When planning a vacation, accommodations tend to be more an afterthought than a guiding principle.
If you get to the hotel and the room’s got a view, tres bonus. If it doesn’t, oh well, more reason to get out and explore.
But a growing number of travelers are flipping the script when it comes to holiday homes, opting for a more tailored and design-forward experience.
That’s where German company Holidayarchitecture (also called Urlaubsarchitektur) comes in. It’s not a luxury service, nor a booking service — just a network of historically and architecturally significant homes. Think cabins in the Swiss Alps, an airy villa in Morocco, a “camping vineyard” in Hungary ... In short: dream homes that can be yours, if only for a few days.
Says founder Jan Hamer: "Ultimately we hope that people will realise the incredible impact that good design has on the emotions and the environment."
Here’s a few on our must-see list (be advised: It was not easy to choose).
Methow Valley, Washington
Architect: Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects
A small fleet of rolling cabins that can be grouped together or far apart, it’s camping elevated (literally). With WiFi and silverware, you won’t be roughing it, but still it’s not exactly glamping; there are bathrooms and showers — they’re just located in a nearby barn.
Architect: Snorre Stinessen
An island resort, Nordic style. What that means for you: close to the sea, surrounded by mountains, and outdoor sports for days. Plus, if you go at the right time of year you can see the Northern Lights from your bed. Accommodates up to 25 people.
Architect: Peter Zumthor
Perhaps the most famous designer on the site, Peter Zumthor designed these cottages in the mountains above the Swiss town of Vals, home to “1,000 inhabitants, 1,000 sheep, and 1,000 guest beds.” If true peace and quiet is what you seek, do not miss the nearby Therme Vals, also designed by Zumthor, a huge thermal springs spa center made of local quartzite and concrete that sits half-buried in the mountain like a cave.
AES Vineyard and Wine Camping
Architect: Gereben / Marián
Set amid rolling hills in a replenished vineyard, this site is for those who want to spend their whole day in the sun. On the grounds: a pool, observation deck and cabins with remote controlled garage doors to bring the outdoors inside. Visitors can enjoy wine tours and tastings in nearby Eger.
Architect: Horst Tüselmann
Near the Moroccan port of Essaouira, the Architect House infuses ancient and modern, regional and European elements in its design. Rooms are arranged around a central courtyard, while the open-air tub and roof terrace may make you consider a permanent move. The house comes with a housekeeper and car for local use during your stay.
Architect: Søren Sarup
Near the North Sea, fjords and sandy dunes, this summer destination perfectly embodies Scandinavia’s relationship to nature and focus on design: the main building and bedrooms flank a wooden terrace, with walls that open to create a seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces.