated property with a private pool, kitchenette, and barbecue, and it is ideal for travelers who would prefer to vacation away from the crowds.

Artist’s Tower on the Sea, Bocas Town, Provincia de Bocas del Toro, Panama

When they say tower, they aren’t kidding. Part pagoda, part lighthouse, this house on stilts in Panama seems to float on water, and is only accessible by rowing boat. With four levels but few walls and 360° views over the sea (which contains fish and coral), this handcrafted structure is quirky enough to inspire any adventurer. 

What guests love

  • Artistic and fun touches
  • Super-kind host welcome and support
  • Honest description
  • Adventurous spirit

What you can learn

Go the extra mile for guests. What this place lacks in luxury, its host Filiberto makes up for in friendliness. Guests praise his free airport transfers, cooked meals, and responsive, open attitude.

Iconic Glass Mansion, Osage Beach, Missouri

Glass Mansion is perched on beautiful, natural rock cliffs overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. This gorgeous, luxurious house has floor-to-ceiling windows that span the entire house and offer awe-inspiring lake views for miles from almost every room. Glass mansion has a massive open-concept kitchen and living room area on the main level and four spacious master suites, each with its own bathroom and lakeside deck.

Beautifully Decorated Beachfront House on Gulf Beach

This fabulous vacation home named “Villa Delphinus” for the leaping dolphin constellation is located on Dauphin Island, close to Dauphin Island Public Beach. It has a large, wrap-around, partially covered deck for panoramic views of the Gulf and Bay, where guests can enjoy blissful sunsets, ocean breezes, and the sound of waves lapping at the shoreline.

Typically, beach properties provide a higher rental income than vacation rentals that don’t offer beach amenities. So buying a beach house can be a good investment strategy for short-term rental hosts. If you are considering this opportunity, our article is a good place to start your research to find locations to buy a beach house for rental income.

One of those locations could be a good option to find a property with great earning potential and list it on multiple sites to reach more travelers. You will need a reliable channel manager to sync pricing and availability and avoid double bookings.

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Unique Rental Properties: Most Unusual Listings

These amazing rentals from Airbnb’s OMG! category attract adventurous travelers looking for the weirdest and most wonderful stays.

Unique Stay in a Converted Crane, Amsterdam

This one-of-a-kind three-story apartment, located in a monumental harbor crane, is the perfect hideout to escape the buzz of the city. With a luxury bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, it has an interior that makes guests feel special and provides spectacular views over the IJ River.

Drommen Shack – The Shack Tree, Guyonvelle, Grand Est, France

Tucked into a forest in eastern France, this rustic treehouse offers serious storybook vibes, with hand-hewn wooden touches everywhere you look. With cozy lighting, cute decorations, and even a private terrace, this little nest is perfect for couples who want a real bolthole.

What guests love 

  • Cozy, magical atmosphere
  • Natural environment and forest sounds
  • Personal breakfast delivery by rope
  • Nearby restaurant in the same style

What you can learn

Get clear on your ideal guest. These hosts know their guests are couples who want a cozy, rustic escape in nature, and are dedicated to offering exactly that, with no distractions.

Aura House 2bds Eco Bamboo House, Abiansemal, Bali, Indonesia

Emerging like a mirage from a backdrop of lush, tropical greenery, the Aura House is a true oasis of bamboo craftsmanship and Balinese design. With multiple levels, it houses four guests among curved roofs, handmade furniture, luxurious daybeds, “outdoor” showers, and even a private pool.

What guests love 

  • Stunning design from local architecture studio
  • Thoughtful lighting and air conditioning
  • Beautiful views and greenery
  • Excellent service

What you can learn

Take a personal, luxurious approach. These hosts don’t just let the amazing space do the talking; they learn guests’ names before they arrive, and offer chef-prepared food and in-room massages.

Yellow Submarine, Marton, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Guests won’t be able to resist singing the Beatles’ classic tune in this bright hideaway, which comes complete with its own captain (a John Lennon mannequin) and even a wooden ship’s wheel. A comfy sofa and bunk beds contrast with metal utilitarian decor, hazard tape, scuba helmets, and original instruments.

What guests love

  • The gadgets and themed memorabilia
  • The hosts’ fun, playful approach 
  • Personalized touches such as flags for the guests’ nationality
  • Secluded, “sea of green” natural location

What you can learn 

Go ‘all in’ to your property’s theme or style. These hosts’ listing references the Beatles, U Boats, and The Hunt for Red October, and the place is packed with original features.

