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18 of the World’s Most Unusual and Unique Places to Stay

Travellers are now looking for unusual and unique places to stay that will transform an ordinary trip into an unforgettable one. Treehouses, caves, and castles are just a few offerings that will turn a regular stay into an experience of a lifetime.

Gone are the days when plush amenities and a varied pillow menu were all that was needed to fulfil guest expectations – times have moved on.

The 18 quirky places highlighted in this post are all personal recommendations from travel bloggers to inspire your journey.

This article may contain affiliate links – read the full disclaimer here.

Updated by the author – July 2022

Unique Places to Stay in Africa

1920’s South African Safari Camp #1

Quatermain’s 1920’s Safari Camp is a family-run camp in Amakhala Reserve, South Africa. Comprising only three en-suite tents and a communal cooking/eating area, this allows you a taste of how an authentic 1920s safari camp may have been.

Forget swimming pools and dressing for dinner and instead immerse yourself in authentic bush living. Drink coffee from a metal mug, watch your food cooking over an open fire, and share travel stories with your hosts.

Tents are comfortable and spacious, with the bonus of having en-suite outdoor bathrooms. Enjoy a warm bucket shower with the sounds of the wild all around you, and, at night, curl up in a cosy camp bed after a long day’s safari drive.

If you are looking for an authentic African experience, then Quatermain’s Camp is undoubtedly one of the unique places to stay in South Africa.

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Quatermain’s Camp in Amakhala Safari Reserve

Quartermains Camp Tent South Africa

Unique Places to Stay in Asia

Caravanserai in Azerbaijan #2

Written by Emily of Wander-Lush

One of the unique places I’ve ever stayed at is Hotel Karvansaray in northern Azerbaijan. Located in the historic town of Sheki, the hotel is within a 19th-century stone caravanserai – a traditional inn built to accommodate traders and their cargo on the ancient Silk Road.

Legend has it that merchants would pull up at the caravanserai to rest in Sheki; a waypoint on the long overland journey from China to Istanbul and Europe. They would stow their goods and animals in individual rooms on the first level of the building before retiring to sleeping quarters on the upper floor.

The Karvansaray Hotel retains all the original architectural elements, including a beautiful central courtyard, a fountain at the entranceway (back in the day, this was the favourite spot for thirsty horses and donkeys), and arched stone walkways that run between the rooms. Spending the night in a building so steeped in history, frequented by travellers for literally centuries, is an incredible experience. The hotel isn’t modern, and the rooms aren’t that comfortable, but hey, it’s all about the atmosphere!

A Cave Dwelling in Iran #3

Written by Caroline of VeggieWayfarer – The Ultimate Two Week Iran Guide

Meymand is a small village in the centre of Iran. This UNESCO-classified village could quickly be passed by because of its remote nature. That, however, would be a real shame! You see, this area goes back thousands of years, and archaeologists have discovered signs of inhabitants dating back 12,000 years.

The village itself dates back a ‘mere’ 3,000 years when people dug out homes in the rock formations. These days it has a small population of just 30 families, but it does see its fair share of tourists. After all, it is not every day that you can sleep in a cave dating back thousands of years.

Maymand and Moon is a family-run eco-friendly hotel. It is run by two friends who originate from Tehran but decided to give up big city life to open a hotel in the sleepy village of Meymand. The hotel has five rooms, all beautifully decorated in a traditional Persian style. It will transport you back hundreds of years, albeit with a few modern updates (internet, lights and running water and a mighty comfortable mattress). It is possibly one of Iran’s most unique places to stay.

The family runs a few tours out of their hotel to visit the fascinating surroundings. Be sure to book these in advance, as they are all custom-made.

Mongolian Yurt #4

Written by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

If you visit Mongolia, it’s almost inevitable that you will spend at least one night in a yurt, or a “ger” as they are known here. It’s one of the not-to-miss things to do in Mongolia. These moveable round tents serve as homes for the nomads, who make up about 40 per cent of Mongolia’s population. Many nomadic families who move to the cities searching for work still live in their ger, which they set up in informal ger camps on the outskirts of the town.

