Some travelers think that the place where you lay your head on the road is just that – a place to sleep, or change clothes. But there are some trips where the accommodations are the main attraction. To the more daring traveler, the flower-quilted double bed and lacquered furniture of a typical hotel room is just plain boring. For the intrepid, quirky and adventurous globetrotter, here are 18 unique hotels from around the world.
1. Hotel Ještěd, Czech Republic
Czech architect Karel Hubáček
is responsible for the retro-futuristic tower rising over 300 ft (91m) above majestic Ještěd mountain. The building itself has a futuristic flare (or at least “the future” according to the 60s) both inside and out.
The tower was designed to naturally extend the silhouette of the mountain it tops, but isn’t merely decorative. It is a television transmitter, built to withstand the extreme climate.
Built between 1966 and 1973, the Ještěd Tower was awarded the Perret Prize, an honor bestowed by the International Union of Architects. Below the tower is a hotel and restaurant, both of which embraced the “space age” motif with rounded egg chairs hanging from ceilings and gold-tinted lighting, everything decidedly round.
The view is one of the most breathtaking in all of the Czech Republic, looking out over parts of Germany and Poland, and the majority of Bohemia.
You can reach the hotel by either walking or driving up the mountain or using a cable car. It is the location used in the movie “Grandhotel,” if you’d like to get a sneak peek before hauling yourself up to the top of the hill. [link
2. Giraffe Manor, Kenya
The Giraffe Manor, built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan, is surrounded by 140 acres (57ha) of its own park and forest thirty minutes from the centre of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, with superb views of the Ngong Hills. In 1974 Jock Leslie-Melville, grandson of a Scots earl, and his American wife Betty, who also founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), bought the Manor.
They then moved two highly endangered baby Rothschild giraffe to the estate, where they thrived and have produced several further generations of giraffe.
Travellers from all over the world now make The Giraffe Manor part of their East African Safari. Some spend a week here and The Giraffe Manor has many repeat guests, who have become old friends. Personally hosted, The Giraffe Manor is an elegant and exclusive small hotel with a rich blend of welcoming accommodation, highly trained staff and one of Nairobi’s finest kitchens.
The Giraffe Manor also offers a uniquely untouched wilderness on the doorstep of one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities, the adjoining Jock Leslie-Melville Nature Education Centre, better known as the Giraffe Centre. Guided walks through its primeval forest enable you to learn about traditional uses of the varied flora, view some of the 180 bird species and perhaps meet a warthog or bushbuck. [link, map]
3. Marqués de Riscal, Spain
Nestled in the renowned Vinos de los Herederos del Marques de Riscal’s vineyard in the medieval village of Elciego (Basque Country, northern Spain), the hotel’s spectacular curves, titanium roof and asymmetry of walls provide an elegant contrast to the historic wine cellars designed in 1858 by the architect Ricardo Bellsola.
The hotel’s 43 luxury rooms and suites, each unique and different in their shapes and offered views, are “thrown” in two wings connected by a spectacular suspended footbridge.
All stylish rooms at the Hotel Marqués de Riscal feature a distinctive zig-zag window seat with views of the valley. There is a plasma TV in each room and the black marble bathrooms come with a hairdryer.
The Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa offers a range of grape-based treatments. There is also an indoor pool, hammam, fitness centre and massage services. At the top of the hotel there is a rooftop library-lounge and a wine bar. You can enjoy panoramic views from here or from the 8 terraces. [link1, link2, map]
4. Inntel Hotel, Netherlands
The new Inntel hotel in Zaandam is without a shadow of a doubt, the main eye-stopper in the revamped town centre and a building that has set many tongues wagging in the Netherlands.
The iconic green wooden houses of the Zaan region were the fount of inspiration for the hotel’s designer, Wilfried van Winden (WAM architecten, Delft). The structure is a lively stacking of various examples of these traditional houses, ranging from a notary’s residence to a worker’s cottage.
Providing 160 guest rooms, the hotel also offers a bar-restaurant, a swimming pool, and a wellness centre with a Finnish sauna and a Turkish bath. The hotel tower, with a footprint that is well-nigh square, is almost forty metres tall (130ft) and has eleven floors.
Constructed of timber and Eternit fibre cement cladding, the edifice is expressive, with varied fenestration, wide protruding sections, and elegant white eaves and barge-boards. [link, map]
5. Sarova Saltlick Game Lodge, Kenya
A thrilling destination for the true wildlife enthusiast, this unique hotel combines responsible ecotourism with amazing proximity to wildlife.
This catering establishment is located in the midst of the Taita Hills Sanctuary, a private wildlife conservancy at the foot of the Taita Hills bordering Tsavo West National Park, approx. six hours drive from Nairobi or three and a half hours from Mombasa.
