The place you stay on vacay can make or break it, and these holiday homes provide the make with a capital M.

See, these aren’t any old villa with a swimming pool or cottage with an ocean view – these are bucket list-ticking, knock-your-socks-off places to stay.

The definition of a sock knocker, you ask? How about the Sicilian villa featured in season 2 of the hit HBO series White Lotus, complete with a private chef and butler, or a Californian architectural masterpiece that blends seamlessly into a million-year-old rock formation? Or better yet, a Norwegian cabin that appears to float in mid-air, a luxury Scottish hideaway with sauna and folkloric views or the iconic Barbie dreamhouse from Greta Gerwig’s feminist blockbuster?

We've set the bar, you might say, scouring the globe for the best holiday rentals, including Airbnb’s, villas, cabins, stately homes and cottages that give you everything from the utmost luxury to the utmost solitude.

From staycation spots that look fresh out of a page in Architectural Digest to boutique boltholes far beyond, these are the most unique holiday homes to rent in the UK and the rest of the world.

Five unique holiday homes to rent

Tasca Villa

Palermo, Sicily

A villa in Sicily is never a bad idea, but staying in the same one featured in season two of The White Lotus just might take the cannoli. Known to the real world as Tasca Villa, this four-bedroom house near Palermo is just as important a character as Tanya McQuoid. Cradled by 20 acres of gardens, the property nods to Italy’s glorious past with stately neoclassical architecture, trompe-l’oeil frescoes, Murano chandeliers and gilt-framed paintings. Gird your loins for the vacay of a lifetime, as the place is kitted out with (takes a deep breath) two sweeping double staircases, four bedrooms with marble-clad en-suite bathrooms, living and dining rooms, citrus groves, a billiards room, piano, bar, terrace and swimming pool. Not to mention, it comes with a private chef and butler. Frankly, words can’t really do the place justice, but all we can say is that, unlike Tanya, you can kick back and relax knowing that this time, the gays aren’t trying to murder you.

£14,143 per night;

The Kellogg Doolittle House

Joshua Tree, California

Ever stayed on a property with no straight lines? If not, then a night at the illustrious Kellogg Doolittle House in Joshua Tree National Park, California, is just the ticket. This masterpiece of organic architecture was created over 25 years of hard graft and is one of the most exclusive homes in the world, now available to rent on Airbnb Luxe. And no, the place has nothing to do with cereal but was, in fact, designed by master architect Ken Kellogg, a former protegé of Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the place around 26 winged piers that seamlessly blend into the million-year-old rock formations that encircle the structure. The house itself features a firepit with views of the Milky Way at night, a hot tub set among boulders, three bedrooms, including one with a circular bed, two bathrooms, three living rooms and a curvy kitchen. So, if you’ve got £5k lying around to spend on a night's stay, here’s the gaff to rent.

£5,529 per night,

Arctic Hideaway Cabin

Norland, Norway

It’s easy to look at the Arctic Hideaway Cabin in Norway and think it’s an image from a Pixar movie. But believe us, it’s an Airbnb, and you can rent it. The tiny-house village is made up of 11 individual buildings tucked into Sørværet of the Fleinvær islands, with unparalleled views of the Norwegian Sea, seals, sunrises, northern lights and the midnight sun. You’ll be sleeping in the ocean cabin, which is described as perfect for couples or good friends. Don’t go bringing your arch nemesis onto the island because those twin beds look pretty cosy. Other amenities are shared with fellow guests, including the tower house, kitchen, studio, crab trap, bathhouse and sauna. With its elevated structure and expansive windows, there are few bedrooms you’ll sleep in that will envelop you in the magic of Scandinavian nature quite like the Arctic Hideaway.

£180 per night,

Barbie's Malibu Dreamhouse

Malibu, California

It might be impossible to be a woman, but it is possible to rent a real-life version of the Barbie Dreamhouse from Greta Gerwig’s feminist blockbuster. Located in Malibu, the picture-plastic oceanfront mansion, listed on Airbnb, features panoramic views, an outdoor disco floor, infinity pool and one double bed – so get ready to bring Ken along. And while dismantling the patriarchy is optional, taking a spin on the set of yellow-and-pink Impala roller skates provided is mandatory. It’s guaranteed to be the most plastic, fantastic holiday of a lifetime. We simply can’t get kenough.


Melrose, Scotland

Not to be mistaken for the property from Ex Machina, Usonia in Melrose, Scotland, is a feat of architectural baton-passing that’s seen the house evolve in the hands of three design-led custodians into a zinc-and-larch clad cube with decadent Nordic-style interiors. And while a stay here won’t promise a robot apocalypse, it will provide a meditative sauna, steaming hot rainfall showers and folkloric views of the Scottish firs from your bed. Sleeping up to six guests, this white and wood-filled sanctuary has three bedrooms, a yoga deck, kettlebell gym, kitchen, and open plan living space. Sitting in its own natural woodlot with St Cuthbert's Way on the doorstep means there are miles to meander by foot until stomachs are emptied of tablet and Dundee cake. In any case, a warm brew (or, better, whisky) on the tiered terrace curled into the webbed wishbone chairs will soon breathe life back into your bones.

From £2,195 per week;

The Summer Folly

Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

Dust off your bodice and throw on your petticoat because you’re about to stay in a 17th-century building designed by the same architect who built Blenheim Castle. The Summy Folly is whimsical and wonderful in equal measure, complete with renaissance-style hand-painted murals, walled garden, cinema snug, pétanque lawn and plenty of cosy nooks to snuggle up in. Sleeping up to four people and just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from London means you can rally the troops for a much-needed escape to the countryside in Bourne, Lincolnshire. When you’re not playing croquet on the lawn, sipping rosé on the terrace or devouring picnics in the 3,000 acres of private estate, you can explore the glut of bucolic scenery beyond the grounds, including the Rutland Water Nature Reserve for a spot of osprey watching.

From £1,995 per week;

Villa Béthanie at Le Jardin des Douars

Essaouira, Morocco

Winter sunshine is calling, and she says you must go to Villa Béthanie at Le Jardin des Douars in Essaouira. It's the prime spot for a Vit D top-up offering a heated swimming pool, sun-soaked terraces and a verdant botanical garden. Sleeping 14 people, it's the ultimate holiday home for the group trip of a lifetime with barbecue-clad terraces, fireplaces for winter, boardgames, Bluetooth speakers and a long outdoor dining table for balmy evening dinners. Filled with locally sourced furniture and artwork, expansive windows and beds so huge you might lose yourself in them, leaving Villa Béthanie to hit Essaouira's famous surf beaches might even be a struggle.

From £580 per night, including breakfast;