Taking some time off can give you some serious perspective on life that’s easily lost when caught up in the 9-5 grind of everyday life. Crowds and standardized tourist offerings leave us not only with cookie-cutter travel experiences, but an unsatisfactory “break” from our already chaotic lives.
Enter: Airbnb. By providing a modernized version of couch surfing, Airbnb has connected adventure seekers with people wanting to rent out private spaces. Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Palermo, and even the great Queen Bey are all opting to vacay in places that feel more like home.
While many of these listings range in location and amenities, the app is packed with easily overlooked historical sites in buried corners or seemingly ordinary places. Here we’ve picked eight of our favorite hidden gems with a story to tell. From geometric structures in Japan to majestic castles in Britain, these fantastical Airbnb picks are anything but blasé.
1. Historical Nakagin Capsule Tower
This building is what would happen if Tetris suddenly became life-sized. For $145 a night, you can stay at this modular mega structure, the world’s first example of usable capsule architecture designed by Kisho Kurokawa in the early 1970s. This cube-like apartment in Tokyo's historical Nakagin Capsule Tower (NCT) is a rare example of Japanese Metabolism, a movement that became illustrative of Japan’s postwar cultural renaissance. The building is actually comprised of two interconnected concrete towers that house 140 modules, 20 of which are occupied. Each capsule is a self-contained unit that can be used for small living or as an office. The rental includes a hyper compact bedroom en suite, space-saving furniture, and a circular-framed view of the city.
2. St Pancras Clock Tower Guest Suite
Kings Cross, amid the hullabaloo of the city, is one of the few places in London where 17th- and 18th-century-style shop signs still endure in all their gilt glory. Literally hidden inside the renown clock tower at St Pancras Station, this charming flat is available to rent by the week. The two-bedroom apartment has a 10-meter high ceiling and still contains many of its original 19th century features, including wooden beams and an iron staircase. Altogether, the property forms part of what was once the Midland Grand Hotel, an exclusive gothic revival designed by renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Situated on the fifth-floor, the flat offers spectacular views of London and is reservable at $204 per night.
3. Dairsie Castle (Historic Scotland)
Historic sites are interspersed everywhere throughout the United Kingdom landscape. Not only can you step back in time, you can choose which period. In this case, let a grand castle landmark propel you back to the 12th Century with remarkable architecture and gardens, world-class art, enthralling history, and spectacular scenery. Dairsie Castle has been the location of secret Scottish parliaments, military sieges, and a safe haven for escapee monarchs (James VI and I in 1583). Since then, it has been brought to ruins and remodeled in 1992 as a unique self-catered property fitting up to 13 people. Cool rooms you can explore include a dungeon, caphouses, and the Great Hall. Located close to St. Andrews and Edinburgh, it epitomizes the heart of Scotland in the most aesthetically pleasing way.
4. Frank Lloyd Wright's Schwartz House
A visit to the Bernard Schwartz House is an enchanting adventure in a romantic landscape designed by Frank Lloyd Wright himself. There is seriously something almost spiritual about this magical space. If you’re into some seriously picturesque sanctuaries (and who isn’t?!), come experience Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1938 vision for how the average American Family should live. This LIFE Magazine Dream house is yours to live in as if it were your own for $425 a night. Throw in a kiva fireplace? Yes, please.
5. Mostel - Polish Tower Bridge
Rich in history and saturated with culture, everything here from the cobblestones to the iron gates has a story to tell. As an integral part of the Jozef Poniatowski bridge, the Polish Tower Bridge remains as one of the most unique places to stay in Poland. In 2012, the facade and interior was newly renovated. Did we mention it’s also located right in the heart of Warsaw? The National Stadium and the municipal beach is just a few strides away. Um when can we move in?
6. Historic English Castle
This structure literally looks like a castle taken straight out of Game of Thrones. Choose from 15 grand rooms to call home in this fabulous castle on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Turrets, stained glass, tudor panelling, gothic windows—it's all here to complete your ultimate medieval experience. Built in 1841 as a Victorian gentleman's folly, this castle is now a real family home that branches across 15 acres of ground. So come channel your inner Daenerys in glorious Northern England—you’ll surely feel like royalty in these hallowed halls.
7. Off-grid itHouse
Tourist traps aren't your thing? That's all right; you can just rent your own private utopia. While this particular model was recently built, the off-grid itHouse mingles the historical itHouse energy efficiency design (the use of solar photovoltaic & thermal panels) with this modern prototype, bringing together raw industrial aesthetics with the tactics of green design to design an alienated home in the sunbaked wilds of the California high desert. It’s perfect for design or green aficionados, writers, or those just in dire need of a secluded getaway.