11 Bizarre Hotels That Will Knock Your Socks Off
by Nora Dunn | April, 2008
Yet another dull cubicle of a hotel room isn’t really turning your crank, huh? Not providing the creative inspiration you want to go forth and experience the world? Maybe you need to take a look at some of the more unusual places to stay around the world.
Here is a sordid collection of places you can visit around the world with a variety of price ranges. These joints will surely take your travel stories and adventures to new levels.
Located in the Ozarks (Arkansas), you can spend the night in this is natural living cave. (I saw other cave accommodations in my search for the bizarre and exciting, but this one seems to be the real deal as opposed to being blasted out).
The pictures look spectacular, and you are surely staying in the lap of luxury here. Or at least the lap of a big dark hole.
Average cost: $1,000
I’m not sure what else there is to see in Cottonwood Idaho, but this place surely is tops on the list. The owners (dog lovers – can you tell?) built the world’s largest beagle to be the bed & breakfast joint for you to write home about. It’s a friendly looking dog and all, but I can’t help but be reminded of the Trojan Horse. At the very least, it brings new meaning to “sleeping in the dog house”.
Average cost: $100
Located in the scuba diving Mecca of Key Largo, Florida, this hotel caters to a niche market: scuba divers. Exclusively.
You have to scuba dive to the front door of this hotel, 21feet under the sea. It is the original undersea lodge, as others have cropped up here and there since this innovative place was built. Built – or sunk, depending on how you look at it.
They offer underwater wedding packages, and “limited room service” (duh – they have to scuba dive it in!). But the real hook for me: “unlimited diving”; I should hope so!
Average cost: $350+
Just in case anybody living in warmer climes was wondering, Canadians don’t live in igloos! But here at the Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada, they do. It is absolutely amazing what you can do with walls and furniture when you aren’t relegated to boring materials like drywall and plaster. The construction of the Ice Hotel changes each year, and is truly art. Everything – absolutely everything – is made of ice.
They say it’s surprisingly warm inside, but I can’t help but think that sleeping on a giant block of ice isn’t exactly toasty. It’s only open from January through March (when it starts to melt), so space fills up quickly.
Average cost: $300-475, but you can find promotions for as little as $150
We all know the Japanese are years ahead of North America in terms of wackiness, and they’re a little short on space too. Couple these two facts, and you have the Asakusa Capsule Hotel.
It looks more like a submarine than anything else; absolutely miniscule capsules stacked on top of one another for rooms. They cater to budget travelers (you aren’t exactly paying for a lot of space), and on the site they say “single travelers welcome”. That’s good, because I don’t think you could fit a party of two in there, no matter how well they know each other.
Rooms come complimentary with a panic button. Ahh – home sweet home.
Average cost: $30
In English, this means Otter Inn, which is an apt description for this floating underwater hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. Show up, and they’ll paddle you 1km out to the middle of a lake where a small out-house looking contraption floats on the water. Then they drop you off and you’re left to enjoy your own private island. Your living space isn’t limited to the outhouse and surrounding deck however – the bedroom is actually below, 10 feet under the water.
They too have “limited room service” – go figure. But at least you get to sleep in your own little aquarium; except this time you’re in the aquarium and the fish are on the outside. Gives you a whole new level of respect for your goldfish.
Average Cost: $250-350
Located in Harlingen, Amsterdam, this is just what it sounds: an operational harbour crane. It is located right on the quay, and inside is a luxury room for two. Its height varies with the sea levels, but can range from 17-49 metres high. And why on earth would you like to sleep in a crane? Well, the view is surprisingly spectacular. But the real reason: you get to jump in the cockpit and play with the fully operational crane! This is truly a toy for boys.
The same company also offers a converted lifeboat and lighthouse as alternate accommodations. They are generally booked up to five months in advance, so if flirting with the construction industry and playing with big toys is up your alley, book early.
Average Cost: $500
Like so many weird and wacky hotels, the Hotel Everland is installation art at its best. It is actually a mobile hotel, but don’t get any pictures of trailer parks in your mind here: it uses its mobility to set up in some of the most amazing places. Currently it is in Paris, France, and you have to see the site to believe where it actually sits and what your view looks like.
Check in and check out times are pretty stringent though (no sleeping in and lounging about in your jammies for the morning) – it is actually a museum by day.
Average Cost: unknown, but I suspect if you have to ask you may be barking up the wrong tree
Here’s another one for the budget-minded: you get to sleep in a giant concrete sewage pipe. Yup, you read it right. Initially I wondered why anybody would sleep in such an atrocity, and after researching the piece I still feel that way. The only saving grace I could see is its location: on the Danube, near Linz.
The sewage pipe-rooms are located on a campground, and the facilities are basic at best. Washrooms are a short walk away.
What I can’t get over is, if you want to stay on a campground, why not just bring a tent?!
Average Cost: (this is the clincher for a budget traveler and possibly makes the whole idea okay): Pay as you wish system
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you may be rushing to Otorohanga, New Zealand to stay here. The world’s first (first? There are more?) Hobbit Motel is located in Woodlyn Park, and is an exact replica of the hobbit homes you saw in the movies. The inside is considerably more contemporary (which actually detracts from the idea in of staying in hobbit accommodations in my mind), but at least it’s comfortable and you don’t have to crouch everywhere you go.
At Woodlyn Park, you can also stay in a plane, a ship, or a train if hobbits aren’t your thing.
Average Cost: $135
This spectacular hotel is in Panama City, Panama and if you are a nature and bird-watching enthusiast this should send you into fits of ecstasy. Your accommodations take the form of an old radar tower and afford 360 degree views high over top of the rainforest. Your room is made up of a 30ft high dome, with an upper level bedroom full of windows, and a lower level living space perfect for observing birds high in the forest canopy.
They do warn you to bring earplugs if you don’t wish the birds to be your alarm clock at first light.
Average Cost: $105-220
This is by no means a complete cross-section of the wonderful and bizarre places you can stay around the world. If none of these speak to you but you think there may be something wacky enough to get you to pack your bags, here are a few places to start looking:
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About the Author
Nora Dunn is the The Professional Hobo, a woman who sold everything she owned (including a busy financial planning practice) in 2006 and has been travelling the world in a financially sustainable way ever since. She is an internationally published freelance writer on the topics of travel, personal finance, and lifestyle design, with columns on Wisebread, Flight Network, and Care One. Check out her latest musings on Facebook and Twitter.