Tired of staying in typical, traditional hotels – the kind with large lobbies and hundreds of identical rooms? Then consider a quirkier alternative. Some are different in their concept, while others in their construction. Either way, going back to your room each night will feel like a mini-vacation within your trip itself.
If you’re going to spend a night – or more – in jail, this is the place to serve your time. Acting as the Charles Street Jail in Boston starting in the mid-1850s, the Liberty Hotel at the foot of historic Beacon Hill was extensively renovated and opened in 2007. Sporting an ultra-stylish interior design, Italian restaurant and upscale lounge, the present-day hotel makes it hard to imagine it as a home for hardened criminals. Along with extensive in-room amenities boasting stunning views of downtown Boston, the Liberty hosts nightly events like fashion shows and parties.
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Hotel de Glace
Even though it’s built from snow and ice, Hotel de Glace in Quebec remains a red-hot place to stay. Completely rebuilt each winter, the hotel has 36 rooms and suites and is the only ice hotel in the Americas. It also boasts the famous Ice Bar, a perfect spot to warm up, where even the drink glasses are made from ice. More than 85,000 visitors take tours of the frozen accommodations each year, and 4,000 stay overnight. Guests get to choose from a wide array of winter activities including dog-sledding, snowshoeing, ice-skating and cross-country skiing. Our one piece of advice: bring gloves!
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You won’t mind staying after school at the Kennedy School hotel in Portland, Oregon. A former neighborhood elementary school, the Kennedy was transformed into a luxurious and funky hotel, with guest rooms in former classrooms – complete with school-related décor like blackboards and coatrooms. After-school features include a restaurant, multiple bars, a brewery and a movie theater. Set in an up-and-coming residential neighborhood, the Kennedy draws locals and visitors alike.
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Desert Cave Hotel
As the world’s only internationally rated underground hotel, Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy is an exciting change for surface-dwellers. Set in an opal-rich region of the Outback, the hotel is hewn from sandstone and stays cool and dry, and the luxurious rooms are perfect to return to after a long day exploring the scorching and beautiful surroundings. You’ll feel snugger than a baby kangaroo in its pouch when you turn in for the night under down under.
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Dog Park Bark Inn
This is no ordinary doghouse; it’s an inn in the shape of the world’s largest beagle, nicknamed Sweet Willy. The Dog Park Bark Inn has guestrooms inside the multi-level interior, including a sleeping alcove in the dog’s muzzle. Even toilets are shaped like fire hydrants. Located in Cottonwood, Idaho, there are plentiful outdoors choices, such as the Lewis and Clarke trail, historic monasteries and whitewater rafting. Woof!
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You won’t run out of bedtime reading when you stay at the Library Hotel in New York City. The top-rated, luxury library-themed hotel has arranged its floors according to the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System – remember literature, history and math from back in the day? Guests choose from a room menu of sub-topics according to their interests, such as classics, astronomy or new media, complete with book selections. The Library includes an elegant great room and greenhouse as well – its Midtown location is ideal.
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Jumbo Hostel gives a whole new meaning to sleeping on a plane, and you don’t need a ticket or to take off your shoes to board. A decommissioned 1976 Boeing 747 has been converted into a 27-room hostel on the grounds of Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. Completely rebuilt from the inside, Jumbo Hostel has “passenger” rooms in the cockpit and cabins, a bar and café, and a first-class lounge-turned- conference room that holds up to eight people – the next best thing to having your own 747.
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For a whimsical and eclectic stay, look at Winvian, located on 113 acres of rolling Connecticut countryside. Guests choose from 18 individually designed and themed cottages such as camping, golf, and maritime. The coolest one might the helicopter-themed cabin, built around a retired Coast Guard rescue chopper – the bar and lounge situated within the fuselage. There’s also a spa and restaurant, and an adjacent 4,000-acre conservation preserve to explore.
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Visit the postwar boom era at the 1950s-themed Rendezvous in Palm Springs, California. Transformed from a roadside motel, the Rendezvous oozes kitschy-cool with pink flamingos, frosted glass, blue Astroturf poolside and Googi-inspired décor. Period-themed rooms are dedicated to 50s films and television, as well as Route 66, Elvis and James Dean.
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If you want to stay in a hip, sexy hotel without blowing your budget, the ultra-chic Qbic Hotel in Amsterdam is the place. Its cutting-edge design is typically found in the most expensive of hotels around the world. The focus of each room is the Cubi, a cube-shaped living space complete with designer furnishings and individual mood-lighting schemes. Spending a night in your retro pad is like staying in a hotel from the future, and ideal whether your time in Amsterdam is spent in old museums or modern clubs and coffee shops.
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And a bonus, because this last hotel was way too fun to leave out!
The only way the auto-geared V8 Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany could be more car-centric is if the hotel itself could be driven. Each of the 34 rooms is decorated in a different auto theme, such as a carwash, drive-in theater, and racing. Even the beds in some rooms are made from cars. Best of all, there’s no need to change a tire, check the brakes, or fill up on pricey gasoline before you turn in for the night, and you won’t get towed mid slumber.
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By Martin Clinton