Holidays are great. No one’s denying that. But why suffer annoying couples who’ve all found the same online deal, in a bed that thousands have done the deed in (you know they have) when you could spend a night with your mates in a treehouse, or a military pod, or even a castle?
This year, swap the small talk and crappy all-inclusive breakfast buffet for a real adventure with our round-up of the best, most badass, unique Airbnbs in the UK, and for when you need more than just a weekend away, across the globe.
Dragon House, Suffolk
Best For: Game of Thrones Fans
Fancy playing Daenerys and Dragons with your other half? This medieval-inspired house was built in 2011 but harks back to a land of uncharted territories and mythological beasts (there’s even a dragon on the chimney). It’s secluded enough to feel hidden away, but only two miles from the nearest town for when the slaying is over and it’s time for a pint.
Off Grid House, Joshua Tree, California
Best For: Ignoring Your Boss
A 100 per cent solar-powered, completely off-grid house might not sound appetising after a flight to one of America’s buzziest states, but this architectural spectacle has been dubbed ‘One of the Best Homes in America’ by furniture retailer Dwell, so it’s worth the trek. Located in a pristine remote valley in the Californian desert, there’s no TV, Wi-Fi or phone signal – but there are locally-pressed juices and vistas in all directions.
Railway Carriage, Cardigan Bay
Best For: Seafront Spotting
Peace, quiet and dolphins are listed as the main selling points of this converted railway carriage on the seafront in Wales’ Cardigan Bay. Europe’s largest colony of flippers calls these waters home all year round, and with no neighbours (and a hefty wood burner), you can stay up watching them all night.
Iron Age Roundhouse, Norfolk
Best For: Going Back To Basics
When the aim is to ditch the trappings of modern day life, this Iron Age roundhouse will strip away the 21st-century shackles and take you back to earthly roots. The thatched house is in an undisturbed meadow accessed by a secret path, and has a wood-burning stove, living room and a yurt as a bedroom – what more do yurt need?
Boris The Military Pod, Isle of Skye
Best For: Wannabe Action Men
‘Boris’ previously served as a mobile military communications and radio repair unit for the British Army but is spending his retirement years as a converted holiday home in one of the UK’s most idyllic wildlife reserves. Deployed on the Isle of Skye, the self-catering military pod is the perfect base for heading out in the accompanying WWII jeep to explore the surroundings.
Caher Castle, Galway, Ireland
Best For: Living Like A King
Most of the castles in the UK have been turned into tourist attractions and kitschy hotels. But rent this 600-year-old fort, and you’re guaranteed an authentic medieval experience – cobwebs and all. You get full sole use of the top two floors, there’ll be lots of winding staircases and unrivalled views of the Irish countryside, and better yet, underfloor heating complements of the hosts’ pet Dragon that lives in the dungeon. And if you wanted to dress up like Henry VIII, we wouldn’t tell.
Art Nouveau Sculpture Villa, Rome, Italy
Best For: A City Break With A Difference
Fancy organising the weekend of a lifetime? This home away from home is housed inside an actual sculpture, in one of the greatest cities on Earth. The walls are all curves and open spaces with coloured tiled flooring and mosaics that, when paired with the white-washed structure and indoor/outdoor living, makes for an eclectic yet romantic space. What better name for a sculpture of its kind than ‘The light elation of substance’. Poets welcome.
Tree House, Selemadeg Barat, Bali
Best For: Going Totally Tropical
Imagine a Balian treehouse and this hidden hideaway is probably pretty spot on. A Utopian retreat, it overlooks a hammock-strewn palm garden and ocean-view pool, and the local villages’ surfer vibe will keep you on a total chillwave. The house was built from driftwood on the beach by the owner, who is on-hand to recommend dinner spots and show which fruits to pick (and more importantly, which not to) from the garden.
Seashell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Best For: Caribbean Coastal Legends
Local legend has it that the biggest seashell in the world washed up on the shore of Isla Mujeres, prompting the Caribbean islanders to turn it into a house. In fact, it was built by architect Eduardo Ocampo in 1994 as a retreat away from Mexico’s tourist hotspots (sorry to spoil it). This no less than unique residence also comes with a private pool and access to the island’s beach club.
Sydney Opera Home, Sydney, Australia
Best For: Down Under Done Right
Why settle for dodgy, up-close Instagram shots of the Sydney Opera House when you could set up camp across the river from it? This spectacularly located apartment overlooks Oz’s Harbour Bridge and features a huge kitchen-dining area with a waterfront view, ideal for self-catering trips with a twist. Plus, the vibrant neighbourhood means even if you do venture out, you’ll still be spoilt for choice.
*Prices taken for bookings on May 1.