Most people travel overseas to venture into the unknown, exploring new cities and environments to see the culture, taste the food, and possibly take the perfect photo for social media. Others might head out to the tropics to relax on the beach, accompanied by sunglasses and a good book. In most situations, you’ll want nothing particular from your accommodation except a comfortable bed, good service and good food. But what if the place you were staying in was more than just a decent resting space?
There are hotels around the world that offer just as much as any tourist attraction, with everything from cleverly decorated rooms to stunning natural landscapes. Some are temporary art exhibitions or seasonal offerings, while others celebrate history and culture with their design and longevity. Nevertheless, all of them are worth a look, so check them out below:
For the beauty of nature, right outside your doorstep
Mirrorcube by Treehotel (Sweden)
At first glance, this looks more like an art instalment than a hotel, but it manages to be both with great success. Minimal in layout but stunning nevertheless, the Mirrorcube is one of a collection of unique hotel rooms housed in trees, which include the Bird’s Nest, the UFO, and the Blue Cone.
Kakslauttanen Hotel (Finland)
A favourite of anyone travelling to Scandinavia, the rooms of this Finnish hotel are made entirely out of glass. Although this might be deterrent to anyone hesitant about being in a room open to other peoples’ eyes, there are coverings for the windows, and it’s well worth it to see the views at night – why settle for a normal ceiling when you could have the Northern Lights, instead?
Adrere Amellal (Egypt)
A dreamy desert destination, Adrere Amellal is traditional luxury reimagined, incorporating comfort with the natural elements of the landscape. Everything is made from white limestone and earth, including the furniture. The warm interiors are home to the perfect escape from society – there’s no electricity or access to phones, and the food comes solely from a carefully cultivated organic garden.
98 Acres Resort (Sri Lanka)
Nestled in the lush greenery of Sri Lanka, the enormous thatched-roof buildings of the 98 Acres Resort are the perfect resting place for anyone wanting an island adventure. It’s a few kilometres away from Ravana Falls, the local waterfall, and even closer to the train station. But for anyone who doesn’t want to leave the hotel, there’s plenty for you to enjoy, with mountain views, a spa, and yoga classes.
Botel Matyla (Czech Republic)
With a clever portmanteau from ‘boat’ and ‘hotel’, Botel Matyla does all that its name promises and more. Resting on a river running through the stunning city of Prague, it’s a mere seven minute walk away from the National Theatre and six minutes from the metro station. It even has a chic Italian restaurant on board, and all the rooms are luxurious and cosy.
If you want your watery hotel experience to be more hands-on than sitting on a boat, head to the Maldives and immerse yourself in an underwater experience. This brilliant resort has an underwater restaurant for patrons to dine in the company of all sorts of sea animals, while some of the deluxe villas have infinity rooms and/or stairs into the sea.
For the architecture enthusiasts
Hotel Marques De Riscal (Spain)
When trying to describe Hotel Marques De Riscal’s stunning façade, the only thing that came to mind was the flower-like ribbon bow that people commonly use when they’re wrapping presents. The beautiful building was designed by the famous Frank Gehry, and overlooks luscious vineyards, The hotel also has a spa with grape-based treatments, so it’s a treat for any wine or grape loving enthusiasts.
Inntel Amsterdam (Netherlands)
The way Amsterdam’s Inntel was designed makes it look like several houses have been stuck on top of each other, turning it into something straight out of a children’s storybook. The inside of the hotel is equally as fascinating – rooms are painted in a variety of colours, with leather armchairs and coffeemakers, with a select few containing rainfall showers.
Hang Nga Guesthouse (Vietnam)
This hotel is commonly nicknamed ‘Crazy House’, and it’s easy to see why – the building’s twisting exterior was inspired in part by both nature and celebrated architect Anton Gaudi, and it resembles a beautifully warped tree than it does a hotel. The rooms contain handcrafted furniture, while the stairways and hallways of the building are designed to look like tunnels or caves.
Tianzi Hotel (China)
If you like your hotels to have a bit of personality, China’s Langfang-located Tianzi Hotel has three of them to spare. The image hotel was built to resemble Chinese deities, with the blue-dressed Shou associated with longevity, the red-dressed Fu associated with fortune, and the green-dressed Lu associated with prosperity – meaning your stay there will be the luckiest trip you’ll ever take!
Fogo Island Inn (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Although this hotel is also surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, the Inn is equally as brilliant to gaze at, with its unusual design. A portion of the hotel is supported by heavy stilts, to make sure that that part of the hotel has minimal impact on the environment. The rooms are cosy, with heated floors, and there’s even an art gallery and a cinema inside.
For those who like quirky design
The Dog Bark Inn (USA)
When things are looking ruff, take a trip to the Dog Bark Inn to relax and have a pawesome time – awful puns aside, the inn is shaped like a dog and outfitted with canine-related decorations, for any animal lovers to revel in. There are only a few rooms, so make sure you book early to avoid missing out.
If you’re just looking for a place to chill on holiday, Sweden’s got the answer. This freezing cold hotel is rebuilt out of ice every year, and was the original establishment that started off a worldwide trend of ice hotels and ice bars wherever wintry weather is found.
Palacio de Sal (Bolivia)
After all that ice gets a tad too slippery, head to Bolivia to stay at the Palacio de Sal. Its name directly translates to ‘Palace of Salt’, which is apt considering the way it was built almost entirely out of salt. Resting on Bolivia’s famous salt flat, Salar de Uyuni, everything from the walls to the beds is made of salt – but the hotel rules state that you can’t lick them, in case of degradation.
Half Graffiti Room (France)
For any indecisive person, this is the best of both worlds – literally. A good compromise between people who can’t choose between minimalism and chaos for the basis of their interior design, this hotel room is split perfectly down the middle, to stunning effect.
The Witchery by the Castle (Scotland)
Take a trip back to the past with The Witchery by the Castle, whose hotel rooms are designed in a luxurious Gothic- and Victorian-style, with antique furnishings and free-standing baths. Some suites even come with four-poster beds, to truly make you feel like royalty when you stay there. The hotel is within the historic city of Edinburgh, and just a few minutes’ walk from the Edinburgh Castle.
Pantone Hotel (Belgium)
To all the colour palette enthusiasts out there – Belgium has a special place for you. All the rooms in this Brussels hotel were decorated using a specific colour scheme, with Pantone colour cards on the wall to let you know exactly which colours were used. Several of the rooms also have coloured balconies, turning the hotel into an abstract work of art from outside.
Wanderlust Hotel (Singapore)
Half art instalment, half hotel, every room in Singapore’s Wanderlust Hotel is a high-concept artwork. Some rooms have sofas shaped like giant typewriters, in-room showers, or vintage bathtubs, while others have innovative and eclectic lighting to keep your room bright. Four design firms were given the opportunity to design their own floor, and the variety in styles is enough to keep anyone eager to come back.