Traveling is one of the most fun and educational things a person can do. The best part of travel is getting out, seeing the country, meeting new people, and taking in new cultures. That is, if you’re an extrovert. If you’re an introvert like so many are, the energy required to launch yourself into so many unfamiliar situations means frequent retreats back to the hotel room. There, in your mini forward operating base, you can recharge and reset for the next barrage of novelty. And it helps if the hotel room isn’t grey and lifeless.
While some hotel rooms look like interrogation cells in Guantanamo and some like Queen Elizabeth’s personal spa, there exists a third type that is simply something else. These hotel rooms are wildly unique in shape or decor, or even redefine the whole concept of living spaces. Here are ten of those hotel rooms, who can best be described as out of this world.
10 Igloos at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is located in Finland’s Lapland region, the coldest, northernmost region in the country. Its iconic- and plentiful- snowfields and pine forests have helped make the area a worldwide mecca for Christmas enthusiasts. Many local businesses have adopted Christmas themes and events into their seasonal business models. In short, it’s almost as close to the North Pole as you can get, metaphorically (and somewhat literally; there’s not much civilization above that latitude). Kakslauttanen plays heavily into this concept and offers a huge range of wintertime activities and arctic-themed accommodations.
Most famous of all its attractions are the glass igloos. In a field all their own, amidst snow-covered pine trees, rows of igloos lie, each their own free-standing structure. The igloos are all one room, and each has an entire dome made of glass. This makes for some of the coziest sky-watching on the planet, and in particular, offers an astonishing view of the northern lights. Not to be a one-trick pony, Kakslauttanen also offers snow igloos, log cabins, and cabin-igloo hybrids, among others.
9 Giraffe Manor, Kenya
Giraffe Manor is located in Nairobi, Kenya, on a huge plot of private land that is used as a sanctuary for African wildlife. The building itself looks like typical colonizer opulence (as indeed, it used to be): a multi-storied mansion in stark contrast to the jungle and plains surrounding it. But the Manor has a higher calling than its antiquated fellows. It now functions as a breeding/rehabilitation program for a population of endangered Rothschild’s giraffes and as a hotel where guests can mingle freely with the giant mammals.
The giraffes are regulars around, and even in, the hotel. Like any animals, they go where the food is, and the Manor feeds them well. Windows are strategically placed around the building’s exterior to allow the giraffes to dip their heads in for treats and the occasional pet. The Manor’s actual rooms are exquisite, but the real draw is the acclimated, friendly giraffes that pop by to greet you as you dine or relax.
8 Space Room, Fantasyland Hotel, Canada
The Fantasyland Hotel is located within the enormous West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The mall is the largest in North America and boasts an impressive number of non-shopping-related attractions, such as the world’s second-largest indoor waterpark. The Fantasyland Hotel meets the expectations of its epic location with a series of elaborate theme rooms of surprisingly high production value. These include ancient Roman-, old western-, pirate-, and tropical Polynesian-themed rooms, among others. Possibly the coolest of them all is the space room.
The space room is modeled after the interior of a sci-fi spaceship, with cosmic paint throughout, a “porthole out into space,” neon LED lighting, buttons, and dials everywhere, and more. The coolest feature is the bunk beds, which legitimately look like sleeping pods aboard a futuristic star-cruiser. In lesser hands, the whole scene could look tacky, but Fantasyland did their job and made a room that looks authentic and fun.
7 Dog Bark Park Inn, U.S.
Located along Highway 95 in Cottonwood, Idaho, the Dog Bark Park Inn is a two-bedroom bed and breakfast with an odd design. The whole building is shaped like a giant beagle, who has gained the name, Sweet Willy. The owners refer to its design style as “barkitecture.”
Inside the beagle are two rooms available for rent, though the inn is perpetually booked months or years in advance. Both its rooms are chock-full of canine memorabilia, including a slew of dog-shaped wood-carvings made by one of the inn’s owners Dennis Sullivan. Dogs also cover the pillows, headboards, wall art, shelves, rugs, and more. I checked, and yes, they do allow cats.
