Filed In: Real Estate

5 Airbnb Houses That Will Leave You Vacation Dreaming

Sweet Home Chicago | Vacation Dreaming | Bondi Beach Rockstar Pad

Image via

It never fails: every year around this time I get the urge to get out of the frozen tundra otherwise known as Chicago, but have nothing booked. This year is no different and, although that’s not likely to change, it didn’t stop me from dreamily browsing Airbnb beach houses. Which lead to a new life goal: to stay in a villa with an open-air kitchen. (And I don’t even like cooking!)

Here are a few beach houses around the world that will have you ready to hop on a plane bound for sun:

1. Bondi Beach, Australia

Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Bondi Beach Australia

This “Rockstar Villa” (also pictured above) sleeps up to 16 people and comes equipped with surf boards and bikes. It’s not actually on the beach, but close enough that you can “smell the salt water from the house.” With the entire back wall of the house opening up to this backyard, that’s close enough for me!

2. Santa Catarina, BrazilSweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Brazil Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Brazil Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | BrazilImages via 

At only $90 (per person – odd) per night, this airy house on a private beach sleeps up to eight, but would be a great bargain for a couple! (And I wouldn’t mind meeting the host, who apparently splits his time between Paris and Brazil . . . .)

3. Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Costa Rica Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Costa RicaImages via

I have been wanting to go to Costa Rica and learn to surf for years. Since the owners of this solar-powered “Adorable Surfer’s Beach House” also run a nearby surf school, it looks like this would be the perfect place.

4. Bali, Indonesia

Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Bali Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Bali Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | BaliImages via

If I decide to do my own Eat, Pray, Love adventure, I will be spending the Bali portion here, with a glass of vino in hand. At $146 per night, mosquito nets are included, but you need to carry your own suitcase down what sounds like MANY stairs. Does this count as camping?

5. Sayulita, Mexico

Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Mexico Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | Mexico Sweet Home Chicago | Airbnb Picks | MexicoImages via

I never really envisioned my dream Mexican villa, but this is definitely it. I also never thought about putting a hot tub in a living room, but it definitely works. And again, I need to stay somewhere with an open-air kitchen.

If you want to see a few more, check out my Airbnb Wish Lists.

Vince Vaughn Lists Chicago Condo For $13.9m

Sweet Home Chicago - Vince Vaughn Chicago CondoI have to say that I was excited when I came across the listing for Vince Vaughn’s Chicago penthouse in the top three floors of the Palmolive Building at 159 E. Walton. I mean, isn’t celebrity real estate even more interesting in your own city?


Jennifer Lopez Lists Mansion For $17 Million

Jennifer Lopez Hidden Hills Mansion - Kitchen

As the spring real estate market begins to heat up, so are the celebrity listings. One that caught my eye this week was Jennifer Lopez’s Hidden Hills mansion which she listed for $17 million earlier in the week. In addition to nine bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, the 17,129 square foot house (if you can call it that!) features an “entertainment wing” complete with a full-service bar, recording studio, 20-person theater, massage salon and dance studio/gym. (Seriously. I would die for just one of those features!) Lopez purchased the home in 2010 with ex-husband Marc Anthony for $8.2 million.

What do you think? Is it worth double the purchase price? Sound off in the comments! (more…)

Jared Leto’s New Compound Was A Secret Military Base

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.23.53 AMThere is something about celebrity real estate that I find endlessly intriguing — and Jared Leto’s $5 million purchase this week (as reported by Variety) is much more interesting than most.

The Laurel Canyon, California property, formerly known as Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, was built by the U.S. government in the 1941 as a World War II air defense center to coordinate nearby radar installations. Beginning in 1947 — according to a 2010 New York Times article — the property was the headquarters for the military’s secret film unit known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory, which documented over 200 nuclear test detonations in Nevada and the Pacific as well as many other top-secret projects.  The unit, comprised of a staff of over 250 producers, directors and cameramen drawn from the military and Hollywood ranks reportedly produced 6,500 secret films which were shown to top government officials, among others. According to this fact sheet, the site contained a full soundstage, two screening rooms, 17 climate-controlled vaults, a bomb shelter, a helipad and two underground parking garages. It was decommissioned from military use in 1968.

To give some context, here’s an undated aerial photo that appears to be from the 1960s. (I noted that the pool shown above apparently wasn’t part of the military compound….)

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 11.47.21 PM

Image via Wikipedia

It’s unclear (based on my brief research) when the government sold the property, but, according to Variety, it last changed hands in 1994 when it was purchased for $750,000.

Depending on the source, the property is either 100,000 square feet and 2.5 acres or 50,000 square feet and 1.7 acres, and Variety reports that it currently has a theater, a soundstage (being used as a gallery), eight bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and multiple kitchens.

Here are some photos from the listing — see if you can match them to the original features listed above: