The Most Out of the Ordinary Hotels in the World—from Caves to Treehouses
Seeking an unforgettable stay? Think beyond the standard hotel room or suite and consider an utterly unique lodging experience. Innovative, interesting, dreamy, quirky...whatever you want to call ‘em, we’ve rounded up ten awesome hotels that are anything but ordinary. From an arctic resort with glass igloos to a salt palace in the Bolivian desert, these extraordinary properties make jaws drop.
1. JULES’ UNDERSEA LODGE (KEY LARGO, FLORIDA)
Ready to drop anchor somewhere totally unique? The first and only underwater hotel in the United States, Jules’ Undersea Lodge is a no-frills bolthole in Key Largo that’s much geared towards aquatic adventurers and real-deal dive enthusiasts. Equipped with 42-inch round windows, beds and other basic essentials, both rooms reside on the bottom of a protected lagoon. The only way to gain access? Scuba through a tropical mangrove habitat. Not ready to take the plunge just yet? You can get open water certified or do a discovery course before committing to an overnight.
2. KAKSLAUTTANEN ARCTIC RESORT (SAARISELKÄ, FINLAND)
Witnessing the wonder of the northern lights is a pilgrimage-worthy experience. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in the Finnish village of Saariselkä, where aurora borealis season lasts a whopping eight months, gives guests an unobstructed view of the emerald green, magenta and turquoise solar particles dancing through the night sky—without even having to brave the cold. How’s that even possible? Glass igloos with snuggly beds. When not staring up at glowing cosmos, bundle up and head outside into the Lapland wilderness for husky sled rides, reindeer rendezvous and skiing in Urho Kekkonen National Park.
3. SILOSTAY (LITTLE RIVER, NEW ZEALAND)
When a square room with four walls just feels too been-there-done-that…it’s time to think outside the box. Located in the serene town of Little River on the Banks Peninsula, SiloStay is a one-of-a-kind and award-winning design concept that allows guests to post up in custom-built grain silos. Each self-contained cylindrical sanctuary features a comfy bed, full bath, custom kitchenette, flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi and a clever hanging track designed to hang outdoorsy gear. The property also wins points for eco-friendly elements such as sustainable wool-insulation, energy-saving LED lighting and a pelletized boiler system fueled by wood waste.
4. ATLANTIS, THE PALM (DUBAI, UAE)
The desert isn’t really the first place you’d imagine stumbling upon a stay filled with subaquatic pleasures. But, then again, City of Gold never shies away from making the impossible, well, possible. Atlantis, The Palm is an iconic, larger-than-life luxury Dubai resort with brilliant ocean-themed design. Falling squarely within the category of astounding architectural achievements, the multi-level underwater suite flaunts a king-size bedroom, marble bath and floor-to-ceiling windows that peer into a gigantic aquarium. Aquatic enthusiasts can also try hatha yoga below the waves, venture 32 feet deep on a guided walking tour of Ambassador Lagoon and eat at the underwater restaurant.
5. ICEHOTEL (JUKKASJÄRVI, SWEDEN)
You might have seen a few ice hotels on Instagram. But the OG, aptly named Icehotel, is located in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden. Equal parts accommodation and art exhibition, it’s definitely the coolest place to spend the night. Cold rooms and suites, designed by artists from around the world and made out of sculptured ice from the neighboring Torne River, are appointed with thermal sleeping bags and reindeer hides for some much-needed warmth. There’s also a Swedish fusion restaurant and cocktail bar. Suffice to say, this glacial palace would make even Elsa jealous.
6. GIRAFFE MANOR (NAIROBI, KENYA)
Hands-down one of the most Instagrammable properties in the entire world, Giraffe Manor, a boutique hotel set on 140 acres of indigenous forest on the outskirts of Nairobi, turns daydreams about up-close encounters with the tallest living terrestrial animal into reality. It very much feels like staying at a stately historic estate with gorgeous gardens and courtyards that also happens to be home to a herd of resident Rothschild giraffes who frequently stop by afternoon tea just to say hi and peep into the windows of the elegant guest rooms.
7. LES HAUTES ROCHES (ROCHECORBON, FRANCE)
Poised on a tufa cliff, overlooking the Loire River, Les Hautes Roches, a member of Relais & Châteaux, promises one of the most sophisticated and serene subterranean stays on the planet. Philippe Mollard transformed the caves attached to the Abbey of Marmoutier into halcyon and luxurious troglodyte havens that retain a sense of tranquility befitting of former monk dormitories. Plush, modern comforts like bathtubs and chandeliers reflect this historic landmark’s second act as a luxury hotel and no doubt dazzle the discerning travelers who flock to this corner of France to snooze in a grotto.
8. SUNSET AT THE PALMS (NEGRIL, JAMAICA)
We love a luxury adults-only all-inclusive resort. Though, these types of properties aren’t really known for having out-of-the-ordinary accommodations. A spacious suite with a swim-up pool, sure. But rarely, if ever, a jaw-dropping treetop retreat. Of course, exceptions to that rule do exist. Hidden amongst tropical foliage on the northern side of Negril, Sunset at the Palms takes tropical fantasy to new heights, quite literally, with intimate treehouse suites that showcase tall ceilings, dark wood floors and private balconies. For a closer look at Jamaica’s flora and fauna, join one of the popular gardener-led nature walks.
9. HOTEL PALACIO DE SAL (COLCHANI, BOLIVIA)
Few things are dreamier than spending a few nights in the arid expanse of the desert. It's not just a spellbinding location at the edge of Salar de Uyuni in an area of southwest Bolivia known for astonishing stargazing that makes a stay at Hotel Palacio de Sal so memorable but the fact that the pioneering property is constructed from more than one million blocks of salt from the world’s largest salt flats! Astonishing architecture and Andean luxury come together in the rooms and suites that showcase dazzling dome-shaped ceilings and otherworldly views.
10. CONRAD MALDIVES RANGALI ISLAND (RANGALI, MALDIVES)
Twice voted “best hotel in the world,” the ultra-luxurious Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has stunning overwater bungalows. But a mind-blowing suite called The Muraka that makes the biggest splash with guests around the globe. The envy-inducing two-level residence looks like a computer simulation with integrated living spaces above and below the water. Imagine sleeping in a fish tank. That’s the scenario offered by the submerged master bedroom, which is enclosed in a curved acrylic dome and surrounded by exotic marine species. The $9,999-per-night price tag also covers VIP fast-track arrival and departure, private speedboat transport and butler service.