The hotel is made up of rooms on stilts above watering holes, connected by walkways, meaning guests have close up visual access to the game below.
The 96 rooms
are comfortably furnished and built on two storeys, with many enjoying uninterrupted views of the waterhole below. [link
6. The Marmara Antalya, Turkey
Located on the famous Falez cliffs near Antalya, the world’s only revolving hotel building gives guests magnificent 360° views.
The complete ‘Revolving Loft’ annex building moves, with a full rotation of it’s 24 guest bedrooms taking anywhere between 2 and 22 hours. The rotation is smooth, aided by 6 electric motors in the basement and you can go to sleep facing the sea and wake up facing the pool.
This 2750 ton building floats in a tank holding only 478 tons of water. With the 3 bottommost floors submerged, there is a lounge at the entrance and rooms on the other 3 floors. Yet somehow, the taps still work and the toilets still flush.
It is an impressive feat of engineering design. The complete hotel consists of 238 originally designed rooms. [link, map]
7. Sun Cruise Hotel, South Korea
Perched high above the shores on the costal cliff in Jeongdongjin, a South Korean tourist town known for having the best view of the sunrise, is a cruise ship that appears to have been mysteriously transported from the sea. That is Sun Cruise Resort & Yacht – the world’s first on-land cruise themed resort.
The hotel measures 165 metres (540ft) in length, 45 metres (150ft) in height, and 30,000 tons in weight. The Sun Cruise Resort has 211 rooms, both condominium and hotel style, a Western and a Korean restaurant, revolving sky lounge, a karaoke, and sea water pool. It also offers six state-of-the-art function rooms for seminars and workshops.
The resort was designed to give tourists a realistic feel of a cruise ship without the motion sickness. Overhead speakers play sounds of crashing waves around the ship and even bird calls.
Opened in 2002, it quickly became one of the most popular attractions in South Korea. You can enjoy the whole experience for only £45.12 a night (80,000 South Korean Won). [link, map]
8. King Pacific Lodge, Canada
King Pacific Lodge is considered as the only hotel in the world, where visitors can float on the water while they sleep during a rest, unlike cruise ships this hotel is a comfortable and unique as it passes through one of the largest nature reserves in the world, Princess Royal Island, Canada – a place full of flora and fauna.
King Pacific Lodge provides the ultimate in luxury adventure travel and ecotourism vacations from its location in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Open from May to October, this lodge provides numerous adventure travel excursions such as kayaking, heli-hiking, wildlife tours, fly-fishing and much more.
The trip to King Pacific Lodge alone is magnificent. The resort is only accessible by float planeand the lodge is located in one of the few untouched wilderness areas of the world.
The Great Bear Rainforest protects some of the most endangered animals such as the Spirit Bear, pods of Orca whales, Kermode, bald eagles and wolves. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking mountains, streams, unspoiled forests, and glistening lakes upon their visit and feel the miracle of nature. [link, map]
9. The Ocean Flower, Maldives
The Ocean Flower, a pioneering development that takes its name from a typical Maldivian flower, is the first of five spectacular oceanfront developments in the Maldives. The Masterplan “The 5 Lagoons” is being developed by Dutch Docklands International in a joint venture with the government of the Maldives.
All developments are uniquely located in the most upmarket part of the Maldives, the North Male atoll, only 20 minutes by boat from the capitol of Male and the international airport.
The Ocean Flower offers an array of amenities such as a pristine beach, restaurants, shops, a diving centre, a spa, swimming pools and small private islands where you can relax or enjoy a picnic in the gentle ocean breeze. The spacious oceanfront villas are fully furnished, have spacious terraces and a private plunge pool and are just a short boat ride away from the international airport. [link, map]
10. Hippo Point, Kenya
This delicate 115 foot (40m) Kenyan Cypress-clad pagoda stands 50 ft (12m) wide at its base and offers 4 double rooms and a single inside the nine storey construction. Nestling within the surrounding yellow acacia ‘fever’ trees that surround much of Lake Naivasha, the design is completely accepted by wildlife, fooling short sighted hippopotami to think that the Tower is part and parcel of the landscape, a towering yellow acacia itself.
The top of the tower provides a 360 degree observation lookout, while a floor below is a minaret-style room, furnished with big cushions and a surround view. The middle tiers of the tower offer bedrooms with crisp Russian linens and covered verandas. Down spiral stairs and you reach a mahogany paneled lounge and drawing room, spectacularly original, yet luxuriously functional.
