10 unique experiential hotels from around the world

A trend in the travel world that is becoming increasingly popular is the “experiential” hotel. Many travelers are no longer looking for a basic room in a premier location, but instead for an experience that will allow them to get to know an (often remote) area, or at least have their hotel be something they’ll never forget. From staying in mines in the deepest hotel suite in the world to getting in touch with nature in a tree-top accommodation, these ten unique hotels are must-stays for the experiential traveler.

The SnowHotel
Location: Ylläsjärvi. Finland

This hotel is an experiential property located in the Snow Village, a compound of snow and ice making a restaurant, bar, lobbies, sculptures, walls, slides, and, of course, the SnowHotel. Stay overnight in a room made completely of snow and enjoy the illuminated ice art that surrounds you. Rooms range from double igloo rooms to “furnished” ice suites.

The Sala Silvermine
Location: Sala, Sweden

The Sala Silvermine is not for the claustrophobic. Stay in the deepest hotel suite on Earth. Once you arrive, you will be given a guided tour of the mine, once Sweden’s largest producer of silver, which is 155 meters underground. After the tour, guests are given a goodie basket of fruit, biscuits, cheese, chocolate, and wine, which can be a romantic touch in the dim, candle-lit room. Prepare to rough it a little as the toilets are located 50 meters from the room, while the showers are above ground in the hostel.

Safari Land Farm and Guest House Resort
Location: Tamilnadu, India

Often called the Tree House Resort, Safari Land will really get you in touch with nature. Safari Land is specifically designed with wilderness lovers, bird watchers, and environmentally conscious. Guests will stay in tree houses perched above 4,000 feet high hills. Look down and you will see a tranquil stream pouring down the hill. Look forward and your view will be of the Blue Mountains in India. And for those who want to have a rustic experience but still enjoy some comforts of home, electricity, toilets, and hot water are available.

La Balade des Gnomes
Location: Heyd Nr Durbuy, Wallonia, Belgium

La Balade des Gnomes is an experiential hotel for those who have a big imagination. With a fairy-tale theme in mind, the rooms are extremely detailed and over-the-top. Sleep in a boat under twinkling lights while floating in a swimming pool or opt for the enormous Trojan Horse Suite where you will literally be staying inside a trojan horse.

Palacio de Sal
Location: Uyuni,Bolivia

Those with high sodium levels, beware! The Palacio de Sal is, exactly as the name states, made entirely out of salt. Not only are the walls, ceilings, and floors made out of salt, but also the furniture. And, it doesn’t stop there. Salt artwork and a salt golf-course are also part of the experience.

Controversy Tram Inn
Location: Hoogwoud, Netherlands

Guests of the Controversy Tram Inn can experience sleeping in a railcar converted into a 5-room Bed and Breakfast, each with a unique theme. A double bed, shower, sink, and toilet are also included. Next to the experiential hotel live the owners, Frank and Irma Appel, who also live like their guests, sleeping in a London double-decker bus in their living room and eating in a kitchen that is now a French Van.

Jules Undersea Lodge
Location: Key Largo, Florida

Imagine having to dive underwater to get to your room? If you stay at Jules Undersea Lodge, this becomes a reality, as guests dive 21 feet to get to this completely submerged experiential hotel. Meals and luggage are handled in waterproof suitcases, and the food is actually hot. Each room holds a 42-inch round window so that guests can check out the many species of sea life swimming in the lagoon. If you’re into diving, the hotel provides unlimited tanks for their guests to explore the sea.

Propeller Island City Lodge
Location: Berlin, Germany

With rooms designed by German artist Lars Stroschen, staying here is like sleeping in a giant work of art, with upside-down rooms and flying beds. Everything you find in the Propeller Island City Lodge is custom-made and one-of-a-kind. Rooms range from mild to extreme and have the ability to alter your sense of reality. Be prepared for surprises everywhere you turn.

Wigwam Motel
Location: Holbrook, Arizona

The Wigwam Motel is one of the last standing Wigwam hotels left from a 1950’s chain. In 2002, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests have the opportunity to stay in one of 14 authentic-looking teepees. Making the stay more experiential is the fact that it is located in close proximity to a number of Native American Reservations. Unlike Indian-style teepees, however, guests at Wigwam can enjoy double-beds and air-conditioning.

The Boot Bed ‘n’ Breakfast
Location: Tasman, New Zealand

Remember the childhood nursery rhyme The Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe? Well picture that, but a lot more luxurious. This giant boot is located on 6 acres of gardens, courtyards, and well-manicured property. With private outdoor seating, a spiral wooden staircase, a cozy fireplace, and fresh flowers in rooms made for two, it is easy to see why the Boot Bed ‘n’ Breakfast is the perfect romantic experience for couples. Still, if you’re single and still want to see what it’s like to sleep in a giant shoe, make the trip anyway.

Sleep on a bed made of hay at a German heuhotel

It seems hay is not just for horses – it’s also for sleeping on at hotels in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Heuhotels (heu means hay in German) are hotels housed in converted barns where guests bed down in sleeping bags in dorm rooms with layers of hay covering the floor.

