When 5-star luxury hotels or budget B&Bs just won’t cut it, staying at these bizarre hotels will help make a holiday to remember.
Pioneertown Motel – Go back to the Wild West
California’s Pioneertown was founded in 1946 by Hollywood actors Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and several other ambitious investors. Theirs was a dream to create a film location that mirrored a town from the Old West whilst doubling as a lodging for Western movie stars. And what a town they built! Pioneertown contains a classic salon, jail, and horse tethering spaces outside its quaint boutiques.
Whilst the heyday of the settlement may be long gone (it was the location for the shooting of numerous films and series in the late 1940s and 50s), there is still plenty of Western culture to indulge in here. Treat yourself to a generous portion of spareribs as you enjoy live music in the desert sun and round off your experience with a night at the local motel, designed in best Western style.
Whitepod Hotel – Embrace the mysticism of the mountains
Switzerland’s aptly named Whitepod Hotel consists of a small colony of igloo-esque pods at a hilltop with jaw-dropping vistas of the valley below. The Whitepod Hotel, located close to the town of Les Cerniers merges hospitality and environmental conservation, with focus on local cuisine from the hotel’s restaurant. Whilst you can stay here all year round, the experience is most enjoyable in the winter, when the wood–heated pods are at their cosiest.
Each individual pod lies in relative isolation, giving you all the privacy you’ll need to detach from everyday life, with little more than the fresh alpine air for company. Throw in access to a wellness area and you’re looking at a relaxing stay, in the most tranquil of surroundings.
Conestoga Ranch – Luxurious wagon camping on the prairie
If the appeal of cowboy life is tempting, you will find plenty of it at Utah’s Conestoga Ranch. Located in the world’s first national park (Yellowstone), the ranch provides deluxe camping options in its Conestoga wagons – luxurious versions on those used by the early pioneers.
In them, you will find a fridge, double beds and many other mod cons so fret not – your life on the prairie will not be against the same unforgiving wilderness as that faced by the pioneers that ventured west.
While you’re here – expand your horizons by taking advantage of the myriad of educational experiences offered by the Yellowstone Association Institute.
Giraffe Manor – A social experience with some very unique guests
Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel located on 12 acres of land right by Ngong forest – one of Nairobi’s hidden charms. An iconic building in pristine surroundings, the uniqueness of the manor is underscored by its resident Rothschild giraffe population, who roam the grounds freely and make for excellent hosts. In fact, these humble herbivores will even share your breakfast with you, if that’s your thing.
A throwback to the exploratory days of Danish adventurer and author, Karen Blixen, Giraffe Manor is located close to her former home (now turned museum) in the eponymous Karen area of Nairobi.
Jumbo Stay – Cure your fear of flying in this Boeing 747
Frequent flyers, aspiring pilots and even those with a fear of flying will find themselves well taken care of at Stockholm’s Jumbo Stay hotel. As the name suggests, your nights here will be spent in a retired Boeing 747 -212B from 1976, where you can choose between two unique suites. Note that the only destinations this grounded Jumbo flies to are those you conjure up during your dreams on its spacious beds.
Cockpit enthusiasts can enjoy the comfort of the cockpit suite, with beds right up there amongst the levers and dials whilst those looking for something a bit more low-key have the option of lodging in the aft-end “Black Box” suite.
Located a stone’s throw away from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, you won’t need any boarding pass to jump aboard this plane.
Knight’s Glamping – Be a knight for a night
Knight’s Glamping is a journey back to The Middle Ages – an immersive experience that omits modern conveniences in favour of feasts over open fire pits and tented accommodation. Located by Leeds Castle, in Kent you will live like the knights of yesteryear did – minus the shining armour and destrier (warhorse).
Knights didn’t take showers but you can – in walking distance from the campsite. You’ll also have free access to Leeds Castle and its grounds during the entire duration of your stay. Explore its maze, underground grotto and halls at will as you retrace the steps of infamies like Henry VIII.
Henn na Hotel Nagasaki – The future is now
Welcome to a future run by robots -sans the cumbersome errors of mankind. Of course, all of this takes place in Japan – a hub for technological development for years now. Everything from your check-in to getting your bags carried to your room is administered robotically, with facial recognition replacing key cards and room keys. In fact, your robot hosts can do just about everything, including providing you with weather updates.
But there’s more – the two wings of Nagasaki’s Henn na Hotel both flaunt a blend of impeccable design and high-tech internal climate solutions that combine excitement with comfort -each in its own unique style.
