Now that ultra-plush bathrobes, high-thread-count sheets, designer toiletries like those from Ferragamo and Hermès are both de rigueur and commonplace at upscale hotels both in the US and abroad, how do these properties lure travelers to stay at their places at a time where everything is 5 stars? What else would a potential guest need? Well, it turns out a lot. Travelers are savvy these days. They research the perks and bonuses that are offered at hotels, and look for amenities that go beyond fresh flowers in a vase in your suite or complimentary car service. It turns out that it's the small things that make an impression on guests. Water bottles left for them for free and not for $10 individually, sewing kits that color coordinate with the clothes you've brought on vacay make an impact, and yet many domestic hotels do not offer these things. As it happens, it's hotels around the world that are wooing guests with elaborate and bespoke perks, both small and large.
The Brando, in Tahiti offers suites that come with their own swimming pools, Giraffe Manor in Nairobi is a resort where you can spend time with the many giraffes on the property, and Attrap' Reves allows you to stay in inflatable, clear bubbles so you can sleep beneath the stars.
Once you factor in all the special amenities, getting to use unique products or embracing the culture of where the hotel is located, can turn a decent hotel experience into one that's extraordinary and entirely delectable. So here are 25 things offered in hotels around the world that we can't find in U.S. properties.
25 Stay Overnight In A Tree House Hotel
Have you ever wanted to stay in a tree house? Now that we're older, we perhaps don't, but those who are nostalgic about playing there might find Sweden's Hotell Hackspett (Swedish for woodpecker) to be the perfect way to spend a night when you're on vacay. Hackspett features a single tree hotel that’s been suspended 42 feet above the ground by cables in a 130-year-old oak tree. But don't expect luxuries, although there are spectacular views of the nearby public park, as momondo pointed out. This is rustic, like camping, and has neither heat nor electric, so it's best to stay here in the summer.
24 Cure Your Fear of Flying
Have you ever fallen asleep on a plane? Well, of course you have! But do you want to go on vacation and sleep not at a hotel but rather an actual plane? Stockholm’s Jumbo Stay hotel is located in a retired Boeing 747 -212B from 1976, according to Momondo. You won't get a ride, but you can sleep in the cockpit suite with beds all over or in the main cabin that's been turned into individual suites. Sure, this is a unique gimmick, but the Jumbo was tailored to those who have a fear of flying.
23 Have Breakfast With Giraffes
Located on 12 acres of land next to the Ngong forest, Giraffe Manor in Nairobi is a boutique hotel made for guests who want to be part of nature, and to feel relaxed in this kind of atmosphere. It beats out any domestic hotel because this one is aptly named, the place has a large giraffe population who "roam the grounds freely and make for excellent hosts," as momondo put it. It never gets old to feed the giraffes, and if you're having a meal on your deck, they'll happily share the food with you. You can't find that in the US!
22 Stay In An Inflatable Bubble
In the picturesque Marseille, in the middle of a beautiful Provincial pine forest, you'll find Attrap' Reves, an inflatable bubble hotel that's both an insane concept and a charming way to spend the night. Each inflatable bubble is clear and surrounded by pure nature, allowing you to take it in and sleep beneath the stars or stargaze using the included telescope. The bubble allows for guests to have peace and quiet in a serene setting, as Cool Stays said. It's entirely private, as the decorated bubble comes with an opaque bathroom. According to Travel Away, bubble hotels in Europe are quite popular, even if we have never heard of one.
21 Train And Ride The Elephants
At the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Thailand, there are different options you can pick from, such as access to the in-room bar--now you can actually drink those small liquor bottles that are ridiculously priced!--nightly wine and cheese tastings and a visit to Myanmar, according to Travel + Leisure. The impeccable service that the Four Seasons is known for means attentive staff and luxurious rooms. But what this outpost has can't be beat, and certainly can't be found in the hotel chain's US properties. It's training with elephants, after which you can ride them as much as you like.
20 Stay In A Glass Igloo
Finland’s Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is about 155 miles from the Arctic Circle. If you stay overnight, this is a once-in-a-lifetime way to see the Northern Lights. The pod-like igloo-styled rooms have thermal glass ceilings that make the room warm while allowing you to stargaze without any obstructions. According to CNBC, from August through April, spotting Aurora Borealis is the main attraction. In the winter, there are many outdoor activities to make your stay fun. You can ride snowmobiles, take sled rides with huskies and go ice fishing.