Completed in 1993, Hippo Point is the eccentric folly of Dodo Cunningham-Reid, who wanted to build something special in Kenya for herself and others to enjoy. [link, map]
11. Hotel Unique, Brazil
Hotel Unique in Sao Paulo is one of the best hotels in the world, and one that truly deserves its name “Unique”. With a contemporary design – looks like a steel and glass boat – Hotel Unique reverberates in the Sao Paulo skyline. The hotel has been designed by Ruy Ohtake, and the architecture is both challenging outside, and inside. The entire hotel has been conceived to surprise and delight guests, from the lobby to the rooftop lounge bar.
Hotel Unique has 95 rooms and suites. Each one of them benefits from specific touches that make it a little special. Such as curved wall, or round shaped windows just like on cruise liners. The equipment in the rooms is top of the range, and the décor is warm. Interior decoration mixes wood and metal work in an inspiring fashion. Hotel Unique is not just an architectural wonder, but also a place where service counts.
|Sky bar with swimming pool on the hotel roof link
And guests will find this hotel is also very unique in this sense. Constant attention, excellent food, and the rooftop bar lounge make this hotel a very hip location for trendy paulistas and business people alike. The view over the city is stunning, especially at night. [link, map]
12. The Ariau Amazon Towers, Brazil
The Ariau Towers is a boutique hotel northwest of Manaus, Brazil, on the Rio Negro, a major tributary of the Amazon River. It consists of 7 towers, with all 288 rooms elevated from the rain forest floor by approximately 10-20m (33-66ft) and connected by approximates 5 miles (8.0 km) of catwalks.
The hotel has 288 units split amongst apartments, suites (located in the towers) and tree houses. The tallest of the units, the Tarzan House, is built on top of a living Mahogony tree, at the height of 22 m (72ft) from the ground. The towers are interlinked by a wooden catwalk system of approximately 5 miles (8.0 km), all within the canopy of the rainforest.
|Walkway to main towers link
Other facilities within these tree tops include 2 swimming pools, two observation towers 134 ft (41 m) high and a panoramic auditorium for 450 people. There are also restaurants serving regional foods, bars and convenience stores.
|Playing with a pink dolphin link
The hotel has various tours available within the forest, such as canoe walk, jungle walk, piranha fishing, visit to native’s houses, and observation of nightlife animals. Visitors can also observe the Meeting of the Waters
, where the Rio Negro and the Solimoes River meet, but because of density and different temperatures don’t get mixed. The separate shades of water run side by side for a length of more than four miles (6 km) without mixing. Macaws and various breeds of native and non-native monkeys are common around the towers, and provide much entertainment to the tourists. [link
13. Spitbank Fort Hotel, UK
Spitbank Fort is a small luxury hotel in a Victorian-era sea fort off the coast of Portsmouth, England. The fort is one of four located in the Solent – a strait that separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.
Spitbank Fort Hotel is now home to nine luxury guest rooms, three bars, three restaurants, rooftop champagne bar, wine cellar, library, rooftop hot pool, sauna and sun decks. Many of the fort’s original features have been retained, featuring exposed brick walls, fortress windows and a couple of old cannons.
The lavishly decorated rooms at in Spitbank Fort use the original exposed brick and vaulted ceilings to create a contemporary style. Guests at Spitbank have the choice of 8 bedroom suites, all with en suite facilities and far-reaching sea views across the Solent.
|Loft of Spitbank fort link
Guests have the choice of a free cruise on a luxury catamaran which takes about 15 minutes traveling by the Portsmouth Naval Base and Historic Dockyards, or those who like a thrill can be taken on a fast rib ride. While on Spitbank, guests have a variety of living spaces and rooftop areas in which to relax and enjoy the sea air. [link, map]
14. The Balancing Barn Hotel, UK
Find a little balance in this precariously perched hotel. The Balancing Barn was designed by the Dutch firm MVRDV , who have won a world-wide reputation for the ingenuity, playfulness and comfort of their designs.
The Balancing Barn stands on the edge of a tranquil nature reserve a few miles inland from theSuffolk coast, near the historic towns of Walberswick and Aldeburgh.
Clad in elegant silver tiles, the house dramatically cantilevers over the landscape, providing views from its huge panoramic windows over woods, ponds and meadows.
The Barn is 30 meters (98ft) long, with a 15 meter (49ft) cantilever over a slope, plunging the house headlong into nature. The reason for this spectacular setting is the linear experience of nature. As the site slopes, and the landscape with it, the visitor experiences nature first at ground level and ultimately at tree height. The linear structure provides the stage for a changing outdoor experience. [link1, link2]
15. Desert Lotus Hotel, Mongolia
A magnificent new hotel has bloomed amid the vast sea of sands in Xiangshawan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 800 kilometers (500mi) west to Beijing. Named the “Desert Lotus Hotel”, the structure consist of repeating triangular white tent tops, rotated 45 degrees and connected together in a circular formation like a lotus.
