25 of the world’s strangest and most unique hotels
- Living Well
You can stay at a safe, normal, everyday hotel on vacation. Or you could have the experience of a lifetime in one of these crazy places.
The Liberty Hotel in USA
Formerly the Charles Street Jail, the Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, is an actual converted prison that housed a few famous inmates back in the day, including Malcolm X and one-time Boston mayor James Curley. The luxury hotel even has prison-themed names for its rooms and lounge areas. For example, The Clink is an on-site restaurant, and The Alibi is the hotel’s cocktail bar – and former jailhouse drunk tank. Amenities include complimentary overnight shoe shines and an on-site concierge. Guaranteed the prisoners never had it this good.
Hotell Hackspett in Sweden
Created by artist Mikael Genberg in Västerås, Sweden in 1998, the Hotell Hackspett – Swedish for woodpecker – is a single room that’s suspended 13 metres above the ground by cables in a 130-year-old oak tree. (Don’t worry, not a single nail was used to anchor the structure.) Guests are hauled up for their stay via a pulley-and-harness system. The room has spectacular views of the public park it’s located in and Lake Mälaren. Accommodations are rustic with a dry toilet and no electric or heating, so it’s only available during the summer season.
Kakslauttanen Hotel in Finland
Are you after an awe-inspiring view of the Northern Lights from the comforts of a warm bed inside of a glass igloo? The Kakslauttanen Hotel in Arctic Finland features a number of glass igloos, so couples and groups of friends can huddle close together to watch the Aurora Borealis dance across the cold night sky above. The glass igloos are only available during the Northern Lights season from late August through the end of April. The Kakslauttanen Hotel also offers traditional log cabins or ice igloos for guests, so you can really know what it feels like to sleep inside of a cosy and warm sleeping bag that’s inside of a hollow ice cave. Get a spa experience via the hotel’s steamy saunas and hot tubs throughout the property.
SiloStay in New Zealand
Have you ever wanted to sleep inside of a silo? SiloStay in Christchurch, New Zealand, has you covered! The complex – which is in the middle of farmland – features eight single silos that are made for two people to stay and sleep. The upstairs of each unit houses a queen-sized bed and bathroom with showers, while you’ll find the kitchen and dining area downstairs via a spiral staircase. There are even units that are made for families. (And yes, there are windows.) Designed by Stuart Wright-Stow and his “F3” design team, each silo is eco-friendly and innovative. A wood pellet boiler heats and powers the complex, which can be seen through a transparency in each unit.
The Aurora Express in Alaska
Guests of the Aurora Express Bed & Breakfast stay inside converted Alaska Railroad train cars, which were converted and renovated when the state of Alaska was first settled during the 19th century. Guests also have the option to stay in a number of different luxurious train cars, which are named Golden Nellie, National Emblem, Gold Mine and Bordello. But no matter where you stay on the train, every guest at the Aurora Express Bed & Breakfast gets breath-taking views of greater Fairbanks, the Tanana Valley and Alaska Mountain Range.
The Crane Hotel in The Netherlands
Located on a riverbank in Amsterdam, the Crane Hotel Faralda features three luxury two-floor suites that are built inside of a dockside construction crane. The lowest hanging suite is the “Free Spirit,” which dangles 34 metres, while the “Secret” suite hangs 40 metres from the ground. The tallest of the three suites is the “Mystique,” which hangs about 45 metres in the air.
All three five-star suites feature a living area and private bathroom on the first floor and sleeping quarters on the second, a spa pool for all guests on the top deck, bungee jumping, as well as amazing rotating waterfront views that change with the direction of the wind. It also features a Sky High Panoramic Lounge that rests about 15 metres above the ground.
No Man’s Land in Portsmouth, England
Built almost 160 years ago off the coast of Portsmouth, No Man’s Fort (Solent Fort) was an English naval hub during the Victorian Era. It was initially built to help keep the French at bay, but it was still in use during both World Wars. After being decommissioned in 1956, the fort was converted into a four-star luxury island hotel in 2009. The hotel now features 23 luxury bedroom suites, along with hot tubs, lounges, and casual and formal dining opportunities. Reachable by boat or helicopter, the structure boasts spectacular views of the English and French coastline.
Free Spirit Spheres in Qualicum Beach, Canada
This is a different kind of hotel because it’s adults only, and the rooms are suspended wooden spheres dangling amongst the trees in a lush rain forest. Located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia in Canada, the tree house resort is open all year and boasts tranquillity inside of three different size spheres that are affectionately named Eve, Eryn, and Melody. The Free Spirit Spheres offers guests bathrooms with compost toilets on ground level, complimentary snacks, fresh linens, a sauna, barbecue, and galley kitchen, while each sphere comes with built-in speakers and, most importantly, Wi-Fi.
Dog Bark Park Inn in the USA
If you can’t get enough of man’s best friend, then maybe staying a night in a dog’s belly will help: Located in Cottonwood, Idaho, Dog Bark Park Inn is considered the “World’s Biggest Beagle.” The bed and breakfast guesthouse building is shaped like a beagle – a gigantic beagle. A night’s stay features a continental self-serve breakfast, and guests can stay in cosy rooms that comfortably sleep four with a number of amenities, such as full baths, air conditioning, assorted books, games, and puzzles. No phone or television – but there is Wi-Fi. According to the hotel’s website, “At Dog Bark Park Inn sleeping in the doghouse is a good thing!”
