If you're a seasoned traveler, chances are you've spent a night or two in an unusual hotel. Maybe your strange stay was due to a suspicious smell, questionable cleaning practices or erratic behavior from the staff. Or, you may have happened upon one of those hotels that's just crazy, unusual or bizarre in its own right. Trust us, those places are out there! From an adult-centric hotel that celebrates Christmas 24/7 in Japan to a Swedish inn that offers submerged sleeping quarters, there's no lack of strange places catch some ZZZs, regardless of where in the world you happen to be traveling.
Have you been looking for a hotel that offers comfortable lodging but also pays tribute to our Native American past? Don't bother scanning the roadside for smoke signals -- we'll tell you where to go on the next page.
Modern travelers have multiple options for catching some shut-eye on the open road. If you're cruising down historic Route 66 in California, you can forego a standard hotel room, motor inn or tent because the iconic Wigwam Motel will have you sleeping in a tepee!
It may not be the most authentic representation of Native American life -- the walls aren't made from buffalo skins and each tepee has a fully locking door -- but it's super-kitschy and way more fun than living a nomadic existence out on the prairie.
This hotel has everything you're looking for: a tennis court, pool and plenty of waterfront views. Perhaps the waterfront views are too expansive -- this hotel is for goldfish, not humans.
Every fish owner knows the risks of taking an extended vacation. When left to their own devices, fish aren't exactly self-sufficient. And no matter how much food you leave drifting on top of the tank, there's still a good chance you'll come home to a famished, floating fish. If you drop off your finned pal at the Goldfish Hotel at the Amsterdam Airport, you can rest easy knowing he's swimming it up in the world's only fish-centered inn. And if the worst does happen and you come back to find your pet bottom-up, you can take home any of the hotel's 80-plus permanent residents. That sure beats an impromptu toilet-bowl funeral, if you ask us.
No, you don't have to be 4 feet or shorter to stay in the Hobbit Motel. Even though the lodging is based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, these hobbit holes have been built to accommodate human-sized guests.
The hairy-footed folks of Hobbiton would feel right at home at the Hobbit Motel, however. The facility is carved into a hill, and as Tolkien specified, all rooms have "a perfectly round door like a porthole" and "deep-set round windows." Of course, as any self-respecting fantasy fan knows, hobbit holes are more about comfort than style, and the Hobbit Motel is so relaxing, you'll be hard-pressed to leave in search of an adventure (or a pending flight). Each unit can accommodate up to six people and comes with two bunk beds and one double bed, a shower, toilet, kitchen, table and chairs and a very cozy-looking couch.
Staying at the Hotel Chapel Christmas is like squatting in one of Santa's toy workshops … if Santa lived in Japan and needed a place to spend some alone time with Mrs. Claus.
The outside of the building gives away the theme with multiple Santas (one giant-sized), ornately decorated trees year-round and a garish multi-storied paint job that reminds us of bad holiday wrapping paper. Of course, all the rooms in this Yuletide shack are Christmas-themed, but it's not for kids. It's actually one of Japan's many love hotels. We won't elaborate too much, but as you can probably guess, these establishments have much more to do with creating children than entertaining them.
The Madonna Inn is one of California's craziest landmarks, and that's saying something!
The hotel has 110 themed rooms that range from the comparatively low-key Time of Your Life room, which is swathed in the traditional colors of Mardi Gras, to the Caveman room, where everything is made from solid rock (expect the bed, of course) and features a private waterfall.
Of course, if you'd rather forgo purple, green and gold, and you aren't too keen on pretending to live in a cave, there are plenty of other options. There's a room made to look like a stagecoach, another one that resembles a canary cage and even a space that's designed to make you feel like you're sleeping in the clouds. You're sure to find a room at the Madonna Inn that has what you're looking for, as long as you don't mind swapping swank for extra kitsch.
When you first see Sweden's Utter Inn (that's "Otter Inn" in English), you may not be impressed. It looks more like a floating outhouse than a private island, which is how the inn is advertised. But looks can be deceiving, and no matter what your first impressions are, your stay will be memorable.
Climb down the ladder to the lower floor, and you're in an underwater hotel room, complete with large windows, twin beds and a table. There's no room service (though a boat will deliver dinner for an additional fee), no concierge and no communication with the outside world. It's just you, the fish and an inflatable canoe that you can row over to a nearby uninhabited island for a change of scenery if you like. It's peaceful, sometimes frightening and like no other hotel on earth.
Have you ever eaten at one of those restaurants where the staff is mean to you on purpose? Well, the Karostas Cietums is like that, but much, much worse. It's an old Soviet prison that today is, well, an old Soviet prison.
Modern inmates -- guests -- are all paying to be locked up. You get served unappetizing prison food, have to bunk on a hard, flimsy mattress and the "guards" will even yell at you and treat you like a prisoner. And, no, this isn't an adults-only fetish hotel. It offers special rates for groups of schoolchildren and features an on-site museum.
Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like: a hamster hotel for humans.
Though you won't be boarding with furry little rodents, you will be staying in a cage-like room with thin, metal bars on the walls and windows to make it feel more like a hamster's home. To go to bed, you have to squat on all fours, and there's a water fountain of sorts in a bottle attached to the wall. Of course, there's also a giant, fully functioning hamster wheel, and you can choose between a toilet and a pile of cedar chips in the bathroom (we recommend the toilet). It might seem inhuman, but apparently there are a lot of wannabe rodents out there; the space is booked almost every night.
As its name implies, the Riverside Capsule Hotel in Tokyo isn't known for its spacious accommodations. In fact, staying at the hotel is kind of like sleeping in a bunk bed that looks like the inside of a microwave oven. As long as you're not claustrophobic, it can be surprisingly cozy.
Some may find the sleeping quarters not all they're stacked up to be. The small spaces include TVs, alarm clocks, mattresses and pillows, and that's about it. The capsules are so tiny, your luggage has to be stashed in a locker during your stay. Also, don't expect to use the limited space to snuggle up to your sweetie, as the floors are strictly separated by gender, even for married couples. The division of the sexes makes the restroom situation a bit more bearable, as the facilities are all communal.
Still, you get what you pay for, and spaces at the Riverside Capsule Hotel are cheap. As of 2011, capsules are still less than $35 per night, which isn't bad for a safe, clean place to snooze in the Land of the Rising Sun.
We've heard of hotels giving guests a frosty reception, but the chilly atmosphere at Sweden's ICEHOTEL is just part of its charm. The ICEHOTEL is the first, largest and most famous ice hotel in the world, and though guests are provided with heated bathrooms and changing areas, everything else, from the bed to the glasses served at the bar, is made of -- you guessed it -- ice.
Returning guests can look forward to a different experience every year, because, like Frosty the Snowman, the hotel melts away every spring and is rebuilt in the winter. But Frosty would be out of his league here, as the ICEHOTEL undergoes a fundamental reinvention every time it's rebuilt and is never constructed the same way. An elaborately chiseled entryway, finely carved beds and intricately detailed chandeliers change every year, though the temperature is always the same: freezing!
HowStuffWorks looks at why the Taj Mahal is in such poor shape, why it's so hard to repair and how this problem happens in other places like Italy.
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