Earth Conker, Llanafan-fawr, Wales, United Kingdom

If 2001: A Space Odyssey had featured a conker, it would have looked like this. A circular living pod set in expansive Welsh hills, and designed by Bentley and McLaren luxury car designer Jag Virdie, this Airbnb is a burnished-bronze conversation starter before guests even go inside.

What guests love

  • The secluded location away from phone signal
  • Breathtaking scenery and local walks
  • Cozy indoor touches and log burners
  • Nearby animals including horses and piglets

What you can learn 

Use scroll-stopping photos. Many Airbnbs are located in stunning countryside, but this host focuses on the conker’s uniqueness, putting clear and colorful photos front-and-center of the listing. Top photography tips for amateurs include playing with angles and staging your Airbnb to look its best.

La Grotte du Moulin de la Motte Baudoin, Noyers-sur-Cher, Centre-Val de Loire, France

“Like a cave” isn’t usually a description you’d want for your Airbnb, but this place is an actual cave, and all the more charming for it. Embedded in a limestone rock with lights in the ceiling that highlight the stone’s natural formation, it offers guests a stay as close to the local land as you can get.

What guests love

  • The warmth and coziness of the low ceiling and wood-burning stoves
  • Beautiful view of night sky from private patio
  • Friendly host welcome
  • Great amenities in the kitchen

What you can learn 

Remember the importance of lighting. This space is small and might have looked dark and damp if the hosts hadn’t transformed the low ceiling with hidden warm lighting to create warm, den-like appeal.

StarsBOX sea view with whirlpool, Celle Ligure, Liguria, Italy

Not content with offering guests a view of the sky through a roof light or big windows, this tiny property opens up like a cardboard box, so guests can literally sleep under the stars. There’s also a hot tub, pool, and sauna for a touch of luxury.

What guests love

  • Convenient location close to a train station
  • Private refrigerator for personal food and drink 
  • Good host communication
  • Wide range of relaxation options, including jacuzzi and pool

What you can learn 

Consider greenery and privacy. Despite its outdoor focus, this property isn’t in the middle of nowhere, so guests particularly appreciate the hosts’ effort to offer extra privacy and softness with plants.

Bedrock Homestead Full Cave, Boulder, Utah

This impressive dome of ochre-colored rock looms out of the Utah desert like a hut on Tatooine. Luckily for guests, this place is a lot cozier than a Star Wars planet, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors to show off the landscape, a floating staircase, colorful textiles, and huge sofas from which to admire the view.

What guests love

  • The shape and “special energy” of the cave
  • Friendly, personable hosts
  • Hiking activities in the surrounding area
  • The get-away-from-it-all desert location and lack of WiFi

What you can learn 

Share your story. This property’s creators and hosts, Grant and Gina, welcome guests personally, and don’t hide how much love and time they’ve spent literally carving out the property with their own hands.

True Cold War Relic Atlas F Missile Silo / Bunker, Roswell, New Mexico

They say it’s what’s inside that counts, and that’s certainly true for this property, 99% of which lies 186 ft below the surface. A real Cold War-era bunker and missile base, it’s in alien country (Roswell, Texas), and offers history buffs a chance to stay in a real—if slightly terrifying—piece of military engineering.

What guests love

  • Hosts Gary and Raul’s deep knowledge of the bunker’s history
  • Extra books, pamphlets, photos, and materials about the site
  • Well-stocked kitchen and amenities
  • Secluded and peaceful location

What you can learn 

Share your knowledge. We don’t all own a bunker, but guests will still welcome passionate insights, whether it’s recommendations for your all-time favorite nearby restaurant, or insider tips on local culture.

Conestoga Wagon on Dude Ranch, Sandy Valley, Nevada

Cowboy boots at the ready; this place will whisk you to the Wild West before you can say “Howdy.”  With a double bed and bunks inside, this desert wagon looks as cozy as it does authentic, and packs a surprising amount of facilities into a small space.

What guests love

  • Useful in-property amenities
  • Cleanliness (pleasantly surprising for a desert)
  • Local experiences of horse riding and cattle herding
  • Beautiful desert setting

What you can learn 

Prioritize cleanliness. Many guests mention how pleasantly surprised they were by how clean this place was upon arrival. This gives a great first impression that goes beyond the obvious.

