When the travel bug bites, skip the cookie-cutter hotel or condo and look beyond big chains. Forget about too-close-for-comfort bed and breakfasts, where “room and board” becomes “bored and board.” These delightfully offbeat vacation rentals will make the destination just as much fun as the journey.
Ooh-la-la! What could be more romantic than cuddling close together on the peaceful waters of the Seine? This lovely little houseboat in the Issy-les-Moulineaux area is just steps from a beautiful botanical garden on the Ile St. Germain. Enjoy the cozy, comfortable digs while soaking in the waterfront atmosphere; at night, the boat will rock you gently into peaceful slumber. From $107 per night at Airbnb.
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At this tree-menendous Atlanta accommodation, your neighbors will be birds, butterflies, and frogs. Seven trees, including a 150-year-old southern shortleaf pine, support the rustic suite. Rope bridges connect the retreat’s three rooms (bedroom, living room, and deck), which are furnished with antiques and natural artifacts. Don’t forget to pack the bug spray! From $389 per night at Airbnb.
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Rapunzel never had it so good! Imagine a posh apartment tucked into the tower of a restored medieval abbey near the town of Tuscania, an hour north of Rome. The digs include a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms with baths, plus a panoramic terrace that overlooks the pristine valley of the river Marta. Just be sure to get in shape before you book: This place has some serious stairs! From $154 per night at Airbnb.
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Want to live like an Italian vintner, at least for a little while? Look no further than this bright, spacious villa in the historic Chianti Classico wine region. Up to eight guests can enjoy a fully equipped kitchen, an expansive living room that’s kept toasty warm by a beautiful fireplace, and an outdoor dining area where you can relax with your choice of a red or white. This 3-bedroom, 2-bath property includes access to a shared pool, tennis courts, and a bucolic path for hiking and horseback riding. From $240 per night at Airbnb.
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The location may be the Andalusian countryside, but the accommodation is pure Mongolia. This tepee-like yurt—a type of tent traditionally used by Central Asian nomads—has found permanence in Spain’s Los Montes de Málaga Natural Park, surrounded by olive and almond groves. The yurt is crafted of yak hair and decorated with eclectic Asian and Moroccan furnishings, including a lushly appointed double bed that's just perfect for two people. From $60 per night at Airbnb .
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No one likes to punch the clock while on holiday, but who wouldn’t want to sleep in a clock tower? The iconic San Francisco building that houses this stunning 1-bedroom loft was once home to the West coast’s largest printing company. Now, it’s an industrial-chic, inner-city sanctum that boasts bespoke cabinetry, a newly remodeled gourmet kitchen, and a 2-story bookcase replete with a wood ladder. Its funky, fun vibe is outfitted with luxury touches, making it a truly one-of-a-kind vacation rental. From $250 per night at Airbnb.
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The brainchild of 20th-century visionary Buckminster Fuller, the geodesic dome is every geek’s dream home! This airy version, located in Sullivan County, offers a wood floor and screened windows—the rest is up to you! Although the accommodation is BYOB (Bring Your Own Bed, that is), you'll have full use of the outdoor kitchen, shower, and fire pit. Dogs are welcome, but they must be leashed and housed outside the dome; your hosts keep free-roaming critters, including Merino sheep and Angora rabbits. From $379 per night at Airbnb.
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Want to take things light this vacation? Do so (literally) in this converted lighthouse that dates back to 1889. Situated in a quaint fishing village on the rocky coast of Hvar, the longest Croatian island, famous for its mild climate and remarkable scenery, the lighthouse boasts four bedrooms and a kitchen. And if you don’t feel like cooking, you can engage a professional chef to prepare “light” cuisine for you. From $482 per night at Airbnb.
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For a heavenly holiday in Ireland’s County Waterford, book a stay in Guilcagh Church, a gorgeously restored 19th Century gothic masterpiece. Nestled at the end of a tree-lined avenue, behind the double iron-gated doors, this restored church is well appointed with an oversized wood stove, underfloor heating, a wooden spiral staircase that leads to a curved balcony, and opulent details throughout. Guilcagh Church, which sleeps six guests, still has the original floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows. From $225 per night at Airbnb.
