With travel becoming more and more accessible, it’s becoming increasingly common to seek out the quirkiest, most unique places around the world; the kind of places none of your friends have visited before. And with a massive surge in popularity for travel bloggers, and Instagrammers, more and more locations around the world are jumping on the “unique” bandwagon, to create fantastical and often silly places to stay. Here’s our round-up of the best ones – including a hotel shaped like a boot and a vintage plane that sits 50m above ground. Enjoy.
The Boot B&B, Nelson – New Zealand
Ever heard the story of the old woman who lived in a boot? Bet you wanted to be just like her when you grew up. Come on, admit it, everyone loved that little old lady, who lived in a shoe and had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. Well, exciting news, because now you can act out this fantasy and actually stay in a boot. Well, a hotel that’s shaped like a boot – but the same thing.
The Boot B&B in New Zealand is a wonderfully imaginative hideaway for two, complete with wooden spiral staircase, exposed timber beams, a cosy fireplace, and breakfast delivered to your door every morning, it really is like something out of an old nursery rhyme. Surrounded by private, floral gardens, there’s nowhere better to sit back and enjoy the New Zealand sunshine.
Located near Nelson, the area is renowned for its beautiful surroundings, sophisticated art, and immense culture. One of New Zealand’s most “liveable” cities, if you want a summer retreat, this is the place to get it.
Woodlyn Park, Waitomo – New Zealand
Fancy a night in a hobbit hole reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy? Well at Woodlyn Park you can stay at the world’s first hobbit motel, with an underground hotel inspired by Bilbo Baggins’ home. But that’s not all; Woodlyn Park is a working farm that holds a number of different, eclectic (to say the least) properties, all of which you can stay in.
There’s a WWII patrol boat, a converted railway carriage, and a converted 1950s Bristol freighter plane. One of the last allies’ planes put of Vietnam, it has been transformed into two self-contained motel rooms, one in the cockpit unit, and another at the tail end of the plane.
Treehotel, Harads – Sweden
Not your typical children’s treehouse, the Treehotel in Harads has been transformed by its architects into someth8ing strange, futuristic, and totally out place. But in a good way. Each cabin is unique, perfectly camouflaged with the outside walls made of mirrors, to reflect the surroundings. There’s even one suite that looks like it’s made entirely out of Lego bricks and another that resembles a flying saucer.
Found in Lappland, known as Europe’s last true wilderness, there’s a fantastic mountain range on the horizon, an endless forest, and countless lakes to enjoy any number of activities. Go on a hunt for reindeer or explore the culture of the reindeer herders’ centuries-old way of life, all while wandering down deserted roads and streets, completely at one with nature.
With the changing seasons comes different natural phenomena; in summer there is the permanent light of the midnight sun, while in winter the night is lit up with the eerily haunting glow of the Northern Lights.
Golden Crown Levin Iglut, Levi – Finland
It’s not often that you’d think a stay in a glass igloo, completely on view for the outside world (there are curtains, but still) would be the best place to stay, but when you’re in one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, you really want to make the most of it. The Golden Crown Levin Iglut is a collection of 18 glass igloos, accommodating couples or families, and creating a magical winter wonderland atmosphere despite technically being on show to the world. The rustic design and small fireplace make you feel completely isolated, as you sit and wait to see one of the most incredible natural wonders.
Levi itself is one of Finland’s most popular ski resorts, giving you plenty of things to entertain yourself with as you wait for the Northern Lights. There’s also great hiking routes during the autumn season, and come December time people flock to the area in the hope of seeing Father Christmas with his reindeer.
Hotel Costa Verde, Provincia de Puntarenas – Costa Rica
Ever fancied sleeping in a plane, in the middle of a jungle canopy, 50 feet above the ground? Probably not, but you can. Hotel Costa Verde in Costa Rica is exactly that: a refurbished, 1965 vintage Boeing 727. No one’s quite sure how the hotel owners got the plane mounted on the edge of a jungle cliff, but the fact is they managed it, and you can stay in it. It’s all very Jurassic Park vibes (if you’ve seen the third movie, you’ll know what I mean).
The hotel’s slogan is “still more monkeys than people” which honestly only encourages me to want to go more, but the fact is this is a hotel you don’t want to miss – whether you like monkeys or not. The two-bedroom luxury guesthouse is completely panelled with local teak, while the windows offer amazing jungle and ocean views. There’s even a patio terrace on the plane’s wings.
The closest coastal town to San José, Provincia de Puntarenas was once a coffee-exporting gateway to the Pacific, and now enjoys a calmer, more relaxed pace, complete with beachfront sodas and a busy marketplace.
Cabana Floripa, Florinaoplis – Brazil
This two-bedroom cabin is quite literally like staying in a piece of art; the fantastic colours and design will amaze you for your entire stay, while the 360-degree glass gives off the illusion that you’re levitating above the mountaintop. Absolutely crammed with colour, the cabin was designed to be completely eco-friendly, reusing demolition material and glass bottles in order to create the unique style and interior design.
Florianopolis itself is an enchanting island off the coast of Brazil that should feature on everyone’s bucket lists; this luxurious destination is full of pristine beaches, great surfing spots, and amazing food. Indeed, there are over 40 beaches on the island, and a very distinctive “end of the world” atmosphere.
