Our semi-weekly series: A Night Less Ordinary is all about finding the most weird and wonderful hotels all over the world. From a James Bond hotel room, to sleeping underwater expect the unexpected. This week, we have a night less ordinary at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya. This week, check in a the Karosta Prison Hotel where your inn jailbird can shine and we advise you to go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
If you’re a monopoly addict or you simply get a bit excited about the idea of a night behind bars, then Latvia’s Karosta Prison Hotel will be right up your street. But, this place is more 50 shrieks than 50 shades, so beware!
The former KGB prison hasn’t actually changed all that much since it stopped taking prisoners. You can simply tour the former Soviet military jail, or you can do the real deal and go for an ‘Extreme Night’ package.
Once you get there you’ll get the full treatment; finding out what it was like to be an inmate, you’ll get handcuffed and escorted to your cell for the night. You won’t find any home comforts here with some stale rye bread and Russian tea for room service. After that you’ll have to haul your own pallet, laid with a thin mattress before you can lay your head down. And that’s after you’ve dressed it to military standards. You’re given four minutes to use the bathroom (a hole in the ground) while the rusting tap leaks just enough water to brush your teeth. It’s all done in the spirit of good fun (I think) and is meant to be a real experience and something different.
If that’s not enough to freak you out a bit, the former prison is known for its ghostly, mysterious activity. Lightbulbs unscrew themselves. Doors open and close, seemingly of their own free will, and footsteps echo throughout the prison halls. Yikes!
So, don’t say I didn’t warn you! For a real night less ordinary, this place takes no prisoners (groan) but at the bargain price of around £7 per night, it’s hard to beat for value. If that sounds like your cup of tea, (maybe you’re part of a particularly intense Stag party group!) the hotel is always ready for their next victims… I mean guests!
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, the Three Farthings Naturist B&B&B (well this Sunday is National Topless Day, after all!).
What’s the gimmick? Three Farthings Naturist Homestay B&B&B is a secluded hideaway, where guests can relax ‘au naturel’ in a five star pamper fest. The B&B&B stands for bed, breakfast and bubbles (or bare, bums and bellies as their website may tell you). Bare (!) in mind that this is no regular B&B; guests will be staying in a naturist household, in which age, gender, looks or sexual preferences are never judged and newbies are always welcomed.
Why stay? This is really a beautiful place to stay.The detached bungalow boasts a large, private garden with a wooden deck, sun loungers, dining area, hot tub and an outdoor hot shower and guest rooms are decorated in warm, attractive colours, with crisp, white bedlinen, thick fluffy towels and comfortable bathrobes. Even the bathrooms are fitted with underfloor heating and electronic eco showers. The piece de resistance is the Asian room, containing a deluxe four poster super king size bed. The room is decorated with Indian silk/woollen rugs, Thai silk curtains and cushions and includes a flat screen TV/DVD player, trouser press and fluffy Rhomtuft towels.
The Wow Factor: Two-thirds of the energy used is generated by solar panels and waste is mostly recycled. To keep the carbon footprint down all produce is sourced locally and organic where possible. Meals are always freshly prepared using seasonal ingredients and there is no need to ‘dress for dinner’! Relaxing naturist massages are also available, along with a series of other top quality treatments.
Three Farthings is a nonprofit venue. Profits are donated to charity.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected.
What’s the gimmick? Maison Moschino is the converted terminus building of a neoclassical railway station opened in central Milan in 1840. Its exterior façade, the original Viale Monte Grappa 12, retains the station’s original grandeur. But inside, the bustling commuters and handkerchief-waving lovers have vanished and a new world has been created. Adding 65 contemporary hotel rooms and suites across four floors, the building has been completely reinterpreted in a quirky, yet elegant style that extends the Moschino brand. Inspired by a visionary and contemporary fairy tale theme, the rooms are sensuous visions of surreal diversity. Akin to falling down a rabbit hole or opening a wardrobe into another world, entering the Maison Moschino is an unforgettable experience.
Why stay? If you’ve ever wanted to live inside a fairytale then this is the hotel for you. Maison Moschino offers an alternative to the mundanities of real life, creating a world built by imagination and surrealism. From the lamp in the shape of one of Moschino’s dresses, to ivy covered wallpaper and bedspreads made from red petals, Moschino has applied its fashion flair to the hotel industry, and pioneered a new era in hospitality. While mass-tourism destinations promote only quantity and mediocrity, Maison Moschino has built a space where fairy tales, come to three-dimensional life.
