Shelling out for accommodation can break your travel budget, especially if you decide to treat yourself to a hotel stay. After a week of camping or a stretch of hostel hopping, however, there’s almost nothing you wouldn’t pay for a private shower and a night of uninterrupted sleep. You might remember a particularly cozy bed or powerful shower head, but beyond a couple of added amenities, one hotel is pretty much like another, right?
Wrong. The world is full of quirky, original and utterly captivating hotels that make spending the night an experience you won’t soon forget. Next time you’re tempted to pull into the first chain that offers you a bar of free soap, check around to see whether there’s an independent close by that can give you something a little extra for your money. Here are a few examples to get you started.
1. Bombay Peggy’s, Yukon, Canada
Dawson City was founded during the Klondike gold rush and remains home to about 1,500 residents of Canada’s Yukon Territory. That’s where you’ll find this former brothel with nine rooms that are still decorated in fine Victorian fashion. Spend a night in the Lipstick Room and wander down to the bar where you’ll find the best martini menu north of the 60th parallel.
2. The Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine
This tongue-in-cheek tribute to the famous “Waldorf” is located just 500 meters from the checkpoint to Jerusalem. It was set up and financed by Banksy and every room is itself a work of art. Accommodations range from shared rooms furnished with Israeli surplus military beds to a presidential suite with its own home cinema and tiki bar. The Walled Off is weird, wonderful, and promises to surprise.
3. Golden Crown Levin Iglut, Levi, Finland
Sleeping in an igloo may not sound all that inviting – unless you happen to be staying in one made entirely of glass. Enjoy spectacular views of the night sky and aurora borealis from the comfort of bed through glazing that is specially insulated to keep the view from frosting over.
4. Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica
What do you do with that old Boeing 727 that’s just lying around in the front yard? Well, you could turn it into a two-bedroom guesthouse perched 50 feet above the Costa Rican rain forest. Hotel Costa Verde offers just that, plus a pub tucked into a C-123 Fairchild cargo plane. Heaven for flight fanatics and a truly memorable stay for everyone else.
5. Palacio De Sal, Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
If you live on the edge of the world’s largest salt flats, you might as well make use of the local materials. This hotel, including 30 guestrooms and all the furnishings, is made entirely of salt. Escape to this remote part of Bolivia for star filled skies and days of absolute serenity.
This is just a taste of what’s available if you find the time to do a little research before you take off. Sure, some of these hotels are in the luxury price-range, but many others (like the Walled Off) have rooms to suit more modest budgets. At Das Parkhotel in Germany, you can stay in a private section of cement pipe, complete with a double bed, and pay whatever you can afford. How about sleeping in the cab of a fully functional crane in the Netherlands, beneath the sea in Fiji, or under the glistening roof of Sweden’s famed ice hotel?
No matter how fanciful, your dream hotel is out there somewhere, just waiting to be discovered and tucked away in your expanding pool of memories. And chances are, that’s just not going to happen at the Super 8.