Ever wanted to sleep under the sea? In a treehouse or a UFO, deep beneath the ground in a miners’ cave or under the stars in the Kenyan bush?
Here at Elite we’ve put together a list of the ten most unusual hotels around the globe, each of which offer guests a distinctly unique experience. They may not all be to your taste, but whether or not you prefer more conventional accommodation, you are sure to appreciate the sheer imagination and hard work that’s gone into creating these one-of-a-kind hotels, some of which truly need to be seen to be believed.
the Eskimo Experience: Hotel de Glace, Quebec
Often wondered how it feels to be an Eskimo? (Slightly chilly, we’d expect.) Well wonder no more, because at Canada’s Hotel de Glace you can spend the night in a specially created artisan ice hotel, painstakingly rebuilt with a new unique design each winter.
From dramatic crystalline ice sculptures to vast snow vaults and the chance to go dog sledding, this unusual vacation spot is also popular for weddings, which take place in an adjacent ice chapel. The ‘Wedding Proposal Package’ also includes a jewelry box made of ice. Brr.
Underwater Adventure: Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Said to have sunk beneath the ocean without a trace, the legend of the lost city of Atlantis is the inspiration behind this extravagant Dubai hotel, which cost a reported £1 billion and took two years to build, opening to worldwide fanfare in 2008, with guests including Robert DeNiro and Lily Allen in attendance.
Located on Palm Jumeirah, an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, this ‘fully integrated’ entertainment resort boasts a 42 acre waterpark including slides that see thrill seekers surrounded by real-life sharks and rays and also offers the opportunity to scuba dive with dolphins.
Guests at the £5,700-a-night luxury underwater Neptune and Poseidon Suites have floor-to-ceiling views into the Ambassador Lagoon, filled with 65,000 marine creatures, meaning that – at this hotel at least – it is genuinely possible to live ‘under the sea’.
Flying High: Costa Verde, Costa Rica
Nestled within tropical rainforest, Hotel Costa Verde’s rather unusual Fuselage Suite consists of a refurbished vintage 1965 Boeing 727 airframe, once part of South Africa Air in a previous life.
Sitting atop a 50-foot pedestal just beyond a majestic national park, the remodelled jumbo jet’s interior is entirely Costa Rican teak panelling with Indonesian teak furniture and also features a private entrance up a river rock.
For those who haven’t yet tired of sleeping on aircraft, this unique suite on the edge of the jungles of Manuel Antonio offers sky high balcony views of the Pacific Ocean as well as the opportunity to spot the local treetop wildlife, which includes toucans, sloths and monkeys.
Space Invaders: Tree House Hotel, Sweden
Fancy trying out a stay in a UFO, a giant mirrorcube or perhaps even a birdnest? Then look no further than Sweden’s offbeat-yet-swanky Treehouse Hotel, located deep in the tranquil pine forest of the Lule River valley in the tiny Swedish village of Harads (population: 600).
Guests at this eco conscious luxury retreat can choose from five ‘treerooms’, each offering an isolated escape from the stresses of modern life with views of acres of forest and the rapidly moving river below.
Designed by some of the country’s foremost architects, these impeccably furnished four to six metre high rooms are complete with environmentally-friendly combustion toilets and water-efficient sinks, with plans for another three to five designs to be completed during this year.
Energy Efficiency: EcoCamp, Patagonia
For the adventurous and environmentally conscious traveler, Patagonia’s EcoCamp offers a very different accommodation experience in one of the most impressive areas of natural beauty on earth.
Set at the foot of the famed Torres del Paine National Park, mountain trekkers stay in eco friendly domes designed to allow them to connect with nature without any negative impact on their surroundings. Electricity and heat come from solar panels and a micro-hydro turbine while domes are connected by raised walkways to minimise disruption to the environment.
By day, guests take part in adventure treks tailored to their needs, by night relaxing under the night sky with a chance to sample Chile’s finest cuisine and wine in EcoCamp’s community domes.
Batman’s Lair: Sala Silvermine, Sweden
Sleeping 155 metres underground in a cave might not be your idea of a good time, but at Sweden’s Sala Silvermine you can make like the Flintstones and do just that.
A night at its exclusive Mine Suite, accommodating just two people, is accompanied by a guided tour of the mine, where guests can walk through the vast cavities and shafts created in what was once Sweden’s premiere silver-producing location.
Just make sure not to upset ‘The Mine Lady’ – a ghostly being the minors believed watched over them and protected them during their time underground: Spooky.
Blowing Bubbles: Attrap’Rêves, France
If you’ve always liked the ‘idea’ of camping but don’t find the reality of hard ground, bugs and humidity particularly attractive, then France’s BubbleTree start-up may just have the answer.
At Attrap’Rêves’ four scenic locations dotted around the country, you can spend the night ‘roughing it’ in giant see-through bubbles, maintained by a silent blower which allows a continuous stream of fresh air inside, preventing humidity.
Each eco friendly bubble has its own private showers and toilets and the Luxury Package includes an open-air private Jacuzzi session, a relaxing massage and a gourmet dinner, with a telescope for a spot of romantic star gazing thrown in for good measure.
Wine Refinery: Hotel Marques De Riscal, Spain
As much a work of art as it is a place to stay, the Marques De Riscal Hotel in Northern Spain was designed by renowned Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry, also responsible for Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.
Located in the midst of the country’s famous Rioja producing region, this five-star hotel caters to lovers of good food and wine, with a wine cellar and two fine dining venues including the Michelin-starred Marqués de Riscal Restaurant.
Titanium panels have been designed to reflect the flow and ebb of Rioja, with several tinged a delicate pink to represent the faint burgundy stain of the region’s world famous drink.
Safari Skyline: Loisaba Wilderness, Kenya
For fans of the great outdoors, there is nothing better than getting back to nature. And it’s unlikely that you could ever get much closer than sleeping under the stars in the Kenyan bush.
At Loisaba Wilderness ranch, you can relax under the African skies as you keep an eye out for bush animals – including lions, elephants, zebra and buffalo.
The wildlife retreat’s Kiboko and Koija Star Beds take ‘glamping’ to a whole new level, with an added safari twist. These ‘Mukokoteni’ bedsteads on raised platforms offer breathtaking views in an intimate, adventurous setting. But fear not – a team of traditional Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai warriors are always nearby to protect you from any tricky animal encounters.
Treetop Luxury: Chewton Glen, Hampshire, UK
Based on the edge of New Forest National Park in the Hampshire countryside, Chewton Glen Country House Hotel & Spa offers its guests the chance to stay in a luxury treehouse quite unlike any experienced in childhood.
Constructed in a secluded wooded valley near to the main hotel, these super sophisticated treehouses are built on stilts and offer floor to ceiling panoramic views from within the forest canopy. The Treehouse Hideaway Suite also features an outdoor hot tub on its terrace deck. Treehouse glamour in all its glory.