Book and Bed, Tokyo – Japan
Harry Potter may have slept in a cupboard under the stairs, but we’ve found Hermione Granger’s perfect little hideaway: a bed tucked away in an actual bookshelf. Book and Bed describe itself as “an accommodation bookshop”, and it’s not the kind of hotel you visit if you want to get a good night’s sleep (not often a selling point for a hotel but there you go).
Here, you’ll find your bed hidden among a bookshelf crammed full of all the reading material you could desire – in English and Japanese. There’s no comfortable mattresses, fluffy pillows, or comfy duvets, just the promise of the best experience any book lover could ask for: the experience of feeling your eyes grow heavier and heavier as you force yourself to stay awake and read “just one more page”, before dozing off completely obliviously. It’s the blissful “instant of falling asleep”, a veritable heaven for any avid reader.
This is not a luxurious getaway – far from it – but this themed hotel focuses on creating a cosy, inclusive environment where you can relax in the best possible way, creating the greatest moment of sleep.
Hang Nga ‘Crazy House’, Dalat – Vietnam
The Hang Nga guesthouse is known as ”Crazy House” thanks to its twisting, tree-like design, complete with animal sculptures dotted around the property. According to local knowledge, the architect was inspired to bring people back to nature and remind them to always appreciate the environment. Each room is decorated according to its own animal theme, connected with a series of ladders, bridges, and tunnel passageways. From outside, it looks like a giant tree, with different aspects relating to things typically found in nature: mushrooms, animals, spider webs, and caves.
“Crazy House” can be found in Dalat, the honeymoon capital of Vietnam. Decidedly not like anything you would expect from Vietnam, this town is dotted with French-colonial villas, strawberry fields, and coffee plantations, all of which can be enjoyed in a spring-like temperature – rather than the tropical heat expected from a south Asian country.
Dalat takes romance seriously, and it’s here you’ll find the Eiffel tower-shaped radio tower (thanks to the French influences), horse-drawn carriages, and colourful heart-shaped cut-outs at the Valley of Love (yes, real place). But it’s also incredibly popular with adventurists; from canyoning to white-water rafting, mountain biking and everything in between, there really is something for everyone. All while staying in one of the weirdest hotels you can find.
Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts – USA
Ever wanted to stay in what was once a jail? Probably not. But you should, because the Liberty Hotel in Boston is exactly that, and it’s so vibey. The former home of the likes of Malcolm X and James Curley (a previous mayor of Boston), Charles Street jail was built in 1851 and closed in 1990 due to overcrowding. Just under twenty years later, it was transformed into a luxury hotel, maintaining a lot of its original structure – and parts of the real jail. There’s even the option to drink at the bar that was once a drunk tank (part of a jail that specifically accommodates people who are intoxicated).
Just as the Liberty Hotel has its own history, so too does the city of Boston; the “Athens of America”, Boston’s history is one of revolution and transformation, and it has become one of America’s most forward-thinking cities. It’s a place where you can find some of the biggest sports fanatics in the world, as well as more seafood than you could ever hope to eat in one lifetime. A city full of opposites, Boston is the oldest city in America, and the cultural history is sure to capture your heart.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Florida – USA
The only hotel in the world that requires you to scuba dive down to get checked in and grab your room key, Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Florida is at the bottom of the Emerald Lagoon, six feet underwater. Once a marine research lab, it’s now been converted into a unique hotel, sleeping six people inside the futuristic space. It comes with showers, microwaves, and a fridge, plus it opens directly onto the seabed, through a pressure-balanced wet room.
The real attraction though is the fish; essentially a goldfish bowl in reverse, Jules’ Undersea Lodge is the perfect place to sit and watch angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers peering at you through the window. Think of it like a goldfish bowl for humans, and that should help keep the claustrophobia at bay.
Santos Express, Mossel Bay – South Africa
A 1920s passenger train isn’t the first place you’d think of when thinking about accommodation for your holiday, but that’s exactly what you get at the Santos Express in Mossel Bay, South Africa. Just a 10-minute walk from the Dias Museum complex, and downtown Mossel Bay, you’ll find a converted train containing four passenger cars with double beds, ocean views, and shared baths. There’s also a fifth car with 16 bunk beds for backpackers and larger groups, as well as two Royal Suite cars for complete privacy.
Mossel Bay itself is perfect for surfing, with some pretty great beaches, and a massive range of outdoorsy activities that include swimming, whale-watching, boardwalk shopping and scuba diving.
Manta Resort, Pemba Island – Zanzibar
Pemba Island itself is a pretty unique place to stay: a remote island surrounded by pristine waters, offering some of the best diving locations in South Africa. But, if you want to make your stay even more incredible, book an underwater room at the Manta Resort, and sleep below the water’s surface surrounded by colourful reef fish that’ll swim right past your bedroom window.
These incredible views can be enjoyed 24/7, thanks to spotlights under the windows that can be turned on to attract various fish and octopus, and there’s also a rooftop patio that’s perfect for sunbathing – or stargazing at night.
Pemba Island has been overshadowed by Zanzibar Island for years, but it’s now finally getting the recognition it deserves. And with a landscape full of mangroves and lagoons, idyllic beaches, coral reefs and more, it’s no surprise more and more people are making the trek across the channel from Zanzibar – and they’re never disappointed.
Your hotel is one of the most important parts of a holiday; without a good night’s sleep and an enjoyable place to relax at the end of a day spent travelling and exploring, you’ll find yourself getting exhausted very quickly. But at these hotels, it’s the rooms you’re staying in that form part of the adventure in themselves. They’re quirky and often downright weird, but they make for some great dinner party stories.