With social media we’ve become more privy to the wonders of world traveling and thanks to the easy access, we’ve seen some amazing destinations from all around the world. Of course, no trip is really a trip without knowing where you’re going to be staying. That is, unless you’re backpacking, in which case there are are some things on this list you’re probably going to want to see. But most of us stay in hotels and we tend to see hotels as a means to travel. We don’t go to Thailand or Paris for the hotels. We go for the views, but there are some nice hotels out there and maybe some of us do like to stay in a certain hotel. Some places take that a step further with crazy custom hotels designed to appeal to the artist or traveler in us.
Many artists and famous architects have begun designing hotels to attract us to certain destinations. In that vein, a new kind of traveling has been born and that traveling is actually centered on where you’re staying. Whether it’s under the night sky watching the Northern Lights, or in a sleek modern building in an up and coming wine country, hotels are growing more and more customized to create unique experiences and to attract those looking for something different in their lodging.
20 Mirrorcube, Sweden
Many of the hotels on this list feel like they’ve come from another world or are places you’d expect to stay inside of a land of fantasy. Its name is rather obvious and doesn’t make you think too hard about it, but the Mirrorcube hotel in Sweden is something you might see in a horror movie. It’s a strange image to see. Suspended in the woods, the Mirrorcube is a 4x4x4 meter box with a reflective exterior that bounces the images of the woods off of its surface. It’s not necessarily camouflage, but the resulting effect is hypnotizing. Something about its design and simplicity makes it seem a little creepy, but the Mirrorcube is actually a great place to stay.
19 Zands Hotel, Netherlands
You were bound to come across a few hotels on this list that were made out of weird things. Indeed, much of the allure of strange hotels comes from discovering the oddly specific niches in the world and finding the hotels that appeal to them. Salt, dogs, sand. In the Netherlands, the Zands Hotel has opened two new bedrooms available to guests that are made entirely out of the fine sediment. Of course, to fit the theme, you will find everything is sand and related to sand including a few cute sand castles built around the room for decoration. Unfortunately, these rooms are only available during the special Sand Festival.
18 Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel, Brazil
The Amazon River is one of South America’s greatest attractions, stretching across most of the continent and branching off in a labyrinth of directions in a number of countries. Boat trips and ferries have attracted a number of travelers, but the river side hotels have become a major attraction to people traveling to South America. The Arjau Amazon Towers in Brazil stands at the top of the list as one of the oldest and largest jungle hotels along the river. This motel embraces the local culture and aesthetic of the Amazon and has become a major destination for normal travelers and celebrities alike.
17 Woodlyn Park Hobbit Motel, New Zealand
The massive success of the Lord of the Rings brought in a wave of new visitors to New Zealand’s’ tourism industry. People from around the world flocked to see the shire in its natural beauty and those who were smart enough to see the appeal capitalized. Woodlyn Park isn’t all Hobbit. In fact, it’s famous for converting old structures like ships, planes, and trains into comfortable lodging. But Woodlyn has earned a reputation for its two Hobbit suites which can both fit up to 6 people and look just like the Hobbit holes from the films, except the interior doesn’t require you to bend down.
16 Tianzi Hotel, China
This may be one of the strangest entries on our list and that’s saying something for a list made up entirely of bizarre hotels. And it’s not necessarily because of the hotel’s outward exterior, but more so because of the mysteries and secrets surrounding the hotel. The Tianzi Hotel along China’s border with North Korea is famous for its depiction of 3 Chinese deities in the form of a hotel complex. That’s right, the hotel is shaped and designed to look like three Chinese gods draped in traditional clothing. It’s a strange concept and one that has never been explained by the owners of the property. Even more mysterious is the interior. There are few, if any, pictures and visitors seemed to remain tight lipped about their experiences.
