Five-star hotels are so yesterday. Why settle for typical hotel amenities when you could sleep in a treehouse, an igloo, a crane, or an underwater room? Here are 40 amazingly unique hotels from around the world to make your vacation truly memorable.
Entre Cielos, Mendoza, Argentina: This hotel and spa is located in Mendoza's Malbec region at the base of the Andes. The showpiece is the Loft Suite, a cocoon on stilts above the vineyards that has a terrace bathtub and roof window, where you can gaze up at the nighttime sky.
Palacio de Sal, Uyuni, Bolivia: This hotel located on the world's largest salt flat is made entirely from — what else — pure salt. Relax in a chair made from salty water and look out the window for a view of the Bolivian desert (and salt flats). (Photo via Andres Herbas Photography/Palacio de Sal)
Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, Canada: You can enjoy the natural rainforest up high in this treehouse resort. There are three hand-crafted spheres for rent (named Eve, Eryn, and Melody), all made from wood and fiberglass, suspended in the trees, and accessed via elevated walkways and spiral staircases.
Hôtel de Glace, Quebec, Canada: There's an Ice Hotel located right in North America, and every winter, it's rebuilt from ice and snow. Along with the originally designed ice rooms and furniture, there's also an ice bar, ice chapel, ice cafe… well, you get it. (Photo via Xavier Dachez)
Montaña Mágica Lodge, Los Ríos, Chile: This volcano-shaped hotel features a waterfall that cascades down its side, has a swinging rope bridge that leads to the entrance, and is located within a biological reserve under the Andes Mountains. Truly magical.
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, Huzhou, China: Gorgeous inside and out, the horseshoe-shaped hotel in Huzhou has 27 floors above water (and two below to connect the structure). The curved design lets in plenty of sun, and the entire building lights up at night. Inside, you'll find marble bathrooms, jade-paved floors, and a lobby with an impressive 20,000 crystals forming wave-like lights on the ceiling.
Hotel Costa Verde, Quepos, Costa Rica: If you've ever had a hard time sleeping on a plane, this hotel could change that. You can rent a refurbished 727 airframe furnished with queen-size beds, a kitchenette, and an ocean-view terrace.
Hotel Ještěd, Liberec, Czech Republic: This hotel was built in the 1960s and doubles as a television transmission tower. Located at the base of the Jizerské mountains, the building looks more alien than terrestrial. Guests ride a cable car up to the hotel, where the rooms are sleek and the circular restaurant has views above the clouds.
Belle Tout Lighthouse, East Sussex, England: This lighthouse was built in 1832, decommissioned in 1902, partially destroyed during World War II, restored in the 1950s, and finally opened as a B&B in 2010. Each room has a different theme (e.g., Captain's Cabin), but all of them have picturesque views of the English Channel.
Solent Forts, Portsmouth, England: These three man-made sea forts off England's south coast were used for WWII military defense, and two (Spitbank and No Man's Forts) have been converted into exclusive luxury hotels.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Saariselkä, Finland: During Northern Lights season from the end of August through April, you can stay in one of these glass igloos and observe the starry sky all night. There are also log cabins and snow igloos available for rent.
Fontevraud L’Hôtel, Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, France: For those looking to sleep in tranquility, this former monastic site is for you. Founded in 1101, Fountevraud Abbey was a mini-city of both male and female monasteries, and Napoleon used it as a prison in 1804. It has since been restored as a modern, minimalist luxury hotel (and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Bubble Tree, France: If you're a traveler who doesn't mind a lack of privacy, you can stay in a clear bubble surrounded by nature. There are a variety of bubbles located throughout Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland, and more) and the Middle East. (Photo via Attrap' Rêves)
La Cabane en l’Air, France: This group of tree houses has over 100 eco-friendly dwellings perched up high all over France. But you don't have to be a tree climber to access them; most are accessible via ladders and staircases.
Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin, Germany: This hotel/art installation has 30 rooms, each one weirder than the next. There's a diamond-shaped kaleidoscope room decorated with mirrors; an upside-down room where the furniture is hung from the ceilings and the bed is below the floorboards; a completely green leather room; a room where the beds are coffins; and a room where the bathtub is a giant plastic bag.
Bivacco Gervasutti, Mont Blanc, Italy: If you can trek up 9,300 feet along the Val Ferret to the Fréboudze glacier on the Mont Blanc ("White Mountain," which has the highest peak in the Alps), you'll be rewarded with a stay in this modern capsule hotel, named after an Alpine climber. The solar-powered hotel is perched on a cliff and can sleep up to 12 guests.
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya: This hotel is located on 12 acres of private land inside an indigenous forest. But the best feature is the herd of resident giraffes, which roam the grounds and poke their heads in and out of the hotel windows to say hello.
Henn na Hotel, Sasebo, Japan: Only in Japan will you find the first "robot-staffed hotel" with high-tech touches through and through: Multilingual robots (including two dinosaurs) help check you in and out of your room, robots carry or store your luggage for you, and guest facial recognition takes the place of physical hotel keys. There's a second location near Tokyo Disney Resort, with more to come.
Watamu Treehouse, Watamu, Kenya: Located high in the trees above the white sand beach, this hotel has a unique curved architecture and 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean. There are stained glass mosaics throughout but no windows, so you share your accommodations with the local forest wildlife.
Seaventures Rig Resort, Pulau Mabul, Malaysia: Off the coast of Malaysia, a former oil rig in the middle of the ocean has been converted to a hotel, providing direct access to some of the best diving in the world. An elevator takes guests down into the waters of the Coral Triangle, a marine region famed for its biodiversity and home to more than three-fourths of all known coral species in the world.
Como Cocoa Island, Maldives: The Maldives is known for having an abundance of over-the-water bungalows, but Como Cocoa Island's dhoni suites, shaped like fishing boats, will make you really feel one with the sea. Each suite has a private terrace and is fixed to the lagoon, so you get a nautical experience without any corresponding sea sickness.
Quinta Real Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico: This hotel is built around a former 19th-century San Pedro bullfighting ring and next to a historic aqueduct. The restaurant looks out on the restored arena, which saw its last bullfight in 1975.
Crane Hotel Faralda, Amsterdam, Netherlands: Acrophobics, take note: This three-suite luxury hotel is built in a converted crane high above the Amsterdam waterfront. The crane moves in the wind — your view is subject to change with the current. There's also a panorama lounge, a top deck with a hot tub, and a bungee jump for the truly adventurous.
Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam, Amsterdam, Netherlands: The facade of this hotel looks like a giant Dutch game of Jenga: 70 individual houses, in traditional Zaan colors and styles, are carefully stacked on top of each other. Inside, the rooms are modern and well laid out. The blue corner house is a tribute to Claude Monet's painting "The Blue House at Zaandam."
SiloStay, Little River, New Zealand: On the peaceful Banks Peninsula, silver grain silos have been transformed into two-story rooms with a kitchen, balcony, and skylight.
Juvet, Valldal, Norway: This hotel is so minimalist that you feel as if you're part of the forest. The nine independent glass-walled rooms are built to blend in with the landscape, allowing you to take in nature at its best. (You may also recognize it as the stunning setting for the 2015 film Ex Machina.)
Hotel Marqués De Riscal, La Rioja, Spain: The Marqués de Riscal is a modern hotel nestled within the old vines of Spain's Rioja wine-growing region. It's the only hotel project by famed architect Frank Gehry, and the hotel's gorgeous titanium style is a design dream.
Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden: The world's first ice hotel was opened in 1989 in Sweden, and it is rebuilt every November using ice from the frozen Torne River. Each year, artists from all over the world help design the hotel and its suites, which stay at around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The team has also opened ICEHOTEL 365, a permanent structure with luxury suites, an ice bar, and an ice gallery. (Photo via Asaf Kliger/Icehotel)
Treehotel, Harads, Sweden: These are the tree houses you dreamed of as a kid. This Swedish hotel has a number of modern rooms perched in trees, each with a distinctive aesthetic: There's a floating cabin; a UFO-shaped house; a bird's nest suite; and The Mirrorcube, a futuristic dwelling with mirrored walls on all sides.
Sala Silvermine, Sala, Sweden: The world's deepest hotel is inside an old silver mine and has only one suite, over 500 feet underground. The mine is a chilly 36 degrees year round (the room is warmer), and cell phones don't work. Instead, guests are given an intercom radio to communicate with the ground-level staff. (Photo via Pappalabild/Sala Silvermine)
Salt & Sill, Klädesholmen, Sweden: This hotel is built on floating pontoons off the island of Klädesholmen. The sleek, Scandinavian-style rooms have views of the Swedish fjord, and the hotel also has an attached bath and sauna catamaran with a sundeck.
The Manta Resort, Pemba, Tanzania: The Manta Resort is located on a small island off the east coast of Africa. It features the Underwater Room, a floating structure with a glass-walled bedroom submerged underwater with up close and personal views of the Indian Ocean's marine life.
Aydinli Cave Hotel, Göreme, Turkey: While in Cappadocia, it's hard not to admire the fairy chimney rock formations and caves that make up the landscape. This hotel allows you to stay in one such cave, carved from the natural rock in Göreme. Some parts of the hotel are thought to be over 500 years old.
The Marmara Antalya, Antalya, Turkey: Marmara's Antalya hotel boasts a Rotating Loft: a building that floats in a tank of water and smoothly revolves 360 degrees. Guests in the 24 rooms experience constantly changing views, from mountains to the Mediterranean.
Hằng Nga Villa, Dalat, Vietnam: Aptly called Crazy House or Monster House, this hotel is known for its whimsical architecture (large tree roots and spider web windows) and strangely themed rooms (such as Gourd, Kangaroo, and Ant).
Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs, CA, US: This oasis in the Palm Springs desert is the most colorful way to spend a weekend. After taking in the mountain views and snapping some selfies in front of technicolored walls, enjoy a fresh margarita poolside or some bites on Taco Tuesday (and Thursday).
Dog Bark Park Inn, ID, US: This one's gone to the dogs. The Dog Bark Park Inn is a B&B in the shape of a giant beagle named Sweet Willy (sadly, his smaller sidekick Toby is just for show). There's also a giant red fire hydrant with a porta-potty inside and chainsaw art from the husband and wife owners.
Kokopelli's Cave, Farmington, NM, US: You can truly go underground and escape the world at this New Mexico hotel, which offers 1,700-square-foot caves 70 feet below the surface. Despite the cavemen living quarters, you'll still have access to modern-day comforts such as a stocked kitchen, waterfall shower, jacuzzi, and, yes, electricity.
The Liberty, Boston, MA, US: The former Charles Street Jail — which housed inmates such as Malcolm X and World War II POWs — is now a reinvented hotel. The jail's central atrium, catwalks, and a few cells remain largely preserved, but the rooms have been stylishly (and comfortably) upgraded.
Earthship, Taos, NM, US: If you want to try living off the grid, head to Taos to stay in an Earthship. The sustainable pods are made from recycled materials, collect water via cisterns, are solar-powered, and grow their own food; but they also provide WiFi and smart TVs.