Vacation season approaches. Hotel reservations are ramping up for warm, exotic locales. But if conventional relaxation isn’t enough, off-the-grid adventure may soothe your soul. These oddball hotels could do the trick.
Stockholm’s island Langholmen Hotel offers guests who are a glutton for punishment the chance to be “prisoner for a day”—including jail breaks and faux gang riots. Visitors choose comfort suites or locked quarters with caged doors, barred windows, bunk beds for cellmates (or your ball and chain spouse). Striped pajamas, cap, and charming law-enforcement guards are included so Stockholm Syndrome is a remote possibility.
Boston’s Charles Street Jail was so derelict in 1972 the U.S. government stepped in. The landmark cleaned up its act as The Liberty Hotel, a trendy lodge in the heart of Beacon Hill. The hotel boasts exposed red-brick walls, fancy chandeliers, arched glass windows, a rooftop cupola, jail bars in bar lounges, and “The Clink” restaurant. Guests roam anywhere they please—as long as they have a cell key…room key.
Like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Propeller Island City Lodge is an “odditorium” that will make your head spin. This bizarre hotel boasts oddball themes in each room—green leather suite, levitating bed suite, coffin suite (yes, the beds are coffins), mirrored room, and even an upside down suite where furnishings hang from the ceiling (bed and table too). Thankfully, guests sleep in hidden compartment beds on the floor.
Honoring a fallen mountain climber, this secluded hotel (perched 8,300 feet high atop Italy’s Foronon Buinz Mountain) boasts panoramic views of Julian Alps peaks. Designed by Italian architect Giovanni Pescamosca, this simple steel-and-wood cabin is free and sleeps nine extreme hikers at a time. The tent-shaped, snow-resistant cabin was constructed by rescue volunteers in a single day, aided by a helicopter.
Turkey’s five-star Yunak Evleri hotel boasts a labyrinth of ancient fifth and sixth century caves recessed into the limestone cliffs of the Cappadocia region. Reimagined into 40 deluxe hotel suites (adjacent to a 19th century Greek mansion), these private luxury digs showcase leveled plateaus, nooks, archways, stone fireplaces, and unconventional windows and doors carved into the spectacular landscape.
No frills Das Park Hotel is constructed from refurbished sewage pipe sections which serve as affordable shelter from the elements—but not much else. Created by Austrian architect Andreas Strauss, the pay-what-you-wish habitats house a double bed, lamp, power outlet, blankets, and minimal storage space. Ironically, the lack of a sewage system means there’s no bathroom (though public restrooms are nearby).
Airbnb exhumed a morbid promotion last fall when it financed a $398,000 Halloween sleepover with the dead (skulls too) in Paris’ hallowed Catacombs. The underground ossuary (an ancient mine tunnel) holds the remains of more than six million deceased Parisians (the world’s largest grave) which has become a cultural curiosity, especially for young tourists. No word on whether Airbed will repeat the macabre theme in 2016.
Jumbo Hostel adds more comfort to the air up there—sort of. Based at Arlanda airport, the retired 747 is a retrofitted hotel with 25 bedrooms (64 square feet each) for adventuring guests or flight cancellation victims. Leg room to spare, the plane has overhead storage, first-class lounge, bar, sky deck, oxygen masks, cockpit suite, and engine suites with rotor blade venetian blinds. Beware if you book the “black box” suite.
Hôtel de Glace is a Nordic experience crafted entirely from 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice. A tranquil sub-zero stay in this Laurentian mountains ice complex includes 44 thematic suites, intricate ice sculptures and snow carvings, fireplaces, heated bathrooms, arctic spas, outdoor saunas, winter decor, artistic lighting—all in the coolest igloo-ish environment which only lasts three months.