TRAVEL: 10 unique places to stay


Cave Suites: Cappadocia Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey.
VirtualTourist members are some of the most well-traveled people around and they have covered almost every corner of the world. With this in mind, we had them share their thoughts on 10 of the Most Unique Places to Stay.
Middle of the Ocean: Spitbank Fort, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
How about staying in a 150-year-old, manmade fortress situated in the middle of the Solent Straight? Look no further than Spitbank Fort, one of three forts, just off the English Channel. Commissioned in 1860 in an effort to defend the country in the event of an attack, the forts were never used because by the time they were completed, they were no longer needed. Today, they have been thoughtfully restored to serve as a luxury hotel offering “24 hours of opulent luxury.” Your visit begins with a boat ride out to the fort, where you are welcomed with champagne and taken on an excellent guided tour, which reinforces the sense of being somewhere historically significant. You spend the rest of your stay enjoying the facilities, including a hot tub and sauna on the roof and eating and drinking until your heart’s content. Each of the eight rooms has its own original features, so be on the lookout when you stay. If you’re lucky enough, you might find a glass-covered opening in your room’s floor through which you can see directly down to the waters of the Solent.
Airplane Cockpit: JumboStay Hostel, Stockholm, Sweden
JumboStay has converted an old jumbo jet into a unique hostel experience allowing guests the opportunity to spend the night onboard a real jumbo jet, while being on the ground. With three different room types, dorm rooms, standard rooms and suites, you can choose your lodging based on budget, and privacy desires. Most rooms accommodate four guests and only a few have a private bathroom and shower. The creme de la creme is the luxury suite converted cockpit with a panoramic view of the airport. At Jumbo Stay you’re guaranteed a unique and outstanding experience at a reasonable price.
Railway Carriages: Undara Experience, Undara Volcanic National Park, Queensland, Australia
If you’re planning to visit the Undara Lava Tubes in the Undara Volcanic National Park, VTers agree you should stay at least one night in the beautifully restored turn-of-the-century railway carriages offered by Undara Experience. Carriages are situated underneath bountiful trees surrounded by native wildlife like herons, egrets, ibis, eagles, and emus and even kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos. They offer four types of rooms from single and family carriages to larger suites, as well as tents and huts. Undara Experience is currently in the midst of upgrading the carriages, re-opening mid-February. All other accommodations remain open.
Glamping with Animals: Safari West, Santa Rosa, California
If you can’t travel to Africa for a safari, then head to Safari West located midway between Santa Rosa and Calistoga, California. Just off the Mark West Highway, Safari West provides a wonderful venue for animal lovers. Day trips are accommodated, but staying there is much more unique, as you sleep in luxury African tents imported just to set the theme. Wake up to the sights and sounds of animals, including giraffes, rhinos, zebras, monkeys and more. Rates vary depending on the season.
Floating Hostel: ArkaBarka, Belgrade, Serbia
ArkaBarka Floating Hostel in Belgrade floats along the Danube and comes highly recommended by VTers for its uniqueness, cleanliness and modern vibe. Built in 2007, it was the first floating hostel not only for Belgrade, but the Hostelling world. There’s also an outdoor terrace that provides an amazing place to enjoy the complimentary breakfast right on the water. ArkaBaraka recently opened its sister property, the first floating apartments, which are now available.
Cave Suites: Cappadocia Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Located in Goreme, one of the most beautiful and distinctive locales in Cappadocia, the Cave Suites combine old world charm with new world luxury. Built around original cave dwellings and houses of the Hittite, Roman and Byzantine Periods, Cave Suites give travelers the unique experience of sleeping in a cave. Fourteen of the 36 rooms were designed around original “fairy chimneys” and the fireplaces are in use today, making this hotel even more exceptional since “fairy chimneys” are now protected by UNESCO and no longer allowed to be made into hotels.
Living on the Edge: Skylodge Adventure Suites, Urubamba, Cusco, Peru
By far the scariest of the hotels is the Skylodge Adventure Suites in Urubamba, Cusco, Peru, and these are definitely not for the faint of heart. The rooms literally hang off the side of a mountain and the only way to access them involves rock climbing up a few hundred feet. And getting down? Zipline. The hotel’s “transparent luxury capsules” provide a 300-degree view of the majestic Sacred Valley. The caves, 24 feet long, 8 feet wide, come equipped with a private bathroom where you can still enjoy the views. Enjoy all this luxury at approximately $350 USD per person.
Underwater Hotel: The Manta Resort, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa
A private floating island with your bedroom 13 feet beneath the surface is yours to enjoy when you book the exclusive Underwater Room at The Manta Resort in Zanzibar. The three-story luxurious getaway provides three levels of extraordinary views and experiences you’ll have nowhere else. The landing deck, at sea level, has a lounge area and bathroom. Upstairs on the roof, another lounge area provides an opportunity for sunbathing or stargazing. Downstairs, the bedroom seems to float in the crystal clear waters, providing 360-degree viewing of reef fish and other underwater creatures. $1,500 USD per night gets you the room, along with breakfast, lunch, three-course dinner, all you can drink all day long, plus one spa treatment per person and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Sleeping in Trees: Free Spirit Spheres, Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
The idea behind Free Spirit Spheres in Qualicum Beach is a simple one — to provide people the opportunity to live in and among the trees. Three unique rental spheres are suspended in the rainforest anywhere from 10 to 14 feet above ground. The two larger spheres, Eryn and Melody, each come equipped with a cozy bed, sitting area and small sinks. Melody, the newest sphere, features a Murphy bed and two fold-down tables. Guests say the peacefulness of the forest provides a magical experience that inspires creativity and feelings of oneness with nature. Free Spirit Spheres is open year round.
Glass Igloos: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Saariselka, Lapland, Finland
For a unique Northern Lights experience, treat yourself to a night in the glass igloos of Kakslauttanen Artic Resort in Finland. Open from August 20 through April, the two- and four-person, all-glass thermal igloos allow guests some of the most amazing views of Aurora Borealis from the warmth and privacy of their own personal igloo. Each glass igloo is fitted with thermal glass walls and ceilings, which insulate the interior to keep it warm and cozy at night. The glass also contains a frost preventative, maintaining crystal-clear panoramic views, even when temperatures outside drop to minus 22 degrees F. Although the hotel does not guarantee a view of the Northern Lights, they keep constant watch over the weather conditions and ring a signaling bell for visitors to look to the sky when the phenomenon is visible. The hotel also plays host to the world’s largest smoke sauna and has its own restaurant, ice bar and snow chapel built fresh every winter. Rates vary depending on the season.
(c) 2016, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
This was printed in the April 3, 2016 – April 16, 2016 edition.