6 Airplane Room at Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica
Hotel Costa Verde in Quepos, Costa Rica, is one of many upscale hotels that line the border of Manuel Antonio National Park. The park is small but beautiful and diverse, both geologically and biologically, making it a hot spot for ecotourists. Combined with the nearby beach and gentrified resort district makes the whole area a tourism goldmine. Costa Verde stands out by offering a unique lodging experience; one of its rooms is located within an actual refurbished Boeing 727 airplane.
The plane is propped up on a ledge so that it overlooks the beautiful coast and seems, at a glance, to be stuck in the thick canopy of the surrounding jungle. Oddly enough, the metal plane’s interior holds two bedrooms that are hyper-wooden. The walls, ceiling, floors, and furniture are almost entirely made of uniform dark wood. This makes for a cool contrast with the exterior, which looks like a set piece from Lost.
5 Utter Inn, Sweden
The Utter Inn is located on and in Lake Malaren in Vasteras, Sweden. I say ‘on and in’ because the entire hotel is two rooms- one floating in the middle of the lake and one attached directly beneath it.
The hotel is only accessible by boat (obviously) and looks, from the outside, like a tool shed or slightly oversized outhouse. A deck that doubles as a dock surrounds the building. Inside, the upper room has a trapdoor that leads down into the submerged room, whose windows are portholes that offer views of the murky, yellow lake-water around. It is somehow both one of the simplest places on this list and one of the strangest.
4 Treehotel, Sweden
The Treehotel is located in Edeforsvagen in the Swedish Lapland. It is an untraditional hotel made up of seven independent treehouses built throughout a forest in the Lule River valley. The treehouses are all one-room lodgings built around old-growth conifers and are raised off the ground by four to six meters, depending on the treehouse. Each of the seven houses was designed by a different Scandinavian architect, and it shows. Everyone is different from the last, and all of them are wild.
Some, like The Cabin and The Dragonfly, are relatively normal, with traditional, boxy exteriors and usual shapes. Some are not normal at all, like The UFO, which looks exactly like its namesake. The room is a large, chrome flying saucer propped up several trees with an ‘entrance ramp’ extending down to the ground below. The inside is one big circle, with tiny portholes looking out at the human world below.
3 Helga’s Folly, Sri Lanka
Helga’s Folly is a hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka, that bills itself as an “anti-hotel,” and they mean it. The whole building- the exterior, common spaces, and all 17 rooms- is covered head-to-toe with an eclectic mishmash of art from every conceivable style, making the place more like an acid trip than a resort.
Instead of the soothing hues and calm minimalism of traditional hotels, the rooms in Helga’s Folly are covered in sensory experiences, every inch of every wall filled with color and information. There are mobiles, mirrors, sculptures, skeletons, tapestries, tile mosaics, plants, graffiti, murals, taxidermy, and a thousand other distractions in every corner. If you’re looking to stay in a 3D version of Ginsberg’s “Howl,” this is the place.
2 Hotel CasAnus, Belgium
Not much needs to be said about Hotel CasAnus in Stekene, Belgium, as its name says a lot already. The hotel, which began as a giant sculpture, is one long room shaped like an anatomically accurate rectum. On one end of the building is a similarly accurate, puckered sphincter. The exterior of the CasAnus is red, lumpy, and veiny, and though the interior is white, it otherwise matches the smooth, organic surfaces of the outside. Yes, there is a working toilet inside the rectum, which conceptually makes the whole scenario a scatological Mobius strip.
1 Null Stern Hotel, Switzerland
Null Stern Hotel, famous for creating a hotel out of an abandoned nuclear bunker, has an expansion project called Zero Real Estate. Located in the Swiss Alps, its “rooms” are unique. More unique, in fact, than any other rooms on this list. That’s because the seven rooms at Zero Real Estate have no walls or ceilings. They are beds with nightstands that rest on simple flooring, and that is it. That sounds like the biggest scam in the world until you see where the rooms are located.
The seven rooms are scattered across the Swiss Alps, and all have breathtaking views of their surroundings- due mainly to not having any structures to get in the way. Snow-capped mountains and rolling, flowering hills are visible for miles on every side. This makes the Zero Real Estate rooms, in a way, the ultimate way to lay out under the stars. Maybe the best part is that each room also has full service from a “butler,” in this case, a local who treks up to the room and offers food, drinks, and local color. Weather permitting, these rooms would make for a very cool experience.