Late Checkout

You Can Rent This Kaleidoscopic Snake House on Airbnb

Just outside downtown Mexico City, stay in an Airbnb literally built for a god.

giant snake head hotel
Quetzalcoatl's Nest is an architectural feat | Photo courtesy of Quetzalcoatl's Nest Airbnb
Quetzalcoatl's Nest is an architectural feat | Photo courtesy of Quetzalcoatl's Nest Airbnb

In the woods outside downtown Mexico City, an ethereal serpent winds through the trees and up into the green hills. Its technicolor body, smattered with windows that look into a tranquil, milky white interior, weaves itself in and out of the landscape, alive with shades of bright orange, cerulean, and emerald green. Those who stumble upon it might think it's something out of an ancient myth (if not a vision seen during an intense acid trip). Those who went out of their way to seek it, however, know they're gazing upon Quetzalcoatl’s Nest.

When humble genius/architect Javier Senosiain was given land to design another one of his masterpieces, he wasn’t planning to build a massive, kaleidoscopic snake nest. As a believer in organic architecture, he simply wanted to build something to complement the land. 

“Organic architecture flows with nature,” explains Patricia Castillo, a friend of the architect who hosts an apartment inside the structure on Airbnb“It’s not destroying, it’s not competing—it’s observing nature and how you can copy the structures, colors, forms, and integrate that into your way of living.”

a woman in a kaleidoscopic room
When we say kaleidoscopic, we mean KALEIDOSCOPIC | Courtesy of Quetzalcoatl's Nest Airbnb

When Senosiain built an early model, he used pool floaties instead of rope (seriously) to create an outline over the oddly-shaped plot of land, which was defined by caves, canyons, and scores of trees. Noticing that the shape he’d built resembled a snake, Senosiain recalled a quote from one of his architectural heroes, Antoni Gaudí: “Originality is a return to the origin.”

In reverence of the Aztecs, the original occupants of the land that is now Mexico City, Senosiain decided to model a structure after the unique shape of the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl—or more accurately, Quetzalcoatl’s Nest.

a giant colorful snake's tail
Along with 10 apartments, the Airbnb features gardens, ponds, and caves | Photo courtesy of Quetzalcoatl's Nest Airbnb

He built the twisting, iridescent form over six years, completing the project in 2006. Back then, the property was a 10-bedroom residential apartment with gardens and a huge park whose caves and ponds stretched over 44 acres. But about five years ago, a few of the rooms were transformed into Airbnb rentals, attracting out-of-towners—and Instagram influencers—looking for an otherworldly stay.

Quetzalcoatl’s Nest can host up to six guests in one of its curvaceous apartments for $6300 pesos per night (or $300 USD for a two-night minimum stay) on Airbnb. (Seven rooms are still being rented long-term, so be mindful of other guests during your stay).

But it’s more than just a place to rest your head. “Many of the guests have told me that they thought they were coming to stay in an apartment... they never expected to have a transformational experience,” says Castillo. “And from that day, they started questioning how they were living, what they were doing, and what they wanted.”

Castillo says Quetzalcoatl’s Nest is bigger, more colorful, and more “unreal” in person than you could ever imagine (or any influencer could capture for IG). But the interior is surprisingly minimalistic and modern. The most unique detail here are the rooms’ rounded corners—and those hold meaning, too.

a modern apartment interior
The colors inside contrast starkly with the exterior | Photo courtesy of Quetzalcoatl's Nest Airbnb

Senosaiain believed that when we’re born, we go from a round womb to a square crib, to a square car, to a square apartment, and on and on from one unnatural box to the next. The fluidity of the rooms at Quetzalcoatl’s Nest were built to release visitors from that cycle—and, instead, return us to the origin, just as Gaudí said.

“[The boxed-in] way of living takes us apart from three things we were born with: astonishment, imagination, and freedom,” Castillo says. “This place is built to be in contact with nature. To go back to your origin. To question who you are, and what are your dreams.”

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Joel Balsam is a freelance journalist and travel guidebook writer whose work can be found in National Geographic Travel, Time, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, and Travel + Leisure. Follow him @joelbalsam.
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