It’s the vacation moment you’ve been waiting for: a cocktail in your hand and sunshine warming your face as you lounge by the pool. But this isn’t any old resort. You’re staying in a private beach home that happens to be shaped like a gargantuan seashell.
This fantastical vacation property on Mexico’s Isla Mujeres is an example of the one-of-a-kind rentals now available to travelers through sites like Airbnb and VRBO. According to HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples, booking an unusual vacation rental “gives [travelers] bragging rights when they get home. It ups the fun factor in a big way.”
Some, like the Seashell House and the Mirrored House outside Pittsburgh, are quirky in a beautiful, high-design way. In Brooklyn, one couple turned a sunny, 1,500-square-foot Williamsburg loft into a cabinet of curiosities, covering the walls with items recovered from old farms, salvage yards, and abandoned factories, while also cultivating about 70 plants.
Other strange vacation rentals embrace pop culture and kitsch. Imagine, for example, reserving a life-size replica of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit House in the foothills of Montana, or returning to your wine-barrel accommodations after a day out in the vineyards of Walla Walla, WA.
These photo ops are just about guaranteed to earn you likes and comments on social media—which Jia En Teo, co-founder and COO of Roomorama, believes is part of the appeal. “Travelers are looking for one-of-a-kind stays to add to their Facebook and Instagram portfolio,” she says. “While staying in a beautiful property is great, edgy and quirky places step up the game to a whole new level.”
Whichever of these 15 quirky properties captures your imagination, you can be sure a stay will reboot your reality.