When online accommodations service AirBnB first launched, its primary mission was to find all you urban sophisticates an affordable crash pad in a cool city center. Now, with a $2.5 billion valuation and 200,000 active listings, AirBnB has seen property owners -- "hosts" -- push it into the realm of luxury wish fulfillment. Proprietors rent their private Scottish castles, retro, pastel-colored VW vans, igloos, and -- drumroll -- tree houses. And not just one or two, as it began in 2009, but over 200 actively listed tree houses, from Southeast Asia to rural Italy to woodsy Vermont. Not only are the childlike dwellings regularly among AirBnB's most viewed properties, but "the conversion rate [into renting] was higher than the average property," explains Vivek Wagle, the site's head of brand strategy, on how the site has monitored tree-house growth. "[People] weren't dreaming about it -- they were going." Who are those people? "Really often couples, with the occasional hermit," says Wagle, laughing. And though some tree houses were expressly built by owners for the purpose of renting, Wagle says that most really were ex-children's playthings that parents repurposed in a post-recession way to earn extra scratch. "It's literally the childhood fantasy," he says.
To see some of the best of what AirBnB has to offer in the treetops, click to see houses currently for rent all over the world--and all for under $350 per night.
All photos courtesy of Airbnb