In terms of aesthetics, thousands of hotels the world over are actually quite similar. Of course, they vary in terms of the furnishings they use, the colour schemes they adorn themselves with, the grandeur of their lobbies, and the finer little touches – yet, aside from some minor variances, hotels often share the same characteristics. These can include white walls so as to open a space, chrome fixtures that give a contemporary feel, or a large reception desk to provide a grand first impression.
To stand out, some hotels have gone down the boutique route, offering rooms that are distinct from one another – artful, funky, fun, or all of the above. While these are welcomed by guests who appreciate something different, there are some hotels that have taken the gauntlet to mesmerising new extremes. Through the incredible imagination of those who delight in bucking trends, travellers can now stay in lodgings that are more fantasy than reality. We take a look at some of the most unique lodgings to be found in the world today.
Hotel Costa Verde, Quepos – Costa Rica
Tree houses are a feature of many backyards, providing an escape among the greenery for children and adults alike. In recent years, however, they have become increasingly popular structures among hotel developments too. While staying in a luxury tree house – particularly one that provides all the amenities one could hope to find in a standard hotel – is a great novelty for most, there are some tree house hotels that are extraordinary even among this already unique group.The Hotel Costa Verde is set amid the Costa Rican rainforest, and its star attraction is its 727 Fuselage Home – a 1965 Boeing 727 aircraft that has been fully refurbished to the highest specifications.
The repurposed aircraft features two air-conditioned luxury bedrooms (each with a private en suite), a kitchen and a dining area. All rooms are clad with teak and filled with hand-carved furniture. The space truly resembles a treetop home that could have been featured in The Swiss Family Robinson.The suite also offers two private balconies over each wing, allowing guests to fully immerse themselves in the jungle’s canopy while looking out to views of the Pacific Ocean. Sloths, monkeys and toucans are among the many neighbours that guests will encounter during their stay. The 727 Fuselage Home therefore provides a remarkable insight into the forest itself. With ocean views, the wonders of the rainforest all around and the sheer delight of staying in a radically up-cycled airplane, Hotel Costa Verde offers an extraordinary experience that guests will never forget.
Sala Silvermine – Sweden
Out of the rays of the South American sun and far away from tree canopies, there is a hotel unlike any other in the deepest depths of Sweden. As one of the world’s best-preserved, disused mines, the Sala Silvermine is a popular tourist attraction that gives visitors breathtaking tours of winding galleries, cavernous corridors and green-lit lakes. For those that wish to stay a little longer in this mystical place, the Sala Silvermine also offers an overnight stay in the deepest hotel suite on the planet.Upon arrival, guests make their way down 370 steps, during which they learn about the lives of miners. When they are 155m underground, they’ll find their room set in a snug alcove and lit only by candlelight.
The mine’s bare walls, juxtaposed with plush silver chairs and other furnishings, give the room an otherworldly feel. Although the corridors leading up to it are cold and damp, guests needn’t be worried about the temperature of the room, as it has been carefully heated to a comfortable degree.Despite its lone situation, the Sala Silvermine’s workers tend to guests as usual, greeting them with a basket of fruit, cheese, biscuits, chocolates and sparkling wine, and then hand delivering breakfast the following morning. There is also an intercom radio for communication, as – unsurprisingly – mobile phones do not work at such depths. After breakfast, guests can go back up to ground level and enjoy one of the many events and attractions that Sala Silvermine has to offer, including Viking tournaments and Middle Age-themed markets.
Huilo Huilo Montaña Mágica Lodge – Chile
Another extraordinary hotel located in a South American rainforest – though this time in southern Chile – is the Huilo Huilo Montaña Mágica Lodge, which offers an experience unlike anything guests will have encountered before. The hotel itself is a spewing artificial volcano that erupts with water every day, giving those inside the feeling of being behind the curtain of a cascading waterfall. Accessible only by drawbridge and covered in masses of greenery, the Montaña Mágica Lodge is like something straight out of a fairy tale – an abode fit for elves that, as the name suggests, is truly magical.According to the hotel’s website, this accommodation “serves as a reminder of the majesty of Mother Nature”. Indeed, the significance of Mother Nature’s presence stretches far beyond the Montaña Mágica Lodge, as the hotel itself is set within the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, a UNESCO-protected site in the centre of the Patagonian rainforest. As one of the only places on the planet that is cloaked in temperate humid forest, those visiting the Montaña Mágica Lodge are certain to find themselves surrounded by a unique collection of flora and fauna. Furnished with natural materials throughout, the hotel is as eco-friendly as its surroundings demand. Yet, as much as nature has influenced the Montaña Mágica Lodge, there is also a touch of luxury on offer through its spa facilities, including a heated pool, infrared relaxation room, and wet, dry and cold saunas. For nature lovers the world over, the Montaña Mágica Lodge calls out as a home away from home.
