You’ve got two years’ worth of vacation budget and wanderlust built up: it’s time to treat yo’self to a little something special on your next getaway.

And if you happen to be keeping your travel plans inside the Canadian border, Bowerbird Stays looks like a pretty sweet way to live it up. The vacation-rental company focuses on what it calls “unique stays”—think shipping container cabins, midcentury-modern treehouses, Scandi-chic hidewayr (like "Modern Cabin in the Woods" pictured below) or 1940s fishing camps.

modern cabin in the woodsPhoto: Bowerbird Stays

Bowerbird Stays founder and CEO Robyn Sneath (a former history professor who also dabbled in modelling, natch) rented her own high-design cabin on AirBnb in the summer of 2019, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that she started scooping up and renovating more design-forward locations to list, too.

Three years later, she’s running her own platform, with 25 properties available for rent across Manitoba and Ontario, with plans for expansion further West in the near future. Sneath is also developing a cottage subdivision— Bowerbird Ranch at Riding Mountain and Boreal Waters—on the outskirts of Manitoba's Riding Mountain National Park.

Among the current listings, Winnipeg's Iconic Tree House (from $482 a night) is a standout, perched on a concrete plinth along the river; it features a private library, record collection and designer furniture (and, importantly, looks like Cameron's house from Ferris Bueller's Day Off).

winnipeg iconic tree housePhoto: Bowerbird Stays

But for something really special, book yourself into the Rare Lakefront Shipping Container (an average nightly rate of $228), located near Asessippi, Manitoba. Completely built out of shipping containers, the highly photogenic structure (and lets be honest—isn't that why we go on vacation, really?) features a a 40’ lookout tower facing Lake of the Prairies. 

shipping container homePhoto: Bowerbird Stat

“We choose properties that feel special,” says Tanea Brown, marketing manager for Bowerbird Stays. From the 4,000-square-foot beach homes to the vintage log cabins, “they all have a connection with nature, and have a cozy-cool cabin vibe, even if they're in the middle of the city.” 

If you’ve ever stayed at an Airbnb or VRBO, you’ll be familiar with the ‘no hand-holding’ check-in experience, but since Bowerbird owns all its properties, there’s a bit of a boutique-hotel touch here, too: 24/7 customer care, a bottle of sparkling wine to welcome you, and unique touches like panoramic barrel saunas or arcade games.

“We try to think of things that surprise and delight,” says Brown. “This isn’t staying at your friend’s aunt’s cabin.”