15 Palacio de Sal, Bolivia
If you’re feeling salty and looking for a way to take it up another notch then we suggest the Palace of Salt in La Paz, Bolivia. Hard to believe, but Bolivia is home to one of the world’s largest salt flats in Salar de Uyuni and the Bolivians are proud of their salt, so proud, in fact, that they’ve built a hotel in the heart of Salar de Uyuni. Yes, you read that right. A hotel made of and made for salt. The hotel recommends not licking the walls (seriously!). The hotels are crazy unique and provide all amenities required including plumbing, spas, and saltwater pools.
14 Propeller Island City Lodge, Germany
Some of these hotels featured on our list are so out there in concept and design that they have to count as art. Think about it: a hotel so unusual-looking that we’d feature it on our list had to have been the brain child of some creative thinker. That’s the case with the Propeller Islands in Berlin, Germany. It was originally conceived by artist Lars Strorschen who rented out spaces in his apartment for extra income. He used his artistic talent to design each room with a unique aesthetic and the little hotel boomed in popularity. Eventually he began to purchase more and more space in his building and turned the small enterprise into a multi-floor hotel while still holding onto the unique style that made it so popular.
13 Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho
Unfortunately this entry on our list is pretty exclusive, so you might want to reconsider visiting. This place is only for people who love dogs, so if that’s not you then kindly leave this page and look elsewhere. The Dog Bark Park Inn in the north of Idaho is a hotel shaped like a beagle. Just off Highway 95, the idea came from husband and wife artists Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin who had a passion for dogs and an idea for a bed and breakfast. Their pooch palace was featured on HGTV and features two sleeping areas and a ton of dog themed memorabilia and decorations.
12 Sheraton Hot Spring, China
You didn’t think you'd find one of the major hotel chains on this list, did you? Well turns out that as China continues to put itself on the map as a major economic player and luxury travel destination, exotic buildings will spring up from time to time. None have been quite as remarkable as the Sheraton Hot Springs Resort on the coast of Lake Tai in Huzhou, to the east of Shanghai. What makes this hotel so unusual is the doughnut shape. Yes, like a doughnut. Or maybe a horseshoe. Either way this building really stands out on the lake and at night it glows with vibrant neon blue lights.
11 Hotel Marques de Riscal, Spain
Art seems to be what inspires many hotels around the world to go from plain luxurious to something else entirely. In the pursuit of standing out and creating a name for their hotels, many have turned to famous artists and architects to designs their hotels and make them as unique as possible. That’s the case with the Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain. The area if famous for its wine, up there with some of the greatest in the world and this hotel in particular hired the famous Frank Gehry to design the hotel with inspiration from the modern design. The hotel stands out as something not seen anywhere else.
10 Bubble Hotel, France
To the east of Montpelier, just slightly north of the coast along the Mediterranean is a chance for you to sleep in the outside in the woods. This French hotel may seem like a glorified camping trip, but’s it’s actually something much more futuristic than you think. The rooms are giant bubbles equipped with beds, dressers, and desks. Through the clear surface of the rooms, it’ll seem like you’re outside in the woods, but you’re plenty cozy inside this bubble hotel. And because you’re out in the wilderness away from light pollution, the company gives complimentary telescopes to star gazers.
9 Magic Mountain, Chile
In the gorgeous, lush backdrop of the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve lies one of the craziest hotels in Chile, or even the world. A man-made structure built to emulate an active volcano, the entire hotel is covered in lava rock and thick moss with a waterfall spewing water from the top. The water flows down the hotel’s surface and feeds the moss. You access the hotel via a monkey bridge way up in the air which gives you the sense that you’ve arrived on another planet. As strange as the hotel is, it’s meant to evoke the ecological beauty of the local region and does so perfectly.
8 Costa Verde, Costa Rica
South of the capital city of San Jose and along the western coast of Costa Rica is an incredible view of the ocean against the exotic jungle on its edge. Costa Verde is indeed green and their accommodations perfectly accentuate the lush tropical experience of the local area while still providing luxurious lodging. What makes Costa Verde so unusual is its most sought after suite: a refurbished Boeing 747 airplane. That’s right, the hotel has put an airplane in the heart of the forest and extended a bridge for visitors to stay in. the inside is actually quite spectacular with a beautiful wood finish that goes perfectly with the surrounding jungle.
