Who doesn’t love a good mystery or a good story? Fortunately for travel enthusiasts, you get to marvel at other homes that provide just that: a narrative. From a house with no foreseeable ending to another built from glass bottles, these homes aren’t your ordinary living quarters. They offer a pleasant respite from common living spaces you’re accustomed to, and might even inspire you to jazz up your residences when your trip is over.
Winchester Mystery House, California
The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion located in San Jose, California. But this is no ordinary Victorian mansion. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is known for its immense size, curiosities, and the most puzzling fact of all: with 200 rooms, 2,000 doors (including trap doors), and several spy holes, the entire foundation was built with virtually no master plan.
Owner Sarah Winchester inherited a fortune when her husband passed away and used it to build the property on what was originally an unassuming eight-room cottage. Construction on the home was ongoing for 24 hours a day from 1886 until her death in 1922. Winchester ceaselessly sketched plans on papers and napkins, and workers, paid three times the construction for that time period, worked in a frenzied rushed to meet her never-ending demands.
As a result, there are many curious details and oddities: staircases that lead to nowhere, rooms within rooms, balconies that are indoors rather than out, doors that don’t open at all, and doors that open to walls. As you travel through the house, you’ll discover one curious thing after another.
Boswell Embalming Bottle House, Canada
This Boswell Embalming Bottle House overlooks the scenic Kootenay Lake, but that’s not all it has going for it. The glass house was built using 500,000 empty bottles of embalming fluid. Owner of the home, David H. Brown, ran a funeral home and wanted to recycle the collection of bottles he had accrued, rather than trash them. In 1952, he built the house uses his embalming fluid bottle collection, as well as bottles from friends and family. The cottage consists of round rooms arranged in a particular cloverleaf fashion, and is surrounded by bountiful gardens with glass terraces, pavilions, and bridges. Tours of the house are given year round.
Leslieville’s Crazy Dollhouse
This Toronto home has more dolls than most children have in their lifetime. This residential home on Beaumont Avenue started out innocently enough: the owner, Shirley Sumaisar, began decorating the garden with small trinkets here and there. Eventually, an affinity for decorating turned into a full-blown obsession, and today, the garden is filled with dolls and toys — so much so that the grass is hardly visible. While some adults think it errs on the creepy side, children love it. It’s helped the Sumaisar family garner somewhat of a landmark status (as it draws in crowds visiting Toronto from around the world). The collection of dolls changes depending on the season and holiday, such as Halloween and Christmas.
The first thing you’ll notice about Quetzacoatl’s Nest is that there is, in fact, a building shaped like an Aztec snake god. Mexican architect Javier Senosiain designed this 10-apartment complex to incorporate “organic architecture” into his designs by way of nature. When he started building, much of the land was already uniquely shaped geographically and overrun with a variety of tree and floral types.
Senosiain wanted to retain the land’s natural ravines, caves, and oak trees and did so by marrying architecture with nature. He chose to build the snake’s head at the opening of a natural cave, and it’s elongated body doubles as apartments. One of those apartments is currently for rent on Airbnb — a perfect stay for nature lovers and architect admirers alike.