-Igloo, Lighthouse, Houseboat, Yurt, Cabin, Windmill house, Treehouse, Tent, Hut, Tiny house, Tipi, Cave, Farm stay, Castle, Barn, Camper/Rv and others.
Before Airbnb, I’d say that staying in unique accommodations was rare. You’d have to ask a friend of a friend of a friend if he/she knew of anyone who not only had one but was also renting it out to guests. Also, there wasn’t that Instagrammable culture of showing off in front of each other, or Youtubers making a living covering these specialized structures, or the Tiny House movement which made staying/building/buying small structures cool.
You could also argue that the Couchsurfing platform was also responsible for making it normal to crash on stranger’s couches, making it a lot more creepy and opportunistic since the stays were always FREE of charge. Still, it made it easier and more affordable to travel, we got to experience what other people lived like, in return gaining design and building inspiration and the sharing economy was eventually born.
Now, we can be as discerning as we want, ticking unique accommodations off our Bucket Lists. On Airbnb platform, we can search and filter a specific type of house we’re looking to rent, making it that much convenient to travel through the ever-changing stays of inspiration and fascination.
Some of the unique places we've been guests in the past: 100-year-old Korean Traditional Hanok house, Yurt, Tent, Treehouse, Tiny House, Cabin, A-frame, Barn, Camper, Dome House, Hut, Bangalo. Some unique houses we'd like to stay in: Cave, House boat, Casa particular (Cuba), Trullo (Italy), Cycladic House (Greece), Castle, Plane, Train, Earth House.
While staying in South Korea, the amount of Airbnb hosts has definitely increased since the platform first started to gain steam in this country. Now, even more established pension businesses start hosting in order to increase their occupancy and perhaps cater to more of a traveler/foreigner population (thanks to the handy translate features offered). If you’re a registered business or a mom and pop side hustling operation, still, it’s a great time to be alive, travel, and stay in one of a kind homes.
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Allow me to share our latest visit to the Dome House, hosted by the Flower and Garden Center located on the edge of Naejangsan National Park. When searching for a place to stay near this picturesque park, I came across this Dome House and after reading through the very positive reviews, I booked right away. Also, the winter-wonderland pictures from it’s Airbnb listing didn’t hurt, motivating me to explore this photogenic location even more.
While we didn’t plan to stay in the Dome House during the winter months (not yet), we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we’ll be hitting the very coveted beauty of Autumn Leaves season. You see, Korea, albeit small, has very specific times for when foliage peaks throughout the country. Our host was also attentive enough to let us know that the day of our stay during late October should be perfect or at least close enough.
Before checking in, we drove towards Naejangsa (Naejang Temple), which has a nice walking path and an iconic image of a pavilion I was hoping to recreate. Here are a few colorful shots from our 6 kilometers (3.6 miles) long roundtrip journey from the parking lot to the temple itself.
Naejang Temple greeted us with a few more people than we had seen along our journey, so we didn’t linger too long, snapping a few more shots of the iconic Korean architecture.
Finally, we came across the pavilion and pond that I’ve witnessed in so many online images and wanted to capture it for my own collection. There were some ropes, preventing entering a narrow elevated concrete section in the middle of the pond. I probably wasn’t allowed to cross, but I squeezed my “foreigner card” tightly and jumped over, telling my husband to create a distraction in case I get in trouble. He, used to my antics, didn’t do anything differently and turned around, probably pretending not to know me, lol.
FYI a “foreigner card” is an illusion we, living abroad, revert to in case we do something we’re not supposed to. Tactics vary from person to person, my personal favorite is if caught, just SMILE big, bow, apologize, and get out ASAP! Luckily, it’s a rare situation for me and I believe that if I didn’t take risks, I wouldn’t create images like this:
Returning back to our Airbnb accommodation, we were happy to explore the premises of the Flower and Garden Center. The owner gave us a short introduction about his place before leaving for a lecture on landscaping in Seoul. While the place was not as impressive as it can be in the spring with everything blooming, we were still impressed by the number of plants, the layout, and another geodesic structure that serves as a classroom.
It came as a surprise to us that the owner and his wife resided in this Dome House before building the next-door home where they currently live. Personally, we felt very cozy in the Dome, having spent time living in tiny structures in the U.S., before also moving into a larger barn. But two years is two years!!!
We got a good night’s sleep in the Dome with the floor heating keeping us cozy and warm and the following day set off to explore two more points of interest nearby. The first was Damyang’s Bamboo Forest, also known as Juknokwon. This enchanting park has been on my radar for a while and I was elated to be able to finally check it off my Bucket List. Visiting on a weekday, we knew that the crowds would be minimal and we were right! Read more about our Bamboo Forest exploration here and a tasty snack we got to try!
About a 5-minute drive away from Juknokwon is a development called Meta Provence, which apparently was designed after a French village. It has very modern-looking white architecture, small shops, cafes, pensions and is a great way to snap some Instagrammable shots. There are also some souvenir shops, where you can get your hands on some Bamboo carved products, purchase Bamboo Liquor or try Bamboo Flavored Ice Cream (if you didn’t get to try it at the Bamboo Forest). Across from the Meta Provence village is a lovely street of Metasequoia Trees, which are insanely tall and lined up uniformly like a bunch of soldiers. There is a fee to enter this street.
As you can see, exploring unique accommodations around the world yields some wonderful experiences such as meeting inspiring hosts, learning new things about nearby sights, trying exciting ice cream flavors (like bamboo), snapping a few memorable shots, and creating life-long memories. I hope that this post inspires you to live outside of your comfort zone, check off your own Bucket List, and check out Airbnb, it’s an amazing platform of unique stays as well as epic experiences online and offline. Did you know that you can work out with an Olympian, learn about the ins and outs of Brazilian Bosa Nova (really enjoyed this experience alongside my mom), or be an active part of an online drag musical? Now, you know! Go on, explore!
I’d love to read about your own Airbnb adventures in the comments below!
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