Category - Weird and Wonderful

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Off the beaten track: Socotra, a mystical place on Earth
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A Night Less Ordinary: a plane hotel just for two
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The most amazing staircase in Germany
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A night less ordinary: Sleep in a Silver Mine
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Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
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A night less ordinary: The Morgue Hotel
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A Night Less Ordinary: A room made from Lego
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Purple Tips: 6 Terrifying Roller Coasters
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In pictures: the biggest, scariest waterslide you’ll see today.
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At the dive in: poolside outdoor cinemas

Off the beaten track: Socotra, a mystical place on Earth

Socotra 1

Socotra tree via @ Wikicommons

Socotra

Image via @ Places to see in your lifetime

For those of you thinking that alien places only exist in Spielberg’s imagination, the island of Socotra stands as solid evidence of a true outer space land right here on Earth.

Actually, Socotra is an archipelago of four islands close to the Horn of Africa. Thanks to its  geographically isolated location and purely tropical climate, it is no wonder that the fauna and flora of this hidden gem are unique in the world.

Socotra’s unearthly images will certainly amaze even the most experienced globetrotter. Once you get there giant mushroom-shaped Dragon’s blood trees, trees that look like an elephant’s foot, and cucumbers, as well as more unusual species of birds, mammals and fish. It’s all so unusual you’ll have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming.

Find out about more amazing places in the world by our Off the beaten track series.

Cowrie Shell

Image via @ Gerry and Bonni

Cucumber Tree

Image via @ Gerry and Bonni

Desert Rose

Image via @ Gerry and Bonni

Socotra 2

Socotra beach via @ Wikicommons

A Night Less Ordinary: a plane hotel just for two

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels for our series of posts on a night less ordinary. From panda-themed hotels to converted silvermines, expect the unexpected. This week, a plane hotel in Teuge, Netherlands.

Airplane Suite - outside - Courtesy Hotel Ilyushin

Image of Airplane Suite Exterior via @ Remuerarealestateregister

What’s the gimmick? This one is for all the airplane appassionatos who dream of travelling and staying business class! This 1960 Ilyushin 18 was once the pride and joy of governmental transport, now it’s been converted into a luxury suite made just for two. At 40 metres long and filled with as much luxury as you can think of, a night in the plane hotel is really a high-flying experience.

You Should Read… A Night In A Hotel Run By Pandas

Airplane Suite 4

Image via @ HotelSuites.nl

Hotel-Honecker-2

Image via @ HotelSuites.nl

Why stay?  The Airplane Suite offers great views of the platform and runway at Teuge Airport. So it makes a great treat for any engineering fanatics in your life. Although it’s in an airport, privacy is a major priority. Guests can enjoy the whole plane to themselves, with on site jacuzzi, sauna, mini bar and all sorts of appliances and entertainment facilities.

Airplane Suiite 5

Image via @ HotelSuites.nl

The WOW Factor? If you fancy being a pilot but can’t face the hours, then this is the choice. The cockpit is left completely intact, so you can play pilot or cabin crew as much as you like. What’s more, guests can take an extra plane tour, helicopter trip or flight lesson. If you’re really making it something special, get yourself booked in for a parachute jump or ride on a stunt plane.

An overnight stay for 2 persons, including luxury breakfast costs about £300.

The most amazing staircase in Germany

It turns out the most amazing staircase in Germany, is one that doesn’t actually lead anywhere. This mind-bending spiral staircase in Munich by artist Olafur Ellison is well worth a visit.

Amazing staircase 1 Amazing staircase 2 Amazing staircase 4Via @ bitrebels

 

A night less ordinary: Sleep in a Silver Mine

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From caves to igloo styled hotels, expect the unexpected. This week, Sala Silvermine Underground suite in Sala Västmanland, Sweden.

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What’s the gimmick? If you fancy spending a night with your other half, 500ft underground in a room dug out of a cave, then this room in a silvermine is just the ticket. This little bit of luxury is so hidden away, you can only access it via a mineshaft lift.

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Travel all the way to the small town of Sala Västmanland in Sweden, and spend a night in the world’s deepest bedroom. The Silvermine of Sala is one of the world’s best preserved mine settings and your stay here begins with a guided tour. Although there are plenty of luxurious touches, it’s 14 storeys down, so if you need a phone, beware!

However it is the perfect balm to the stresses of life, not too many people can reach you down there, unless you choose to; through a personal intercom system. Before leaving for the night, your guide will leave a basket of goodies for you and then you are all alone to feel the peace and quiet of your new world. You’ll see the guide again in the morning when breakfast arrives. There is a toilet near your “room” however the showers are topside.

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Why stay?  You can sleep 155 metres underground, where you will see dark winding galleries, vast caverns and magical lakes. It doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with mining or not, the underground setting will amaze you. Oh, and you’re not alone with the idea, weekends are usually booked up all year round.

silvermine-5-600x398

The WOW Factor? The experienced guides tell you of a fantastic chapter in industrial history. During its heyday, production amounted to more than 3 tons of silver a year, and a total of more than 400 tons of silver and about 40,000 tons of lead were extracted – completely by hand! Most of the silver was used in manufacturing coins, but artefacts were also made.

