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Airbnb’s new home sweet home has a mini footy field, whisky bar bathrooms and secret door

February 27, 2016

The Airbnb design brief was to create a space where the team's existing strong culture could thrive through socialising and playfulness. Photo: James Horan

Welcome to the office of your travel dreams, where wanderlust meets whimsy.

Cosy and colourful nooks, sunlit spaces channelling exotic locations and a fun, collaborative vibe are the hallmarks of Airbnb’s new Sydney headquarters revealed this week.

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. "Secret" room. Photo: James HoranA “secret” door behind a bookshelf leads to the Cuba room. Photo: James Horan

The accommodation booking website has developed a global reputation for its directional offices but this playful design is a big step away from the usual industrial vibe of high-tech workplaces.

Last year, Airbnb knocked Google out of top spot on the list of the best places to work, according to rankings by US career website Glassdoor based on employee feedback.

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranEmployees can move around and work where they like. Photo: James Horan

The new Surry Hills digs aim to evoke an air of hospitality and hominess, using actual properties listed on Airbnb as inspiration for the fit-out by Sydney design company The Bold Collective.

The staff at Airbnb now have a virtual world in their office thanks to the quirky and imaginative results.

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranThe office is designed to make people feel like they’re travelling. Photo: James Horan

“Our new Sydney office captures what we value as a company: creativity, travel, and thoughtful design,” says Airbnb Australia country manager Sam McDonagh.

“At the core of Airbnb is the connection between people and spaces, and we have created a unique layout that inspires our employees to move around and work from where ever they want.”

A quirky take on an AFL oval with goal posts and a net outside the lift doors. Photo: James Horan A quirky take on a football oval outside the lift doors. Photo: James Horan

As a starting point, The Bold Collective asked Airbnb’s Sydney team which real-life listings they wanted to set the tone for their meeting rooms.

They drew inspiration from a Kangaroo Valley bungalow, a Havana dining room and a Swedish cottage by the sea.

Australia’s beach and sport culture were also a strong inspiration, with a kitchen based on Sydney’s Coogee Pavilion, a scaled-down AFL pitch and mardi gras-themed shower rooms lending the offices an undeniably Australian touch of whimsy.

Airbnb has partnerships with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and AFL team the Sydney Swans.

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranSpaces were modelled on real-life locations such as Sydney’s Coogee Pavilion. Photo: James Horan

Mr McDonagh says design is embedded deeply in Airbnb’s culture.

“Two of our co-founders are designers, and an appreciation of the power of design is in everything we do. This is reflected in the unique layout of all of Airbnb’s global offices,” he says.

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Corrugated iron in the Kangaroo Valley room is from a laundry in a house in Darlinghurst. Photo: James HoranCorrugated iron in the Kangaroo Valley room is from an old Darlinghurst house laundry. Photo: James Horan

“At Airbnb we want to create the sense of travel when we welcome people into our office.

“Simply having photos of listings and far off places is not enough, we want our employees and guests to experience the feeling you get when you travel.”

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranA Mardi Gras-themed shower room. Photo: James Horan

Mr McDonagh says the company moved into the new offices in December after outgrowing its previous Sydney digs in Ultimo.

“We were bursting at the seams of our old office, and this new space in Surry Hills inspires hosting and homeliness,” he says.

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and is now available in 34,000 cities in 191 countries.

Scroll to see more photos

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranWood panelling is made of fence posts salvaged from a Federation house in Vaucluse, Sydney. Photo: James Horan

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranBehind the secure entrance, Airbnb’s new office space is all open plan. Photo: James Horan

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James HoranDesign company The Bold Collective wanted to capture the imagination. Photo: James Horan

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James Horan“We want our employees and guests to experience the feeling you get when you travel.” Photo: James Horan

The new Airbnb offices in Sydney. Photo: James Horan The men’s bathroom is designed to look like a gentlemen’s club and whisky bar. Photo: James Horan

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