The Wow Factor: Alice’s Room, Life Is a Bed of Roses, Little Red Riding Hood, The Forest and Gold are just some of the names of Maison Moschino’s impressive rooms. Arranged in 16 different designs, one room sees rose petals dripping down from the lights to cover the bed, while in another, guests sleep upon an enormous ballgown that flows down from the bed board. In The Forest room, even the bed posts are made from mystical looking trees, echoing the enchanted forests of fairytales. The hotel also features an ART SPA with beauty and wellness treatments from PEVONIA and a gym with equipment by Technogym.
The Maison Moschino is located in a vibrant district in central Milan close to Corso Como and Corso Garibaldi. The hotel is within easy reach of Milan’s most famous landmarks including the Santa Maria Delle Grazie, the Pinacoteca di Brera and Pinacoteca Ambrosina art galleries and the Royal Palace. The hotel is a five minute walk by foot to the Garibaldi train station and underground. Prices start at £141 per room a night.
From Wendy houses to dens made from fresh laundry, childhood lodgings required big imaginations. However, the latest trend in the hotel industry is set to turn these youthful dreams into a reality. Enter the tree house hotel; a marriage of the unique and the familiar, returning us to treasured childhood memories and allowing us to indulge in our adventurous side. And with many creeping up on the five star mark – who said luxury was limited only inside four walls?
No longer solely occupied by young boys and Ewoks, tree houses now offer audacious travellers an experience, which stands apart, particularly in an age of roadside hotel chains and Mediterranean high-rise apartment buildings. So, forget the stale continental breakfast and stark, inpersonal room and opt instead for a treetop retreat. Here’s our pick of the best tree house hotels around the world – go ahead, branch out…
Tsala Treetop Lodge
Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
The impressive Tsala Treetop Lodge has ten secluded stone-and-glass lodge suites, with breathtakingly views of the lush Tsitsikamma Forests, extending across rolling valleys towards distant hills. Decorated in an Afro-baroque style, the Lodge boasts floor-to-ceiling bedroom windows, a log fireplace in the living room, a private deck and an infinity-edge pool. The décor appears to emulate the monumental ruins of an ancient central African civilisation, with earthy colours, rich textures and handcrafted fittings. In fact, the entire Lodge mimics the diverse cultures of Africa, from the exotically appointed dining room to the intimate glassed-in lounge, or the large open decks high above the forest floor.
Cedar Creek Treehouse
After climbing up a winding stairwell, reaching 50-feet up in the air in a centuries-old Western Red Cedar tree, you will discover the Cedar Creek Treehouse. Bordering Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cedar Creek boasts stunning views, which are even greater when seen from the recently added observatory – 100 feet up a nearby fir tree – which looks out on magnificent Mount Rainier. The tree house features sleeping space for five, a kitchen, and an observation deck with indoor hammock. A night in the cabin includes a tour of other structures on the property, including the “Stairway to Heaven,” “Rainbow Bridge,” and the glass-enclosed observatory.
Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel Brazilian Amazon
Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel is one of the largest commercial tree house hotels in the world. The eco-friendly Hotel was built in 1987 by Dr. Francisco Ritta Bernardino under the inspiration of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, who made it his quest to preserve the fragility of the magical Amazon Jungle. Located around 35 miles from the Amazon gateway city of Manaus, accommodations include the President Lula ‘Tarzan House’, built at canopy level with its own private balcony, plunge pool, and Jacuzzi and on site are two 150-foot-high observation towers, offering clear views of the jungle. While staying, why not take the chance to navigate your way round the Amazon River, swim with rare pink dolphins and trek through the rainforest?
Wayanad, Kerala, India
Tranquil Resort islocated in southern India on a private 400-acre estate, complete with a working coffee and vanilla plantation. The main lodge and its eight well-appointed rooms occupy the Kerala rainforest, a supreme spot in which to place the 500-square-foot tree house. Built from coffee wood and equipped with a king-size bed, a full bath, veranda, and the trunk of a flowering Royal Poinciana growing through the bedroom, the Tranquil Resort tree house is a peaceful escape in stunning surroundings.
Hinchinbrook Island Resort
Hinchinbrook Island, Australia
This 96-acre national park presents idyllic beauty, with lush rainforests, rugged mountains, and untouched sandy beaches. The Wilderness Lodge, a secluded oasis hideaway with 15 roomy timber tree top bungalows, complements the natural environment of the Island. Each tree house has floor-to-ceiling glass windows, its own small kitchen, a private balcony and a bath tub for extra relaxation. Easy beachfront access means exploring one of the island’s eleven secluded beaches has never been easier, while in the evenings guests are welcomed to relax at the Wilderness Lodge bar.
