The most unique and unusual hotels around the world

If you’ve always dreamed of falling asleep in an Arctic glass igloo, reliving your childhood in a tropical treehouse or cosying up in a room hewn entirely out of ice, look no further than these 14 surreal stays across the globe. From Sardinia’s dramatic cliffs to the heart of Kenya’s wild and beautiful Laikipia Plains, these are the most unique hotel experiences that will set your adventure-seeking hearts racing.

Image courtesy of Arctic Fox Igloos

Arctic Fox Igloos, Ranua, Finland

Located on the edge of Lake Ranuanjärvi in Ranua, Arctic Fox Igloos offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bed down in style in the heart of Finnish Lapland. The accommodation here – a series of self-contained igloos – is cosy in size yet full of all the necessary mod-cons, including a kitchenette, a private bathroom and even a sauna to keep you toasty after a day of exploring the great outdoors. The bedrooms are the real show-stealers, though, with glass walls and ceilings offering unobstructed views of the unspoilt, snow-covered forested surroundings – and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights once your head hits your pillow.

Image courtesy of TreeHouse Villas

TreeHouse Villas, Koh Yao Islands, Thailand

Putting a tropical spin on the glammed-up treehouse retreat, TreeHouse Villas’ accommodation combines five-star luxury with fantasy. Relaxation and personal well-being are key at this architecturally unique hotel: spread across two floors, each TreeHouse villa features hammock-shaped freestanding baths, floor-to-ceiling windows letting in plenty of natural light, and a private pool out on the terrace that opens guests up to majestic views of the surrounding treetops and sea. Elsewhere, the idyllic jungle backdrop, beachfront location, in-villa spa services and plentiful activities only help further the sense of calm and tranquillity that pervades here, while a traditionally Thai feast awaits at the main restaurant and bar with Phang Nga Bay vistas.

Image courtesy of The NAY PALAD Bird Nest

The NAY PALAD Bird Nest, Laikipia Plains, Kenya

Surround yourself with Kenya’s beautiful wilderness at this magical Segera Resort, which takes the cute and quirky shape of a bird’s nest for a truly one-of-a-kind safari experience. As well as offering 360-degree vistas that stretch on endlessly, this luxury riverside lodge showcases the prowess of architect Daniel Pouzet, whose aim to create an inspirational living space was certainly met. Romantically lit by lanterns, the nest comes equipped with a bathroom, a sheltered first-floor sleeping area, and an open top-floor terrace – the latter is made up with plush bedding, so you could enjoy a sleep under the stars for a complete experience, after a day of wild animal-spotting, leisurely game drives and intrepid bush walks.

Image courtesy of No Man’s Fort

No Man’s Fort, Portsmouth, UK

If you’d never considered bedding down for a night in a converted sea fort, you’ll have every good reason to now: located off Portsmouth in the Solent, No Man’s Fort raises close-to-home island experiences to another level, with 23 en-suite guest rooms, incredible dining, wellness facilities, a cabaret club and – of course – unforgettable sea views for as far as the eye can see. Kick back in one of two outdoor hot tubs for a morning, treat yourself to a spot of afternoon tea or take a tour of the fort for a fill of its 150-year-old history. You’ll find a handful of activities here to entertain you further, from rib riding to wine and cheese tasting, but seclusion and tranquility are just as high on the menu if you’d rather do absolutely nothing – making this hotel the perfect solution for when a simple country break won’t quite do.

Image courtesy of ICEHOTEL

ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

The Swedish municipality of Jukkasjärvi may be remote, yet it is home to the world’s original and much-lauded ICEHOTEL, a spectacular hotel and art exhibition hewn almost entirely out of ice. Couple a Northern Lights hunt or a trek through the snowy wilderness with a stay at this hotel, graced with a brand-new design each year, and expect to marvel. Warm, minimalist-style rooms and chalets are available here, should you need some respite after a day out in the cold, but it’s the Cold rooms you’ll want to explore: individually carved by different artists from around the world, they put a frigid yet heart-warming experience at the forefront. You’ll find both hot and cold options on the dining front, too, with a fine gourmet restaurant and lounge offering a homely atmosphere, plus the world-famous ICEBAR, where you could sip a cocktail in a sub-zero setting.

Image courtesy of SUJÁN Luxury

SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur, India

Grandeur prevails at the five-star SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, where a pink-hued façade aptly pays homage to Jaipur’s ‘Pink City’ nickname. As one of the city’s most treasured palaces, this Relais & Châteaux property offers a unique stay spilling with opulence, colour and history, and has maintained plenty of its original features – from its marble staircase to its chandeliers, each telling a story of its past as the former official residence of the British Resident Political Officer of Rajputana and His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur in the 1800s. Find yourself transported to another century as you bed down in the regal comforts of this palace’s guest rooms, or dine on delectable comfort foods as you surround yourself with the boldest of colour schemes, patterns and gardens.

