There’s no doubt that since the rise in popularity of Airbnb, the home from home holiday experience is more important than ever. We’ve shown that we want to live like locals, relax in considered spaces, appreciate high-quality design and perhaps even come away with a few ideas for our own homes. It used to be that it was a lengthy task to find anything design-led that was within a certain budget and wasn’t a luxury hotel, but now there’s a dedicated number who’ve got you covered, connecting you with architectural holiday homes you can play a grown-up version of house in and pretend you live there.
The Modern House
You might already know The Modern House as an estate agency selling some truly exceptional properties, from modernist classics to contemporary builds, but did you know they also have a portfolio of architectural escapes? From European to International homes, this collection of award-winning spaces offer a unique insight into how well considered architecture can change our quality of living. These homes are anything but ordinary, particularly the Backwater eco home, found by a secluded lagoon on the Norfolk Boards. With a real sense of Scandi influence, this RIBA 2016 award winner has a jetty leading straight out on to the water and room for up to eight guests.
This German-based company founded by Jan Hamer who curates a jaw-dropping collection of private homes, hotels and B&Bs, Urlaubsarchitektur divide European locations up into inspirations depending on what it is you’re after. You can find any number of highly designed experiences, ranging from the minimalistic, a break that’s cool for kids or even a yoga-centric retreat if that’s your bag. Be warned though, as what starts as a quick browse can fast turn into falling down a rabbit hole. Check out their series of Holiday Architecture books for coffee table dreaming and scheming.
If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to stay in a treehouse or look out onto a beautifully bleak coastal setting in the middle of nowhere, Host Unusual have a strong selection of quirky UK escapes for just that. Staycations are no longer a last resort, blending the best of the British countryside with cutting edge contemporary architecture. A personal favourite is Five Acre Barn in my home county of Suffolk, a mid-century modern inspired country escape; just a few miles from the coastal town of Aldeburgh if you ever wanted to leave this stunning location!
A fully immersive experience of exclusively designed architectural properties, Living Architecture aim to educate and influence discussion about modern architecture and its importance to innovate for future generations. Founded by Alain de Botton in 2006, he set about working with what has become a group of nine stellar architects, including John Pawson, NORD Architecture and Mole Architects to design a series of purpose-built holiday locations in the UK.
John Pawson’s Life House, nestled in the remote Welsh hills promotes minimalist relaxation in simplistic surroundings. Full-scale windows bring in the rugged landscape and the interiors show the natural appeal of white brick, polished terrazzo and timber lined ceilings. There are separate rooms for reading, listening to music and a contemplation room with a retractable skylight. A less-is-more aesthetic for a pared-back retreat.
DOM Stay and Live
DOM Stay and Live is a relatively new holiday experience, launched by interior architect Marta Nowicka. DOM, meaning home in Polish draws on the trend for designers and architects opening up their homes for others to stay and live in. Marta has collated a hand-picked collection of homes from across the globe including some of Marta’s own. There are three categories that DOM divide their experiences into; UK locations, European bolt-holes and locations you can actually live in long-term. I’ll take The Pink House on the Azores islands (pictured) for its mix of contemporary interiors and traditional heritage, once a barn owned by the family for six generations.
It’s worth noting that although some of these organisations manage the properties themselves, the majority are privately owned meaning they put you in direct contact with the owners. Goodness knows where you’d even begin choosing where to stay with so many possibilities – where’s next on your passport?