Tree House Lodge
Limón, Costa Rica
The 10-acre beachfront property, located in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, features a sustainably built tree house composed of fallen trees. Built upon tall stilts, submerged by the forest, the house is reached via a sloped wooden suspension bridge leading to its front door. Inside it’s split level: upstairs, a double king size bed and a small ensuite toilet; downstairs, a second double bed, a single bed and a kitchen. Why not snorkel or kayak off the nearby Punta Uva Beach during your stay?
Maravu, which sits on Fiji’s 168-square-mile Taveuni Island, features a tree house built in an ancient rain tree, enjoying panoramic views of the sapphire South Pacific. Inside the bring-you-back-to-childhood house are a myriad of creature comforts, including leather and palm-wood furniture and an outdoor courtyard with an open-air shower and Jacuzzi pool. While staying, guests can relax at the resort’s spa with a massage or a hydrating coconut scrub, or explore nearby Bouma National Heritage Park’s pristine rainforest and 65-foot waterfalls.
Surrounded by the vibrant, lush Alnwick Gardens is a colossal tree house – the Alnwick Treehouse. The garden, created by celebrated garden designers’, Jacques and Peter Wirtz, has a beautiful landscape that includes England’s largest collection of European plants. The tree house itself complements its environement and serves as a restaurant as well as an activities centre. If you don’t feel like spending then night, the restaurant is open for meals throughout the day and serves organic and local meat and fish, as well as offering performances of live music.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, check out the Propeller Island City Lodge hotel in Berlin. You won’t believe your eyes, we couldn’t!
What’s the gimmick? There’s really no other place that Propeller Island City Lodge could exist than in Berlin, Germany. Probably one of the weirdest hotels to ever to grace any list of unusual hotels (or the world for that matter), Propeller Island is primarily a piece of art; all rooms and objects were designed by the German artist, Lars Stroschen, who built the hotel on the premise of “living in a work of art.” Each of the 30 rooms offers an absolutely unique and personal ambiance, with all furnishings inside them having been custom-made by the artist. The rooms vary from the tame to the extreme, creating the sense that you have entered an alternate reality or stumbled onto a film set.
Why stay? Ok, so this isn’t the most luxurious or even comfortable of hotels. Most of the rooms are on the small side, some share bathroom facilities, some are just plain scary, but really, how often do you have a chance to stay in a barn-themed room that includes a big pile of potato sacks packed with foam rubber? ‘Nuff said.
The Wow Factor: There’s really too many things to choose from here. There’s the Lion’s Den Room, which features two sleeping cages on stilts in the centre of the room and bathtub on an indoor balcony. The macabre Gruft Room contains two coffins instead of beds, built above a deep, dark labyrinth. Others include a jail cell room, “Grandma’s Room” with a hidden sink and toilet and décor from decades past, a Chicken Curry room, a room that’s all about nudity, an upside-down room and even one with a flying bed. And of course, the hotel’s own private gallery and themed eatery are no less bizarre. It’s all wow, it really is.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week enjoy a night in a concrete tube at the DasparkHotel
What’s the gimmick? The ‘rooms’ at DasparkHotel are constructed from repurposed drainpipes. Rather than an attempt at glorified camping, the three huge concrete drainpipes, set on a beautiful, lush patch of the Danube River in Ottensheim, Austria, actually provide the ultimate in post-industrial living. Each bolthole is about two metres in width and furnished with a double bed, storage space, lighting (but no windows) and blankets. When DasparkHotelwas built by designer Andreas Strauss in 2004, it was originally opened in Linz, but was later moved to the stunning setting of Ottensheim. A coat of varnish and wall paintings by the Austrian artist Thomas Latzel Ochoa completes the ‘hobo jungle’ vibes.
Why stay? Ok so this doesn’t exactly connote luxury, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that concrete is actually incredibly comfortable. Simultaneously functional and comfortable, the three concrete sleep-pipes offer visitors to Austria the chance to experience the area in a totally innovative (and economical) way. The Dasparkhotel’s rooms are round like a barrel, providing maximum comfort in a minimal amount of space – a modern day squatopia.
The Wow Factor: Rather than sleeping on a reformed car bonnet or something along those lines as you might expect, guests will sleep on a double wide Eurofoam mattress held by an ergonomic slatted frame by Optimo – basically the ultimate in comfort. The thick cement keeps the interior comfortable and eliminates noise from outside, creating a secure-feeling environment. You will also find fresh pillows, blankets and sheets supplied every day and don’t fret about you camera or iPhone going dead – there is a 220V outlet for charging your electronic devices. And for the best bit? See below.
