When architect Anna Noguera and her husband bought a 16th-century house in Girona, Spain, it was in such rough shape that only the walls could be saved. But after a three-year renovation, their five-bedroom home has a gourmet kitchen, pool, fireplace and veranda overlooking the medieval town.
Why should you care? Because this is a home you can rent.
Renting a house has become increasingly easy -- and popular -- in the past few years, thanks to sites like HomeAway and AirBnB. And there are some very cool rental homes out there. It's enough to make a five-star hotel jealous.
Of course, anyone who's sifted through dozens of ho-hum listings knows how much time can evaporate while trying to find the perfect place to call home for a week's escape. But thanks to curated new websites, such as WelcomeBeyond.com, Boutique-Homes.com and Designtripper.com (full disclosure: this is my blog), travelers can browse designers' rental homes that have been carefully selected for their cool quotient.
Even some homeowners can't get over their surroundings. "There's something amazing about visiting museums like the Picasso and Carnavalet, and staying in a building with a similar sense of history," says Jorge Almada of the 18th-century, antiques-filled apartment he and his wife own in Paris. And it's just as amazing that they want to share their pied-à-terre -- designed by Louis XVI's architect -- with travelers like you.
See More of the World's Coolest Rental HomesLondoners Emma Wilson and Graham Carter moved to Essaouira in 2002 after shutting their furniture shop and taking on a new project: sprucing up this 18th-century, four-bedroom house. An all-white canvas for their retro, color-popping style, Dar Beida has an internal courtyard and rooms outfitted with eclectic furniture, hammock, terraces, and in most cases, fireplaces. The couple dotes on their guests, sharing personal recommendations (best market stalls) and a pair of babouche (Moroccan slippers) to keep.Photo: Courtesy of Castles in the Sand
See More of the World's Coolest Rental HomesOwned by Vogue and Travel + Leisure photographer Anne Menke and her husband, Johann, this open-air, two-bedroom stucco house borders a lush tropical jungle in the laid-back surfing town of Sayulita. It was originally her family’s vacation home, but when they decided to make Sayulita their full-time address, they began renting out this cobalt blue, thatched-roof beauty to guests and moved into a new addition on the grounds. Bonus amenity: there’s a pizza oven on the beach.Photo: Courtesy of Casa Ninamu
See More of the World's Coolest Rental HomesThis completely renovated four-bedroom stone house in the Dordogne area of southern France could not be more idyllic—or stylish, in a way that’s both bohemian and expertly curated. (“We love to collect old furniture that reflects a lived-through feeling,” says co-owner Vincent Defontaines.) An all-white bedroom is finished off with a fringed hanging lamp, and bookcases display vintage hardbacks, paintings, and antlers above a velvet sofa. But the pool is the real showstopper, surrounded by tall grasses, gardens, and curvaceous lounge chairs, and with magnificent views of the vineyards and fields of wildflowers.Photo: Courtesy of Casa Ninamu
See More of the World's Coolest Rental HomesChicago interior designer Patrizio Fradiani bought a decrepit Tuscan farmhouse five years ago as a way to reconnect with his native Italy. A top-to-bottom renovation transformed the five-bedroom hilltop retreat near the village of San Casciano dei Bagni into a stylish country escape with minimalist, Donald Judd–like installations (a wall decorated with individual hardware drawers, for example) and traditional post-and-beam ceilings, stone walls, and clay tiles. The lush gardens are filled with olive trees and herbs, and a heated infinity pool overlooks the countryside.Photo: Courtesy of Patrizio Fradiani
See More of the World's Coolest Rental HomesNamed after intersecting streets in an industrial corner of the Lower Garden District, this pair of antebellum homes is saturated with local history. The owner, Granville Semmes, spent more than 10 years researching the buildings and area, uncovering diaries and letters that tell of butchers, drunken sailors, and Creole orphans. Decorated with antiques, vignettes, and religious iconography, Race & Religious makes a fascinating home base for up to 12 people. The spacious shared outdoor courtyard and slate pool don’t hurt, either.Photo: Jason Kruppa
See More of the World's Coolest Rental HomesInterior decorator and antique-shop owner Lyn Gardener transformed this 1850s brick miner’s cottage into an adorable retreat about an hour-and-a-half drive northwest of her native Melbourne. Gardener’s signature look blends vintage with quirky industrial pieces—while weaving in high-impact details like handmade wallpaper by Deborah Bowness. The White House also wins over guests with its gardens, classic claw-foot soaking tubs with antique chandeliers, and kitchen cupboards stocked with local goodies.Photo: Courtesy of The White House
See More of the World's Coolest Rental Homes With glass as its main building material, this one-bedroom house is all about the views. L.A.-based furniture designer Carol Vena-Mondt teamed up with Fred Fisher of Frederick Fisher and Partners to design a 500-square-foot home that would be essentially see-through, bringing nature indoors. The resulting 24-acre property has easy access to hiking trails, a double waterfall, and a sandy beach.Photo: LuxeHomeTours
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