An Architect’s Guide to Some of Airbnb’s Most Wish-Listed Homes

Ever wondered what some of the most sought-after Airbnbs look like? Wonder no more.

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When it comes to new ways of experiencing architecture, Airbnb has opened up a world of exciting opportunities for guests and Hosts alike. It’s one thing to visit Fallingwater or the Farnsworth House, but Airbnb’s platform has made it easier than ever to host a home with unique architectural qualities. After all, these residential gems were designed, built, and fully intended to be inhabited and appreciated.

It should come as no surprise, then, that architects and design lovers around the world have taken to Airbnb to share their spaces with a global audience. “I really love guests that are looking for a unique experience, particularly architects or architecture aficionados that understand that Airbnb is a great opportunity to discover really special dwellings,” reflects Superhost Claudio Sodi Zapata. “I appreciate guests that get involved in understanding the house, the area and the community. In the end, Airbnb is just that: a community more than a hotel app.”

Below, we explore three examples of the most wish-listed stays on the platform, each situated in a spectacular location and possessing a deep connection between building and site. Each standing out in their own, unique way, these stays add a new dimension to architecture tourism, showcasing the ways in which Airbnb makes it possible for Hosts to share stunning spaces in a more intimate way than ever before.

Casa Tiny hosted by Claudio Sodi Zapata

Photos courtesy Claudio Sodi Zapata; taken by Camila Cossio

Henry David Thoreau would wholeheartedly have approved of Casa Tiny — an architectural homage to his 1854 classic Walden — which Superhost Zapata has shifted not only in time but place, to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, a stone’s throw from a secluded Oaxacan beach.

Designed by young architect Aranza de Ariño when she was still a student at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Casa Tiny engages in a direct dialogue with its verdant surroundings. “One of the most unique features of the house is a large table that serves as a multi-purpose element,” explains Zapata. “It starts on the inside of the house, in the kitchen, and extends through the big shutter doors into the terrace area, providing a place where you can work, eat, and even nap.”

Billed as “Walden for Two,” the cast-in-situ concrete structure — accented with local parota wood — is equally inspired by its nearest neighbor, the artist retreat Casa Wabi, designed by none other than Tadao Ando. Casa Tiny guests can arrange private tours of Casa Wabi, an art destination in itself.

Its architectural features have seen Casa Tiny elicit countless positive reviews in recent years. “The house is so thoughtful and beautiful,” commented guest Breanne in August 2019. “The view from the bed is outstanding, and the tiny architectural details melted my heart — the latches, the openings to let light in, the peg for the shower being the exact same width as the concrete wall … the house is poetic.”

Willow Treehouse hosted by Avner & Maskit Ronen

Photos courtesy of Avner & Maskit Ronen

As one of the most wish-listed dwellings on Airbnb, the Willow Treehouse has garnered hundreds of rave reviews, with equal praise for its striking design, the sylvan surroundings, and the chance to disconnect. A “passion project that came to life” for two New Yorkers, the iconic elevated cabin was designed by Antony Gibbon expressly to unplug and unwind, with no TV or Wi-fi. Built by William Johnson, the residence is located in upstate New York.

Willow Treehouse possesses a unique, angular form, addressing its stunning lakeside setting while simultaneously remaining deferential to the adjacent trees. Inside, a balance is struck between rustic charm and more glamorous touches, with floor-to-ceiling windows on both levels ensuring that the surrounding landscape takes center stage at all times. There’s even a Scandinavian-style hot tub nearby, a highlight for many visitors.

The stay is actually only 15 minutes from Woodstock, but it feels far more remote. As guest Audrey summed it up after her stay in May 2018, “this is [an] experience you’ll definitely enjoy if you want to get away from the city for some quiet time, while marveling at the wonders of architecture and nature at the same time.”

Treehouse Village – The Box hosted by Bethany Hershberger

Photos courtesy of Bethany Hershberger

Shipping-container architecture has yet to go mainstream, but it turns out that it makes for a great guest experience — all the better if the structure is dramatically cantilevered in the wooded heart of Ohio Amish country. Combining a dark, industrial interior with stylish contemporary touches, Superhost Bethany Hershberger, who runs the Treehouse Village where the Box is one of several cabins, has made this striking 40-foot-long residence a memorable getaway.

The Box comprises a bedroom with a queen-sized bed, full bath, a kitchenette and living area, which frames stunning views of the surrounding landscape. “To be staying in such a substantial structure that almost feels like it’s floating in the air is an experience for the senses,” says Hershberger of her unique abode. “You will feel the loftiness as you stand in the floor to ceiling windows at the end and realize you’re in the treetops.”

Hershberger continues: “I have always loved creating unique, comforting experiences for people through design and food. To be able to create spaces that people can come to and enjoy deepening relationships in this busy world is an absolute delight for our family.”

These unique homes are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg for Hosts hoping to satisfy guests in search of truly one-of-a-kind places to stay. One comment that consistently comes up in Airbnb guest reviews — besides the fact that these are among the most fascinating places they’ve ever stayed in — is the fact that the photos don’t do justice to the architecture. It’s a testament to the power of design, and the fact that Airbnb Hosts have the ability to create spaces so distinctive that they can supersede even the most upscale hotels.

If you are an architect with a similarly breathtaking home, or plan to create one, head over to Airbnb to learn more about hosting!

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