As a tourist, you can experience a ger stay in different ways, depending on whether your priority is comfort or cultural immersion. You can find tourist ger camps fitted out with luxuries that many Western tourists expect, such as solar-powered phone charging stations and shower blocks with running hot water.

Or, on a more low-budget trip, you can stay in the spare ger of a nomadic family and live as they do. Be forewarned that showers will not be available, and everything will smell of mutton. But it will be an authentic Mongolian experience and a unique place to stay!

When my husband and I visited Mongolia, we got the best of both worlds. We visited nomads and then stayed in some of the more budget-friendly tourist camps.

Unique Places to Stay in Europe

Fisherman’s Rorbuer in Norway #5

Written by Angie

The Lofoten islands are located in northern Norway and have some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe. The fishing communities that have based themselves there over the centuries have always lived in wooden cabins, usually on stilts over the water, called rorbuer.

On my trip to Lofoten, I chose to stay in a rorbuer in the historic fishing village of Nusfjord. The red and yellow cabins were basic shelters when used by the fishermen but have now been turned into luxurious holiday rentals.

The interiors have been decorated in keeping with the original feel of the cabin, so neutral colours and lots of wood. A sitting room, bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen (no cooking facilities) have been decked out with luxurious throws, a power shower and the most comfortable bed you can imagine.

The fishing village of Nusfjord no longer functions as a working harbour for the fishing industry but still retains its original buildings, including the processing building, local store, bakery and sawmill. Nusfjord also has two restaurants serving local Lofoten dishes and one serving pizza.

An outdoor spa at Nusfjord offers guests a place to relax after a day of sightseeing. Boat trips run out of Nusfjord, including a self-drive option, which gives novice sailors (like us) a chance to take to the high waters around the Nusfjord coastline. We booked one for the morning and visited some of the other small villages in the area. There are so many great reasons to visit Lofoten, and staying at Nusfjord is one of them!

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Nusfjord Arctic Resort

Nusfjord Arctic Resort

Lighthouse in the South of England #6

Written by Suzanne of Lighthouse Locations

Staying in a lighthouse is a unique experience. As most are still in use, accommodation is usually in the now-empty lighthouse keeper’s cottages. The U.K. has several which provide comfortable accommodation in fabulous locations. One of these is Start Point Lighthouse in South Devon near Salcombe. 

I have scuba-dived under this lighthouse over the years, and its remote cliff-top location has always been appealing, so staying here was a unique experience. Built in 1836, the last keepers left in 1993 when it became fully automated. The cottages are tastefully furnished with views from every bedroom out over the south coast of England. 

Even as you approach along the narrow track, the location is something special. The South West Coast Path runs right by the lighthouse, and there are lots of coastal walks and hidden beaches just a short distance from the cottages. Watching the sunrise and sunset from the tower is an experience that you will always remember. Just be warned, if the weather is less than pleasant, the fog-horn will be in action. The cottage has earplugs, so you can still get a good sleep!

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Start Point Lighthouse

Viking Longhouse in Iceland #7

Written by Martha of Quirky Globetrotter

I’ve always thought of myself as an adventurer, but that became more evident after staying in a historic Viking longhouse in Iceland’s northern realm. I always knew that Iceland was considered the Land of Fire and Ice, but Nordic tales and Vikings’ captivating history sprang to life after my stay at Hof í Vatnsdal.

During my visit, I was the queen of the longhouse with no peasants to rule. Alone in the historic longhouse, I spent my time reading Nordic folklore and transporting myself back to the age of heroic sea voyages. Yet, the only sea I ventured into during my stay there was gazing at the sea of stars above. I was able to watch the Northern Lights sashay and dance in the indigo skies overhead.

My quaint longhouse was ideal for a solo traveller. There was a communal dining hall to mill with other guests. There was a geothermal hot tub outside of the longhouse offering panoramic views of the night sky. During the day, the waterfalls were visible in the distance. Longhouse living made me feel genuinely inspired to voyage into the world and discover more hidden gems.

