From quirky to downright weird, a guide to the most unusual places to stay around the world, featuring the world’s best spaceship treehouses, ice suites, underwater hotels and glass igloos.
InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland
The space-age InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel trickles down the scarped slopes of an abandoned quarry, and jumps out in a city better known for its rising skyscrapers. It has been labelled the world’s first underground five-star resort – and the bottom two floors sit underwater. Expect waterfall views from each room (except for the submerged spaces, where schools of fish will float past instead).
Treehotel, Harads, Sweden
Located in the pine forest around Harads are seven unique ‘treerooms’ (more are planned to open in the near future). Treehouses include the glass capsule-like Cabin, the lifelike Bird’s Nest, the mind-blowing reflective Mirrorcube and the UFO (pictured), which reminds guests of the final scene in E.T. There is also a Tree Sauna.
Read more: the best hotels in Sweden
Crane Hotel Faralda, Amsterdam, Netherlands
An unashamedly bonkers hotel in up-and-coming Amsterdam Noord. This three-suite property is housed in a converted crane and boasts spectacular city views. Opulent and obscure in equal measure, it’s ideal if you’re looking for something alternative, but best avoided if you suffer from vertigo.
No Man’s Fort, Solent, Portsmouth
No Man’s Fort – a Victorian-era fort which was originally built between 1867 and 1880 to protect Portsmouth from an attack from Napoleon III – has been turned into a luxury hotel, with 23 bedrooms, a lighthouse penthouse suite, nightclub, hot tub and laser quest arena.
Read the full review: No Man’s Fort, Portsmouth
SiloStay, Little River, New Zealand
Situated in Little River, just 350 yards from the Christchurch-Little River Rail Trail, SiloStay offers innovative eco-friendly accommodation on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula. Despite the surrounding area offering no immediate attractions, the owners of SiloStay hope that the physically round silo and peaceful surroundings will give guests the opportunity to seek personal introspection. The silos are designed across two floors and are fully-equipped with kitchen facilities, balconies and televisions. Gourmet microwave meals or takeaways can be provided on request.
Read more: the best hotels in New Zealand
Palacio de Sal, Uyuni, Bolivia
The Palacio de Sal – ‘Salt Palace’ – on the salt flats of Uyuni, is completely constructed from salt, including most of the furniture. There’s an impressive lobby, bar and 16 rooms with private bathrooms, central heating and electricity. The restaurant’s speciality? Salt chicken, naturally.
The Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho, USA
The Dog Bark Park Inn takes the term ‘dog lover’ to a whole new level. Owned by chainsaw artists, the b&b is located inside a 12-foot beagle. Guests (it sleeps four) enter the beagle’s body through the second-storey deck. It is, of course, pet-friendly.
Read more: the best pet-friendly hotels in Britain
Magic Mountain Hotel, Huilo Huilo Reserve, Chile
The Magic Mountain Hotel is in the Huilo Huilo reserve, which covers 60,000 hectares of Valdivian forest, and has natural hot springs, unexplored lakes and direct access to the Mocho Choshuenco volcano. Accommodation ranges from rooms in the main lodge, which has a waterfall cascading from the pinnacle of the roof, to secluded forest lodges.
Read more: the best hotels in Chile
Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Twenty years ago the world’s first Icehotel opened in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Every November, ice from the frozen Torne river is fused with snow (‘snice’) to remake the hotel – new themed suites are designed every year. The team behind the hotel has, as of 2017, opened its first permanent hotel, ICEHOTEL 365, just opposite.
V8 Hotel, Stuttgart, Germany
Car fanatics will love the V8 Hotel in Stuttgart. All rooms are themed around the automobile, with features such as vintage cars, racing paraphernalia and drive-through cinemas.
Read more: where to stay and what to do in Stuttgart
Das Park Hotel, Linz, Austria
Who would have thought concrete could be comfy? These renovated sewage pipes are, thankfully, clean and functional and sit on the banks of the Danube, making them a perfect post-industrial bolt hole.
