High Value: Unique Lodging

In an earlier blog I wrote about treehouse hotels, which can be found throughout the world in all price ranges. There are so many  other unique lodgings which can be a wonderful destination for someone who wants to go somewhere few people have enjoyed. Or, of course, you can stay at the Holiday Inn….which kind of traveler are you?

Underwater lodging

Imagine the quiet of an underwater retreat, with large picture windows out to tropical fish habitat. Add to that image comfort and catered meals. There are several options available and most do not even require you to get wet.

The Jules Underwater Lodge  is located off Key Largo, Florida and offers three different overnight packages ranging in price from $600 per person (single occupancy) to the $1395 romantic getaway package. The pod, which has two bedrooms and a common room, originally used for research off Puerto Rico, is in 21 feet of water. If you are not a certified diver, 3 hours of instruction will prepare you for the descent and the ascent after your overnight.

The Poseidon Undersea Resorts in Fiji offers lodging on land and also 40 feet below the surface of the lagoon, accessible via elevator. There are 24 underwater suites.  Packages are $30,000 per couple for 2 overnights in the underwater suite and 4 nights in a luxury beachfront villa.

Ice Hotels

Brrrrr…..the concept is crazy!!! Who would pay big bucks to freeze your tail off?  Well, no one. Hence the amazing experience. If they did not keep their guests comfortable, there would be no reason to build and reopen these places each year, year after year.  There are three Ice Hotels that have been operating for at least ten years.  One logical consistent factor is that all are located in cold areas. Construction of each ice hotel starts in late November and lodging becomes available a few weeks later. Of course, it is temporary and the hotels all close before the end of March. Two are in Lapland, well known for frigid and dark winters and the community has built up recreational activities in all seasons to enhance tourism.

The Hotel de Glace is open from January 7 to March 27 in the city of Quebec, Canada.  The beds have a solid ice base, with a wooden bedspring and mattress on top. When evening comes, a cozy arctic sleeping bag will be delivered to your room. The ambient bedroom temperature will remain between -3°C and -5°C, no matter the outside temperature. There are 36 rooms and suites with themes; some have fireplaces and a private spa. The basic package is only $170CD for staying at the Hotel De Glace and includes one night lodging there with a room reserved at the nearby Sheraton where luggage will stay. This is also where showers can be taken and meals are served there as well.

Interesting structures

A few classic 1950-1960s motels have rooms shaped like teepees or wigwams, including the Wigwam Village Inn #2 in Cave City, Kentucky. Prices are $50-$70 depending on the room type and season.  The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona http://www.galerie-kokopelli.com/wigwam/ is located on old Route 66. Prices range from $52 to $58 per night.

For an experience which will begin to feel more authentic, visit the Lodge Pole Gallery and Tipi Village near Browning, Montana.  Tours and meals are also available.  Lodging is $50 for the first person and $15 each additional person. You need to supply your own sleeping bag and mattress.  


I spent one night in a castle in December, 1981. Located in the small town of Colberg near Rothenberg, the Schloss Colmberg offers lodging in an authentic castle .  I remember the room was warm but the corridors were unheated.   We enjoyed visiting Rothenberg as well as the Nuremburg Christmas markets on that weekend trip.  I don’t remember what we paid then, but current room rates range from €42 to €185.  Authentic old castle hotels are found throughout Europe in all price ranges.

In the United States, several homes built in the late 1800s for wealthy industrialists have been converted into hotels.  The Castle on the Hudson, located about 25 miles north of Manhattan, was built for the son of a Civil War general whose family occupied it until 1940. The hotel offers a variety of room selection including tower rooms with fireplaces, marble bathrooms, four poster beds, and views of the Hudson River and Manhattan.  Prices range as high as $1,000 per night.

Interesting Themes

The Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon is a bed and breakfast with a literature theme. Each of its twenty rooms is decorated in the style of an author. I have stayed in the Dr. Seuss room with a huge painted Cat in the Hat as well as the Herman Melville room, but next time I will try to reserve either the Tolkien room for its Lord of the Rings theme or the JK Rowling room for its Hogwarts decor. Room rates vary from $139 to $193 per night.

The Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin, Germany has 31 rooms named according to their design theme. At the lodge, you can choose to sleep in a coffin, a castle bed, or perhaps a strikingly orange room. Equally unique are rooms with slanted floors, wave-like walls, and caged beds. More like a mind trip than a vacation stay, the City Lodge is best suited for travelers who prefer a bit of adventure.   Rooms range in price from €69 to €190.

The cottages at the Winvian in Morris, Connecticut are an unusual, yet quiet resort-style getaway. Designed by fifteen different architects, each cottage has a unique theme and comes outfitted with luxurious amenities, such as spa inspired bathrooms.

The Helicopter cottage is a 17,000 pound restored 1968 Sikorsky Sea King helicopter with operating lights and controls that simulates flying over the New England countryside. Among the other cottage themes are a tree house and a greenhouse, a Beaver Lodge that has an actual dam above the bed, and the Davinci Code-like Secret Society cabin. Despite the upscale services and the posh rates (between $1,500- $2,000 including all meals and drinks), the Winvian is just one big countryside playhouse.

Spending the night at a unique hotel can be the icing on the cake of a very special customized vacation.  Ask me for help to find something special and affordable for your budget!

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