If futurism floats your boat, have a look at these futuristic hotels around the world.
Hotel de Glace – Step into a wonderland of ice and snow
Fulfil all your fantasies of life in an ice world at Quebec’s Hotel de Glace, where a glittering sub-zero universe awaits. A witty combination of sassy ice sculpturing and immaculate lighting gives this establishment a shimmering beauty seldom seen elsewhere.
And whilst most things you’ll see and touch are sculpted in ice, thankfully, your duvet and pillows are not. In fact, if the chill factor becomes too much to bear – head to the warm spa area for respite in blissful settings.
Dreaming of other sub-zero hotel experiences? Have a look at these cool lodgings around the world.
Book and Bed Tokyo – Sleep in a bookshelf
Have you ever dreamt of becoming a book? At The Book and Bed hotel in Tokyo, this is just about possible. Your bed here is located within a bookshelf crammed with all the material you’ll need for your bedtime reading (in English as well as Japanese).
Like any good library, there is a book to suit every taste here and unsurprisingly, you will find many other bookworms to share your stories with. Far from being a luxurious getaway, this themed hotel focuses on creating a cosy, inclusive environment in which it is possible to relax in the simplest of ways.
Hotel Cava & Mastinell – Wine and dine like never before
Vilafranca del Penedès’ Hotel Cava & Mastinell, close to Barcelona, is a wine connoisseur’s Nirvana. Surrounded by vast expanses of vineyards, its iconic architecture resembles stacked cava bottles on a shelf. Add a mosaic roof that is a tribute to Antoni Gaudí himself, and you’re looking at a very impressive building.
The real thrills, however, lie inside, where there is no end to the wines you can sample, nor the wine -related activities that you can indulge in. Wine therapy involving massages that accentuate the healing properties of grapes is but one of many such activities, all of which make for an immersive experience.
Hotel Kakslauttanen – A Mecca of igloos neath the Northern lights
The coruscating dance of the Northern lights against the night sky is a spectacle to behold. At Lapland’s Hotel Kakslauttanen, you can appreciate their mystical qualities all night long from the warmth of your glass cabin, shaped in the form of an igloo.
When you tire of stargazing, venture out into the Arctic wilderness on a reindeer safari, visit Santa’s busy office or tear through the snow on a snowmobile.
V8 Hotel – Tune your motoring instincts
Don’t just dream of waking up in a Cadillac or a Benz one day– do it! The V8 hotel, located in Stuttgart, gives you the chance to do just that, albeit with a bit more legroom and slightly less bodywork than you can expect on your standard factory edition ride. Here, you can choose amongst 10 different car suites to catch some shut-eye in – styled after various racing themes.
While in the area, complete your motoring experience with a visit to the nearby Motorworld Stuttgart, where car fantasies reign supreme.
Dog Bark Park Inn: Where Beagles are larger than life
Dog Bark Park Inn is a bed and breakfast hotel that is home to all things canine. Located in north central Idaho, the hotel itself takes the form of a giant beagle known as Sweet Willy. Step inside and you’ll be met by a whirlwind of dog-related memorabilia, including furnishings sculpted by resident chainsaw artists, Dennis and Frances.
For a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, head to the top floor of the building (Sweet Willy’s snout), where you can sit back and enjoy prairie vistas by day and star-strewn skies by night.
The Queen Mary Hotel – All hands on deck!
The Queen Mary is a former ocean liner that first sailed in 1936, before being used as an American troop carrier during the Second World War. A mammoth construction that is slightly larger than her ill-fated predecessor, The Titanic, The Queen Mary made over a thousand transatlantic crossings before her retirement.
Since 1967, this giant of the seas has been used as both a hotel and museum at her home on Long Beach, where her 3 towers cast a haughty shadow over the modern Californian skyline. While you’re aboard, there is no shortage of events, history tours and dining areas to tickle every fancy.
Norrqvarn Hotell & Konferens – Sleep in a toadstool or tree stump
On the surface, Norrqvarn Hotell & Konferens is a standard hotel with state-of-the-art conference facilities. Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you will find 2 intriguing accommodation options to tickle your curiosity and imagination – a toadstool and a tree stump.
The cold Swedish winter means that it is best to book these rooms between May and September, when you can also take advantage of the great Swedish outdoors. Drawing on fairy tale references, the Troll stump and Mushroom cabins, as they are known here, make for a relaxing stay by the banks of the Göta Canal, near Lyrestad. You decide whether you’ll live here happily ever after.