Free of tiles and bricks for construction, the resort is built with low carbon environment friendly materials to utilize solar, water and wind energy in the desert, reducing environmental pollution and strengthening ecology protection. Load bearing walls give the structure the bulk of its structural integrity, while a dazzling array of repeating triangular panels provide shade and protection from the harsh elements.
Due to the restriction by its special geographic condition, PLaT Architects invented a new structural system that fix in fluid sands using only steel panels without the help of concrete or water. The panels and the supporting skeleton structures are pre-fabricated, and make the base of the building a large container for sands. Thus, the steel panel structure can function as a boat floating on desert that carries the building. The sands in and out of the structure exert same forces to each other, and thus it is flexibly stabilized.
The hotel is part of a new resort built amid a vast sea of sand dunes, increasingly popular withChinese tourists. The resort hosts Mongolian-themed performances, camel rides, desert surfing, and more. [link]
16. Lake Palace, India
Lake Palace is a luxury hotel, of 83 rooms and suites featuring white marble walls, located on a natural foundation of 4 acres (16,000 m2)rock on the Jag Niwas is land in Lake Pichola, Udaipur, India.
The hotel operates a speed boat which transports guests to the hotel from a jetty at the City Palace. It has been voted as the most romantic hotel in India and in the world.
The upper room of the palace is a perfect circle and is about 21 feet (6.4 m) in diameter. Its floor is inlaid with black and white marbles, the walls are ornamented with niches and decorated with arabesques of different colored stones dome is exquisitely beautiful in form.
It was built in 1743 – 1746 under the direction of the Maharana Jagat Singh II (62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar) of Udaipur, Rajasthan as a royal summer palace and was initially called Jagniwas or Jan Niwas after its founder. The successive rulers used this cool haven as their summer resort, holding their regal durbars in its courtyards lined with columns, pillared terraces, fountains and gardens.
In 1971, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces took over management of the hotel and added another 75 rooms. Jamshyd D. F. Lam of the Taj Group was one of the key people involved in the restoration of the original property, bringing it to such high standards with his work and experience & was also the first General manager there & the youngest at that time in India. In 2000, a second restoration was undertaken. The “Royal Butlers” working in the hotel are descendants of the original palace retainers. [link, map]
17. Magic Mountain Hotel, Chile
Though the hotel is shaped like a volcano, spews water from its top, has a cable bridge leading to its front door, and often has an fantastic covering of moss and plant life making it look like a hobbit home, what makes the Magic Mountain Hotel truly magical is its location.
Located within the Huilo Huilo Private Natural Reserve, the hotel is nestled among the natural world. Among the things at the reserve are the Huilo-Huilo Falls, Pudu, the world’s smallest deer species, and the longest zip line system in South America. The Magic Mountain Hotel itself is built from local wood and stone and each of the nine rooms are equipped with modern amenities, large windows to look out at the forest, and each room is named after a different local species of bird.
Among the offerings of the hotel are hot tubs “made out of huge trunks of trees, dug out, and then filled with hot water perched on a deck overlooking the forest.” A mini golf course is built into the forest itself, using the natural world as the obstacles, and there are various outdoor activities such as horseback riding, rafting, and hiking. [link]
18. Hotel Arbez, France/Switzerland
The Arbez Hotel is a small two star hotel located in the quite border town of La Cure, five miles north of Geneva. A nice, cozy little place built in the nineteenth century in alpine style with wooden beams and country kitchen, and located a thousand feet above sea level – a popular resting place for cross-country skiers. The hotel looks normal except for one small detail – it is located exactly on the border between France and Switzerland and is probably the only hotel on this planet to do so. The dining room, kitchen, gift shop, hallways and several rooms are crossed by the international border, in a case unique to the world.
The hotel’s history dates back to the nineteenth century. In 1862, the Swiss and French Governments agree to a modification of the border in the Valley of the Dappes; the Treaty, named after the Valley, was signed on December 8, 1862, The text of the treaty states that no building existing at the time of ratification will be affected by the modification of the border. Taking advantage of this, a clever businessman, Monsieur Ponthus, built a building in an area of their property which was on both sides of the new border, with the intention of doing cross-border business. The building was put up in record time before the treaty went into effect on February 1863. When the treaty was ratified by the Swiss government, the three-story building was already complete and thus not affected by the new border. Ponthus opened a bar on the French side and a shop in Switzerland. The store was there until 1921 when Jules-Jean Arbeze purchased the building and turned it into Franco-Suisse hotel that stands now. [link, map]