Sleep by itself can be boring; that’s why when you “sleep with someone,” you never just sleep with them. When you stay at a hotel, that’s really all you need, but it’s never what you want (by itself anyway). You expect room service, complimentary breakfast, and little soaps and shampoo bottles. You are paying, in essence, for an experience that is restful more than just rest itself.
For some hotels, the “experience” isn’t limited to just feelings of restfulness; try awe-struck, amused, bewildered, even frightened. These hotels have uncapped new realms of possibilities, ones that demand attention even if they don’t demand serious business. Here are ten unusual hotels that will keep you up at night reassessing your preconceptions about this so-called business of “restfulness”.
10. Dog Bark Park Inn
This bed and breakfast, located in Cottonwood, Idaho, is shaped like a beagle. Owned by a pair of “chainsaw artists” who claim to have been able to afford such an investment through the “fortune” they made selling wooden dog carvings on QVC, this place is an obsessive dog-lover’s fantasy come true. Every motif is dog related, from the muzzle you can make yourself at home, to every little fixture and decoration. There’s even a gift shop where the chainsaw artisans sell their little wooden dog sculptures.
The creepiest part of all has to be the entrance to the B&B, which is via a staircase that appears to enter the dog’s rear quarters. But then again, that’s exactly where a dog goes whenever he meets someone new. Interesting side note: their website doesn’t mention their pet policy, as much as their dog-centric theme begs for one (or maybe it’s just begging for a treat).
9. Safari Land Farm and Guest House
Located in India, in the middle of the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, this resort offers lodging in the trees. Literally: you spend the night in a tree house constructed around a hulking agricultural up-growth, like the kind Dad builds in the backyard for his kids. Unlike the shoddy Home Depot DIY project by which your Dad upheld his manliness, a far-from-home, middle-of-a-jungle aesthetic really brings these lodges to life. As do the various monkeys, elephants, and other native creatures that happen to casually stroll and perch about. If you want to truly feel like Mowgli on your next visit to the jungle, this is surely the place to hang up your loincloth.
8. Capsule Hotels
Ever wondered what it was like to be abducted by aliens, or at the very least just to sleep on a UFO? Well, these mini-hotels, built from oil rig survival pods, are the closest thing to such an encounter of the third kind. Found in Den Haag, Netherlands, they rest upon water as easily as they do on land and make lodging accommodations as amphibian as the vessels from which they are derived. Only in a place where pot brownies are as ubiquitous as paper napkins could someone feel at complete ease stepping out of one of these to get the morning paper.
7. Drain Pipe Hotel
Like sleeping inside of a giant soda can, these drain pipes-turned-luxury suites are the brainchildren of the Austrians, whose architecture as wonky as their modern art. How they don’t roll away in the middle of the night must be credit to their weight, as these things boast the comfort factor of solid concrete.
6. Alcatraz Hotel
If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping inside of a German prison, but lacked the criminal wherewithal, here’s your chance to do so (although food and lodging in this case aren’t free). Granted, the luxury factor is dramatically augmented, rooms looking like Ikea and David Lynch teamed up to refurnish an upper-class-catering correctional facility. The only real hints of prison life come with the crudely spray-painted room numbers and wine bars/concierge desks/etc. which resemble holding cells, solid vertical bars left intact.
Who would’ve thought a yuppie on international business would willingly spend the night in a space once occupied by a homicidal maniac? Even if a looming, dark uneasiness does hang about the history of such an establishment, a former prison could never be as bad as a college dormitory.
5. Jumbo Stay
Now sleeping on an airplane can be its singular function. In Sweden, a hotel in the form of a converted jumbo jet exists, where passengers (as it were) can sleep in private chambers and dine in a swanky-looking lounge, all while parked at an airport with the spectacle of constant arrivals and departures a calming (or perhaps unnerving) atmospheric backdrop. Luxury class lodgers can even sleep in the cockpit albeit sans (we hope) the ability to make inane, monotonous announcements at regular intervals via the intercom.
4. Osaka Capsule Inn
In Japan, space is famously limited. Let these ideas of lofty luxury be one more instance of that fact. The rooms resemble industry ovens, wherein the roasts, err…residents can sleep peacefully, with an interior control panel, which allows the resident to choose the temperature he wishes to be cooked at. The image of these things evokes something incredibly bleak and sci-fi, like this hotel is the very source of the city’s power, harvested from “organic” energy sources, sources that never check out on their own volition. Neat concept though (better one for a movie).
3. Hotel de Glace
This hotel in Canada is literally a giant igloo; constructed of thick layers of ice, the only things heated are isolated bathrooms (and there are fireplaces in the bedrooms). If you’re wondering how something like this could endure the seasons, it can’t. It only lasts from the first week in January to the last in March. The rooms are kept at subzero temperatures, you sleep on a bed of ice, and if you don’t take advantage of the arctic-strength sleeping bags, hypothermia is a very real possibility. Sounds like fun! Pretty as it is, even with the number of weddings that take place there, it really sounds more spectacular than practical.
2. Hobbit Motel
This is a real thing. No, your neighbors won’t be unusually short and hairy-footed, but no one’s to stop you from eating six meals a day in the Woodlyn Park main room. Otherwise, this so-called Hobbit Motel is completely modeled with the Shire, hobbit hometown of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings book series, in mind. The doors and windows are round, and the actual motel rooms are burrowed in the bosoms of a bucolic hillside, but the fact that this particular motel is located in New Zealand, where the movie franchise was filmed, has “gimmick” written all over it. Also written: “tourists are suckers”.
1. Poseidon Undersea Resort
Underwater worlds like that of Atlantis, or the video game Bioshock, or even Star Wars Episode 1 are conjured by the notion of being able to walk, reside, and dwell beneath the ocean. It seems like a utopian idea–or perhaps dystopian, should the water provide the only remaining refuge in a world ruled by hydrophobic robots/zombies/parasites/etc. But that escape can be a much milder one should you want to occupy a stationary submarine recreationally.
The Poseidon Undersea Resort offers this possibility. Located on a private island in Fiji, stayers can see godly beings both terrifying and gorgeous sweep across virtually every part of the hotel, as each toe-shaped room features giant transparent fingernails. This sounds like the perfect place for surface-resistant scuba-divers, but a little scary for those who remember that scene in one of the Jaws sequels where the shark crashes through that underwater corridor. But that probably won’t happen; actually, the website lists the various ways in which the Poseidon is “redundantly fail-safe,” although shark resistance isn’t explicitly mentioned.