Unusual Hotels: Sleeping Outside the Box
When I travel, I tend to book accommodations on a just-somewhere-to-sleep basis. This is for three reasons: first, I’d rather get it over with and spend more time planning things to do or, more importantly, what and where and how often to eat; second, it saves me money; and third, it’s a good way to make myself feel better about not having a single excuse to set foot in a five-star hotel, save visiting the lobby restroom. “Oh, it’s just somewhere to sleep,” I tell myself. And usually, it is.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Jason Elite
But the travel industry is abuzz with news about ultra-luxury hotels, a la Dubai’s seven-star Burj Al Arab, which boasts dancing laser fountains, personal butlers, revolving canopy beds, and an entire beach staff dedicated to spritzing overheated guests with water bottles. The latest? Experience-based hotels. When Forbes Traveler released its Top Oddball Hotels list, it got me thinking: am I missing out?
In Turkey’s mystical Cappadocia, you can stay in a hotel suite carved out of the cave walls, fully immersed in the landscape and in five-star luxury. In Costa Rica, you can elect to sleep in the rainforest canopy in a treehouse built with sustainable materials from the surrounding forest. If you’re yearning for an Out of Africa experience, you can still go the treehouse route, this time overlooking the landscape of Nairobi’s Ngong Hills. And, of course, there’s Sweden’s famous ICEHOTEL, where winter guests sleep on reindeer skins in what amounts to a larger-than-life ice sculpture.
What I love about these hotels is their relevance to the landscape: Sweden’s icy winters, Costa Rica’s lush rainforests, and Turkey’s volcanic panoramas. In these cases, wrapping your hotel stay into your full experience is a way to enrich your travels and escape the whole see-the-sights-and-go-back-to-your-hotel paradigm. Maybe a hotel isn’t always just somewhere to sleep, but a way to center your travel experience and make it even more memorable. I’ll certainly take that over a revolving canopy bed any day.
What’s your most memorable accommodation experience—or your most wished-for hotel stay? Tell us about it!
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