Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (2024)

At the X-Mansion Airbnb, you don’t have to take out the trash. You don’t have to pile your linens in the laundry room, or start the dishwasher before you leave, or make a pasta dinner using half a skillet and a pair of melted tongs. There’s no cleaning fee—it’s not that kind of Airbnb.

In fact, the X-Mansion Airbnb isn’t totally an Airbnb, or really the X-Mansion. It is fully a mansion, at least halfway an Airbnb, and, depending on your level of fandom, imagination, and access to edible marijuana, a completely believable re-creation of an iconic cartoon home/school for gifted youngsters. It has an artistically rendered 2D interior that makes the house look like it was lifted directly off the pages of a comic book. There are Adamantium claw marks next to a romantic photo of Jean Grey and Scott Summers, giant portraits of all your favorite X-Men lining the many grand halls, and an honest-to-god Caboodle full of Wet n Wild lip glosses in Jubilee’s bathroom. Plus, there’s a groundskeeper named Chris, who isn’t actually a groundskeeper, but rather a chef from New York and the only nonactor in a ragtag cast of performers who act as the house’s off-brand X-Men characters.

Altogether, these elements make the experience of staying in the X-Mansion feel like some combination of participating in a murder mystery party, being a guest on Below Deck, LARPing around a very intimately sized Disneyland, and getting pulled into a portal to Looney Toon Land like Michael Jordan in Space Jam. And I know that from experience because, for 19 chaotic hours this May, I became an incoming student at Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning, and the X-Mansion became my home.

How, and why, does this X-Mansion exist? Those are reasonable questions that might normally be answered by a helpful Airbnb host—but Jubilee, the pyrotechnic energy plasmoid–blasting Marvel character, isn’t available for in-app messaging on the “Crash at the X-Mansion” listing. So I’ll tell you that it was created in homage to the show X-Men ’97, a critically acclaimed and fan-loved reboot of the classic ’90s cartoon X-Men: The Animated Series. It will open to the public on June 18 in Westchester County, New York, and if its guests are lucky, it won’t be blown up nearly as often as its fictional source material. (That’d be a tough way to run a PR campaign.)

It’s also one of a number of experiences Airbnb is launching under its “Icons” program—a new category of rentable homes and experiences inspired by famous movies, TV shows, people, and places. This includes stays at the X-Mansion, the Ferrari Museum, and Prince’s Purple Rain house; hangout sessions with Doja Cat and Kevin Hart; a sleepover at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris on the eve of the Summer Olympics, for those of us still holding a candle for the museum-hopping siblings of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; and even a perfect re-creation of the Up house, suspended 50 feet above the ground, which, let’s face it, couldn’t possibly have indoor plumbing. In the same announcement in which Airbnb launched these flashy stays came the much quieter news that new features were coming to make planning group trips easier. Which, to me—and to the 81 percent of Airbnb bookers who use the platform to plan group trips and not to visit cosplay Disneyland—feels like a better investment of time and resources than building a house that you can marvel at but seemingly not pee inside of. But judging by its emphasis on Icons and “bringing more magic into the real world,” Airbnb seems to see things differently.

The Icons program is expanding on similar but more sporadic PR stunts the company has done in the past, such as the Barbie DreamHouse that popped up in Malibu and a stay in Gwyneth Paltrow’s guesthouse, which I tried incredibly hard to win. (Spoiler alert: I failed spectacularly at renting it, and no one will tell me who ultimately got it because of “client confidentiality,” but my assumption is that Gwyneth Paltrow and the ghost of Gwyneth Paltrow’s bone density stayed in Gwyneth Paltrow’s pool house. I am not bitter that my almond mom wouldn’t let me stay at her house!)

Anyway. Because I made such a big deal about not winning the Gwyneth sweepstakes, and presumably because I made the ultimately wise decision not to infiltrate Airbnb’s mainframe with ill-gotten bots, the company invited me for an overnight at a different house—one with decidedly fewer Goop products and mandatory transcendental meditation sessions but decidedly more claw marks and mandatory combat training. Sometimes perseverance—and a lack of shame—pays off.