The heuhotel Zum Alten Marstall, located near the Neckar Valley in Germany, sits at the foot of an 11th century castle and takes the medieval theme and runs with it. The hay beds are referred to as “knight’s lairs” and staff dress in medieval clothes. Hay beds start at €19,50, while private rooms are €31 per person.

While other hay hotels around the area may not have a theme, they do offer extras like privacy curtains or “rooms” in converted stalls, and most seem to offer a communal breakfast and outdoor activities. It seems like the hotels would appeal most to budget travelers, families with young kids, or eco-conscious travelers, but one heuhotel owner claims the hay beds are also popular with couples, saying “there’s nothing more exciting than a night on the hay”….except perhaps a roll in the hay?

Check out a list of heuhotels all around Germany here. Or click here to see some unusual hotels in the United States.

[via CNN]

Unusual hotels around the U.S.

Ever wanted to stay in a treehouse? How about in a wigwam, a light house, or even 30 feet underwater? At hotels around the United States, you can indulge these wacky fantasies and more. From yurts to train cars, here are some of the most unique places to stay around the country.

Kokopelli’s Cave Bed and Breakfast – Farmington, New Mexico
Located in the cliffs of New Mexico, near Mesa Verde National Monument, Kokopelli’s Cave B&B is just what it sounds like – a hotel dug out of the rock, where guests sleep in a carved out cave 70 feet underground. It’s perfect as a home base for hikers who want to explore the surrounding area, or for couples looking for a luxurious, relaxing retreat.

Jules Undersea Lodge – Key Largo, Florida
Dive enthusiasts who stay at the Jules Undersea Lodge won’t have to go far to don their scuba suits. Actually, they’ll need to scuba dive just to get to the Lodge, which is located 30 feet below the sea. The Lodge still functions as an underwater research station and welcomes guests for overnight stays, but the claustrophobic may want to look elsewhere for accommodations.

Treebones Resort – Big Sur, California
Staying in a yurt, a kind of permanent tent structure, isn’t exactly roughing it at Treebones Resort. The yurts here feature hardwood floors and French doors, and restrooms and a large swimming pool are just a few steps away. The yurts overlook the Pacific Ocean and the resort offers several tours and activities.

Out’n’About Treehouses Treesort – Takilma, Oregon
Never had a treehouse as a kid? Here’s your chance to make up for lost time, spending the night in a souped up treehouse in the Oregon woods. The treehouses don’t have TV, phone, or air conditioning, but they do have comfortable queen beds, and some have kitchenettes and bathrooms. The treehouses are accessed by stairs, swinging bridges and zip lines and the resort offers a variety of active adventures for guests.

Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, Idaho
If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping inside a two-story wooden beagle (because really, who hasn’t?), head to the Dog Bark Park Inn in north central Idaho. Billing itself as the “world’s largest beagle” the Dog Bark Park Inn may not be a destination unto itself – other than typical outdoor activities, there’s not much to lure you to Cottonwood, Idaho – but if a road trip brings you through the area, this will make for a memorable place to stay.

Aurora Express Bed and Breakfast – Fairbanks, Alaska
Sleeping on a train is nothing new. Sleeping in a retired rail car turned into a hotel is a little more unusual. Each train car on the Aurora Express Bed and Breakfast holds one to four hotel rooms, featuring lavish bedding and gilded decor reminiscent of the golden age of train travel. A dining car serves breakfast daily. The hotel is only open in summer months.

McMenamin’s Kennedy School – Portland, Oregon
For the ultimate trip down memory lane, head to Portland, Oregon and book a room at the Kennedy School, a hotel built out of a former elementary school. Many of the original furnishings remain and nearly every room plays on the educational theme. Sip a brewed on-site beer at the Detention Bar, party to live music in the gym, or tour the brewery housed in the former girls’ bathroom. Even the guest rooms get in on the fun theme. They are housed in converted classrooms and many still have their original desks and chalkboards.

A Hotel Underwater? Thank Jules Verne.

There are Japan’s capsules hotels that Willy Volk blogged about and there are the Swiss igloo hotels that Neil Woodburn blogged about. For another option, although you’ll need to scuba dive to get there, try Jules’ Underwater Lodge at the Key Largo Undersea Park. This lodge, inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea has offered an upscale intimate place to scuba to for a night’s stay or longer for 21 years now.

I first read about this lodge in an ESL (English as a Second Language) book on idioms. I can’t remember the idioms covered in the story but one of them had to do with visitors being able to sit by a window and watch the fish pass by. There was also an idiom that involved a chef preparing terrific food. This story was a huge hit, though not as huge as the one about the man who advertised for a wife in the newspaper and said whoever was interested should apply at his booth at a shopping mall on a particular day. Shoot! Could this have been a Valentine story?

The Jules Underwater Lodge story explained how the people who stay there don’t drown. The hotel looks mighty sweet and comfy to me. If you don’t know how to scuba dive to get to bed, you can take lessons at the Undersea Park. You’ll need more than one day to learn, however, so you’ll have to lodge above ground first. Think about taking lessons closer to home then reward yourself with a trip here (one of the website’s suggestions). There are several package options for those who are interested in the more simple fare to those whose tastes run to the elegant. Also, there are 21st year celebration discounts. Check the lodge’s press release for the details.