Read more: the best hotels in Austria
Hotel Marqués De Riscal, La Rioja, Spain
The Marqués de Riscal is architect Frank Gehry’s first and only hotel project, located in Elciego, in the heart of Spain’s Rioja wine-growing region. Similarly to his other projects, such as the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the structure is avant-garde in its approach, using huge titanium ribbons which stand out from the surrounding vineyard. The restaurant and bar are first-class, and there’s also a separate spa wing.
Read the full review: Hotel Marqués de Riscal, La Rioja
El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas, USA
El Cosmico, in Marfa Texas, describes itself as a ‘nomadic hotel’. Types of ‘shelter’ include vintage trailers, safari tents, Sioux-style teepees, yurts and tent campsites. Though this isn’t as slapstick as it sounds: design is at the forefront of El Cosmico. Liz Lambert, the owner, also owns two boutique hotels in Austin and one in San Antonio.
Read more: the best hotels in Austin, Texas
Hotel Central & Café, Copenhagen, Denmark
Hotel Central & Café in Copenhagen takes boutique to a whole new level. This café-hotel has just one bedroom which measures 8ft x 10ft. Despite the lack of space there’s still a double bed, bathroom, television, an iPod docking station and a mini bar. And morning coffee is merely steps away.
Read more: the most romantic hotels in Copenhagen
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, Huzhou, China
Nicknamed the ‘doughnut hotel’, the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort is on the Taihu Lake inbetween Nanjing and Shanghai. The magnet-shaped hotel was conceived by architect Ma Tansong, who has worked with Zaha Hadid in London and is responsible for the rippling Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada. The 27 floors above water, and two below (to create a complete oval) feature luxury trimmings, including a lobby paved with White Jade from Afghanistan and Tiger’s Eye Stone from Brazil.
Read the full review: Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, China
Quinta Real Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico
Built around the restored 19th-century San Pedro bullfighting ring, the Quinta Real Zacatecas is now a luxury hotel. The last bull run was in 1975. The hotel’s restaurant now looks over the old arena, while the brick-walled bar is located where the bullpens used to be.
Inntel Amsterdam Zaandamn, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The façade of this hotel is made up of nearly 70 stacked houses – from labourers’ cottages to town houses – which are typical of Amsterdam. Rooms are inspired by local history and there’s also a spa with a pool, Turkish steam bath and Finnish sauna.
Read more: the best design hotels in Amsterdam
Capsulevalue Kanda, Tokyo, Japan
Originating in Osaka, the capsule hotel is a popular concept in Japan. Stacked side by side and on top of one another to maximise on space, you can expect to pay around £30 per night. The idea has even travelled over to Europe – Helsinki airport will introduce their own sleeping pods.
Read more: the best hotels in Tokyo
Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland
Built on a hillside on the Arctic Circle, the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, a resort of cubic chalets with wide north-facing windows, is an ingenious solution to combining snug comfort with Northern Lights viewing, as well as being a great base for other Arctic pursuits.
Ariau Amazon Towers, Manaus, Brazil
Guests awake to the screeching of primates and dazzling birds of paradise at this eco-friendly retreat, set high among the Amazon tree tops. Rooms include private balconies from which to marvel at the world’s largest tropical forest. Other facilities include treetop swimming pools, restaurants, bars and five miles of canopy-skimming walkways.
Read more: the best hotels in Brazil
Good Hotel London, England
An erstwhile Dutch detention centre has docked in London. Inside it’s a study in counterculture-chic: think a concrete palace of up-cycled furnishings, where guests in oversized headphones play with complimentary iPads and fork at plates of okra and chips. Expect a sun-snaring rooftop bar and stupendous Thames views.
Read the full review: Good Hotel London, England
The Caves, Negril, Jamaica
The Caves enjoys a stunning cliffside location in Negril. Accommodation is comprised of just 12 variously configured, secluded cabins set in jungle-like gardens at the top of the cliffs. The caves themselves are used for private cande-lit dining — a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Read the full review: The Caves, Jamaica
Jumbo Stay, Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden
This former Jumbo Jet, dating from around 1976, has been converted to provide overnight accommodation. Choose between an en-suite room, budget dormitory or twin rooms. The best room is a luxury cockpit suite complete with panoramic view – you might even catch some planes landing at Stockholm Arlanda next door.
Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield, UK
The Crazy Bear’s unique rooms take inspiration from the Moulin Rouge, Las Vegas and planet Mars, and are stuffed into the oldest and most historic building in Beaconsfield. Other bizarre features include a staircase decorated with foliage painted in 24-carat gold leaf, Persian pony skin on the walls of the bar, dripping chandeliers, a creepy mirrored chill-out room and loos that are deliberately unmarked.
Read the full review: Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield
The Hobbit Motel, Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, New Zealand
Put aside your preconceptions of the soulless motel – these Lord of The Rings-inspired rooms invoke homely charms suitable for the most discerning of hobbits. It’s two hours from Auckland and just two minutes from the Waitomo Caves.
Read more: the best hotels in New Zealand
Hurawalhi – a circle of soft-sand beaches fringed by aquamarine waters – distinguishes itself from other Maldivian resorts with truly remarkable sea life and the world’s largest underwater restaurant.
Read more: the best over-water villas in the Maldives
The Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Tanzania
The Manta Resort in Tanzania has its very own Underwater Room. The floating structure has three levels, including a roof which is perfect for launching off into the sea. Downstairs, is the below-sea level bedroom, where you’ll see friendly trumpet and bat fish, Spanish dancers, squid and octopus.
Read more: the best hotels in Tanzania
The Library Hotel, New York, USA
While a library in a hotel is nothing new, The Library Hotel in New York is one for true book lovers: each of the 10 floors honour one of the 10 categories in the Dewey Decimal System (for example Literature, Technology, The Arts), and each of the 60 rooms come with a thematic collection of books depending on the floor. On top of that, there’s also a writer’s den, poetry garden and terrace and reading room.
Read the full review: The Library Hotel, New York
Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, Canada
Set among the trees of the west-coast rainforest on Vancouver Island are handcrafted, UFO-like spheres made from cedar, Sitka Spruce and fibreglass. The three globes are tethered to the trees with ropes, and sway gently in the breeze.
Read more: the best hotels in Costa Rica
Costa Verde, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
The Costa Verde team have transported and refurbished a 1965 vintage Boeing 727 airframe to create a fantastic, two-bedroom suite. The structure is set out on a concrete plinth that juts 50 feet into the jungle canopy and furnishings are hand-carved teak. The rear bedroom also has a handcrafted deck atop the wing.
The Boot Bed’n’Breakfast, Tasman, New Zealand
The giant boot guesthouse, created by Steve and his partner Judy in 2001, is wonderfully eccentric. The curved walls and ceilings means everything has been custom made. There was an old lady, who lived in a shoe…
Read more: the best hotels in New Zealand
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
One of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings, Giraffe Manor, harks back to the 1930s when European visitors first came here to enjoy safaris. The most fascinating thing about the elegant property is the herd of friendly resident Rothschild’s giraffe that live here: they often poke their long necks through windows, especially at meal times in search for a treat.
Winvian, Litchfield Hills, Connecticut, USA
This beautiful, 113-acre boutique resort in Connecticut is made up of 18 individually designed cottages. They range from the whimsical helicopter cottage, based on a Coast Guard chopper, to the neoclassical ‘Secret Society’, a high temple to romance. Other cottages include the more classic Library, Woodlands and Beaver Lodge.
Read more: the best hotels in Connecticut
Read more: the best hotels in Connecticut
Hüttenpalast Berlin, Germany
This slightly eccentric ‘urban glamping’ spot offers vintage caravans, stylish mountain huts and double rooms inside a converted factory. There’s a lovely garden, a cafe serving healthy bio-breakfasts and you’ll be located right in the middle of hip and happening Neukölln.
Read the full review: Huttenpalast, Berlin
Utter Inn, Lake Mälaren, Sweden
Utter Inn (Otter Inn in English), is an art project by Mikael Genberg located in the Lake Malaren, near Västerås in Sweden. On entering the little red house on the water, guests will discover a submerged bedroom, with panoramic windows.