This led to 19 hours full of more mocktails and beanbag chairs than expected, two lifted travel-size tubes of toothpaste (sorry, Airbnb), a quick existential crisis of self in Charles Xavier’s study, and a wild new appreciation for the second dimension. To get a sense of what it’s like to be an X-Man for slightly less than a day—and because the X-Mansion’s listing is written in the voice of a fictional teen mutant who’s too busy battling Sentinels to actually be on-site—allow me to provide you with a realistic breakdown of what to expect from the IRL X-Mansion.

Getting There

My driver to the X-Mansion is not a cold and distant father who’s ready to off-load his rebellious mutant youth at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but rather a cold and thankfully incurious Uber driver named Hainan. Regular guests selected to stay at the X-Mansion are responsible for their own travel to Bedford, New York, where they’ll be picked up by an X-Men-branded Sprinter van and shuttled out to the remote X-Mansion in order to maintain its super-secret location. I, however, have been given the address to drive directly there, which is wild, because I’m terrible with directions. Hainan and I lose all cell signal about 2 miles from the house and are forced to arrive the good old-fashioned (1997) way—by looking at actual street names.

We eventually pass through a giant wrought-iron gate complete with a security guard, wind up a mile-long unpaved driveway, and arrive at an eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom brick mansion that was last listed for sale at $24,950,000 in 2020. If Hainan has questions about the giant 10-foot Sentinel head that appears to have crashed into the mansion’s circular driveway, he does not voice them. He merely helps me with my suitcase and gets the hell out of there, leaving me behind in what genuinely looks to be a Most Dangerous Game scenario. (Later, one of the off-duty cast members tells me that Donald Trump has a property nearby, and for the first time since arriving at this remote house full of strangers, I feel weary.)

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (1)

Where You’ll Be

After the one thing tethering me to the non-X-World—Hainan—departs, I see I’m surrounded by an absolutely gorgeous estate overlooking the Hudson Valley. There’s a pool and a basketball court, and every standing structure has a minimum of four giant columns attached. It is stately. It is idyllic. It’s the perfect place to start a cartoon school that fights prejudice and protects the vulnerable.

Outside, as I roam the grounds, waiting for an explanation on the Sentinel head and also how the hell I am to proceed inside this X-Mansion, there’s the sound of bees buzzing, woodpeckers pecking, and … actors chatting among themselves?

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (2)

What You’ll Do

I expected a lot of things from the X-Mansion. I expected a mansion (check). I expected 2D rendering (huge check) and fandom Easter eggs (a very fun check!). I expected to use the dishwasher and have Iceman chill down a late-night glass bottle of Dr. Pepper for me (the origin story of one of my earliest sexual awakenings), neither of which happened because—spoiler alert—there is ultimately no X-Kitchen inside the X-Mansion. What I did not expect, outside of a lack of said kitchen, was quite so much call-and-response with a troupe of actors.

And that’s on me! The listing says, in its standard Jubilee jargon: “We’re totally ready to welcome mutant trainees like you to our newest class. … Your stay will be packed with training, cool experiments, secret mission briefings, a class photo, and more!” I just, for some reason, assumed that those things would be a little more … self-guided.

However, I soon learn that you are very much tended to for the first several hours of your time in the X-Mansion. Thank goodness for an Australian TV host-producer pair, who are staying at the X-Mansion at the same time as me and are very game to raise their voices another octave the many times we are told “I can’t heeeear you!” during our new-mutant orientation. I’d say it took me about 20 minutes and two rooms to lean into the immersive experience of the tour, when I really just wanted to look around at all the portraits of cartoon Charles Xavier and his perfect bone structure (long may he live!).