The Manta Resort – Tanzania
Some of the most wonderful sights the world has to offer can be found below sea level. While snorkelling and scuba diving are fun, and submarines are obviously a little harder to come by, there is another option for those who want to experience sea life in its truest form.The Manta Resort in Tanzania offers a single luxury bedroom that is located just inches above the seabed of the Indian Ocean. This one-of-a-kind, Swedish-engineered structure has three levels: first, the roof, which offers a sunbed and priceless views of the pristine, azure water as far as the eye can see. Staring out at the star-filled sky is just as delightful – with the room located 250m away from the shoreline, the feeling of serenity this place offers is simply priceless.
The second area is the landing deck, which is set at sea level. This space features a sheltered outdoor living area and minibar, as well as a bathroom with an open-air shower and an eco-friendly toilet system. Lunch, breakfast and dinner are all served on this level, delivered from the shore by boat. Then comes the star attraction of the entire Manta Resort: the underwater bedroom. With windows placed on all sides, guests can delight in their own private show of exquisite reef fish and coral heads. At night, spotlights provide a magical luminosity to the surrounding water, and also attract some of the sea’s shyer inhabitants. The room even has its own regular visitors, including three batfish and a trumpet fish, while octopi and Spanish dancer fish love to attach themselves to the glass panels. This wooden private island is simply ingenious.
Hippo Point – Kenya
A far cry from the all-too-common luxury tents offered when on a Kenyan safari, Hippo Point is a pagoda tower that overlooks miles upon miles of African wilderness. The hotel is situated amid a wildlife sanctuary that boasts more than 1,100 animal and 500 bird species, offering guests an incredible insight into their thrilling surroundings, 24 hours a day. The tower itself has been constructed from Kenyan cypress, and so blends perfectly into the environment. It has become so much a part of the scenery, in fact, that giraffes and zebras regularly graze around the site. Built in 1993, the 120ft structure boasts four double rooms and a single room on the ground floor, making it ideal for families or small groups wishing to hire the whole place. There is also a kitchen, a dining room, a sizeable living room with a balcony, a meditation room and a writing room, as well as a viewing room and a swimming pool. This outstanding range of spaces has earned Hippo Point a reputation as one of the world’s top wildlife retreats. At night, guests can relish views of a boundless glittering sky while enjoying the sounds of the forest, which includes the characteristic calls of hyenas and hippos. But as much as wildlife is a key characteristic of any stay at Hippo Point, so is wellness: with its uniquely tranquil atmosphere, many visitors consider it the perfect place to unwind and rebalance through meditation, yoga at sunrise, bike rides to Lake Oloidien, and jogging alongside the many creatures that inhabit the area. Luxury and nature meet perfectly at a unique hotel that offers nothing but sheer delight.
Hotel Kakslauttanen – Finland
Perhaps the most commonly touted natural wonder to be seen before you die is the Aurora Borealis. The dancing colours of the Northern Lights enthral and delight all those lucky enough to bear witness to them. Though there are numerous types of accommodation across Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland that offer great views of this majestic phenomenon, there is one that stands out in particular. In addition to romantic timber cabins and authentic snow igloos, Hotel Kakslauttanen also offers visitors the chance to stay in an igloo made of glass. These dome-shaped structures offer phenomenal views of the aurora in absolute comfort and luxury. Each igloo even has reclining beds that allow guests to lie back, relax and watch the most wondrous spectacle the natural world has to offer, all in complete privacy.
What may come as a surprise to guests is that, despite temperatures dropping to -30 degrees Celsius outside, visitors can stay comfortably warm as a result of the igloos’ thermal glass walls. The innovative material also prevents condensation from forming inside the igloos, or frost building outside, thereby offering guests pristine views of their surroundings. This is a key feature of the glass igloos, for as well as the wonders of the skies above, masses of sparkling white snow, towering evergreen trees and glimpses of husky-driven sleighs and whizzing snowmobiles are also visible all around. The resort offers a range of other activities, from reindeer sleigh rides and steaming saunas to skiing, snowboarding, ice swimming and fishing. Guests are therefore never short of once-in-a-lifetime experiences during their stay at the enchanting Hotel Kakslauttanen.