Read more: the best hotels in Sweden
Hippo Point, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
Hippo Point is an exclusive wildlife estate sitting on an isthmus between Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidean. Due to its perfect microclimate, more than 350 species of bird and 1,200 resident animals roam the grounds, including buffalo, giraffe, zebra, gazelle and, of course, hippo. The magical main house, which was build in 1932, is classically British, but the Dodo’s Folly really stands out: its eight-storey views are incredible.
Amangiri, Utah, United States
Perhaps one of the most luxurious on our list, but also one of the most strikingly unusual is the Amangiri resort in Utah. Set deep within Canyon Point, close to the border with Arizona, the hotel blends into its dramatic surroundings. The spa is a cut above.
Read the full review: Amangiri, Utah
The Liberty, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Once the Charles Street Jail, The Liberty Hotel in Boston has done away with its image as a former jailhouse – to an extent. While offerings include the stylish CLINK restaurant and Alibi bar, jail-time features have been preserved, including vestiages of jail cells, catwalks and three-storey arched windows.
Read the full review: The Liberty, Boston
Kakslauttanen Hotel, Saariselkä, Finland
Hotel Kaklauttanen is home to incredible glass igloos, from which you can admire the northen lights and starry sky. The hotel is open during northern lights season, from the third week of August until the end of April.
Read the full review: Kakslauttanen Hotel, Finland
Read more: the best hotels in Antwerp
Hotel CasAnus, Antwerp, Belgium
One of the most unusual places to sleep on our list, art sculpture CasAnus has been designed to resemble a giant intestine. Created by Joep Van Lieshout, inside is a double bed, an electric heater, as well as a shower with hot water.
Bivacco Gervasutti, Mont Blanc, Italy
Named after the Turin-born Alpine climber, the Bivacco Gervassutti capsule balances precariously on the edge of Mont Blanc. It’s inaccessible to most: only those who climb the Val Ferret will be able to experience the capsule, which sleeps 12.
Read more: the 50 greatest hotels in Italy
ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, Nesjavellir, Iceland
Close to Thingvellir National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, ION Luxury Adventure Hotel sits amid a landscape of mountains and lava fields. The hotel juts out from the base of a long-dormant volcano.
Read the full review: ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, Iceland
The Woodpecker Hotel, Västerås, Sweden
Reached via sturdy but wobbly rope ladder, The Woodpecker Hotel (known locally as Hotell Hackspett) is located 13 metres up a 130-year-old tree. Dreamed up by artist Mikael Genberg (the same man behind the Utter Inn), the hotel is suspended from wires and has beautiful views across the park. It is open from April to October.
Read more: the world’s best treehouse hotels
The Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
This extraordinary collection of fantasy suites near Edinburgh Castle is the ultimate romantic hideaway: sumptuous, indulgent, and slightly (delightfully) mad. If Pugin designed gothic revival love nests they would look like this: an outrageous riposte to modern minimalism.
Featherbed Railroad, Clear Lake, California, USA
On the shore of Clear Lake in northern California, are nine vintage railroad caboose cars. All are different in theme: there’s a New Orleans bordello in La Loose Caboose, a Casablanca-themed cabin, and ‘beach house on rails’ TropiCaboose.
Read more: the best hotels in California
Entre Cielos, Mendoza, Argentina
In Mendoza, in a vineyard at the foothill of the Andes, is modern, Swiss-run wellness hotel Entre Cielos. The Vineyard Loft is a cocoon on stilts above the vines. There’s a bathtub on the terrace and a window in the roof that offers excellent views of the huge starry sky.
Read more: the best hotels in Argentina
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India
One of the world’s most romantic destination hotels, the Palace floats like a beautiful white ship on the waters of Lake Pichola, with 360-degree views of surrounding Udaipur.
Skylodge Adventure Suites, Sacred Valley, Peru
These aluminium and polycarbonate pods that cling to a granite slope above the Urubamba Valley are totally unique. With the night sky twinkling overhead as you sleep, you feel more like you’re staying in a spaceship than a hotel.
Read the full review: Skylodge Adventure Suites, Peru