OK, so maybe you’re tired of staying at the Best Western and you’re looking for something different. Why not consider one of these 8 one-of-a-kind hotels from around the world?
1. Jules Undersea Lodge – Key Largo, Florida
Named after author Jules Verne, the Jules Undersea Lodge is completely underwater. Guests must take a scuba trip to reach their rooms (the hotel staff helpfully provides a crash course for guests who aren’t certified), and a stay includes a scuba-diving chef to cook a fresh mean on the ocean floor.
2. Karosta Prison – Liepäja, Latvia
Definitely not for the faint of heart, this hotel was formerly a gulag used to house dissidents in the Soviet era. Guests here take on the role of prisoners for a night – they sleep on prison cots, take verbal abuse from guards, and even eat prison food. Recommended for travelers who want to surprise their friends or relive Hostel!
3. Fairy Chimney Inn – Goreme, Turkey
The volcanic region of Cappadocia in Turkey is home to volcanic domes, known locally as fairy chimneys, which residents have carved into dwellings for centuries. At the Fairy Chimney Inn, guests have a chance to live like native residents, ride a hot air balloon, and even feel like Indiana Jones (Petra, the site of the Holy Grail, is also carved into rock).
4. Kokopelli’s Cave Bed and Breakfast – Farmington, New Mexico
This one-room hotel is blasted into a cliff face, and is so dangerous that guests have to sign a liability waiver just to enter. Visitors must hike down a steep trail to the entrance, but those who are brave enough to take the journey are treated to all the modern amenities and a view of the landscape made famous in Hollywood westerns.
5. River Kwai Floating Hotel – Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Anyone who enjoys a leisurely float down a river during the summer will fall in love with the River Kwai Floating Hotel. The only way to get to the hotel is by boat – and all the activities are centered around the river. Guests can take canoes to surrounding caves or to interact with the local Mon culture, and the hotel’s sustainability ethos is reflected in their community outreach.
6. Out n About Treesort – Cave Junction, Oregon
The Treesort is a monument to one man’s vision. Owner Michael Garnier was locked in a legal battle with Josephine County officials for nearly 9 years. County building inspectors refused to grant building permits and eventually ordered Garnier to tear down his treehouses. He promptly ignored them, and when the county relented and granted occupancy for friends and family only, Garnier began selling “Treeshirts” that friends from all over the world could purchase – but they had to pick them up in person. Once they arrived, Garnier would invite them to spend the night in his treehouse. Beaten into submission by this clever loophole, the county allowed the treesort to function as a hotel in 2001. Today, guests from around the world come to stay in comfortable treehouses on 36 acres at the edge of an old-growth forest.
7. Ryugyong Hotel – Pyongyang, North Korea
While we can’t condone visiting North Korea, in part because money spent in the country funds terrible human rights violations, we can’t deny that visiting the world’s most closed-off country would be an adventure. Ryugyong Hotel (sometimes called the Hotel of Doom) is still unfinished, but you can still book trips through tour groups such as Koryo Tours to visit.
8. Mfuwe Lodge – Mpika, Zambia
Mfuwe Lodge is in many ways a typical safari lodge – it’s located at the edge of South Luangwa National Park and offers a mix of wildlife tours and first-class amenities. What sets the lodge apart, however, is its reputation for strange guests. Every November, groups of elephants amble through the lodge on their way to eat tasty fruit in the courtyard. Visitors to the lodge during this period will be treated to adorable elephant families on the grounds every day.