A stay at this one of a kind single suite amounts to 3750 sek or about £287 per night.

See more unusual hotels in a night less ordinary.

Images via @ Salas Silver Gruva

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Some people think aquariums are a bit weird – we don’t! We think it’s pretty cool to get up close with Nemos or the odd Jaws in there. The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan has huge windows where you can practically reach out and touch the sharks, rays and tonnes of other species of fish that thrive in its waters.

temaki

image via @ temaki

Your visit starts from a beach and continues down into the deep sea world, as if you’re going diving yourself.

selahi tab2 dawa

image via @ tab2_dawa 

The aquarium’s exhibits are shown in many different ways and your experience will go far beyond simply viewing exhibits in tanks.

The Main Tank

image via @ SteFou!

When you arrive you’ll get the chance to see multiple whale sharks and one of the largest rays, as the aquarium’s experts are the first to breed multiple manta rays in captivity.

Hyougushi

image via @ Hyougushi

Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

A night less ordinary: The Morgue Hotel

Are you completely dead tired? Feeling a bit lifeless? Then this is the hotel for you.

Morgue Hotel 2

An entrepreneurial Tasmanian businessman has announced plans to turn a morgue into a hotel, just in time for Halloween. Yes you read that right. But it’s not the kind of place where you’ll find four poster beds, covered in goose feather duvets, this is the real deal.

Here’s the plan for the morgue turned motel. The beds will be made of stone cold slabs, where autopsies once took place. The room will feature two huge fridges, where bodies were stored while the stainless steel bathtub that stands in the room was once used for washing cadavers. Out of use surgical implements will be scattered around the room, you know, to give it that ‘authentic’ look.

Morgue Hotel 3

He says, “It’s still got its terrazzo slabs, and it’s still got its pull-out fridge, it’s a beautiful thing… We’ll be looking at putting a double bed in one of the rooms and then we have three slabs and two pull-out fridges which could be used.”The owner, Haydn Pearce an antiques dealer, has already opened a hotel on a former asylum at the same site and hopes to open his morgue hotel early next year. Speaking to ABC News in Australia, he said he thinks the hotel will attract “the unusual”, and the dissection table will be the main suite (and main attraction.) The Morgue will be an extension of the existing 22 room Willow Court Hotel that operates from an old hospital ward.

Morgue Hotel 4

But will anyone actually want to stay in a hotel that used to be a morgue? Mr. Pearce answered that question with a simple: “we’re going to find out.”

Find out more about weird and wonderful hotels around the world in our series: a night less ordinary.

Images via @ Haydn Pearce

A Night Less Ordinary: A room made from Lego

Legoland Room 1

If your idea of a good night is packed with Lego bricks, towers of all shapes and sizes and little square headed figures all over the place, then head for a night in Legoland in California, USA. Due to open on April 5th 2013, if you thought your home was coming down with Lego bricks, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Legoland California is dedicated to all things colourful and brick shaped, from the blocks that adorn the walls as you make your way in, to the perfectly themed carpets. There are around 3,422 Lego models throughout the hotel, including eight in each room, made from more than three million Lego bricks. In the lobby alone there is a wall of 6,000 minifigures and a family of smoke breathing dragons at the front entrance.

Legoland water park

In the hotel there are three dedicated room types: Pirate with its Jolly Roger flags and Lego pirate parrots, Adventure with a sweeping jungle theme and friendly brick made monkeys and Kingdom where you get a taste of all things King Arthur and the Round Table. It’s probably fair to say these rooms and staying in the hotel fulfil just about every Lego fantasy you could imagine. In fact you could say it’s a Lego geek’s dream right down to the smallest detail. On top of family sleeping areas and dedicated Lego treats for little ones, a trip to the Hotel also offers select entry to rides and attractions within the theme park.

Beyond the hotel you get to splash around in the water park and even build your own raft from soft Lego bricks, or dodge the water cannons, go on a Safari trek, or visit Sky Patrol. Whatever you choose, we’re sure Lego adventurers of all ages will find something to enjoy. There are even mini Lego Star Wars adventure areas, a mini Las Vegas and something called a Coastersaurus, which we are dying to try!

Miniland las vegas

Find out more about hotels you never knew existed in other posts in a Night Less Ordinary.

All images via @ Legoland California.

Purple Tips: 6 Terrifying Roller Coasters

Purple Tips: 6 Terrifying Roller Coasters

What does it say about the human race that we are prepared to pay good money to scare the wits out of ourselves? We have our bodies thrown around the sharp corners, tunnels and twists at high velocity, while strapped in with little more than a glorified seat-belt. The adrenalin rush that each trip provides is surely addictive, and with coaster designers becoming ever more innovative in their sadistic desire to scare us half to death, the roller coaster stakes are higher than ever. Here are the world’s top six scariest roller coasters.