19 The Little Details That Make All The Difference
Found mostly in hotels around the world, there are little details that hotels can utilize that will make a guest's stay memorable, according to Trip Savvy. You can get your shoes shined at any hotel, but particularly abroad, they come back to you in a shoe box made of bamboo. A print out of the weather report on beautiful, heavy stock paper, the newspaper automatically sent to you each morning to check stocks and offering a guest to borrow the hotel’s goldfish to keep him or her company in the room are small things that make a real difference, according to Revinate.
18 Be On An Island Where the Ocean Is The Deepest on Earth
No U.S. hotel can compare to The Brando in Tahiti, as the resort is nestled in a private island. According to Town & Country, you're taken aback by the grand luxury of being barely above sea level, in an island that's known for having the largest and deepest ocean on earth. You can't compete with that, and nor with your suite, which has every luxury you need, including what's rare to find at a hotel, your own private (but small) pool. How can you beat that?
17 Be Assigned Your Own Butler
Gili Lankanfushi, in The Maldives, was voted by TripAdvisor in 2018 as one of the top five hotels in the world. It's no wonder. Everything you need is given to you, and you are actually assigned a butler upon arrival, something you rarely find in US hotels. This is not a concierge, but a real person who is at your side and who is there to help you relax and have a good time, according to Kuoni. The butler will watch your children for you, bring you more towels poolside, or decorate your room with a vase full of flowers while you're out as a nice surprise.
16 Lay Down Tracks At Your Own Recording Studio
Make a record and have a super vacation? The two don't ever go hand in hand, but Eden Rock Villa Rockstar in St. Barths has gone to uncharted territory to create a professional quality recording studio that comes with all the works. Guests can use the studio to make their own records, which is a super-unique amenity. And, according to Departures, "The studio’s music-mixing console is the same one used by John Lennon to record “Imagine.” Professional musicians and artists come here to use the studio as well, so it's really cool that you can lay your own tracks with the help from on-site producers and sound engineers.
15 Trace everyone's Heritage, Get A Kilt
The Balmoral in Edinburgh, Scotland is incomparable when it comes to things offered at hotels around the world. According to Departures, the hotel partnered with a Tartan Butler--Andy Fraser--because many guests who come here wonder if they have Scottish roots. Before you arrive at the hotel, guests can send their ancestor's name to Fraser and he will trace their family heritage to see which Scottish clan they may belong to. Then you'll get a kilt! But not just any kilt. It will be entirely bespoke, and made from guests' clan's traditional tartan.
14 Be Assigned A Tea Sommelier
The Lanesborough hotel in London is serious about the tea it serves, so much so that the hotel won the United Kingdom Tea Council Award of Excellence three years running. The luxe hotel created the world's first tea sommelier to come out on top. The tea is served in the afternoon and, just like wine tastings, the sommelier will inform you on the characteristics and benefits of your selections, as well as various preparation techniques, according to CNN Travel.
13 Be Given A Personalized Sewing Kit
Most hotels stash a sewing kit in one of their suites' drawers in case the buttons of your shirt or jacket are coming loose. But One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos takes the kit to another level, according to BlueBiz. After housekeeping first visits your room, they don't just refill your bathroom amenities or restock the bar. No, they leave you with your very own personalized sewing kit that's been coordinated to the exact colors of your clothing that they have surveyed in your closet.
12 Be Assigned A Fragrance Butler
Since the Rosewood Hotels has a property in Saudi Arabia, we've included it in our list of what's unique that's offered only in hotels around the world. The amenity is having a dedicated fragrance butler, according to CNN Travel. While you are relaxing in your room, the butler will meet you there and offer you a fragrance menu that's tailored to the hotel. For women, this includes Chanel No. 5, Bulgari Black, Daisy Marc Jacobs and Chanel CoCo Mademoiselle. For men, they are offered Tom Ford for Men, Bvlgari Pour Homme and Hermes Terre d'Hermes.
11 Stay At The World's First Underground Resort
The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is the world's first underground five-star hotel. Its structure is only revealed along the face of the quarry and is surrounded by waterfall views that you can see through your suite's windows. Unlike any domestic hotel, the bottom two floors sit underwater, according to The Telegraph UK. The roof is covered in grass, which makes the Wonderland blend into the countryside. Staying here is like visiting Niagara Falls, and the location is very unique in Shanghai, as most of the city is best known for its skyscrapers.
10 Toothpaste, Toothbrush and Mouthwash Should Not Be Asked For
Some hotels in the States or abroad have luxurious beauty products in their bathrooms, such as those from Hermes. And most or all supply guests with travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, and soap. But domestic hotels often leave out the complimentary toothbrush, toothbrush and mouthwash. If they have them, you have to ask. International hotels, and not just expensive ones, are better, though, or more thoughtful, as they include in their bathrooms all the things you need to brush, according to the Huffington Post.
