5 ‘Experience’ Hotels for the Vacation Season

underwater hotel

Amelia Rupp and Felicia Xu

In anticipation of the holiday season, we have collaborated to create a top 5 list of the hotels we think are the most extreme or quirky. Our aim was to find five hotels in the most unusual locations, whether that was in the desert, up a tree, frozen by ice, or in the humid heat of the jungle. Our fifth category was a ‘wildcard’; a hotel that defied all rules of normalcy and was the epitome of eccentricity.

Next time you or your parents say: “It’s time we had a break”, don’t go straight for the expensive, glamorous, celebrity-endorsed hotels. Try somewhere different, a little bit….unconventional.

#1 The Tree Hotel, Sweden


Camouflaged within a woodland in the Northern wilds of Swedish Lapland lies a little-known treasure; the Tree Hotel. Here, ten custom-designed tree houses are slung from the snow-covered boughs like fairy lights, each with a distinctive twist. The “Bird’s Nest” is just what the name suggests; a giant bird’s nest suspended from the trees using steel. Yet once inside, you would think you were at a trendy, modern and minimalist hotel with seventeen square metres of floor space and separate bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas. Amongst the other tree houses, which include the UFO, Dragonfly, Cabin, MirrorCube and the surprisingly named Blue Cone, there is also a tree sauna where you can spend the evenings relaxing after long days of walking, dog sledding and horse riding.

Top Tip

Visit the Tree Hotel in the winter months (between September and March) to try and catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights.

Woodland hotel












Credit: Gitta Wilén on Flickr

#2 Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Dubai


Do not be put off by its name or  location, for the Qasr Al Sarab is a hidden gem among the rolling dunes of the Liwa Desert. Despite the exterior heat, the hotel is cool and welcomes guests like an oasis in the midst of the desert. The hotel brims with opulent Middle Eastern culture, from the richly decorated suites to the arches twinkling with Arabic lanterns; it is certainly a magical escape. Whether indulging yourself in the fine gastronomic cuisines, or lazing around in the privacy of your own pool, this all-inclusive resort offers practically anything you can think of.

Top Tip

Kick up a sandstorm in a 4WD desert drive.

dune hotel














Source: Jennifer @diary.thepurplepassport.com on Flickr

#3 The Ice Hotel, Sweden


The Ice Hotel, as the name suggests, is completely constructed with snow and ice blocks that are taken from the nearby Torne River. Each year, skilled artists chisel away for months to rebuild the hotel from scratch. Designs of the hotel are different each year, which makes one visit a very unique experience. When completed, the hotel features a bar, church, main hall, reception area, restaurant, bedrooms and suites. The Icehotel in Jukkasjävi is known to be the biggest hotel of ice and snow in the world, spanning over 6,000 square metres for 100 guests. It features, literally, breath taking sculptures of chairs, beds, tables, chandeliers, decorations – you name it and it has it.

Top Tip

If the temperature gets all a bit too much for you, jump into one the hotel’s saunas or outdoor hot tubs.

ice hotel














Source: bjaglin @Flickr

#4 Montaña Mágica Lodge, Chile


In the heart of the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, Chile, hides the Montaña Mágica Lodge. As you approach it you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a miniature mountain; it’s many windows peer cautiously out of the moss and weed that cover the building as water pours down in torrents from the top. Once inside, the fantasy is continued with wood-clad rooms straight out of Lord of The Rings. There is also a spa where you can unwind after a day mountain biking in the reserve, as well as a bar, restaurant and games’ areas. You can book a room for as little as £135.

Top Tip

Stay at the lodge in June when a multitude of world ecology days happen such as World Environment Day on the 5th of June and International Day for the Preservation of Tropical Forest on the 26th.












Source: Diagonal Uno @Flickr

#5 Propeller Island City Lodge, Germany


If you’re looking for something a bit less glamorous but all the more quirky, look no further than the Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin. Each of the thirty-five rooms is individually designed and saves nothing when it comes to eccentricity with the designs. They vary from the upside-down-room – where all the furniture is precariously attached to the ceiling with bed boxes sunk into the floor, to the coffin room – where the guests sleep in coffins. Perhaps one of the most unsettling rooms is Room 11, featuring a slanted floor. The bed and other items of furniture are strapped to the ceiling so that they remain horizontal, making, according to the hotel’s website, “grandma’s bed seem to fly”.

Top Tip

Go as soon as possible as they are getting rid of some of the rooms, and book as far in advance as you can to ensure you get the room of your choice.
















Boxdecoblog @Flickr

(One to Watch: Poseidon Undersea Resorts, Fiji)


Make sure you’re on the lookout for this extraordinary resort that is going to be built soon. The entire hotel will be submerged in the pristine waters of Fiji, an area that has been little touched by man. Guests will have views of the tropical sea life and colourful coral reefs, just from the comfort of their rooms. The ceiling is a transparent layer of glass, allowing the crystal blue colour of the ocean to seep in and fill the room with it’s calming presence. The fantastic resort will also feature two fine dining establishments, presenting plates of delicious seafood, a retail boutique, library/lounge and fitness amenities with spa treatments and meditation.

  Top Tip

Watch out for the unusual marine life that inhabits the waters around Fiji. It is said that some species only exist in this part of the world!

underwater hotel

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