Eventually, though, I am able to show with genuine earnestness (and the volume demanded) that I am having fun and am ready to proceed to the next room. The tour of the X-Mansion proceeds as follows:

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (3)

The foyer: Maybe the most impressive visual of the entire X-Mansion greets you when you first walk in. There’s an X emblem on the floor, an iconic portrait of Charles Xavier, and a grand staircase winding up to the bedrooms, and all of it is outfitted in the glaring primary colors of Saturday morning cereal boxes. Basking in the glory of the house where we now briefly live, we get the plot rundown of our stay: Sentinels have attacked, so all of the X-Men are gone, even Jubilee, who’s supposed to be hosting this entire thing. Instead, we’ll be training with orientation leader Cherie and professors Zack and Juan to harness our (fake) mutant powers and improve our (nonexistent) combat skills.

And I must admit, it’s kind of funny to just immediately be like, “You’re with the B-team; haven’t you ever heard of Zack the X-Man?” But I guess getting someone in full Beast gear several times a week was either too Disney World or too much money to license (if it’s the latter, I’m honestly relieved to see Airbnb sparing an expense).

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (4)

The Ready Room: The tour officially starts in the Ready Room, where all of the X-Men’s (the real X-Men’s) costumes are kept. As visitors, there are certain things you can touch (the capes), certain things you can hold (Cyclops’s glasses), and certain things you should not touch (anything very deep in the lockers, for some reason, like Jubilee’s roller skates or Gambit’s boots). The relationship between guests and actors is still pretty awkward at this point, but everyone is really plastering on their biggest smiles. We, for one, will not be a part of a divided X-Mansion.

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (5)

Beast’s lab: Maybe I was still just warming up to the murder mystery party vibe of being thrust into my first student orientation in over a decade, but I must call out Beast’s lab for having the largest differential between what’s pitched in the listing and what’s actually going down on-site.

Online I read a tale of “a gnarly lab ... where you’ll be able to power-up with mutant energy elixirs.” But in reality, as Zack leads us through the difference between a 1-ounce jigger and a 2-ounce jigger to make our “mutant energy elixirs”—which are simply not a part of X-Men canon—it feels a little like grasping at straws for activities to do in the X-Mansion. Unless a guest is just really in the mood for a virgin Moscow mule, because that is what they’ll be making in that classic piece of lab equipment: the martini shaker. (I did enjoy the unexpected addition of passion fruit juice from a graduated cylinder.)

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (6)

The War Room: The War Room is my favorite room because I am a nerd, and we get to do trivia in there. But even better—we do the X-Men version of an Enneagram test. We answer questions on iPads about which X-Man we most relate to, how we plan to battle bigotry, and what color our X-Men suit would be (you honestly haven’t lived until you’ve heard someone say, “I’m gonna go blue, yeah,” in an Australian accent).

And then, the magic iPad reveals our mutant power to us. I got “Energy Projection,” which feels right. (The War Room also contains Cerebro, which is a nice-looking replica and all, but it felt like a missed opportunity to employ some virtual reality. It can’t all be painting 2D lines on potted plants.)

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (7)

The Danger Room: I want to make fun of the Danger Room for being pitched as where we’d learn real hand-to-hand combat, when we really just played games and practiced our power poses. But I don’t know if someone who absolutely never got the hang of the Zip Zap Zop–style game (Charge Shoot Defense) is really in a position to poke such fun. (I did still win, though, because I partnered up with the teacher—nerdom is a power, even if it’s not a mutant one, and where better to employ it than at Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning?)

The study: The tour ends in Xavier’s study, which really does feel exactly how it looks in X-Men ’97, right down to the absence of Charles Xavier and the presence of Magneto’s helmet on his desk. A giant TV is rolled out, even bigger beanbags are set up, and all of the cast members come out to tell us goodbye. Because it’s official—we’re finally alone in the X-Mansion. It’s time to explore.

The Space

When the X-Mansion was announced as one of the inaugural Icon experiences, the photos from the Airbnb listing went viral.

Full look at Airbnb's X-Mansion.