Even though it was never my lifelong dream to stay in a Viking longhouse, I felt as if I completed a destined quest during my Ring Road road trip. Who knows, maybe my ancestors have Viking roots, and this was one of the unique places they would have called home? 

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Hof I Vatnsdal

Hagrid’s Hut in England #8

Written by Laura of What’s Hot Blog

Harry Potter fans could only dream of staying at a place like magical Hogwarts, but a cosy campsite in North Yorkshire now offers you the next best thing. At North Shire, they’ve recreated Hagrid’s Hut (the only replica like this in the world!), and you can book a stay there with your family or friends. No detail is spared here as they’ve got pots and pans hanging from the ceiling, all 8 Harry Potter films and Harry Potter board games for your entertainment, a magical fire, and even an old blue Ford Anglia outside!

This place is an absolute dream for Harry Potter fans, with interior rooms inspired by Hagrid’s Hut, the Ministry of Magic, Molly Weasley’s Kitchen, and the Gryffindor Common Room. You’ll be amazed from the very moment you step in as you genuinely feel like you’ve stepped into Harry Potter’s world.

Many details in the hut have been lovingly handmade, so expect creaking doors and floorboards. It’s called a glamping experience, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but was surprised to find that the hut was very toasty (and we were there when it snowed!) with quick hot water. There’s no hob in the kitchen, but there’s a combi-oven, which is more than sufficient for a few days. The owners also kindly left us a spot of milk and a chocolate cake for our arrival! Not only can you stay at Hagrid’s Hut in North Shirebut you can also stay in huts inspired by Lord of the Rings and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. 

Vineyard Apartment in Bordeaux #9

Written by Jennifer and Tim of Luxe Adventure Traveler

For a wine lover, there’s little that’s more magical than waking up in a vineyard. At Château de Bonhoste in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion appellation, you can not only wake up surrounded by the world-renowned UNESCO vineyards but inside of the giant wooden wine vats known as the Coup 2 Foudre.

The duo of wooden wine vats by famous vat maker Seguin Moreau has been made into two unique vineyard apartments. Each decorated with a theme, they have a queen-size bed, a complete bathroom, and even a little kitchenette complete with a coffee maker, fridge and microwave. It offers comfortable accommodation with an experience you won’t soon forget.

A vineyard dinner can be delivered to the little garden area for you to enjoy local products alongside the vines. Breakfast is a delicious feast provided in the morning with freshly baked French pastries, grape juice from the very vines you slept alongside, coffee or hot chocolate, and local products like cheese, meat, and jams.

Situated just a few minutes from the village of Saint-Émilion, one of France’s best wine regions, there’s plenty to do while staying in the Coup 2 Foudre at Château de Bonhoste. Saint-Emilion is a UNESCO world heritage site and has a variety of attractions worthy of a visit, including the largest Monolithic church in Europe.

Of course, there are also plenty of Saint-Émilion vineyards to visit nearby. And included in the stay, you’ll be able to tour Château de Bonhoste with its impressive underground network of quarries, the perfect place for ageing their wines.

Pilgrims Rest on the Camino de Santiago Route #10

Written by Campbell and Alya of Stingy Nomads

The Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles is a church-monastery-hospital-Albergue for pilgrims in the small Spanish village of Roncesvalles on the border with France. For centuries, it’s been a prominent landmark on the Camino Frances, one of Santiago de Compostela’s pilgrimage routes.

Since the discovery of the Apostle Saint James’ tomb in 813, thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe have walked through Roncesvalles on the way to Santiago.

The church/Albergue de San Agustin was built here in 1127 and was one of the first for pilgrims in Europe. In the next century, it was extended and turned into a large pilgrim’s reception centre. The Colegiata hasn’t lost its significance since then, and it is now the biggest Albergue on the Camino, accommodating 200 pilgrims. 

The Albergue was renovated a couple of years ago. The outside still looks the same, but the interior was significantly changed to make it more comfortable for pilgrims. Instead of many small cells with two or three beds, there are three enormous halls for 70 beds each.

Every dormitory has cubicles with four beds, lockers, personal lights, power sockets, and wi-fi access. These modern commodities are inside the old building with a high ceiling and thick stone walls. The place has incredible energy. Hundreds of pilgrims have been coming here every day for the last ten centuries.