Guests who wish to spend a night or two are required to book their rooms at the hotel’s website. Because the hotel obtains sanitation, breakfast and other hotel facilities from existing public infrastructure, it is possible for them to work with the very simple, user-friendly “pay as you wish” system.
A night in dasparkhotel costs just as much as you can afford or want to pay.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, come hang out in a giant boot at the boot hotel.
What’s the gimmick? Remember the nursery rhyme – ‘There was an old lady that lived in a shoe…’? Boot Bed ‘n’ Breakfast brings this tale to life. Although its founders were first considered completely crazy when they created the ‘boot’ in 2001, after several years of blissful visits, they became something of a celebrity in the local area. The boot is situated in the heart of the beautiful Tasman region in New Zealand, contributing to the tapestry of attractions and folklore, which inspire the region.
Why stay? With room for only two (so there’s no room for Old Mother Hubbard and co), the boot is actually a somewhat romantic getaway. Nestled within a grove of hazelnut trees, surrounded by a fragrant garden, guests can enjoy relaxing hot afternoons, alfresco dining, an outdoor fireplace with a comfy couch in front of it, and breakfast delivered to the door. Inside, the furnishings are specially tailored for couples; there are two chairs at the table, two champagne flutes, two coffee cups, space for two on the couch, space for two on the bed, space for two in the shower… Fresh and sweet-smelling flowers, fine Nelson Art and complementary chocolates complete the scene.
The wow factor: Thispeaceful, comfy bed and breakfast combines sustainable practices with luxury experience. Expect to find organic produce, including the free-range eggs from the owners’ hens and fresh fruit from their orchard. The 2.4 hectare garden is free for guests to mill around during their stay, taking in the tranquil, secluded surroundings of this lovers retreat.
The boot costs NZ$300 per night per couple. For bookings, please see The Boot website.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, enjoy a night less ordinary at the Dog Bark Inn.
What’s the gimmick? Bringing a whole new meaning to the term doggy style, Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho, is a bed and breakfast guesthouse inside the world’s biggest beagle. Dog-lovers can take their obsession to new heights (literally), entering the body of the giant toy dog (who’s affectionately named, Sweet Willy) from a private second story deck. Once inside, you can head up another level to the head of the dog, where you’ll find a cosy loft room decorated with dog decorations, offering additional sleeping space (Willy sleeps four in total). The bathroom, which is disguised as a giant fire hydrant, is located beneath the tail.
Why stay? Even if you hate dogs, or this idea freaks you out a bit, at Dog Bark Park, you are the only tenant, the beds are unbelievably comfortable and the loft is tailor-made for a restful night’s sleep. As the wind blows across the prairie at night, making the dog ears flap, you’ll wonder why you’ve not been sleeping in a beagle your whole life. And that’s not all – the well-stocked fridge, doggy biscuits and breakfast are all home-cooked and excellent. This is seriously one of the best experiences America has to offer.
Dog Bark Park Inn gift shop
The wow factor: Some of the dog’s decorative furnishings are carvings by Dog Bark Park Inn resident chainsaw artists Dennis & Frances.Dennis J. Sullivan, a self-taught chainsaw artist, has been carving for over twenty years. Frances joined him fifteen years ago and in 1995, their carvings were sold on QVC television (aka the home of useless crap). They did nothing but carve wooden dogs for 18 months then invested all their earnings in developing and building Dog Bark Park, where visitors most likely will find them happily creating art.
The cost per double stay is $92 and then $8 for each additional guest. Book here
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of weird hotels and wonderful holiday concepts. From space hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of weird hotels and wonderful holiday concepts. From space hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected.
Igloo Village at night
What’s the gimmick? Located amidst beautiful Lapland scenery in the vicinity if Urho Kekkonen National Park, Hotel Kakslautten offers their winter guests the chance to stay overnight in a futuristic glass igloo. Based on a groundbreaking idea and years of research and development, the unique, sci-fi-like glass igloos are a marvel of modern technology.
Why stay? Where else can you admire the amazing northern lights and the white Lapland scenery, all within the comfort of zebra-striped warm bed? Built from a special thermal glass, the temperature inside the igloo is always at a normal level and its special material also prevents the glass from not getting white frosted, keeping the view clear even when the temperature outside drops to under -30°C.
The wow factor: Every igloo is equipped with a toilet and luxury beds and the surrounding Igloo Village is also home to snow chapel and an ice bar, both built in every winter. On every evening a hot sauna and a refreshing ice hole are waiting for you at the igloo, where you can climb into bed and marvel at the star-studded night sky.Husky safaris, snowmobile safaris, reindeer safaris and ice-fishing trips are all made available, as well as guided ski treks.
Village is open every year from December/January and until the end of April.