Traveling is awesome. There are plenty of sights to see, people to meet, and cuisine to sample. It’s definitely a good trip, though, if the hotel can be more than just a place to keep your luggage and pass out after a long day of sightseeing. A cool hotel can make all the difference on a trip, but usually, it means it serves a good breakfast and maybe the tubs have jets.
Then there are these hotels, which are like destinations in themselves. They’re so incredible (and incredibly bizarre) that they can be in the middle of nowhere and people will still go to stay in them.
Haoduo Panda Hotel, Emei Mountain, Sichuan Province, China
This hotel features everything panda related, including people in panda suits. We hope they leave at night. Besides the fact that everyone loves pandas, the hotel is within driving distance from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The founder of the hotel hopes that the hotel will help visitors become aware of the need for environmental protection.
With space on land scarce, the creators of this hotel looked to the sea. The result was a superyacht hotel with 189 rooms and all the amenities of a five-star hotel. It’s basically a permanently-moored cruise ship, with restaurants, a spa, and even a ballroom.
Sunborn Gibraltar, Gibraltar, Spain
Sextiantio Le Grotte della Civita, Matera, Italy
The Sassi of Matera are a network of carved buildings dating to the early Middle Ages. This hotel is a restored set of 18 rooms, all adhering to a strict conservation policy. The rooms are candlelit and lack TVs and fridges to better preserve the historical atmosphere. They are all connected via terraces and stairways.
Spitbank Sea Fort Hotel, Hampshire, England
This sea fort was built in 1867 to stand in defense against the French navy. It was then converted into an exclusive hotel—exclusive in every sense of the word, as it sleeps 18, can only be reached by boat, and costs upward of £5,500. There are decks, a pool, a restaurant, bar, and fire pits. The windows used to be the gun ports.
Desert Lotus Hotel, or Sounding Sand Hotel, Ordos, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China
This hotel is in the middle of the harsh terrain of China’s Xiangshawan Desert in Inner Mongolia. The area experiences both sandstorms and blizzards. The hotel is a feat of architecture and engineering, as it is anchored to the desert with no water or concrete, and the wall covering material is made from the desert’s sand. It’s not the typical vacation spot, but it’s pretty incredible.
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
If you’d like to get to know some locals, Giraffe Manor affords you that opportunity. This house, built in 1932 on 12 acres of land, is home to many wild animals, including the Rothschild giraffe, warthogs, dik diks, and 180 species of birds. The giraffes are friendly, and can be found poking their heads into the dining room for a snack. The hotel is also involved in many conversationalist projects.
Hang Nga “Crazy House,” Dalat, Vietnam
This hotel’s organic, twisted design is what earned it its nickname. It’s designed to look like a giant tree and is similarly nature-themed inside. It has animal-themed rooms, a sculpture garden, and plenty of balconies for perching. The rooms are connected by bridges, ladders, and tunnels, so you can really feel like a tree creature.
Neemrana Fort-Palace, Rajasthan, India
This hotel (formerly a palace and fort) was built in the 1400s high in Rajasthan’s hills. It was renovated to become a luxury hotel with 12 stories and 7 wings, as well as hanging gardens, two pools, a spa, and a zip line. Visitors are encouraged to explore the building’s hidden alleys and corners, but getting here requires a hike up to the fort.
Hotel Marques de Riscal, Elciego, Spain
This hotel’s colorful, fabric-like design was created by architect Frank Gehry. It was made from silver, gold, and pink titanium. The building’s unconventional style makes it a work of art itself. It’s located in the north of Spain, in the Basque country.
Hotel Unbalance, Lima, Peru
This precarious-looking hotel is currently in the works in Lima. The above images are artist renderings of the finished product. The hotel will be on Lima’s Pacific Cliffs, a popular tourist destination. Its frame shape will allow for the view to remain as unobstructed as possible. Navigating the terrain for construction is the greatest challenge. The building looks as though it’s about to plummet into the sea below, but it’s actually all an optical illusion.
The Faralda Crane Hotel, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
This hotel used to be an industrial crane, and is located in the former FDSM shipyard. The hotel only has three suites, located in what used to be the crane’s machine room, which is about 50 meters in the air. There’s an outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the city. If that isn’t exciting enough for you, you can also bungee jump from the top.
The V8 Hotel, Böblingen, Germany
Who says you’re too old for a car bed? Everyone? Well, not at the V8 Hotel. This hotel is entirely car-themed, with rooms designed around classic, vintage, and modern autos.
The Inntel Hotel, Amsterdam Zaandam the Netherlands
This hotel is a monument to the region’s history. Its exterior is designed to look like a mashup of traditional houses in the Zaan area. Each room is themed to represent one aspect of the area’s history, with accompanying murals on the walls.
Dog Bark Park, Cottonwood, Idaho
This hotel doubles as Idaho’s most popular roadside attraction. Husband and wife team Dennis and Frances own this four-legged inn and made the money to build it by selling chainsaw-carved wooden sculptures (of dogs, of course). They then decided to open this bed and breakfast. It only offers two rooms, but breakfast is free and guests get dog-shaped cookies on their pillows. The beagle structure that houses the rooms is named “Sweet Willy” and has the distinction of being the world’s largest beagle.
The Palacio de Sal is located on Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt desert. The salty sand itself was used to create this 48,000 square foot hotel, after being pressed into bricks, as seen above the bed in the top picture. The hotel is about $135 a night, and features a golf course and spa treatments.
You’d better get packing…or, given the price of a lot of these places, better start saving. There are a lot of interesting places to visit out there. It’s time to start planning for them now.
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