Top 20 Unusual Hotels: From Plane, Ice, Salt to Giraffes

Travel is often about discovering the new and the extraordinary. In the realm of hospitality, some hotels go beyond the usual comforts and amenities, offering experiences that are as unique as they are memorable. From sleeping in an igloo under the Northern Lights to sharing breakfast with giraffes, these hotels provide not just a place to stay, but a venture into the extraordinary.

Here's a curated list of some of the world’s most unusual hotels, each promising an unforgettable stay. From underwater suites to hotels crafted from salt, these establishments redefine the concept of a 'night's stay'.

1. Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Nestled in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi, the Icehotel is a marvel of ice and snow. Constructed afresh each year from the ice of the nearby Torne River, this ephemeral hotel features intricately carved rooms, an ice bar, and even a chapel. Guests sleep in thermal sleeping bags atop beds made of ice, surrounded by stunning ice sculptures.

2. Costa Verde, Costa Rica

Perched on the edge of a coastal rainforest in Costa Rica, the Costa Verde Hotel offers a unique experience in its 727 Fuselage Home. This vintage Boeing 727 airframe has been transformed into a luxurious two-bedroom suite, complete with handcrafted furnishings and panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and ocean.

3. No Man’s Fort, England

Located off the coast of Portsmouth, No Man’s Fort is a Victorian-era sea fort turned luxury hotel. This isolated retreat offers a blend of historical charm and modern luxury, with facilities including a rooftop pool, a spa, and even a laser tag arena.

4. Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya

In the suburbs of Nairobi lies Giraffe Manor, a boutique hotel famous for its resident herd of Rothschild giraffes. These gentle giants often poke their heads into the windows during breakfast, allowing guests to interact with them up close.

5. The Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Tanzania

The Manta Resort offers an underwater room anchored off the coast of Pemba Island. This floating structure features a bedroom four meters below the surface, offering 360-degree views of the marine life in the surrounding coral reef.

6. Das Park Hotel, Austria

Das Park Hotel in Austria turns the concept of luxury on its head. It offers minimalist accommodation in repurposed concrete sewage pipes. Each cylinder is equipped with a double bed, storage, and minimal lighting, offering a quirky yet comfortable stay.

7. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

Located in the Finnish Lapland, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is famed for its glass igloos. These igloos offer an unrivaled view of the Northern Lights and the starry sky, all from the comfort of a warm bed.

8. The Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho, USA

For those who love quirky and whimsical, the Dog Bark Park Inn in Idaho is a giant beagle-shaped hotel. Known as Sweet Willy, this bed and breakfast offers a cozy stay inside a dog, complete with canine-themed decorations.

9. The Capsule Hotel, Japan

Originating in Japan, capsule hotels offer a unique, space-efficient way of sleeping. Guests stay in small pods, big enough for sleeping and securing personal items. It's an experience that combines futurism with functionality.

10. The Hobbit Motel, New Zealand

Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," the Hobbit Motel in New Zealand offers guests the chance to live like a hobbit. The motel features underground hobbit holes, complete with round doors and rustic furnishings.

11. Muraka, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives

The Muraka at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a first-of-its-kind, two-level underwater hotel villa. The lower level, submerged over 16 feet underwater, offers a 180-degree curved acrylic dome, giving guests an immersive experience of the vibrant marine life.

12. Palacio de Sal, Bolivia

Built entirely of salt blocks, Palacio de Sal in Bolivia is situated on the edge of the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni. Everything from the walls and furniture to the sculptures in this hotel is made of salt, offering a truly unique stay.

13. Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Spain

Nestled in the heart of Spain's Rioja wine region, Hotel Marqués de Riscal is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture by Frank Gehry. Its ribbon-like titanium and stainless steel exterior make it a stunning sight, while its interiors offer luxurious comfort amidst vineyards.

14. Sun Cruise Resort, South Korea

In Jeongdongjin, a popular South Korean seaside destination, the Sun Cruise Resort offers a unique experience: a luxury hotel designed to look like a cruise ship, perched atop a cliff. This hotel offers all the pleasures of a sea voyage, without ever leaving land.

15. Treehotel, Sweden

Sweden’s Treehotel, located in the pristine forests of Harads, allows guests to experience nature up close in treehouses with modern and unique designs. Each treehouse is an architectural marvel, suspended 4-6 meters above the ground.

16. Crane Hotel Faralda, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In Amsterdam, the Crane Hotel Faralda transforms an industrial crane into a luxurious accommodation. Each of the three suites offers a distinct design and panoramic views of the IJ river.

17. The Liberty Hotel, Boston, USA

Once the iconic Charles Street Jail, The Liberty Hotel in Boston melds its rich history with luxury. The hotel's striking architecture and the transformation from a prison to a place of hospitality make it a fascinating stay.

18. Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin, Germany

Berlin's Propeller Island City Lodge is a work of art, with each room having its unique theme and artistic design. From upside-down rooms to a bed suspended in mid-air, it offers an avant-garde experience.

19. Hang Nga Guesthouse, Vietnam

Also known as the “Crazy House,” this Gaudi-inspired guesthouse in Da Lat, Vietnam, is a surreal architectural marvel. Its organic, non-linear design and whimsical room themes make it a fascinating exploration in itself.

20. Free Spirit Spheres, Canada

Set among the trees of Vancouver Island’s rainforest, the Free Spirit Spheres offer a unique treehouse experience. These spherical accommodations are suspended off the ground, gently swaying with the trees, providing a serene, nature-immersed getaway.

Final Thoughts

These 20 hotels are more than just places to stay; they are destinations in their own right. They challenge conventional ideas of architecture, hospitality, and comfort, offering guests experiences that are as diverse and unique as the hotels themselves. Whether you're sleeping in a treehouse, a converted crane, airplane, or a room made entirely of salt, these unusual hotels promise an unforgettable journey into the extraordinary.