Sophisticated, sleek, and sculptural, contemporary homes are easy to appreciate. And while clean lines and industrial materials are some of the hallmarks of this style, there’s no single set of rules. These striking vacation rentals put their spin on the concept of a modern home in a variety of ways, from a deck that seems to levitate high above the jungle to nearly invisible glass walls that let the natural light flood into every corner. Browse through these stunners to see bold design done right.
Sky’s Edge in Papagayo, Costa Rica, Central America
Sky’s Edge is the treehouse fortress of a design-lover’s dreams. Different levels of the home are perched atop white beams, and a lengthy deck cantilevered out over the jungle appears to float in the sky—an effect only heightened by the sleek invisible edge infinity pool. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls rule the roost here, letting nearly every room to enjoy treetop panoramic views as well as expansive, breathtaking ocean vistas. There’s so much glass in play that the great room feels like it’s part of the terrace. The other true standout is the honeymoon-suite-worthy bedroom positioned atop the pool with wall-to-wall glass facing out to the ocean. The entire effect is simply breathtaking.
Though Sky Edge’s design drives home the feeling that it’s just you, the trees, the ocean, and the sky, the villa is a short walk from the Four Seasons Arnold Palmer Golf Course & Tennis Center (and access can be arranged), and it’s a short drive from the popular Prieta Beach Club and uncrowded Playa Nacascolo. Head out a bit further to explore the off-the-beaten-path beach of Playa Cabuyal and attractive Playa Panama for an afternoon adventure. Plus, some of the country’s most beloved parks, like Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park and Palo Verde National Park are each within day-trip distance.
Terra Creta in Chania, Crete, Greece
Designed to take full advantage of the Greek Islands’ natural sunlight and ocean breeze from the Aegean Sea, this multi-level contemporary architectural gem sits on Crete’s northwest coast. At Terra Creta, the sea and sky really seem to meet, thanks to the hilltop home’s panoramic views and glassy infinity pool. The outdoor areas are especially expansive, with an outdoor bar, an outdoor kitchen—that includes a classic barbeque spit roaster—a veranda, and plenty of places for al fresco meals. There’s also an enchanting arched “cave,” the perfect spot to taste-test Greek wine.
The interior is equally spacious, with high ceilings and plenty of windows. And while the design is modern, ample usage of natural stone, glazed tile, and warm wood keeps the atmosphere inviting.
Terra Creta is just three to four miles from some of the island’s most enchanting beaches—Kalathas, Koum Kapi, and Nea Chora, to name a few—and just under four miles to Chania, where you’ll discover a unique blend of Venetian, Egyptian, and Ottoman architecture reflecting Crete’s rich maritime history. With Chania International Airport less then ten minutes away too, getting here is a breeze.
Samujana Twenty-Four in Plai Laem, Koh Samui, Thailand
Right angles of glass, wood, and stone meet in dramatic harmony at Samujana Twenty-Four, the largest and most amenity-filled villa of the private Samujana development. The look is a Thai twist on contemporary design, with wood and stone accents that nod to traditional Thai building styles mixing effortlessly with sweeping clean lines, a salt-water infinity pool large enough for laps, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open concept that merges indoor-outdoor living seamlessly. Views from the terrace look out to the south and west over the Gulf of Thailand—perfect for sunsets—plus there’s an outdoor kitchen and plenty of space for open-air dining. Inside, there’s a formal dining room that seats fourteen, plus a game room, cinema room, and entertainment lounge with a pool table. If you’re keeping up your daily routines, there’s an office and a fitness area too.The livin’ really is easy, too: breakfast, an airport transfer, twenty-four hour security, and daily housekeeping are all included as well.
Samujana Twenty-Four is quite private, however, just minutes away are the white sand beaches of Choeng Mon and Chaweng as well as the 9-hole Bohput Hills Golf Club and the 18-hole championship golf course Santiburi Samui Country Club (an essential stop on the PGA Asian Tour for years). If you’re looking for nightlife, head straight to Chaweng’s famous Green Mango strip, where most of the area bars, restaurants, dance clubs, and more revolve around.
In the Colony in Malibu, California, United States
This architectural masterpiece off California’s celebrated coast features a grand-scale 6,326-square-feet of living space, plus inspiring interior design by LA-based Vanessa Alexander. Located in Malibu Colony, an exclusive, gated enclave of luxury homes with private security and a shared beach, In the Colony was built with an eye toward high-end amenities for wellness, dining, and play. There’s five spacious bedrooms, including a show-stopping master with a private terrace; a chlorine-free pool with an inset hot tub; an outdoor fireplace—perfect for al fresco hangouts in the cooler California evenings; and an expansive wooden deck. Eye-catching large-scale art and cool, contemporary furniture is everywhere, from the living room’s unique crescent sofa to the metallic wall sculpture positioned over the master bathroom’s egg-shaped tub. There’s also a kitchen kitted out for a gourmet chef and a pro-grade fitness area to service all your needs.
The villa is steps from the enclave’s beach and oceanside lounge. There is also a beautiful public beach located at the end of a path through the pristine marshland that the vila overlooks. Venture a few minutes further to famous Malibu Pier, the place to browse beachy little shops, take in the views, and try out the area’s beloved farm-to-table restaurant Malibu Farm. There’s plenty of excellent boutique shopping nearby, too. Or, take a drive on the Pacific Coast Highway to the nearby Getty Villa, the J. Paul Getty Museum’s extensive collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities.
Ultimate Villa in Downtown Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A boxy, modular palace of clean straight lines, high-end designer furniture, and an open-concept layout, Nikki Beach’s Ultimate Villa is set-up to evoke the feeling of a “private desert island”—yet it’s just a stone’s throw from the downtown core of Dubai. An ultra-luxe terrace, alfresco dining, loungers, living spaces, and outdoor showers surround the beautiful swimming pool that lead out to the Arabian Gulf and North Beach’s gorgeous stretch of white sand. Inside, ocean-inspired hues of white and turquoise bring the outside in, while wood tones add warmth and convey elegance. Ultimate Villa comes with a twenty-four-hour host and a private chef, a customizable mini-bar, and an entertainment wall with surround sound and interactiveTV, creating a social, stress-free environment to enjoy with your party guests.
Outside the doors of this oasis the whole city is at your fingertips. Tee off nearby at the 36-hole Emirates Golf Club, strap on skis year-round at the indoor ski resort of Ski Dubai, or head to one of four theme parks that are all located within a few miles. The downtown core is just minutes away too, where you’ll find myriad high-end stores, fine dining, incredible architecture, and vibrant nightlife.