Bored with staying in the same old chain hotels, where every room looks like the one before, the only view is the car park and the nearest thing you get to an adventure is finding your way to the breakfast buffet? It doesn’t always have to be like that. Next time, resolve to find somewhere a little different to lay your head.
How about checking into a former US radar installation inside Panama’s Soberania National Park? Or a treehouse in the Australian rainforest? Or an underwater lodge near Florida where you have to scuba dive to your room? Or the world’s first revolving hotel in Turkey?
Perhaps one of the best-known hotels with a difference is Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Swedish Lapland. The winter season 2011/12 will be the 22nd year since this extraordinary hotel was first created, growing from an igloo of 60 square metres to the world’s largest hotel made entirely of ice and snow at about 5500 square metres. The hotel is only open from the beginning of December until mid to late April, but summer visitors to Jukkasjärvi can visit the ice factory and learn more about the history and construction of Icehotel. This summer also saw the creation of a smaller version of the hotel, where you can enjoy a drink in the Icebar and try your hand at ice sculpting.
If tropical lagoons are more your thing, check out Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida – and yes, it really is underwater! To reach the hotel, a former research laboratory, guests must scuba dive through the tropical mangrove habitat of the Emerald Lagoon. Once safely through the opening, there’s no shortage of creature comforts – hot showers, a well-stocked kitchen, books, music and cozy beds, where you can snuggle up and watch the fish watching you. Even if you’re a scuba novice, the lodge offers dive certification courses to allow you to get the most from your experience. Key Largo is the northernmost of the Florida Keys and a great base from which to explore one of the most fascinating states in the USA, with a wide choice of competitively priced flights to Orlando and Miami International airports from the UK.
For those who crave a little (or a lot!) more luxury and prefer to see their fish from a safe distance, the Marmara in Antalya should tick all the boxes – and more. Situated on Antalya’s alluring Turquoise Coast, on top of the famous Falez Hills, the first and only revolving hotel in the world is a designer’s dream, with innovative architecture, outstanding decor, fine dining and a private beach surrounded by natural rocks where you can relax to your heart’s content. There are plenty of cheap flights to Turkey from the UK, although as the hotel is just a few miles from Antalya International, this might be the most convenient choice.
Eco-warriors will satisfy their consciences by waking up in an environmentally friendly treehouse above the rainforest canopy of North Queensland, while old hippies can rediscover their karma in the Post Ranch Inn perched on the cliffs of California’s Big Sur, where some of the rooms are built on stilts in the treetops. But you don’t have to go halfway around the world to sleep in a tree – Castle Cottages Treehouse is set in a huge sweet chestnut within the grounds of Coates Castle in West Sussex, complete with glass-topped ensuite shower and a large balcony from which you can admire the ancient woodland all around you.
So don’t settle for the motorway services – seek out the world’s most unusual hotels and turn a night’s sleep into an unforgettable adventure!