As plans are revealed for the first underwater hotel, here are the top 10 most unusual hotels around the world – The Independent

In Newspaper Contributions on February 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

Gabriella Swerling , Laura Davis Wednesday 30 January 2013

Word is out that Dubai could be set to host the world’s first underwater hotel.

This isn’t the first, and it certainly won’t be the last bizarre idea to hit the hospitality scene.

We take look at the most spectacular hotels around the world to celebrate the architecturally weird and wonderful, from a troll-hideout in Belgium to an authentic military prison in Latvia.


Under the sea

Although technically the hotel doesn’t exist yet, it is certainly the most original and obscure yet. Deep Ocean Technology is a company on a mission to build the world’s first underwater hotel and it has recently been reported that Dubai, that lavish playground of the tax-free, may play host to the world’s first one. Comprised of two discs, each above and below water (up to 10 metres beneath the sea surface), the hotel would enable guests to appreciate the beauty of the underwater world without the need for breathing apparatus. The design looks like something Disney would be proud of.


Sound of the underground

Located 155m underground in one of the world’s best-preserved mine settings, The Mine Suit in Sweden’s historic Sala Silvermine is certainly a distinctive hotel experience. Guests are treated to spectacular open water and cave diving environments and can explore the lakes in the close to freezing temperatures. Showers, toilets and a lounge are located above ground, about 50m from the mine suit and one member of staff is available above ground for guests throughout the night and can be communicated with through intercom radio. It is damp, dark and chilly, but with its winding galleries and vast cavities, it’s certainly a unique setting.


Tree houses for grown ups

Based in the heart of the Sierra del Montseny, just outside Barcelona, Cabanas als arbres is an ecological haven where childhood treetop fantasies are brought to life. Surrounded by the beautiful Forest of The Guilleries, it offers nature-loving guests to spend the night in one of ten bespoke tree houses. It has an ecological commitment, so that means no electricity or running water, but all guests have access to The Vileta, a traditional fourteenth-century country house which has showers, a bar and swimming pool. You can become Mogli for the day, feeling part of the ecosystem to appreciate the charm of its surroundings in your very own nest.


Brrrrrace yourself

ICEHOTEL is the ultimate luxury, ice-chic experience. In the space of a year, it shifts from frozen solid to flowing river – and back again. The temperature in the hotel ranges from –5 to -8ºC (but can drop to -30º outside) and guests sleep in a thermal sleeping bag on a bed built by ice blocks and a mattress topped with reindeer skins. The hotel boasts a range of activities from cocktailing at the world-famous ICEBAR to exploring Arctic trails, being mesmerised by the Northern Lights tour, dog sledding and skiing – it’s also launched an art project with works made of ice. Picture this: a cup of hot lingonberry juice and the Aurora Borealis swirling above your head as you pet a husky.


If you go down to the woods today

This enchanted boutique Belgian B&B offers ten individually designed bedrooms, inspired by fairy tales from all over the world. Winding staircases and a stunning array of carved wooden features at La Balade des Gnômes bring the magic to life in this quaint and weirdly extravagant hotel. Journey through the Arabian Nights, outer space, a troll-hideout with its own goldfish stream, or an old captain’s ship where guests can gaze at the stars above in a boat floating in a pool. It even has a Trojan Horse suite – just in case you need to enter a foe’s territory. This imaginative gem is hidden away in an unassuming farmhouse designed by the architect and visionary hotelier Mr Noël.


All aboard

Just off the coast of Portsmouth lies a historic sea fortress come luxury private island. Disposed of by the Ministry of Defence in 1982, it was originally home to the hundreds of soldiers who would guard the approaches to Portsmouth. It’s now been converted into a luxury venue and hotel which boasts a hot pool and sauna on the roof, and a fire pit. Eight of the former gun emplacements are now the Fort’s range of suites all of which boast stunning sea views. But be warned, it was also featured on an episode of Most Haunted.


Break behind bars

Latvia’s former military prison opens its metal-barred doors for guests who fancy more of an unlawful overnight experience. Karostas Cietums has remained unchanged since its beginnings in Tsarist times and is a treat for those who’d relish the chance to ‘do time’. It was built with the cheery ethos of breaking its inhabitants’ spirit, so forget the basic hotel rule of hospitality, these guests will be treated to the delights of an authentic prison meal and sleep in a prison bunk. Inmates get the opportunity to step into the shoes of a prisoner, as until 1997, it served as a place where military persons served their terms for breach of discipline. Prospective visitors must sign ‘The Agreement’ before their stay, contractually obliging them to be treated as detainees – abuse from guards included.



Already a hit in Japan, The new Sleepbox Hostel in Moscow city centre is set to be a sure fire hit with overworked commuters from all over the world. Banish those security fears of sleeping in public as you drift off in the midst of busy stations, airports or offices. The series of windowless pods can be constructed anywhere, even underground, providing a solution at long last for those who miss the last train home. Capsule hotels have already opened at Heathrow Terminal 4, Times Square and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and seem to be a sign of things to come. For the claustrophobic and convenient experience, the minimalist future spells cheap and basic accommodation – with no extra services required. Still, since Sleepboxes can be booked for a whole night or just a few hours, it’s easy to imagine that they might not be used just for sleeping…


It’s a whole lot of fun

Propeller Island City Lodge is meant to be an ‘aesthetic sensation for the eyes and ears’. German artist Lars Stroschen’s has created a habitable work of art in the heart of Berlin that fuses innovation and pragmatism aimed to inspire guests with its ‘vision machine’. Each room is designed around a different theme to scramble the senses and perceptions. Think: fun house-come-hotel. With the likes of Sleep-in coffins for Nosferatus, a hidden attic room and even a room bathed in mystical blue light in which the double bed can be split by an illuminated barrier, the City Lodge is at the sharper end of edgy retreats.


Mother Nature’s grand design

Set in the heart of the Huilo Huilo nature reserve in Chile, this surreal structure proves an architectural feat – yes that is a waterfall coming out of the top of the hotel. There are barely any right-angles in this four-star hotel that has been lovingly carved and architecturally curated by mother nature herself. Services include its own restaurant and a mini golf track that snakes its way through the forest on a course forty feet above the forest floor, and hot tubs made from dug out tree trunks on a deck overlooking the forest complete the fairy tale mountain retreat. Its remote location provides the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and the vibrant wildlife of the forest; with pumas and eagles scouring the land and skies.

  1. There isn’t one of these that i wouldn’t love to visit!

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