Perched on the northern end of Monterey Bay in the rolling foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains is a small town that boasts beautiful beaches, a stunning state park and one very short parade. With a name that could easily be confused with an exotic Greek isle, Aptos is sleepy, sylvan and naturally stunning in a way that only California's Central Coast can make 'em.
And while it's also home to both a high-end golf resort and a steady flow of bikers, hikers, surfers and daytrippers of all stripes, this former lumber boomtown-turned-agricultural community isn't exactly a global tourist destination.
Just don't tell that to Airbnb users.
Here, nestled away in the towering redwoods, you'll find the online lodging platform's most popular listing. Ever. Yes, Airbnb Nation's most booked rental is located in rural Santa Cruz County on a burgeoning permaculture farm that's filled with goats, chickens, a sizable hummingbird population and quiet. Sweet, blessed quiet.
And just as unlikely and unassuming as the locale is the listing itself: a compact and countrified — or "cozy and clean semi-rustic" as hosts Kitty and Michael Mrache describe it — retreat that takes the form of a "geodesic dome loft." It's worth noting that "semi-rustic" might as well be code for "wireless Internet and a composting toilet."
As you can see, Mushroom Dome Cabin is by no means the fanciest nor the most photogenic of Airbnb properties. With its homey décor and wood-paneled walls, the cabin's interior, at first glance, sports a passing resemblance to that of an RV. Beyond that, the wraparound deck, lofted sleeping space and the trees — so many trees! — remind me of my parents' old A-frame on the Puget Sound.
Simple and unfussy, this is one Airbnb listing that doesn't try that hard. And it doesn’t need to.
Between the tranquil location, the reasonable price ($125 a night plus fees, tax and deposit) and the Mraches' knack at hospitality — the place may be small but it's certainly stocked with all the expected amenities plus extra goodies like, umm, nutritional yeast and a salad spinner — Mushroom Dome Cabin sells itself, evidence that you needn't be a glammed-up, tricked-out apartment in the heart of a major city to win hearts and secure bookings. You needn't be over the top. You needn't have a flush toilet. Or a bathroom door for that matter. And you certainly don't need to resemble a Kinfolk photo shoot. What Kitty and Michael Mrache have created is something that's well, just lovely.
And lovely, it would appear, sells on Airbnb. Good luck securing a night (or two or three) at this secluded getaway with 809 glowing reviews and counting — it appears to be booked up for the foreseeable future. As the listing advises, summer weekends should be booked five to six months in advance. At this point, those looking to hunker down in Mushroom Dome Cabin should cross their fingers for a cancellation.
As it turns out, Mushroom Dome Cabin has been a sought-after Airbnb property since the website's very early years. As Kitty Mrache recently explained to the Guardian, she first listed the cabin when Airbnb was still a wee startup baby — just 11 months old and limited to a handful of listings in two major cities, San Francisco and New York. Before Airbnb came along, Kitty had rented out the cabin, heralded as one of the first non-urban Airbnb listings, on Craigslist with mixed results.
Today, Mushroom Dome Cabin is somewhat of an Airbnb legend. In fact, a near full-scale replica of the woodsy cottage was built inside of Airbnb's San Francisco headquarters. As "superhosts," Kitty and Michael have also been invited to soirees at Airbnb HQ and left feeling, well, a touch discombobulated.
Kitty reflects to the Guardian: "We were blown away. We had no idea what the culture was like in San Francisco. I used to live there in 1968 — so it was kind of a shock to me. Almost everybody at the party was hip, young and really into loud music. Very fancy clothes. And here we come in our laid-back, Santa Cruz dress. I was a little out of place."
In addition to "European holidaymakers and Bay Area weekenders," the Guardian notes that Mushroom Dome Cabin has also attracted a large number of guests interested in the tiny house movement — that is, those looking to try a diminutive dwelling on for size before they commit.
And then there's the issue of visiting family, namely the couple's adult children. "My kids like to come and stay," Kitty explains. "But they have to make an appointment."
In 2015, the listing was vacant for only three nights during the entire year. Here's hoping the Mrache children were able to squeeze themselves in.
Obviously, Kitty and Michael Mrache have found the winning recipe for Airbnb stardom: unpretentiousness, graciousness, a beautiful coastal location and a defining architectural feature. And while Mushroom Dome Cabin might be the most booked Airbnb property of all time, it’s not necessarily the most desired.
Earlier this year, Airbnb published a list of its top 10 Wish Listed properties. While Mushroom Dome Cabin certainly made the cut — it ranks No. 6 on the list — another Airbnb property that I've featured before, a particularly enchanting treehouse triplex in Atlanta's Buckhead section, took the top spot.
Other lusted-after listings include the famed Seashell House on Mexico's Isla Mujeres; a modernist "romantic room" on stilts in Tuscany; a picturesque cob cottage in British Columbia; a modern flat in the heart of Rome; and Topanga Canyon's one and only Pirates of the Caribbean Getaway, which basically resembles a habitable tiki bar.
When it comes to Airbnb's top Wish Listed destinations, Belize, Turks and Caicos and two Japanese cities, Kyoto and Okinawa, top the global list. Savannah, New Orleans, the Florida Keys and beautiful Hood River, Oregon, in the Columbia River Gorge top the domestic destinations list alongside two popular weekend getaways in California, Mendocino County and the city of Ojai.
And as you may have guess, of the nearly 2 million Airbnb properties spread out across 190 countries, the most Wish Listed property type is, hands down, treehouse followed by igloo, van (!), lighthouse, cave and yurt.
Via [The Guardian] via [Fast Company]