— X-Men Updates (@XMenUpdate) May 1, 2024

The images looked really cool. They just didn’t, per se, look real. In the glowing professional photos posted by Airbnb, the X-Mansion looked just like a cartoon. Naturally, the most common response to the listing was: That has to be AI.

Now, normally, I appreciate when someone points out that something is Photoshopped or AI because I’m the kind of unfortunate artsy type who can barely open a Word document without getting a paper cut, let alone use Photoshop. But in this case, I just so happened to also be the type who, at the time of the announcement, was one of three (non-Zack) people who had stayed overnight at the X-Mansion. And I am here to tell you—it really looks like that. The photos look like a cartoon because the house looks like a cartoon.

Every floorboard, every wall, every textile, baseboard, and wall switch plate (for some reason, those were what visually took it over the top for me) has been designed, painted, and printed in a perfect 2D concept by artist Joshua Vides and his team. (Strangely, only the bathrooms are left untouched. I guess everyone needs a little space to sit down, feel like a three-dimensional human, and spend 15 mindless minutes scrolling on their phone.) Wolverine’s boots have little black lines to make them look 2D, the ’90s Macintosh computer that actually runs on the ’97 operating system has little black lines, the giant Sentinel head in the driveway has little black lines …

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (8)

Honestly, it is mostly little black lines, but they’re everywhere, and they do the trick. In real life, those little black lines, all the primary colors, and the fact that the whole house is lit up like a Christmas tree give the effect that you’re walking through a comic book; that you’re making a Moscow mule inside a cartoon; that you’re actually lifting a giant dumbbell in a cartoon Danger Room. Which is to say that the X-Mansion is lit to look like a comic book; it is not lit for a layperson to get a good photo of herself doing Storm poses for Instagram. All future guests should arrive with a ring light and an Instagram boyfriend because my photos mostly look like I took them with a dishwasher (not included in the X-Mansion experience—the kitchen was turned into Beast’s lab).

Where You’ll Sleep

Finally, it’s time to choose a bedroom like we’re on The Real Housewives of Westchester County. The rooms available are Jubilee’s, Wolverine’s, the new recruits’ (a classic two-twin-beds Airbnb scenario), and the strange bed that’s set up downstairs in Beast’s lab. In the real world, groups of friends will be doing this experience together, but in the press world, this very kind pair from the Australian morning show offered to share a bathroom so that I could have Jubilee’s room, simply because I arrived in a pink sweater, carrying a purple suitcase, and of the many available headpieces to try on throughout the mansion, I picked Jubilee’s neon visor sunglasses. So, I guess my decade of Real Housewives consumption actually has given me a superpower (psychological manipulation).

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (9) Airbnb

Personally, I’ve always identified most with Jean Grey because (1) ginger solidarity, (2) you won’t like me when I’m angry, and (3) putting your fingertips to your forehead while you think has, and always will be, incredibly chic … but Jubilee’s room is very cool. Done up entirely in shades of pink and purple, it is a 1990s teenage dream—like Saved by the Bell meets Doug. The VHS player works, as does the arcade game. I want to talk like a Ninja Turtle while I’m here. I want to bounce around with a boombox and twirl a phone cord around my finger and cut my own bangs.


Which is to say, the X-Mansion is fun. The X-Mansion is weird! The X-Mansion was created for true fans who will get a kick out of walking among its animated walls, which have been imprinted on their brains for nearly three decades. And maybe those fans won’t really care that the emphasis rests entirely on feeling like you’re having a slumber party in a cartoon and not like you’re staying in the titular mansion of the listing.

Because my main critique of the X-Mansion—what I’d put in the review if Airbnb let me leave one (It actually did! It’s 4,000 words long!)—is the lack of luxury. Maybe I’m just an energy-projecting idiot, but because of the repetitive use of the word mansion throughout the marketing of this Airbnb, I did expect to be staying in … a mansion. And from the outside of the house, you absolutely are! But inside, an eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom house has been turned into a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom Airbnb that doesn’t have anywhere to easily access ice or filtered water. It’s really much more like staying in a hotel in that way.

