10 Strange Buildings Where You Can Spend the Night

Hotel Arena
The beautiful Hotel Arena was a former mental institution. antidigital_da Under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 License

You most certainly wouldn't want to be locked up in a mental institution, but passing a night in one wouldn't be such a terrible fate if it's in a spot like Amsterdam's Hotel Arena, formerly St. Elizabeth Mental Institution. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, mentally ill people were sent by family to live out their days in sterile mental hospitals. This one was a destination for women and children.

The institution had a storied history before becoming Hotel Arena. During World War I, Belgian refuges sheltered there. And during World War II, the obstetrics department of a nearby hospital was housed within its walls. Eventually, Nazi invaders occupied the site. After the war, it reverted to a place for mentally ill patients, as well as the poor and elderly [source: Hotel Arena].

Although the hotel's interior is no longer in keeping with the setting, when viewed from the outside it boasts a fortress-like image where one would hardly be surprised to spot a ghostly apparition peering out from a window high above ground. Designers sought to preserve the historic and architectural integrity of the original building, while also adding modern delights like a restaurant, bar, café and meeting rooms. Most of the hotel rooms were part of the former orphanage [source: Hotel Arena]. History plus mystery earns this hotel a spot on my bucket list ... but if a transparent little girl with pigtails shows up I'll be hightailing it to the nearest Hilton, post haste.