Stay in celebrities' former homes through Airbnb

From Julie Andrews to Bing Crosby, travellers can now stay in celebrities' former homes through holiday rental website Airbnb

We catch glimpses of celebrities' daily lives through Instagram. We read their thoughts on Twitter. Now you can sleep where they slept, thanks to home owners who are renting out former celebrity homes on Airbnb.

Accommodations include actor Denzel Washington's cliffside home in Malibu and the late star Mickey Rooney's cottage in Topanga Canyon, both in Los Angeles.

While some of the listings, such as those for the former homes of actresses Emily Blunt and Julie Andrews, do not list the celebrities by name, Airbnb managing director of South-east Asia and India, Mr Jia Jih Chai, says the homes themselves are verified by Airbnb and their history of celebrity residents is well known to fans and the media.

Celebrity homes appeal to travellers' desire for increasingly unique experiences, he says.

"It's about being able to immerse themselves in the soul of a neighbourhood... Anyone can stroll down the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard, but staying in the home of a celebrity will add a whole new flavour to your stay in Los Angeles," he says.

Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho has also put his home on Airbnb. In 2014, during the Fifa World Cup in Brazil, soccer fans had the chance to rent his five-bedroom Rio de Janeiro pad for 34,257 Brazilian Real (S$11,772) a night.

Tech entrepreneur Rushdy Hakam, 30, says staying in a celebrity's current home would be awesome, but he is equally happy with a stay in his or her former home.

"It's attractive because you kind of get to live the life of celebrities. They chose that space and those surroundings for a reason and it's an opportunity to step into their shoes and live the life that they did, even if the house is no longer theirs or decorated the way they had it."

He adds: "Celebrities flock together, so I could catch a glimpse of other celebrities in the area."


Julie Andrews' artistic retreat

Where: Accord, New York

How much: $740 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/1763212

This unusual-looking structure nestled among the boulders and forested hillside of upstate New York was owned by Oscar-, Grammy- and Tony-winning actress Julie Andrews.

Called The Rubber House, it was originally built 35 years ago for dancer and choreographer Eugene Loring, known for choreographing the American ballet classic Billy The Kid, and his partner, a chef.

The two-bedroom home features a dance studio with sprung wood floors, a wall of dance mirrors and a barre; vaulted glass kitchen; and a nature-tuned palette of ochre, sage and blue to reflect the surrounding landscape, of which one has expansive views, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows.

Located on 2.8ha of wooded land, the home takes its name from its unusual exterior - unpainted neoprene, a synthetic rubber more commonly used in fly fishing waders, scuba dry suits and laptop sleeves.

Upstairs, the full-sized master bedroom features a fireplace and 270-degree views of the private meadow and woods from curved glass windows, a large wooden deck and a master bathroom with an inviting double tub that looks out into the trees.

A guest suite is found across the glass atrium walkway and a writer's tower with views of the rooftop and surrounding woods is up another flight of stairs.

A minimum stay of two nights - three nights between Dec 1 and Feb 28 - is required for the landmark property, about a two-hour drive north of Manhattan.


Bing Crosby's private retreat

Where: Palm Springs, California

How much: $1,000 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/722266

This landmark 1934 Hacienda-style house belonged to Bing Crosby, one of the most famous Hollywood actors and singers of the 1930s and 1940s.

He is best known for his recording of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, which made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century.

The interior of this four-bedroom, 300 sq m home is done up in a Mexican-influenced style.

It has vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, original tiled floors, a traditional fireplace, a newly renovated chef's kitchen and an antique jukebox playing the former famous owner's famous hits.

There is also a screening room with a 2.5m by 4.5m screen and surround-sound.

Palm Springs is known for its hot springs, golf courses and spas. But with its views of the San Jacinto Mountains and its facilities - a full- sized heated swimming pool, a ping-pong table and a full wet bar - you may find it hard to leave to explore the neighbourhood.

There is a minimum three nights' stay.


Ava Gardner's home for horse riders

Where: Burbank, Los Angeles

How much: $126 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/960062

North-west of downtown Los Angeles, Burbank is an area nestled against the Verdugo Mountains and Wildwood Canyon and La Tuna Canyon Parks. Its proximity to nature makes it ideal for equestrians and Rancho Equestrian, the exclusive neighbourhood where the house is located, is an area dedicated to home owners with horses.

Built in 1938 in the Art Moderne style, Hollywood beauty Ava Gardner lived here with her second husband, jazz musician Artie Shaw.

The room for rent used to be the master bedroom, with a queen-sized bed, walk-in wardrobe and bathroom. The home features a large library with more than 1,000 books, a wood-burning fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows and four gardens with fruit trees and more than 100 rose bushes.

The property also boasts a horse stable for those who want to bring their own horses for horseback rides on more than 300km of horse trails through the canyons.