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If you’re in search of a unique “glamping” experience, settle into a cozy, tricked-out camper modeled on an original 1930s Airstream trailer. This paean to retro relaxation is situated in the Sierra de las Nieves range in southern Spain, and it's outfitted with all the modern conveniences, including a top-notch entertainment center and a fully equipped kitchen. Take a few steps out the door and dive into an awesome natural plunge pool. From $126 per night at Airbnb.
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Located in the midst of a tropical garden in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, here’s a colorful and cozy private cabin perfect for an artist, spiritual seeker, or tree hugger. It’s a short walk to the heart of the village, where visitors can dine, shop, and meet the area’s expat North Americans. When you return to the rustic, wood-interior cabin, relax in the sleeping area’s king-size bed or unwind on the porch or terrace with a cocktail. From $45 per night at Airbnb.
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When you think of igloos, you might imagine solid white bricks of snow—which make for a warm shelter, but don’t offer much in the way of a view. For that, you’ll want to stay in this stunning glass igloo, which contains a double bed, a small kitchenette, and a composting toilet. At night, enjoy the starlit panorama above and around you; with luck, you may even experience the aurora borealis. Also on the property are an outdoor, wood-fired hot tub and a small building containing a sauna, shower, kitchenette with refrigerator, and bunk bed. From $427 per night at Airbnb.
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Respect the globe you’re trotting over by staying in these digs near Joshua Tree National Park. The off-grid house melds raw industrial aesthetics with green design, smack dab in the middle of the sunbaked high desert. Fully solar-powered and true to the ideals of a smaller footprint, the single-bedroom glass house is nonetheless posh and comfortable. Just don’t throw any stones! From $520 per night at Airbnb.
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Anyone who loves the sun and sand has probably dreamt of living on their own private island. Here’s a Caribbean villa in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia to make those dreams come true. Accommodating up to 11 guests, this incredible retreat is spacious and open. Its minimalist, mid-century modern decor complements, but doesn’t compete with, the crystal-clear aquamarine water and sun-dappled shore. Guests can relax in a hammock, stretch out on the beachside cabana, or try their luck catching fresh local seafood for dinner. From $306 per night at Airbnb.
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Yippee-Ki-stay at this rustic Colorado cabin, located on a working horse ranch at the top of the Colorado National Monument. With hand-hewn logs and stone construction everywhere you look, including a stone shower in the unique octagonal bathroom, this cabin caters to the cowboy or cowgal in all of us. Luckily, there’s plenty of opportunity for riding, hiking, hunting, and more at this 9-bed, 1-bath rustic retreat. From $76 per night at Airbnb.
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Tucked right alongside the Maderas volcano on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, is this captivating jungle hut that offers a very different take on luxury. You won’t find plush carpets or fine French cuisine at this getaway; what you will experience is proximity to the lush tropical forest and its wildlife, panoramic views of the mighty volcano, hammocks for lounging the day away, and plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring. From $96 per night at Airbnb.
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Dads, start working on your “barrel of fun” and “barrel of monkeys” jokes. (Moms and kids, get ready to groan.) This truly unique glamping experience in New Zealand is one your family will remember (and cherish) forever. It might not be super-spacious, but the barrel is big on fun. It’s the ideal destination for a device-free holiday, too. Rambunctious monkeys can play on the trampoline and tire swing (and even hang out with the host’s kids!) or head to a nearby swimming hole. After a full day of outdoor play, they’ll be more than ready to crawl into this cozy circular rental to sleep. From $39 per night on Airbnb.
A vacation getaway in the middle of a lion reserve? That might give some travelers paws (er, pause). But not to worry, this unbelievable bush house is fenced in for your security. And despite being surrounded by wildlife, the property is on par with luxury accommodations everywhere. It sleeps up to eight guests, and the fee includes a full-time ranger who will take you on a daily game drive and answer any questions about the local flora and fauna. Other ways to spend your time include strolling in the botanical garden, shooting pool or playing ping-pong, or relaxing in the hot tub to cap off an amazing day in Africa. From $257 per night on Airbnb.
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