9 Having Complimentary Bottles of Water
Most hotels nowadays offer free bottles of water in each suite when you get there. But how do you know they are free? If you see two bottles left out for you, the hotel puts them out to see what you'll do. But these days domestic hotels only offer the two free on your first date and will start charging you each time they refill them. And usually they charge an arm and a leg -- often $10 per bottle. According to The Points Guy, international hotels often offer complimentary bottles each day, which is a sign that US hotels need to do better.
8 Attend Museums WIth A Designated Art Concierge
When we visit an art museum, we usually use a tour guide to better inform us of what we're looking at. The Le Royal Monceau in Paris took that idea and ran with it. They hired Domoina de Brantes, an art history expert for the hotel whose job is to inform visitors of the art they are looking at in Paris collections, according to Departures. She's also in hand to create customized tour itineraries where she'll walk you through the art. But the best thing is that she can arrange private showings with an artist at his or her private atelier for those who don't have the time to go to galleries during normal business day hours.
7 Stay At A 6th and 7th Century Monastery
Here's a thing a hotel offers that you won't find in the US. Staying overnight at a former Benedictine monastery. Located in northwest Spain in the Ribeira Sacra region, the former monastery dates back to the 6th and 7th centuries and has been updated for modern hotel uses. According to How Stuff Works Adventure, you can explore the restored classic architecture, buildings from the Romanesque, Renaissance and Gothic periods. The monastery has become so popular that couples come here to get married, "a place that lives and breathes the concept of immortal love," according to Parado.com
6 VIP Shopping at Bulgari
The Bulgari Hotel in London also gives you a complimentary butler upon your arrival, who can help navigate tourists and create itineraries for them. It also looks secluded, which is good, but at the same time, the hotel is in a convenient space; if you turn down a few streets, you're right in the middle of all of London's best shops, according to Luxury Travel Advisor. One of Bulgari's lavish amenities for their VIP guests is whisking them away via a chauffeured car to one of London's Bulgari stores, which will open early or close late to ensure you have the best private shopping experience.
5 A Soap Concierge
The Viceroy Riviera Maya offers guests a Soap Concierge, who will show you different blocks of soaps that you choose after the concierge explains their scents and healing powers. For example, rosemary and mint soap is "awakening," chocolate soap is "relaxing" and lemongrass is "refreshing," according to The Observer. But that's not the only unique amenity that this resort offers. When you first arrive, the shaman-in-residence will bless you and chant energy-cleansing prayers to "release toxicity and invite relaxation." You can't find that at The Ritz-Carlton.
4 Make Your Own Painting
The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s Artesana Private Residences in San Miguel, Mexico celebrates its rich culture and artistic history. According to Luxury Living International, the five-star resort has something called "The Inspirational Art Amenity," which gives guests in select suites easels and full sets of paints and tools to create their own personalized work of art that will be a "lasting memory" of their stay. The amenity is also kid-friendly, as the suite also comes with a kid-sized easel.
3 Learn The Buddhist Monk Lifestyle
While other monasteries, including those on our list, are just made for overnight visits, the Wat Pah Nanachat forest monastery in Thailand is where to stay if you want to immerse yourself in the Buddhist monk culture. Nothing is taught here; you just have to learn by observation, according to Luxury Travel Advisor. If you follow the traditions--being cooperative, showing respect, and being entirely selfless--your initial visit may be extended, according to Wat Pah Nanachat. Then you must go to daily routines, communal meetings and work activities. This visit is only for those who are serious about learning how to be a Buddhist monk.
2 Be A Guest At A Temple In Japan
Monks who are in training lodge in the Sacred Mount Koya temple in Japan, and now you can too. An overnight adventure, staying at the Hongakuin temple, which is the one open for guests, offers an excellent chance to get a taste of the simple, traditional lifestyle of Buddhist monks. But for etiquette reasons, know that temple lodging is a spiritual place and the monks are not there to care for you. According to Matcha, meals are provided and they are referred to as shojin ryori, which are purely vegan. Of course, you'd never find this kind of place in the states.
1 Ride In A Chauffeur-Driven Rolls Royce
One of the most photographed hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai resembles a billowing sail. This luxurious hotel has everything. Each suite is state-of-the-art, there's an attached heliport if you need a lift to the airport, a "hovering" tennis court and even 24/7 personal on-call butlers. You don't even have to check in at the front desk as there is in-suite check-in, according to Reader's Digest. But that's not all! We saved the best for last, and that's a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce fleet. Imagine riding in that super-luxe vehicle and stepping out to shop!
Sources: Reader's Digest, CNBC, CNN Travel, Travel Away, Trip Savvy,TripAdvisor