Shambhala

Shambhala image via @ Jodi Playa

Wind Shear at Divo Ostrov Amusement Park, Russia

This Russian roller coaster was supposedly designed to make its passengers throw up on themselves. Located at a theme park set deep into woodland, it spins, flips and rocks passengers in all directions for the ultimate stomach-churning effect (just make sure you don’t eat too much before boarding). The ride is one of Vekoma’s Waikiki Wave Super Flip rides (of which there is another in Mexico and one in Australia). The roller coaster can bend in all directions, allowing for diagonal twists and turns rather than just horizontal. One side of the ride moves in a clockwise direction, while the other moves in an anti-clockwise direction, meaning passengers are swung back and forth, hung upside down and tossed around in a vomit-inducing random fashion.

Batman The Ride at Six Flags, Georgia, USA

Batman The Ride has a particularly dark history. A teenager on a church trip was decapitated after entering a restricted area below. The 11-story-high ride was closed after the incident, but re-opened a few days later, only to take the life of a 58-year-old park worker in 2002, when he was in a restricted area while the coaster was operating. The man was kicked in the head by a passenger, who herself was hospitalised, though she ultimately survived the accident.

Shambhala at PortAventura, Spain

As well as being the tallest ride in Europe, Shambala is also the ride with the tallest drop (78m) and longest hyper coaster track (more than 1,650m). Its drop is enough to turn your stomach inside out and choose some of the other roller coasters around the world.

Formula Rossa at Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Formula Rossa is currently the fastest roller coaster in the world, reaching a staggering 240km per hour in less than five seconds. The velocity is such that passengers in the front seats are required to wear goggles to protect their eyes from the potential damage caused by a high speed impact with a flying insect.

Expedition Everest at Disney World, USA

This relatively new and relatively tame roller coaster at Disney’s Animal Kingdom still managed to kill a passenger, at least indirectly. A 44-year-old Florida man was unconscious when his cart pulled into the unloading station, and an employee and a park guest immediately tried to revive him. He was later pronounced dead, the victim of a heart attack, at a local hospital. Disney officials determined that the ride was operating normally when the man died. Maybe the surprise near the end of the coaster’s run startled him to death?

Cobra at Tivoli Friheden, Denmark

This amusement park in Aarhus, Denmark opened its new Cobra coaster in June of this year, only to shut it down eight days later after a section of track fell apart, sending a car off the rails and injuring four passengers. The ride’s now closed, as the park decides what to do: scrap it entirely or rebuild it. If it does re-open, we don’t think we’ll be signing up to ride it.

You Should Read… Top 10 Haunted Hotels

In pictures: the biggest, scariest waterslide you’ll see today.

The World’s Biggest Waterslide is not for the faint hearted. At 14 storeys high, and reaching speeds around 105 km per hour as you slip down, it takes serious guts (or insanity) to brave it. The Beach Park in Brazil is home to the delightfully named Insano.

So the big question is: would you dare try it?

Waterslide 5

Image via @ Beach Park

Waterslide 1 Waterslide 2  Waterslide 4

All images via @ Car_tav

At the dive in: poolside outdoor cinemas

We like to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the travel world, but even we didn’t see this one coming: dive in cinemas. Whether you’re into rom-coms or action flicks, adventure or cartoons, hotels and beyond across the world are tempting guests with poolside outdoor cinemas. So grab your bikini and head for our top 8.

Archipelago Cinema Thailand from PurpleTravel

The Westin St John Resort and Villas, US Virgin Islands The only thing that could make a holiday in the Caribbean better, is probably the opportunity to soak up the sunset in the pool as a movie flickers to life on a big screen with maybe a cocktail or two delivered right to your hand.

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, USA Not content with just regular old movies, the Cosmopolitan’s BLVD social club blasts films on a colossal screen, that’s perfect for Hollywood favourites. This year alone feature the Wizard of Oz, Karate Kid, Social Network and Father of the Bride.

Archipelago, Thailand You might have seen those pictures floating (pun intended) around the internet of a huge floating screen in the middle of the sea. Well, it’s part of Thailand’s Film on the Rocks Festival. A huge floating raft was launched with the screening anchored a little way from the seats. The screen is touring, after which it’s set to be donated to the local community.

Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia We’re not quite sure if this is an inspired idea or just simply mad. As part of the Brisbane International Film Festival the director decided to show an in-pool screening of Jaws. And why not include films with a little bite.

The Fairmont Hotel, Dallas, USA During the day, the pool on the third floor of this hotel offers sweeping views of the Dallas skyline, while at night; anyone can come and watch a free movie. Pull up an inflatable raft, sit back and relax with a cocktail for this lovely experience.

The Pearl, San Diego, USA offers a free weekly cinema social. Dive into their eclectic film choices, some food and drinks and get settled in for classics, blockbusters or independents. There’s certainly something in The Pearl’s library to suit every taste.

Hot Tub Cinema, London Grab your nearest and dearest, hop into your swimming cozzy and head for the latest London trend, Jacuzzi cinemas. The simple idea has exploded in popularity in the last few months and the Hackney rooftop is the place to be. Shows are continually sold out for the champagne fuelled movie nights.

CenterParcs, Park Zandvoort near Amsterdam At its Aqua Mundo you can swim, bring the kids, soak up the sunshine and best of all, finish the day and take a well earned break watching a film on the massive screen in the comfort of your own inflatable rubber ring!

You should read… the best water slides ever!

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