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The Most Unusual Hotels in the World

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Fancy heading off somewhere a little different on your travels? Sick of the usual drab hotels or mundane apartments? Well, there are plenty of places around the world that will get you out of your comfort zone, ranging from the slightly quirky to the out-and-out bonkers (we're looking at you, giant wooden beagle).

I was on The Nicky Byrne Show with Jenny Greene this morning, talking about some of my favourite unusual hotels around the world. You can listen back to the segment here, and read on to find out more about the spots we talked about...

Book and Bed, Tokyo

This hostel opened just over a year ago, and is pegged as an "accommodation bookshop". The beds are set into a giant bookshelf – you sleep in a single bunk in cubbyhole, surrounded by 1,700 books (and other guests). If you're a book lover, this place is a dream come true. 
Price: A compact bed is 3,800yen - €31. A standard bed is around €39.

Treehotel, Sweden

Forget everything you thought you knew about tree houses - the ones at Treehotel are nothing like the den you cobbled together as a kid. Each has its own unique look, from the suite designed to look like a bird nest, to the giant mirrored cube that appears almost invisible at the right angle. There’s even one that looks like a UFO. All of the tree-rooms are 4 – 6m off the ground, pitched in the middle of a tall pine forest overlooking a river, and accessible by ramp, bridge, or electric stairs
Price: From around €518 a night.

A Cave Hotel in Italy

There are a few amazing cave hotels around the world, from a whitewashed luxury affair in Santorini, to a spooky, fairy-tale one in Turkey. But Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita in Matera is endlessly chic and stylish. The caves are prehistoric and were once crumbling, but were painstakingly restored, brick by brick over ten years, to create the luxurious suites you'll find today. Candlelit alcoves, private balconies, and honey-hued stone abound. Oh, and the bathtubs are killer, too.
Price: From €140

Ice Hotel, Sweden

Icehotel is built from scratch every year in the depths of the Swedish countryside, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. The suites are incredible and designed by different artists, who carve intricate designs into the walls and beds; there are even armchairs carved out of the ice. You sleep on a proper mattress, which is covered in reindeer hides and a thermal sleeping bag.  The temperature is around -5 to -8 degrees Celsius, but they wake you in the morning with a hot lingonberry juice before you jump into a sauna to warm your cockles.
Price: Prices in March are around €430)

Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho, USA


There's no fudging this one - it is, quite literally, a giant, wooden beagle. There are two storeys inside, and it was designed by the owners, who are chainsaw artists (they made much of the furniture inside, too). The doggy theme continues inside - the headboard of the bed is covered in 26 carved wooden beagles. Unsurprisingly, you can bring your dog!
Price: $124 a night (€115)

Giraffe Manor, Kenya

This has long been on my ultimate hotel wishlist - sometimes I look at the pictures, just to get a little misty-eyed with longing. From the outside, it looks like it's just a gorgeous country home, but the real wonder comes when you meet the locals - a group of Rothschild giraffes who roam the grounds. In the morning, they'll poke their heads through the window to say hello, or to try and nab a bite of your breakfast. Giraffe Manor is part of The Safari Collection, who has 4 beautiful lodges all around Kenya. A visit to the Giraffe Centre next door is a must - hand in hand, both locations have brought this beautiful animal back from the brink of extinction. 
Price: From $550pp, full board. (€510) 

Underwater Hotel

If you fancy a night spent with Under The Sea constantly playing in your head, you'll want to pay a visit to The Manta Resort in Pemba Island, Tanzania - specifically, to their exclusive underwater suite. The bedroom itself is below the water's edge, but there are three levels in all, including the roof (from which you can jump off into the sea). There are spotlights under the water come nightfall, so you can see all the reef fish swimming (including a trumpet fish called Nick who is always nosing around). It's 250m from the shore, so you nip out on a speedboat, and they deliver your sundowners, breakfast, dinner etc. For a once-in-a-lifetime treat, it can't be beaten. 
Price: $1500 a night (€1390)

Plane Hotel, Costa Rica

There are more than a few Lost vibes to this one – the 1965 vintage Boeing 727 plane at Costa Verde has been converted into a two bedroom suite, set into the tree tops, poking 50ft out of the rainforest canopy. The views are absolutely amazing, and it's strong on adventure sports - you can go ziplining, white water rafting, waterfall climbing on site.
Price: From $260 (€240)

Prison hotels

I’m not sure why anyone would willingly spend the night in prison, but there are plenty of hotels around the world that let you do just that. One of the more luxurious options is the Malmaison in Oxford. The 14th century prison closed in 1996 and was used as a film set for shows like Bad Girls, before opening in 2006 in its new incarnation. Cells were combined to create the bedrooms, which have beautiful curved ceilings and super plush furnishings. 
Price: From £120 (€140)


If you want to have a browse at various wacky hotels around the world, take a look at www.gounusual.com, where you can find a multitude of unique places to stay. 

(All pictures above taken from the individual websites linked)

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