Hotels are sooooo 2012. These days, the under-40 set (i.e., young people) have a major love affair with Airbnb. They're enamored with the romantic notion of renting Jean-Luc’s bedroom overlooking the Seine, which actually turns out to be a walk-in closet with a trickle of sewage, six blocks from the river, for €15 a night. Sometimes, what you sign up for isn't exactly what you get.
But before you end up booking an apartment where the sink doubles as a toilet, check out these awesome historic landmarks where you can rent a room and come home with a story that doesn’t end with “...and then I got dysentery.”
Germany This is exactly what it sounds like. You can literally stay in a massive, 19th-century beer barrel, which has been converted into a double bed. Full disclosure: the barrel is actually in a rentable room at Potts Naturpark Brauerei, which is equipped with two additional, insanely boring, non-beer barrel beds. But how is that anywhere near as fun as sleeping in a beer barrel? Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Buenos Aires This building, also known as Heinlein Palace, was built by the posh Devoto Family of Buenos Aires in 1890. Architectural protection laws have preserved the structure, and it doubles as one of the most significant landmarks in the city. Unfortunately, you can't stay in the most recognizable feature, the iconic, reddish twin domes. But there is a washer and dryer in this two-bedroom apartment, which is basically the next-best thing to being able to sleep in a clocktower. Just ask Quasimodo.
New Jersey There aren't thaaaat many reasons to visit New Jersey (Psst... New York is like, right next door). But if you are going to Jersey, why not stay in a 19th-century firehouse? It's like your great-great-grandfather's childhood dream come true. You'll find this two-bedroom apartment in Lambertville (where?), complete with a gourmet kitchen and a 500sqft rooftop deck... for majestic views of the Garden State.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn Plant yourself squarely at the epicenter of the hipster universe. Landmark Apartment has been around since before the cultural Big Bang, way before all those hipster subatomic particles were cool. OK, enough with the cosmological conceit. New high rises continue to push out every shred of historic value from the bougiest neighborhood going in NYC, but this building is recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and will have all the people at the consignment shop feeling pretty jealous over your vintage digs. Literary bonus: Henry Miller was born next door, so don’t forget to mention that to everyone at the espresso bar/artisanal mayo shop combo.
London What could be more magical than sleeping in the room behind one of London’s greatest icons? Answer: Sleeping across the street on Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross. But Harry Potter references aside, there aren’t too many ways you can beat staying inside the St. Pancras Clock Tower. The spacious flat has two double bedrooms, one used by the owner or other guests. In addition to views of King’s Cross, the apartment looks out onto St. Paul’s Cathedral, which, as Karl Pilkington would tell you... you're better off living in the hole.
Budapest The only way to top staying at a grand, historic building in Budapest is... to stay at the apex of a grand, historic building in Budapest. Wes Anderson, eat your heart out. Travelers can book the Penthouse of this historic, luxury building adjacent to the House of Parliament and overlooking the Danube. Perks include a private garden terrace and your own personal Jeeves. OK, it’s a 24/7 concierge service, but if you tip enough you can call anyone Jeeves. If views turn you on, here’s your wet dream: the Penthouse has views of Fisherman Bastion and Matyas Church. Also, if views turn you on, you probably have trouble in tall buildings and airplanes, huh?
Pacific Grove, CA Fortunately for you, the former workspace of the author of Of Mice and Men suits men (and women) quite nicely, all without mice. Just because he wrote some of the most depressing stories about American society in the early 20th century doesn't mean Steinbeck didn’t enjoy a home so damn cute it looks like it’s made of gingerbread. Life is about balance. The adorable writer’s studio has a private outdoor sitting area, gardens, and views of the ocean. It's almost enough to make you forget that nearly all the Joads died or killed somebody in The Grapes of Wrath.
Brooklyn Brooklyn loves things that were once other things: restaurants that used to be garages, garages that used to be restaurants... an entire borough that used to be affordable and now is the exact opposite of that. So embrace the Brooklyn spirit and stay in this converted horse stable. Many of the original carriage-house elements remain intact: a row of high windows for horses’ heads, open-beamed ceilings, stable doors to the street, and a 13in central table made from one of the stable’s original beams.
Tuscany Back in the in the Renaissance day, in order to sack an Italian castle, you needed plenty of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Today, all you need is a credit card and Internet access -- no bribery, torture or extortion required. For your money, you get the rolling Tuscan hills around the actual Borgia Castle... yeah, those dudes on Showtime were real. The castle sits on the border of Tuscany and Umbria and has a pool, tennis court and, did we mention that you can Airbnb a CASTLE? Flowing robes and busty maidens not included.
Toronto Amid the modern buildings and offices in Toronto’s trendy St. Lawrence neighborhood sits a pair of historic townhouses, constructed in 1848 by Paul Bishop and among the few surviving structures from the great fire of Toronto -- and who knew, Rob Ford wasn't even involved in that scandal! Best features include a sauna and rooftop patio. Oh, and it’s apparently flame retardant. Which is pretty much never a bad thing.
Meagan Drillinger is a freelance writer for Thrillist. She enjoys a fine Malbec paired with a McDonald’s #2 meal. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @drillinjourneys.