Out of necessity, most of the walls and hallways have been built from scratch to create a new structure inside an existing structure that most resembles the X-Mansion. But even the animated X-Mansion depicts crown molding, wainscoting, and mahogany-coffered ceilings, which this re-creation simply cannot achieve. The gorgeous curving staircase and vaulted ceilings remain—as do the tags on all the Amazon towels and the price stickers on all of the knickknacks and amenities that have been hastily purchased to flesh out this rental home.

And in that way, it regains its Airbnb bona fides.

House Rules

After getting 15 hours of unsupervised roaming-around time at the X-Mansion, I’ll say it: there should maybe be more rules at the X-Mansion.

After being guided around by an entire staff for the first several hours, having all of your food and drinks brought out to you and your luggage carried around so you don’t scratch the walls … it’s actually very strange to just be left alone in there to do whatever you want. At some point, we’ve been asked not to try on Wolverine’s boots, but I definitely could if I wanted to. Roaming the halls of the X-Mansion is kind of like being in a big Lego display—you want to be careful with it, but you also want to toooouch iiiiit. The way a normal person might rent out their apartment for a few weeks while they’re traveling and just hope as little bodily fluid as possible ends up on their couch, I guess Airbnb is just hoping that fans are reverent enough to not put their hand straight through a fake wall in Xavier’s study or leave with a suitcase full of Cerebro.

Of course, this is still an Airbnb, so there are plenty of off-limits rooms and mysteriously locked doorknobs for me to jiggle. But when left alone to wander the halls, labs, and war rooms, the uncanny valley aspect of living in a 2D rendering really kicks in. When you wake up in the middle of the night in the X-Mansion, you may briefly think you’ve gone full Roger Rabbit, or at least half Space Jam. And when you briefly fall asleep on a giant beanbag chair watching X-Men ’97, inside the X-Men ’97 mansion, you may briefly relate to the clone Madelyne Pryor when possessed by Mister Sinister: “I am beyond Jean Grey! Beyond the X-Men! I am scorn and fury, forged in righteous brimstone. I AM THE GOBLIN QUEEN!”

At least that’s how I felt all hopped up on the Nerds Gummy Clusters that the study drawers are full of.

Total Cost

Crashing at the X-Mansion costs a cheeky $97 per guest, which is both very low for a mansion and annoyingly high when you consider that most of the other Icon experiences are free. According to the listing, the X-Mansion is booking 15 stays for groups of six to eight people from June to July. That’s bringing in a maximum of $11,640 to Airbnb. Which feels a little negligible when you consider that’s not even paying off the customizations in this house. But I guess $97 could also feel negligible for an X-Men fan who’s ready to plant their feet on said floors and see how it feels to walk the same ground as—well, not as Jubilee, but as her ready and willing stand-in, Cherie.

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (10)

I’ve paid $97 to stay at lesser Airbnbs, and none of those came with a parting gift: a photo depicting me, Jodi Walker, as a 2D animated student at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. And yeah … this picture actually is just AI. I am not a cartoon now. I am still just a pop culture journalist, a hopeful goblin queen who has to wake up and finish an article about Challengers as the sun rises over the Hudson Valley and shines into Jubilee’s borrowed room. And when I fire up my Bluetooth Bose speaker to drown out the TV shoot going on downstairs, I find that there are, in fact, about 1,000 other Bluetooth devices through which I could blast eight hours of white noise in this mansion.

Because I’m not in 1997. I’m not a cartoon. And this is not the X-Mansion. It’s also not really an Airbnb. But it was kind of cool. Or as Jubilee (me) might say: a totally rad time.

Mocktails, Combat Training, and a Mutant Enneagram Test: 19 Hours in the Airbnb X-Mansion (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated:

Views: 6166

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.