Hotel Costa Verde in Costa Rica
Can’t sleep on a plane? This one might be different: A vintage Boeing 727 was converted and refurbished into a luxury two-bedroom suite that’s located in a tropical jungle between the Manuel Antonio National Park and the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica. Guest can experience everything the Hotel Costa Verde has to offer, such as cliff-side pools, sundecks, and bar area, all inside of the airplane’s fuselage. You won’t board this airplane to get to your final destination because you’re already there!
Hilton Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort in Maldives
The Hilton Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a luxurious and spectacular resort in the Maldives, an island nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It features open-air bungalows with glass floors that look deep into the ocean underneath your feet. The hotel also features rooms and restaurants that reside underwater – if you, literally, want to sleep and eat with the fishes.
Magic Mountain Hotel in Chile
Located in the heart of the Huilo Huilo Nature Reserve in Chile, the Magic Mountain Hotel is a bizarre sight to see. It’s a hotel – which is only accessible by wooden bridge – that’s shaped like a giant volcano and covered in green moss on all sides. The hotel features a cascading waterfall that spouts at its peak and is surrounded by a deep rain forest, picturesque lakes and lagoons, cosy hot springs, and humongous mountain ranges.
Hang Nga Guesthouse in Da Lat, Vietnam
Nicknamed “Crazy House,” this unique hotel was designed and constructed by Vietnamese architect Đặng Việt Nga in Đà Lạt, Vietnam. Meant to resemble a tree, each room is animal themed and sculptured design elements fill the space. Along with animals, you’ll find natural forms like mushrooms, spider webs and caves.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai
The fifth tallest hotel in the world, with 39 per cent of its total height made up of non-occupiable space, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is a 7-star sail-shaped hotel with opulent interiors including an underwater aquarium restaurant, a $23,000 a night royal suite, and the iconic Skyview bar.
Hotel of Ice in Bâlea Lac, Romania
Located near the Balea Lake in Fagaras Mountains, the famous Hotel of Ice in Romania is re-built every year using 1.2-metre-long “bricks” made of ice from the nearby lake. The unique hotel features a new design each time it’s constructed. Considered one of the main tourist attractions in Transylvania, there’s an ice lounge, bar and restaurant, and igloos.
Vina Vik Hotel in Millahue, Chile
This 22-suite hotel and spa resides on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards in Chile’s famous wine-growing region. Each guest room features floor-to-ceiling windows that boast unobstructed views of the vineyards or snow-capped Andes.
Quinta Real Zacatecas in Zacatecas, Mexico
What makes this stunning luxury hotel so unique is that it was built around the restored 19th-century bullfighting ring. (The last bullfight occurred in 1975.) Today, the hotel’s restaurant looks over the expansive old arena, while the bar is located where the bullpens once lived.
Skylodge Adventure Suites in Sacred Valley, Peru
Situated on a granite slope above the Urubamba Valley, these aluminium and polycarbonate pods allow you to sleep in the sky within a transparent luxury capsule. In order to sleep at Skylodge, people must climb 400 metres of Via Ferrata or hike an intrepid trail through ziplines.
Hotel Marqués De Riscal in La Rioja, Spain
Architect Frank Gehry’s first and only hotel project, the Marqués de Riscal resides in the heart of Spain’s Rioja wine-growing region. The impressive avant-garde structure is complete with massive titanium ribbons; Gehry used methods previously used in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
El Cosmico in Texas, USA
Self-proclaimed a “nomadic hotel,” El Cosmico offers various type of lodging for those with a sense of adventure. Sleep in everything from vintage trailers to safari tents, Sioux-style teepees, yurts, and tent campsites.
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort in Huzhou, China
Also referred to as the “Doughnut Hotel,” the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort was created by architect Ma Tansong. Situated on the Taihu Lake between Nanjing and Shanghai, you’ll find 27 floors above water and two floors below in order to create a complete oval.
Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam in Amsterdam
Nearly 70 stacked houses make up the façade of this hotel. Representing all the traditional homes of Amsterdam, from labourer’s cottages to townhouses, it’s located in the heart of the city with rooms inspired by local history. You’ll also find a Turkish steam bath and Finnish sauna.
Capsulevalue Kanda in Tokyo
The capsule hotel is a concept that has become popular throughout Japan, having originated in Osaka. You’ll find sleeping pods stacked side by side and on top of each other as a means for maximizing space. With not much else to offer, guests can expect to get a good night’s rest, wash up and move on!
Jumbo Stay in Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden
This unique lodging experience is the former Jumbo Jet that dates back to the 1970s. The fully converted plane features everything from an en-suite room, budget dormitory or twin rooms to a luxury cockpit suit with a panoramic view.
Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, India
Featuring 360-degree views of surrounding Udaipur, this stunning hotel resembles a white ship that floats on the waters of Lake Pichola. The original palace was built in 1746 and served as a pleasure palace for the young prince, Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur, to visit with the ‘zenana (the private chambers of the court).’
This article first appeared on Reader's Digest.