Image courtesy of Cabanes des Grands Chênes

Cabanes des Grands Chênes, Oise, France

Perfectly placed a half-hour drive from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and just over an hour from Paris Gare du Nord train station, this ultra-cosy, eco-chic Raray retreat is quite literally a dream come true for nature lovers and children at heart. Take your pick from a large selection of intimate treehouses for couples or families – some of which even feature lovely wellness extras, such as Nordic baths heated to an irresistible 40 degrees Celsius. As well as being environmentally-aware through practices such as selective waste sorting, careful water and electricity consumption, and cabin constructions that respect surrounding flora and fauna, this heavenly hideout puts a spotlight on locally-sourced produce from France’s Oise department and brims with family fun – whether you’re more tempted by a hot air balloon tour, cycling and hiking expeditions, or a day in the treetops at the on-site adventure course.

Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, Matera, Italy

Putting an old-world, rustic-chic take on luxury hotel stays, this unforgettable bolthole in the south Italian city of Matera serves romance and history up in spades. It perfectly encapsulates life in Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the Sassi homes are built into ancient caves – from the guest rooms and suites packing plenty of character (think minimalist-inspires spaces with dark wood furnishings and the occasional in-room bathtub) to the traditional candlelit dinners, aperitifs and cooking classes available at the restaurant, located within a 13th-century church. Don’t miss a chance to pamper yourself with an Ayurvedic massage or other wellness treatment in this particularly intimate and atmospheric setting.

Image courtesy of Port Lympne

Camping pods at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Hythe, UK

The Aspinall Foundation-run Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent puts animal conservation at its heart and offers superb safari-like experiences, as well as a varied range of unique accommodation types – some of these being their quaint and charming Camping pods, dotted in a forested location with views towards the sea. Equipped with comfy mattresses and plenty of storage room, as well as separate showers, W.C. facilities and a communal barbecue area, these pinewood retreats are perfect for a modest stay just a stone’s throw from more than 88 wildlife species. Opt to sleep in the Shepherds Hut, equipped with en-suite facilities, underfloor heating, a wood burning stove, a sofa and a television, for even more comfort and intimacy.

Image courtesy of Harriniva Hotels & Safaris

Aurora Domes at Harriniva Hotels & Safaris, Muonio, Finland

Another marvellous Finnish Lapland escape awaits in Muonio, where Harriniva Hotels & Safaris gives Arctic wilderness sleepovers a truly special spin in the form of its fantastic geodomes, known as Aurora Domes. Located at the Torassieppi Winter Village, these cosy rounded accommodations come with lakeside views, double beds, fireplaces and comfortable seating areas. Bed down amid plush throws in the winter time for a chance to catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights, or visit in the summer to witness the midnight sun. When hunger strikes, make your way back to the property’s restaurant to feast on organic, health-focused fare.

The Liberty Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston, USA

Those with a curious appetite for quirky yet high-end stays should look no further than Boston’s The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel. You’ll enjoy a convenient and central location near Boston Common at this cool and contemporary base, where its past as a former prison is tastefully – if not proudly – carried out across the décor. While you won’t sleep in a cell, the property has retained its original features and you’ll find the guest rooms are perfectly elegant affairs, with playful prison-themed touches throughout, while the dining scene is both fancy and creative: book yourself in for fresh North Atlantic seafood feasts and heritage meats at CLINK., and head to the confines of the old “drunk tank”, where brick walls and prison bars provide an intriguing backdrop for knocking back a cocktail or two.

Image courtesy of Atelier Sul Mare

Atelier sul Mare, Sicily, Italy

Contemporary art aficionados on the lookout for something a little different should plan a stay at this sea-facing Sicilian hotel-museum, where artist-designed guest rooms are simple yet irresistibly creative works of art. Displaying a unique concept and the individual skill of each international artist, the 20 Art rooms make up incredibly personal and emotional spaces – from Hidetoshi Nagasawa’s spiritual Mystery for the Moon room, to the Water Bearers room with its reflective metallic surfaces. The communal areas are just as notable and include a quiet beach area, a restaurant-cum-exhibition area with gulf views, and a ceramics room where you could take a course or discover the hotel’s extensive collection. The hotel’s location is quite special, too, in Castel di Tusa – a small coastal resort named after the ruined castle that sits 600 metres above it.

Image courtesy of Palacio de Sal

Palacio de Sal, Potosí, Bolivia

For something truly out of the ordinary, escape to Palacio de Sal – to the world’s first and only salt palace and a unique Bolivian gem in Potosí. While Bolivia’s arid southern highlands make impressive surroundings, you’ll never be quite done marvelling at this hotel’s architectural splendour. Built entirely out of salt, from its walls and floors through to its furnishings and sculptural features, it puts a spotlight on its unique location near the expansive Salar de Uyuni salt flat. Bag yourself a VIP room for views of the desert that surrounds the hotel, and feast on local specialities at the restaurant, where typical ingredients include llama, lamb and quinoa.

Image courtesy of Faro Capo-Spartivento

Faro Capo-Spartivento, Sardinia, Italy

Book yourself in for a stay at the five-star Cape-Spartivento, to enjoy an unusual sojourn in an astounding, rugged clifftop location. Located in a protected nature reserve and overlooking the sea on Sardinia’s southern coast, this lighthouse-turned-luxury hideout combines marvellous vistas, total seclusion and Mediterranean minimalist interiors to perfection. Built in 1854 by the Italian Navy and renovated in 2006, its long, war-torn history makes it all the more intriguing. Outside, you could step into its gardens, have a swim in the pool or enjoy a soak in its two Jacuzzis, before retreating indoors to admire the tasteful combination of designer and antique furnishings.

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