Crane hotel – Reach for the skies
After an intense process of renovation, this old crane opened in 2014 as the luxury hotel, Faralda. It is located 50 metres high above the NDSM industrial wharf, a mecca for artists, skaters. and hip start-ups.
The hotel’s three suites – “Secret”, “Free Spirit” and “Mystique” – are extravagantly furnished and offer access to an outdoor jacuzzi and the best panoramic views you’re likely to find in all of Amsterdam. And, if you’re a thrill seeker, the Faralda even has its very own bungee jumping facilities.
Capsule hotel – Who needs a bed when you have a capsule?
Having been around since the late seventies, capsule hotels and tiny sleep cabins are hardly a hot new thing in Japan. But there’s only one hotel chain that really take the sci-fi sleeping game to intergalactically great levels.
The staff at the Nine Hours hotel in Kyoto want you to have the perfect experience when you check-in, which is why they break it down to a simple equation: 1 hour to shower + 7 hours of sleep in a surprisingly roomy, monochromatic capsule + 1 hour for the early morning rise = the ideal amount of time to spend in a hotel before setting out to explore the Ancient City.
Imaginarium hotel – Test the limits of your imagination
Borrowing Picasso’s famous quote “Everything you can imagine is real” as its own hotel motto, if you stay at La Balade des Gnomes in the Durbuy countryside, you better learn to expect the unexpected.
Each of the ten suites tells a story: “The Legend of the Trolls” room is a must if you are a fantasy fan, “Macquarie Island” – with its boat-shaped bed and private sandy beach – is great for those missing the sea view, and “In a Moon Neighbourhood” is perfect for those guests who want to take one small step for man out into space.
But, if you want a truly legendary trip, it’ll have to be the separate, two-storey suite “The Trojan Horse”. It actually looks more like a cow, but we’re not complaining.
Silver mine hotel – A journey to the centre of the earth
The principal sleeping area of Sala Silvermine, located near Stockholm, is rather modest – a quaint 15-room hostel. But, if you tunnel 155 metres underground you’ll find a secluded chamber unlike any other you have stayed in before.
As the deepest hotel room in the world, The Mine Suite is perfect for those travellers seeking a bit of quiet away from any other snoring guests or distractions. Mobile phones are non-functional way down in this hole, so your only communication with the world above is via a walkie talkie with the 24/7 reception, who will even come down every morning to deliver a freshly cooked breakfast.
Oil rig hotel – A diver’s paradise out at sea
When an oil rig no longer has any commercial value, it’s normally sent straight to the scrap heap. But not in the south-eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, where one of these metal monstrosities has been transformed into a diver’s paradise.
Seaventures Rig Resort has 27 rooms of all types (single, double, shared) and great leisure facilities, but most stay for its unparalleled location in the Coral Triangle, and the incredible sea life beneath.
Not one for exploring the depths of the Celebes Sea? Back on the rig you’ll find a movie room, karaoke lounge, bars and a helipad transformed into a sundeck.
Tree house hotel – Venture into the surreal
Enchanted tree house, out-there art installation or a “museum” of dream, childhood, abnormality? Whatever you want to label it, the Hang Nga Guesthouse – otherwise known as ‘The Crazy House’ – is as unique as hotels can get.
Designed by the locally legendary architect and impressionist Dang Viet Nga, the house was built in 1990 to resemble something from a fairy tale, as if imagined by the likes of Gaudí and Salvador Dalí. Today, this non-rectilinear, one-of-a-kind hotel has become a symbol of diversity and invention across Dalat.
And the magic doesn’t stop at the front door. Inside you’ll find mushroom chairs, animal sculptures and ten suites; all with brilliantly bonkers themes such as the tiger room, the eagle room, the kangaroo room and the surprisingly roomy ant room.
Fortress hotel – A fort out at sea
A naval fort built to defend Portsmouth Harbour attacks of Napoleon III, the Spitbank Fort is now one of the most unique and exclusive hotels in the UK. Not least because you need to climb aboard a private boat to find it.
There’s only 9 bedroom suites, but they all feature super-king size beds, high-riveted redbrick ceilings and only the plushest of furnishings. Outside of the bedroom quarters, there’s three bars, a wine cellar, several game rooms and a rooftop hot-tub to help you pass the time.
But, undoubtedly, Spitbank Fort’s crowning jewel is the huge red lighthouse above, offering stunning views of England’s south coast.