Traveling allows you to get to know many new places and cultures. Consider making the experience even more authentic by staying in a treehouse, igloo, overwater bungalow or a castle instead of a traditional hotel.
The unique places on the following list vary by country, price, and accommodations, some of which can be described as “bizarre.” There is something for everyone – from active adventurers and off the beaten path enthusiasts.
Unique to Scotland, historic brochs are huge drystone towers, largely dating from around 100 BC to 100 AD (during the Roman invasion of Britain), according to VisitScotland.com. Most of the prehistoric brochs in the country are now in ruins. Modern reincarnations have been built where people can stay on vacations. They have superb drystone walls, floor to ceiling windows and bright, spacious interiors.
If you want to take a break from the concrete jungle in the city and spend some time in the country, make it unique by staying at a covered sheep wagon. It will hardly get more rural than this and you can rent it on Airbnb. Experience the old Wild West for a few days. It has a bed, stove and lighting.
This mobile hotel will have you reconsider every piece of furniture you have in your home. There are rooms where the beds are coffins; the bath is in a huge plastic bag; a king size bed is cut into two single ones with a guillotine; the floor in one room is slanted so it looks like the bed is in the air; one room is actually upside down (the furniture is suspended).
Have you ever thought you could actually sleep in concrete sewage pipes? The Das Park Hotel in Linz cleaned up a few and renovated them, offering the unique opportunity to sleep on the banks of Danube, which is one of the world's best rivers for cruises. The windows on the top allow for the perfect stargazing experience.
Staying in towers set up high among Amazon tree tops for a few days, waking up to the sound of impressive birds and animals is a great way to relax and reconnect with nature. You will have your own terrace with an incredible view of the largest tropical forest in the world, renowned for its immense biodiversity. You can also find swimming pools, bars and pathways set up among the tree tops.
There are several barns in California you can rent on Airbnb. Some are bigger than others and have different accommodations. You can find one with a deck, horse-drawn carriages, or near ranches in the state. A popular barn loft is the “Love Nest” in Morongo Valley. The place has a “Draft Horse Saloon,” typical for the Wild West.
You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to enjoy a hobbit home. You can see a pig or a donkey on the roof in the morning. That’s quite common and amusing. As a plus, you get to see the Billy Black Kiwi Culture show to learn about the local way of life. The motel also has a plane, boat, and train carriage where people can spend the night. The Hobbits is close to the Waitomo Caves, offering an amazing view across the hillside.
Talking about an original place to stay! This former sculpting studio can be rented out on Airbnb. It’s like literally staying in a tree with lots of windows, surrounded by a rustic landscape. Bonus: The cottage comes with four acres of green heaven – walking paths, ponds, lakes, stone bridges as well as stone bench seating area with a chimney that can be used.
This 12th century castle in the historic village of Porrona in Tuscany is like a small heaven on earth. Enjoy rolling hills of sunflower fields, olive trees and vineyards. The Castel Porrona has a fully-equipment kitchen in every room so you can cook your own meals if you want. You can also go horseback riding, play tennis or relax in the pool and sauna.
Staying at Castell de Cardona is literally like traveling back to the Middle Ages. The fortress was built in 800 AD and still stands high atop a promontory and watches over the picturesque village of Cardona. The décor, fosses, towers and walls still have gothic elements. The castle hotel, one of the most incredible in the world, has 53 guest rooms. The estate is attached to the famous Church of Sant Vicenç and Minyona Tower, both built in the 11th century. The views of the rolling hills and Cardona are a real gift every morning.
How does waking up in a room set up in an aquamarine-hued bubble surrounded by fish and water sound like? The Manta Resort’s most famous accommodation has three levels, one of which is under sea level. You will sleep there. Huge windows will allow you to literally sleep surrounded by trumpet fish, manta ray and octopus.
The Hang Nga guesthouse has been nicknamed the “Crazy House” because is its unique design and architecture. It resembles fairytale home built on twisted trees in the jungle. Look at it from afar and you may think you are in Alice’s wonderland with giant mushrooms, spider webs and caves. The rooms, connected by ladders, bridges and tunnels, look like you’re in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by animals.
The resort is quiet and remote, literally nestled among unpopulated islands. The overwater cabanas have hammocks and steps leading right into the water, allowing for the experience of snorkeling off your private deck. Misool Eco Resort is an exclusive dive resort. The center, also built on stilts, offers three dives a day.
Have you ever spent the night in a cave? It can be a very cool (literally) experience in the summer. The ancient cave dwellings were restored using reclaimed stone, woods and iron. All rooms have air-conditioning and WiFi. Hot air balloon flights, quad-bike tours and horseback riding are popular activities.
Enjoy the unique experience of staying in an authentic cave in the Sacromonte, a hill next to the Albaicín which is the old Arabic quarter of Granada. The region is known for its caves, many of which have been turned into guesthouses. You can see authentic flamenco performances which maintain their original, indigenous color and character. The iconic palace Alhambra is a quick walk away.
If you’ve stayed at a hotel made of ice, it’s time to visit one made of salt. Palacio de Sal is built on the world’s largest salt flat. Even the furniture in the hotel is made of salt. The rooms at Palacio de Sal look like igloos build with salt blocks. All the rooms have a private bathroom, hot and cold water and central or electric heating.
You won’t get any privacy here but you will feel like you’re one with nature because you are literally sleeping outside. Stargazers will really appreciate it – anywhere you turn you see clear dark skies. Such bubble pods have been set up all over France and are becoming popular in Switzerland as well.
Glass igloos, log cabins and extraordinary views…who would not want to stay in this igloo village? They were designed so visitors can enjoy the Northern Lights in their full glory but sleeping there is an amazing experience even if you don’t catch them. You can stay in a snow igloo if you feel that’s a more authentic experience. You can go on a husky and reindeer safari in the winter. Boarding an icebreaker cruise is also popular.
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Living a Nomadic life in rural Mongolia for a week can be a challenge. Hiking, biking, rafting, and kayaking are often involved. You’ll get to see where Genghis Khan set out to conquer the world. You'll live in a Nomad’s ger, and ride horses while learning archery and garment-making skills. You may have to get up early to help your hosts with chores like milking the cows and making your own dairy products for breakfast.
This tree house hotel is among the most famous in the world because of it futuristic and high-tech design. One of the houses, the Mirror Cube, reflects the surrounding trees. You may be under it and not actually notice a tree house above your head. Talking about blending…Another tree house is a cabin and a third is looks like a huge bird’s nest.
Each of the three spheres is made from wood. They literally hang in the air attached to supporting trees with a synthetic rope. The epic tree houses are available too book all year round, which is not the case with many others. The spheres look like a yacht from the inside. In fact, they are built based on a sailboat construction. Stairways hang from a tree much like a sailboat shroud hangs from the mast. You can feel the spheres move “like a gentle rocking” when the wind blows.