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(2019 - Winter Issue)


Sleep in a drainpipe, a grotto, on a bookshelf or even inside a Trojan-like horse. To capture and hold our attention, hotels of merit work hard to create special identities, usually focusing on the most pleasing aspects involving comfort, service, atmosphere and visual appeal. Mind you, a little drama will also do the trick. Indeed, some hotels are betting that all of the extroverts, enthusiasts and quirky characters among us are constantly in search of a travel caper at least as good as the last one.

Utterly devoted deep-sea divers, for instance, marvel at the thought of plunging to the ocean-floor entrance of the Jules’ Undersea Lodge off Key Largo in the Florida Keys. Mountain climbers in Peru increase their adrenalin rush by climbing or zip lining up to an incredible dreamland known as Skylodge Adventure Suites, where three all-window “bedroom-capsules” are bolted to the mountainside. Auto enthusiasts at the V8 Hotel in Germany’s auto capital Stuttgart wake up well rested inside racing cars from England, France and Italy. And when travelling in our own country during the winter, We the North get to prove our metal by checking into the all-frozen Ice Hotel in Québec City.

Priced from high-end premium to pay as you wish, only you know if a specific hotel is likely to fascinate you. Guests are also choosing to sleep inside bookcases, urban drainpipes, prehistoric grottos and the replica of a historical horse. Try these on for size:  

Read all night: If in Japan, and if you’re just crazy about the countless perspectives found in books, spend a night or two at a cost-saving hostel called Book and Bed Tokyo. Bed cubicles, both single and double, are cut right into the shelves of this bookstore-themed environment, where each cubbie includes a book light, curtain, clothes hanger, Wi-Fi and slippers. bookandbedtokyo.com

Drainpipe dreams: Save money by staying at the Dasparkhotel in Ottensheim, Austria, where right on the lawn you’ll see sewage pipes segmented into individual bedrooms, each one with a secured entrance and electricity. For this, “pay as you wish” although you might be pleasantly surprised by the comforts extended by an ergonomically optimized double bed, a Eurofoam mattress, fresh linen sheets, lots of cushions, and carefully planned storage space. dasparkhotel.net

Caveman romance: If you’re passionate about piecing together the evolution of mankind, step into a 9,000-year-old cave home in Matera, Italy. The premium hotel Le Grotte della Civita has restored 18 grottos with heritage guidance on materials and shapes, all of which originate from ancient dugouts in the rockface. Today, each cave guest room is sumptuous and utterly charming. legrottedellacivita.com

Hide in a horse: In Heyd, Belgium, upscale fantasy is created in 11 different ways at La Balade des Gnomes. If spending your nights in an all-wood Trojan horse replica caught your attention, climb right up into its underbelly to be pampered in a luxurious two-storey suite while you read about long-ago wartime hardships in your bubble bath. Other guest room themes include trolls, monks, vineyards and dreamland on the moon. labaladedesgnomes.be/en/Home

Sleep with polar bears: Our best chance to see these white giants is right on the Hudson Bay shoreline of Churchill, Manitoba. For those who crave effortless 24-hour viewing, book a tour with Frontiers North Adventures to stay a few nights in the Tundra Buggy Lodge, where several specialized all-terrain vehicles are linked together to deliver well-equipped berths for sleeping, a pleasant dining room and lounge for wildlife-spotting by day, and if you’re lucky, the northern lights at night. frontiersnorth.com/tundra-buggy-lodge

Pennsylvania railcars: Sooner or later, ardent train-history enthusiasts meet the Pennsylvania Railroad, which, in the 1920s, was the continental king. Today, your family can be fully accommodated at a reasonable cost in one of 38 stationary, multicoloured cars of the Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant, located an hour or so west of Philadelphia. Families share beds and bunks in their very own caboose, which is fully equipped with private bath, refrigerator, microwave, cable TV, free Wi-Fi—and the reward of such a fun history lesson. redcaboosemotel.com

Cockpit in the jungle: Costa Rica’s tropical ecosystem certainly stimulates the senses, so imagine this: the nose of a 1965 Boeing 727 aircraft protruding through the jungle vines of a Pacific Coast rainforest. Carefully hauled to this spot by the upscale Hotel Costa Verde, the airframe is now a fully outfitted, two-bedroom suite. Nearby as well is the hotel’s Cockpit Cottage, which can only be accessed by crossing a long suspension bridge over the wilds to the front door. costaverde.com

Windmill in Norfolk: On England’s east coast, anyone who feels drawn to the ingenuity of early farming is invited to sleep in a 19th-century grain mill, now a luxury boutique hotel. First impressions inside the five-storey Cley Windmill include a grand circular sitting room, an open fireplace and a beamed dining room. Upstairs are several bedrooms with incredible views over the farmland, marshes and sea. One of the most elaborate, the Old Cart Shed features vaulted ceilings, a sumptuous four-poster bed, a modern kitchenette, plus a private staircase up to a cosy alcove, perfect for reading or daydreaming. cleywindmill.co.uk

Fire truck strange: In the Scottish Highlands between Inverness and Aberdeen, sleep on the wild side by overnighting in a military-looking tent-on-wheels. It’s a vintage 1956 Commer Q4 hook-and-ladder vehicle, renovated to be comfortable with equally creative furniture and fixtures by the owner of Inshriach Estate. His Beermoth Fire Truck guest room is a permanent fixture on the farm and reviews point out that, for a low cost, you’re likely to get a really good night’s sleep, unforgettable fresh-air mornings, and of equal value in the Highlands, distilleries that are very close by. inshriachhouse.com/camping-in-style

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