Airbnb properties: The 15 coolest rentals available

Here's the truly great thing about the product offered by Airbnb and its ilk: it's changed the very nature of the travel experience. No longer are travellers locked into the hotel model, whether that's in terms of price, location, or facilities. You can now stay in a real home in an interesting neighbourhood for a fraction of the price of a hotel room.

From castles to house made of seashells, here are 15 of the coolest rentals on Airbnb.

Dairsie Castle 

WHERE St Andrews, Scotland

WHAT'S SO GREAT? You get to stay in a castle! This is a genuine 12th-century mansion, complete with four-poster beds, a huge dining hall, a "dungeon", and an orchard on six acres of land.

HOW MUCH? $1698 a night. Sleeps 13.

AIRBNB CODE 330808

Bamboo House 

WHERE Ubud, Bali

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This four-storey luxury villa is made almost entirely of bamboo, from the floors to the walls, the ceilings, the railings and the stairs. The forest setting is truly stunning.

HOW MUCH? $483 a  night. Sleeps nine.

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AIRBNB CODE 798483

Casa Caracol 

WHERE Isla Mujeres, Mexico

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This is one of the quirkiest homes on Airbnb, a "seashell house" perched on an island off the coast of Cancun. The property is actually two separate houses, with one bedroom in each.

HOW MUCH? $370 a  night. Sleeps four.

AIRBNB CODE 530250

One Square Metre House 

WHERE Berlin, Germany

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This is part accommodation, part art installation. It's also the smallest house in the world, just one square metre, and it can be placed anywhere in the city you want it. Ready for bed? Just lie the house on its side.

HOW MUCH? $17 a  night. Sleeps one.

AIRBNB CODE 542031

Cave House 

WHERE Santorini, Greece

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This is where Airbnb excels – giving you access to places you'd never normally be able to stay. Like a traditional "cave house" on Santorini, fulfilling all of your Greek Island fantasies at a relatively small cost.

HOW MUCH? $216 a  night. Sleeps four.

AIRBNB CODE 433392

Villa Mathesis

WHERE Tarifa, Spain

WHAT'S SO GREAT? You know those ridiculously opulent coastal Spanish villas that football players and movie stars always seem to be holidaying in? Well this is one of them, only it's affordable for non-football players and movie stars. It also has a gym, a pool, and, just in case the sun's not out, a solarium.  

HOW MUCH? $290 per night. Sleeps two.

AIRBNB CODE 601173

Old Smock Windmill

WHERE Benenden, UK

WHAT'S SO GREAT? Well, you get to live in a windmill, obviously. An old English windmill. The Old Smock is a four-storey building that's been neatly restored, with massive oak beams spanning each floor and walls as thick as a castle's. Guests also get a basket of the local farm's chicken eggs on arrival.

HOW MUCH? $379 per night. Sleeps two.

AIRBNB CODE 1237965

Brazilian beachfront

WHERE Santa Catarina, Brazil

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This amazing house doesn't just have direct access to a beach - it has direct access to a private beach. And floor-to-ceiling windows to take advantage of that fact. And there are oysters to collect in the nearby rock pools. And fish to buy from the local fisherman. Paradise.

HOW MUCH? $1052 per night. Sleeps eight.

AIRBNB CODE 156247

Moganshan Villa

WHERE De Qing, China

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This is an immaculately restored, 150-year-old farmhouse in the Moganshan mountain area near Hangzhou, in China. It's a chance to experience village life while also swanning around in luxury, with indoor and outdoor living areas, a hot tub and big-screen TVs.

HOW MUCH? $1198 per night. Sleeps eight.

AIRBNB CODE 1936827

Amsterdam Houseboat

WHERE Amsterdam, Netherlands

WHAT'S SO GREAT? Ever strolled around Amsterdam and looked at all the houseboats tied up in the canals and wondered, "Who gets to live there?" Well, the answer is you. If you rent this huge, fancy houseboat on the Amstel River, you can live the life of a true Amsterdammer for a few nights. 

HOW MUCH? $559 per night. Sleeps two.

AIRBNB CODE 1079499

Ocean Front Villa

WHERE Kathu, Phuket

WHAT'S SO GREAT? Got 11 friends who really want to escape with you to Thailand for a few days and live it up in luxury? Then go no further than this beachfront villa, which six bedrooms, two living rooms and two kitchens. Oh and a 16-metre marble swimming pool.

HOW MUCH? $2868 per night. Sleeps 12.

AIRBNB CODE 385104

John Steinbeck's Studio

WHERE Pacific Grove, US

WHAT'S SO GREAT? Yes, this was the writer John Steinbeck's actual studio, the place where he worked on "The Sea of Cortez" in the 1940s. That's some serious pedigree. Even if you're not a literary buff, this is still a charming little cottage in the hills.

HOW MUCH? $251 per night. Sleeps two.

AIRBNB CODE 1325979

Boathouse by Great Lake

WHERE Ostersund, Sweden

WHAT'S SO GREAT? This is another of those "living the dream" properties, where you get to stay in an idyllic, postcard Nordic holiday home set among mountains and streams. This lakehouse has a sun-deck, a huge kitchen, and a sauna. Obviously.

HOW MUCH? $251 per night. Sleeps two.

AIRBNB CODE 2686458

Rotterdam Cube House

WHERE Rotterdam, Netherlands

WHAT'S SO GREAT? One of the great things about Airbnb is you get to stay in some very quirky properties, and this might be one of the quirkiest. This Rotterdam home is instantly recognisable, and pretty comfortable as well, with 360-degree views from the top floor (if you can find it).

HOW MUCH? $219 per night. Sleeps four.

AIRBNB CODE 817858

Modern Glass Treehouse

WHERE Atlanta, US

WHAT'S SO GREAT? Another of Airbnb's most interesting properties, this is a treehouse, but not as you know it - that is, unless your childhood treehouse had two levels of modern steel and glass living and bedrooms, plus four outdoor terraces nestled at the top of a hardwood grove.

HOW MUCH? $717 per night. Sleeps four.

AIRBNB CODE 224997

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