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Anatomy of the Best Airbnb Listings: The Seashell House

Updated: Mar 26, 2019



Here's something you never knew was on your bucket list: sleeping in a shell house. This two bedroom, two bath clambler (totally just made that up) is located in Isla Mujeres, an Island off the coast of Cancun that requires a quick ferry ride to access.

The house features a beautifully-adorned pool and breathtaking ocean view that are guaranteed to make your Facebook friends press the 'love' button while wishing they could press 'hate.' Let their scorn fuel you.

On the surface, the Seashell House looks like a novelty that no sane person would actually stay in; but with 100+ ratings, most of them 5 stars, it seems like a shell of a property (Okay, last pun. I promise).

What Makes

The Space Special?


It's a gated property on an island that sits about a mile off of Mexico's east coast. It resides in a quiet cliff-side neighborhood and is a short taxi or golf cart ride to the beach. Oh...and it's a damn shell. Or two independent shells that make up a single residence. The house has become something of a tourist attraction on the island, so if you are staying there don't be surprised by onlookers taking pictures.

The Photography

To be honest, it's hard to go wrong here. This thing will pique anyone's interest on first look. But whoever photographed the space did a great job of highlighting the house and the views around it. The use of natural light and framing, particularly with shots like the bedroom above, show that a lot of thought was put into photographing the house.

The listing boasts 39 high quality images, with most of them representing the listing positively. I would have liked to seen a bit more of the surrounding area or where the house sits within the context of the rest of the neighborhood. Also, from the photos, I get the idea that there isn't a ton to do if you do ever decide to leave the shell. Despite those small things, the photos excel at making you want to book this place.

Breaking Down

The Listing

One thing I noticed right away was how in depth the description was. At 1100+ words, the property's summary is the War and Peace of Airbnb listings. At first look, it's intimidating. But give it a few paragraphs, it's filled with great information about the island, the house, the architect (who lives next door), and even a local legend about the house. At a reading time of over 4 minutes, it is a bit of a marathon for any listing. But this really isn't just any listing so it's okay.

The house seems to have close to everything vacationers need including TV, AC, and WiFi. The listing mentions it is a 15 minute ride from the North Beach but misses the opportunity to talk about other attractions like shops and restaurants. It does do a great job at communicating how secluded and quiet the neighborhood is.

The Host

Fluent in Spanish and English, Michelle has 23 listings on Airbnb, with over 1200 reviews and all rated 4.5 or higher. She joined Airbnb in 2011 after she "traded Canada for Cancun," she continues, "when I was 25 because I had a desire to never have to return to 'reality' after vacationing again."

One of the running themes in Michelle's reviews is how responsive and welcoming she is. Scrolling through her listings, you can see great rapport with the guests in her responses to reviews.

The Seashell House is an example of taking something novel and marketable and enhancing it. The uniqueness of the space is obviously its strongest selling point, but the photos, and even the verbose description, add to the excitement of any prospective booker. You add that with a great host, and it's no wonder why this is one of the best listings on Airbnb.

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