WHAT: WelcomeBeyond.com is a website that showcases unusual or one-of-a-kind lodgings around the world. To book a stay, you make your first inquiry through the website, then make reservations directly with the property owner or manager.

HITS: No brand-name hotels here. You can find off-the-radar lodgings, such as a yurt in England, a breathtaking beach house in Kenya or an igloo in the Swiss Alps. Search by using Map View or by selecting from a list of thematic interests, such as skiing and snowboarding or kids and family.

MISSES: There are only two lodgings in the United States, so your vacation will be farther afield. There are properties in Europe as well as in South America, Asia, Australia and Africa.

-- Jen Leo, Los Angeles Times