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Sure, you can check the ratings on a vacation rental, but the only real way to know if it will live up to your expectations is a recommendation from someone you trust. In Homes Away From Home, we round up the best spots according to the coolest creatives; our favorite designer-owned stays; and more.

If life is better at the beach, imagine what it’s like on the water. These Airbnb houseboats offer all the perks of a tropical vacation—aquatic activities galore, views to text home about—minus the walk back to a hotel room. And most important (this is Domino, after all), they have just as much style as any accommodation you’d find on land. Think: dreamy blue-paneled kitchens, sheepskin-strewn lounge chairs, and Scandi-sleek plywood cabinetry. Aboard these listings, small-space living is a luxury, not a sacrifice.

The Salty Dog, Sydney

Courtesy of Airbnb Community

Rate: $382 per night

Hosts: 2  

Why we love it: The moody exterior trend hits the high seas! But perhaps even more striking is the care taken to maximize every inch inside, from the bar cubby tucked under the staircase to the mini clothes rack affixed to the lofted ceiling.

Or take it from a reviewer: “The entire stay, my partner and I continued to comment on the attention-to-detail elements that had been so well-thought-out. There was not [one] thing where we thought: Well, it would be helpful if we had this.”

houseboat with black paneled exterior
The Salty Dog, Airbnb ($382)

Gudem Seacation, Hvasser, Norway

Courtesy of Airbnb Community

Rate: $405 per night

Hosts: 6

Why we love it: There’s no other houseboat like this, literally. The artists who own it designed and built it from scratch. The wood-paneled kitchen, in particular, is packed with ideas for small spaces everywhere. Who needs a utensils drawer when a series of baby blue wall pockets will do the job in a much smaller footprint?

Or take it from a reviewer: “A cool gallery with great art and a bakery is right next door. Located centrally with access to a restaurant and shop. Recommended!”

white houseboat with roof deck
Gudem Seacation, Airbnb ($405)

Mirror Spa Cabin, Joncherey, France

Courtesy of Airbnb Community

Rate: $322 per night

Hosts: 2

Why we love it: We have a new appreciation for all that wood can be. Everything from the curvy bathroom countertop to the satisfyingly chunky bed frame to the terrace tub is made out of the stuff, to extremely soothing effect.

Or take it from a reviewer: “Amazingly beautiful surroundings, cozy cottages on the water or in the trees, delicious meals in baskets, relaxing massages, and a private hot tub.”

log houseboat with wraparound deck
Mirror Spa Cabin, Airbnb ($322)

Houseboat on the Thames, London

Courtesy of Airbnb Community

Rate: $247 per night

Hosts: 4

Why we love it: Unlike most other listings we came across, this one embraces bold color—specifically cobalt blue. From the painted hull to the tiled shower stall, the energetic shade livens up an otherwise neutral design.

Or take it from a reviewer: “We had the boat to ourselves, including an upper deck with a room with large windows facing the Thames and an open deck where we often sat to relax and enjoy the views of the river with the water birds and passing boats.”

long blue houseboat
Houseboat on the Thames, Airbnb ($247)

Surla Houseboat, Kaag, Netherlands

Courtesy of Airbnb Community

Rate: $430 per night

Hosts: 6

Why we love it: The Surla’s skinny-paneled facade gives it serious curb—shore?—appeal, as do the huge sliding doors in the living area and bedroom. It’s indoor-outdoor living on the open water. 

Or take it from a reviewer: “The boat is in a beautiful setting in the middle of the water. It looks fantastic inside and out and has all the comforts (even an outdoor shower!). The bird sounds and the view with the first cup of coffee in the morning is fantastic!”

modern wood-paneled houseboat
Surla Houseboat, Airbnb ($430)

The Floathouse, Murray River, South Australia

Courtesy of Airbnb Community

Rate: $158 per night

Hosts: 2

Why we love it: The bathroom alone sold us with its wee pink sink, brass fixtures, and sunny shower stall with a floor-to-ceiling window (don’t worry, it’s frosted glass). Bonus points for the space-expanding white palette throughout.

Or take it from a reviewer: “Many an early morning were spent swinging in the egg chair and gazing at the river while the sun came up—perfection!”

rectangular white houseboat with deck
The Floathouse, Airbnb ($158)