7 Sultan Cave Suites, Turkey
The Sultan Cave Suites are rather famous around the gram. You’ll find pictures of this Turkish hotel all over travel blogs and backpacker forums and the pictures will be of travelers on the breathtaking rooftop terraces that overlook the nearby village. In the morning at sunrise, dozens of hot air balloons take off and fill the sky, providing a perfect picture for those on the terraces. While cave hotels are nothing particularly rare when it comes to unusual hotels, there are only a handful that are especially cool and the Sultan Cave Suites are some of the coolest. The cave experience here is both luxurious and exotic.
6 Benesse House, Japan
In the south of Japan lies the Seto Inland Sea which separates three of Japan’s four main islands from the country’s mainland. Here you’ll find a hotel that believes in co-existence, specifically with art and nature. On the small island of Naoshima, you’ll find the Benesse House, a peculiar place that is both a museum for art and a hotel for guests. They believe in bringing contemporary art and architecture together and allow guests to stay in one of their four lodgings to better spend time within the space. This is not only a unique looking hotel, but an incredibly unique experience for those passionate about art.
5 Levin Iglut Golden Crown, Finland
The far north of Sweden can be an incredibly beautiful place, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves the tranquil, untouched serenity of freshly fallen snow. This far north the snow is perfect, capping the pine trees and the roofs of homes. It’s a peaceful setting very much like a winter wonderland, but the catch is always the cold. Thankfully Levin Iglut Golden Crown has you covered. Their unique lodging offers a full view of the snowy landscape through igloos of glass. The glass igloos are electrically heated and don’t fog up so you can stay cozy and warm while the snow falls gently outside.
4 Casa de Uco, Argentina
Casa de Uco in Argentina is set against a beautiful backdrop, all alone and seemingly dropped in the middle of nowhere. With the snowcapped Andes behind it and at the shore of a small lake, it’s hard to figure out what this place is doing out there in the remote expanse of Brazil. But this area is Mendoza and it’s becoming one of the world’s go-to wine destinations. Casa de Uco is a modern hotel built to be eco-friendly. It takes advantage of wine’s growing popularity in the region and provides guests with ample land rich with vineyards and perfect for those who love both wine tasting and traveling.
3 Free Spirit Spheres, Canada
The Pacific Northwest has earned a reputation for its rain forest-like tranquility. The dense fog descending down on the canopy of trees and the thick vegetation illicit a vibrant respect and admiration for nature. The Pacific Northwest is slowly becoming a go-to travel destination for nature lovers, and Free Spirit Spheres has taken advantage of the love of nature and combined it with the growing trend of glamping. The three options offered by the company are Eryn, Luna, and Melody and each has its own luxurious design. Each is slightly different, but all three are spheres suspended in the woods just outside of Horn Lake on Vancouver Island.
2 Mira Mira, Australia
This one really does feel like you’ve stepped into the bed and breakfast of some distant planet. Just outside Melbourne in the south of Australia, Mira Mira is a unique bed and breakfast that promises its visitors that they are living in art. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Baw Baw, Mira Mira is a retreat from the real world and a step into the fantasy. With three unique experiences, those staying at Mira Mira will see what it’s like to stay in a hotel carved out of stone. The Cave House in particular is out of this world. The stairs, cut into the rock, descend into a multi-room hotel totally built from rock. Even the bathroom is a chance to take a dip in a tub with a round, dome-like roof full of lights.
1 Giraffe Manor, Kenya
Of all the theme hotels on this list, this one might be one of the coolest. It also happens to be one of the most rewarding as Giraffe Manor not only acts as a hotel but as a sanctuary for an endangered subspecies of giraffes. This hotel in Kenya was once a sanctuary for the giraffe where the creature could breed and be reintroduced into the wild. When it was converted into a hotel, the giraffes remained and the conservation efforts continue. What makes the hotel so unusual looking are the massive giraffes who can stick their heads in through the doors and windows while being fed by guests.