Burbank is also known for its movie studios. The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Universal Studios and NBC are all headquartered or have studios here.


Emily Blunt's Hollywood home

Where: Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California

How much: $733 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/2998969

It is a breeze to imagine actress Emily Blunt and her husband, actor John Krasinksi, living the glamorous life in this single-storey, 278 sq m property in the Hollywood Hills. Built on a bluff with stunning views of the valley and the bright lights of Hollywood beyond, the gated compound accommodates more than 16 people in six bedrooms.

Hardwood floors and homely all-white interiors are accented by antique furniture, romantic chandeliers and Art Deco lamps.

An open-plan living room and newly renovated kitchen are great for catering to large get-togethers, while French doors lead guests to an expansive patio and courtyard with a jacuzzi hot tub and stunning drop-off views.

It is a 10-minute walk down into the heart of Hollywood.


Denzel Washington's oceanside view

Where: Malibu, California

How much: $725 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/1905111

Formerly owned by 1980s heart-throb Jan-Michael Vincent; Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page; and multi-Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, this three-bedroom house could make anyone feel like a star after a stay in it.

Its main attraction: the view. From the pool and outdoor patio, perched 100m high on a Malibu cliffside, occupants can enjoy 180-degree views of the ocean, along with 6km of some of Malibu's best beaches where surfers and dolphins play in the waves.

The home sleeps eight adults. Rental of the 3ha gated property surrounded by mature juniper and California pepper trees includes the main house, guest house and a detached gym which also boasts 180-degree views of the mountains.

There is a two-night minimum stay for the property.

Malibu City Hall has a strict noise ordinance and will enforce it if it receives any noise complaints after 10pm, so do not think of throwing any wild parties here, as tempting as it may be.


John Steinbeck's writer's studio

Where: Pacific Grove, California

How much: $259 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/1325979

This cornflower-blue cottage with gabled roofs and original 1920s architecture was once John Steinbeck's writing studio. It sits on a property which also houses The Steinbeck Cottage, where the author lived, and The Traveller's Cottage for his guests.

The American author of The Grapes Of Wrath (1939), East Of Eden (1952) and Of Mice And Men (1937) bought the three-cottage property in the early 1940s and penned a number of his novels there, including The Log From The Sea Of Cortez (1951).

In the Writer's Studio, red accents and oceanic motifs decorate the cosy interior, which comes with a full bathroom, sitting area, fully stocked kitchen, cable TV and wireless Internet. Outside, mature oak trees cast their shade over flower beds and a quaint sitting area with two wooden chairs.

Located in the coastal city on the tip of the scenic Monterey Peninsula, the property is less than 1km from downtown Pacific Grove and the historic Cannery Row, which used to be the site of sardine-canning factories which have now been converted into restaurants and hotels.

The Steinbeck and Traveller's cottages can be rented individually for $289 a night or as a package along with the Writer's Studio. There is a two-night minimum stay for each cottage.


Mickey Rooney's canyon home

Where: Topanga, Los Angeles, California

How much: $326 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/739983

Los Angeles is not all about bright lights, Botox and beaches.

The western Los Angeles neighbourhood Topanga in the Santa Monica Mountains is where Angelenos go when they want to get in touch with nature and enjoy a free-spirited, organic hippy vibe.

With close to 50km of hiking trails nestled between the mountains and the sea, Topanga Canyon is where Old Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney - who appeared in more than 300 movies and was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era when he died in 2014 - chose to make his home.

Surrounded by oaks and olive trees, his rustic two-bedroom former property with country- inspired interiors, mismatched decor, a gazebo, front porch and herb and vegetable garden, is a laidback getaway with views of the surrounding canyon.

Fortunately, guests do not have to forgo the seaside entirely.

The house is a 15-minute drive to Malibu and Santa Monica and a quick ride away from some of California's top surfing spots and beaches, where whales, seals and dolphins can be seen swimming offshore.

Hollywood is a 40-minute drive away, for those craving a bit of celebrity-spotting.

This property requires a minimum stay of three nights.


Apartment complex by Charlie Chaplin

Where: West Hollywood, California

How much: $193 a night

Info: www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/654663

Located less than three blocks from the former Charlie Chaplin Studios (now the Jim Henson Company Lot), the quirky apartment complex is rumoured to be built by the comedic legend in the early 1920s to house his studio stage crew.

Famous former tenants of the 25 apartments include some of Hollywood's greatest silent film stars, such as Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Rudolph Valentino.

The latter lived in a 51 sq m apartment that is now for rent. It has a queen-sized loft, stained-glass windows, the original decorative fireplace and a large bay window overlooking the courtyard.

All apartments are unique - one has white stucco walls and rounded rooms, while another resembles a rustic Swiss cottage, with floor-to-ceiling pine and exposed beams.

It is within walking distance from some of Los Angeles' most famous streets, including Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2016, with the headline 'Live like the stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe