Most of us are familiar with the standard, run of the mill hotel room – drab beige walls, generic furnishings and uninspiring overall design. We regularly dish out a significant chunk of change for an ultimately bland place to rest our heads and store our belongings while we head to business meetings or set off to explore a new city. In a world being overrun by corporate hospitality giants however, there are still a surprising number of hotel gems left that pride themselves on embodying individuality and the straight up weird.
From bed frames made of ice to unforgettable architecture and rooms built underwater, these properties give us reason to feel inspired and never want to spend our hard earned dollars on a generic hotel room again. Without further ado, here’s our round up of the top ten quirkiest hotels on the planet.
10 Madonna Inn Motel - San Luis Obispo, United States
Opened for business in 1958 and nestled along Californian highway 101, the property features 110 individually themed kitschy rooms, an exterior modelled after the Swiss Alps and a rock waterfall urinal designed by Hollywood set designer Harvey Allen Warren. With rooms like the “Jungle Rock” featuring an explosion of leopard print, the “Old World Suite” filled with distressed leather sofas with an ancient tobacco lounge feel and the “Starlite” having constellations painted across the walls, there isn’t a boring corner to be found at the Madonna Inn. Our favorite part of the property is its Gold Rush Steakhouse, an all-pink crazily tacky and bejewelled sight to behold.
9 Sala Silvergruva – Sala, Sweden
Sala Silvergruva is a mine that offers year-round tours and the opportunity to experience sleeping in its Mine Suite. The room is 155 meters underground in a cave, has no cell reception and boasts a cool temperature of two degrees Celsius. After touring the mine, you settle into your suite and get to enjoy a basket of cheese, biscuits, fruit, sparkling wine and chocolate. Then you’re left on your own underground to enjoy a blissful night of rest and fun until a guide comes to collect you in the morning and brings you to breakfast. If you’re worried about having a claustrophobic panic attack, rest easy – staff is available 24/7 to communicate with via intercom radio.
8 Hotel de Glace - Quebec City, Canada
From the beginning of January to the end of March, you can head to L’Hotel de Glace in Quebec City and sleep on beds of pure ice in architecturally stunning igloos. Between 9:00 pm and 9:00 am, guests have access to a Nordic relaxation area on the hotel grounds, featuring outdoor saunas and spas. Upon your arrival, there will be an information session to help new guests learn how to avoid discomfort during their stay and for additional fees, you can upgrade to a “suite” with a fireplace in it. If you get restless in your ice room, there’s a long list of outdoor activities around the hotel that’ll keep you busy.
7 Propeller Island – Berlin, Germany
Designed entirely by German artist Lars, Propeller Island is a 30 room property that fully embodies the concept of living within a museum. Every single furnishing and object within the hotel is custom-made and strange in its own way. From murals covering each square inch of one room to another fully paneled in glass and beds shaped like jail cells and coffins, Propeller Island is enough to make any sane person feel like they’ve slightly lost their mind in the most artistic way possible.
6 Hang Nga Guesthouse – Dalat City, Vietnam
Hang Nga Guesthouse, popularly known as “The Crazy House” was built and designed by Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga. The guesthouse makes guests feel as though they’re living in a real life fairy tale - encompassing design elements like mock spider webs, animals, mushrooms and caves. Inspired by the works of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney, each of its ten themed rooms is based on a different animal. The building is highlighted in numerous travel guidebooks and was featured as one of the ten most bizarre properties in the world by China’s People Daily magazine.
5 727 Fuselage Home – Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Obsessed with planes? Hate how uncomfortable they are? Costa Rica’s 727 Fuselage Home might just change your mind about that. Having refurbished a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 fuselage from an aviation graveyard, the owners of the 727 Fuselage Home in Costa Rica have decked it out with two bedrooms, hand-carved teak furniture from Indonesia, a kitchen and a dining room. The plane is perched atop a fifty foot pedestal featuring jungle and ocean views. Sip a cocktail while watching the sunset amidst toucans, sloths and monkeys.
4 Magic Mountain Hotel – Panguipulli, Chile
Nestled in the heart of the Chilean Patagonian jungle lies the Montana Magica (Magic Mountain) hotel. Named after a book beloved by its owners whose story describes a mountain that has special powers and grants wishes, the property truly looks like something out of a fantasy novel. A waterfall cascades down the hotel from a pinnacle on the roof, lending a living element to the moss-covered, cone-shaped building. The interior of the hotel makes guests feel like they’ve just stepped into the Lord of the Rings movies, with ancient sofas decorating the foyer and refurbished wood twisted into strange shapes creating stairways. The property is smack dab in the middle of the Huilo Huilo eco-reserve, so nature lovers will be more than satisfied with the surroundings here.
3 Au Vieux Panier Hotel – Marseille, France
If you love art, this is probably the best place for you to stay in France. Each room in this charming bed and breakfast is designed by a different artist, with the décor switching up every few years for good measure. Some of the highlights include a graffiti covered suite, a ceiling comprised of 750 wooden blocks and a massive sculpture resembling a game of Jenga. The best part? If you fall in love with the art, most of it is for sale.
2 Atlantis The Palm Hotel - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
OK, so the Atlantis is a hotel chain. Perhaps even worse is that this particular property is a resort. However, we were willing to overlook that to include its signature suite in our list. Far away from its main rooms and several stories underground, the mesmerizing underwater suite features all-glass walls for an incredible view of the Dubai ocean and all of the marine life living within it. Lay back, kick your feet up and watch as thousands of fish and other sea creatures swim above and around you. This is ridiculous, United Arab Emirate-level luxury at its finest and we love it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and not one to be missed simply because it's only available at a chain resort.
1 Ryugyong Hotel – Pyongyang, North Korea
We’re ending our list with probably the quirkiest hospitality property on the planet – the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea. Construction started in 1987 and was slated to end in 1989. Had it been completed by then, the hotel would have been the tallest of its kind in the world and the seventh tallest building on Earth at 105 stories high. However, the process dragged on until 1992 when hard economic times hit North Korea and construction halted with the building standing windowless and without any interior fittings. Sixteen years later in 2008 – yes, you read that right – the North Koreans began working on the pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel again and it’s still not complete. So essentially, the tallest building in North Korea has been sitting empty since 1987 and is having millions of dollars funneled into its construction every year without an end in sight. The most ironic part of all is that North Korea boasts the globe’s most insignificant tourism industry, so we’re not quite sure which visitors it expects to fill the Ryugyong Hotel’s 1000+ rooms with once it’s (finally) ready to open.