Young Wild & TREE(HOUSE), East Point, Georgia

Part 1956 Airstream, part treehouse, this Airbnb is a gravity-defying blast from the past. With a ping pong table, ample outdoor seating, and a woodfired hot tub, it’s designed for couples who want relaxed, nostalgic fun.

What guests love

  • “Adorable” and “cool” design
  • Option to hire extras like massages or a private chef
  • The luxury of the woodfired hot tub
  • The location that is both secluded and close to downtown

What you can learn

Let the space do the talking. This property’s decor is simple and sleek, with only one strong color (teal), and natural materials (wood and bronze), purposefully used to reflect the bus’s original design.

Spaceship Destination!, Brush Prairie, Washington

Star Trek fans look no further; this metal home looks like it’s just crash-landed in anticipation of your guests’ arrival. Compactly spread over 726 square feet, this unusual vessel features everything for a short stay, as well as enough WiFi, space magazines, and Star Trek books to help you plan your own trip to space.

What guests love

  • Creative and adventurous design
  • Family-friendly host welcome for Space-mad kids
  • Themed toys and memorabilia inside
  • LED lighting outside

What you can learn

Prepare for nighttime arrivals. Many guests noted that they appreciated the lighting in front of this property, which not only added to the “wow factor” but also made it easy to approach safely after dark.

Observatory, Yucca Valley, California

If stargazing from bed isn’t enough, guests at this property can use a real-life, automated observatory, complete with telescope! You don’t need gadgets to appreciate this location though; huge windows let in swathes of light, and the terrace (with hot tub) offers uninterrupted views of the majestic Yucca Valley.

What guests love

  • Science focus, with telescope, games room, and night sky guide available
  • Clear instructions for all gadgets and games
  • Well-stocked kitchen and bathrooms
  • Super-fast host responses

What you can learn

Provide detailed instructions. Not many hosts will need to explain how to use an observatory, but all guests will appreciate easy-to-follow manuals, directions, and super-fast replies in case questions arise.

Traditional Navajo Home, Monument Valley, Utah

This rental is a truly unique and magical traditional Navajo hogan that was built with local Juniper Trees and mud, so it stays cool in summer and warm in winter. It’s a great accommodation for travelers who want to stay back in time to experience life the traditional way and disconnect from the modern world.

UFO ‘Futuro Styled Flying Saucer,’ Redberth, United Kingdom

This unique Airbnb property has an incredible spaceship look and design and offers guests the opportunity to sleep in their very-own ‘flying saucer.’ It is located in the heart of South Pembrokeshire, only a short distance from the popular seaside resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot, with white sandy beaches and picturesque Harbors.

Boot-Shaped House, New Zealand

The Boot is a cozy two-story cottage in the shape of a giant boot rising from the ground like something straight out of a fairytale storybook. It’s located in the picturesque area on the Tasman Coast that features a rugged coastline and is backed by mountain scenery to explore.

Final Thought

Unique vacation rentals are increasingly popular among vacationers who are looking for something different in the places they stay—Instagram-worthy backdrops, exciting amenities, and authentic experience. So it can be a good idea to create an unusual stay by remodeling your existing rental property and providing your guests with an unforgettable experience.

Hopefully, our inspiring examples of amazing vacation rentals will help you get creative. And if you’re not quite ready to take the plunge, you can at least add small touches to your rental space to make your guests feel special at your home. Check out the decorating ideas and tips to create a stunning space and attract more guests.

best place to buy a beach house

Best Places to Buy a Beach House in 2023-24

Looking to buy a vacation home at the beach and rent it out short-term on Airbnb? Beach houses have long been desirable properties in real estate, but not all of them are created equal. In this blog, you’ll find a list of the best places to buy a beach house in the US and Europe. It is based on the data provided by Mashvisor and CoworkingCafe.

glamping business

Glamping Business: Beginner’s Guide

Glamping or glamorous camping is a new trend in the tourism industry that is quickly becoming popular worldwide. The global glamping market size is huge, so starting a glamping business as an alternative to traditional vacation rental homes can be a great small business opportunity to explore.

most expensive airbnb

Most Expensive Airbnb Rentals

Airbnb is a marketplace offering some of the most unique and luxurious places to stay around the globe. It lists grand mansions, historic villas, luxury estates, medieval castles, private islands, and spectacular places to stay in cities.
We’ve conducted a research to offer you a list of the most expensive Airbnb listings worldwide.

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