By Randee Dawn
Vacations are mostly all about the destination, but you have to stay somewhere. So why not make your home away from home even more exciting than the place you’ve traveled all this way to visit?
If you think that’s not possible, think again: There are nearly as many interesting and unique places to stay as there are destinations to visit. Here’s a collection of some of the most incredible lodgings you can book – lodged neatly in one-of-a-kind destinations all over the world.
Montaña Mágica Lodge
Huilo Huilo Reserve, Neltume, Chile +56 63 267 2020
In Chile, the Magic Mountain has nothing to do with a Disney theme ride. Instead, it’s a volcano that features a gorgeous waterfall – and a volcano-shaped Eco lodge. Designed to resemble the biological reserve in the Patagonian rainforest in which its nestled, furniture Is crafted from trees and the rooms are rustic – but there’s still Wi-Fi, restaurants and places for kids to play.
Flexaterrein, Opperhuizerweg, Sneek, Netherlands +31644245949
In 2015 the pop-up hotel got a whole new twist when event organizers Global PowWow decided to make sand castles so big you could spend the night inside. Set up at sand castle festivals in the Netherlands, each used over 1.7 million pounds of zand – er, sand – to construct, though there were some traditional building materials used inside as well. The pop-up hotels sold out quickly, but plans are to bring them back for 2016 in Germany and the UK – so get your shovels and beach towels ready!
Serengeti, Tanzania +27 21 418 0468
Why bother with a hotel at all when you can go glamping in Tanzania in an area of the Serengeti that was closed off for 20 years, and re-opened to tourists just in 2014? It’s a safe haven for cheetah, which are among the animals that migrate through the eight tents – and it’s the only piece of human property on the land. So get ready for a real-life, immersive safari experience.
Solent Strait, Portsmouth, UK + 02392 809 767
Built in the Victorian era to ward off a possible attack by Napoleon III, the structures known as Spitbank Fort and No Man’s Fort are now luxury hotels and event locations. Situated off the Isle of Wight, in the Solent Straight south of Portsmouth, the forts are luxurious and also feature a wine tasting room, a laser tag arena, and even hammocks, if you want the true feeling of sleeping above the ocean. Bonus for Doctor Who fans: an episode from 1972 was shot here.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
Machu Picchu, Peru +51 84 211038
Thinking of visiting Machu Picchu? What if, after a long day of hiking around the legendary Inca capital you could stay directly next to the ruins? The Belmond is less than a 10-minute walk from Machu Picchu as well as the Lost City. Rooms provide panoramic mountain views, along with all the usual amenities.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
Key Largo, Florida, US 305-451-2353
Originally built as a research lab in the 1970s, it’s been possible since 1986 to actually sleep 21 feet underwater on the sea floor. If you don’t have a scuba certification, don’t worry: You’ll get a crash course so you can dive down and resurface in your hotel room where you can watch the ocean life through 42-inch windows. And you don’t even have to come up for breakfast and dinner, which are delivered to you by a “mer-chef.” But plan ahead: There are only two rooms. If this doesn’t have your toes tapping to the Little Mermaid tune “Under the Sea” by now, we don’t know what will.