Please refer to this extensive Camino de Santiago cost calculator guide to find out how much you will need to budget for during the pilgrimage.

French Chateau #11

Written by Elisa of World in Paris

A French Château is a unique place to spend a couple of nights out of the home. Fortunately for us, France boasts many beautiful fairytale castles and restored châteaux, and some of them are now used as hotels or vacation rentals.

My favourite French Château-hotel is Château de Villiers-le-Mahieu. This French castle is located 40 km west of the capital, in the countryside, and surrounded by a beautiful forest. Château de Villiers still keeps some of its most ancient parts from the 13th century, but it has all the amenities for the comfort of the guest.

The main building is the old part of the château, which is completed with some more pavilions in the forest. Some of these pavilions are dedicated to hotel rooms, while two other buildings host a private restaurant and a fitness room plus a spa. The hotel provides bikes to move between the different pavilions and other facilities like an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and games area.

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Chateau de Villiers-le-Mahieu

Unique Places to Stay in North America

South Georgia Heritage Hotel #12

Written by Ed and Jennifer of Coleman Concierge

In 1888, America’s wealthiest families opened the most exclusive resort in the world – Jekyll Island, Georgia. It became the hub of the social elite for 60 years. Every winter during “Club Season,” the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, and crew flocked to their exclusive cottages on the South Georgia coast. 

How vital was Jekyll Island for American society? America’s first transcontinental phone call connected New York and San Francisco to Jekyll Island, and the Federal Reserve System grew from clandestine meetings at the deserted clubhouse during the summer of 1910, to name a few of the deals that happened there. After World War II, the state of Georgia took over the club as an egalitarian retreat for the people.

Today, the Jekyll Island Club functions as a historic luxury hotel. Guests can stay at the Clubhouse, San Souci condos (the first condo in America), or several of the “cottages.” We stayed at the San Souci and felt like we were sleeping in a museum.

Apart from the historic district, the island is known for bike trails, dunes, and delicious sweet Georgia shrimp. There are also fantastic photo opportunities at Driftwood Beach and the St Andrew’s Picnic area, where one of the last slave ships arrived in America. Jekyll Island is a beautiful mixture of history and natural beauty where you can stay in the historic properties of America’s industrial elite.

Reviews, Availability and Rates for The Jekyll Island Club Resort

Literary Inspired Ontario Hotel #13

Written by Stephanie of The World As I See It

You’ll find an incredible literary-themed hotel in one of Canada’s most charming small towns, Paris, Ontario. Arlington Hotel was built in the early 1850s in the picturesque chateau style and is now an Ontario Heritage Site. This boutique hotel blends history and wonders with its 24 rooms, each decorated to pay homage to a different creative mind.

Imagine being transported to the pages of your favourite book, whether it’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, as seen in the photograph. As a huge Ernest Hemingway fan, I was determined to stay in the Hemingway Suite. Hemingway and his writing inspired the details in the room. There was an old typewriter, wallpaper that gave a lively Key West vibe, and photos from his safari days.

I’ve since returned to stay at the Arlington to explore more of its incredible rooms, and I’m blown away by how much attention to detail they put in. Their restaurant is called Edit, they have a Library Bar, and even their elevator resembles Tardis from Doctor Who. One thing is for sure, if you’re a book nerd like myself, you’ll love the Arlington Hotel.

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Arlington Hotel

Unique Places to Stay in South America

Cave House in Guatemala #14

Written by Laureen of My Fab Fifties Life

We have been blessed to travel the world over the past four years and have stayed in some beautiful and unique places. We’ve also stayed in some duds. But for the most part, our lodgings have been adequate to spectacular. The cave house we stayed in high above Lake Atitlan in Guatemala was by far the most unique.

This beautiful house was on four levels inside a natural cave. The main level inside a massive cave housed the kitchen and seating area and was wide open to nature.  A half level below was a full bath. Another level below that was a tiny half bath. Both bathrooms were inside smaller cave enclaves and open to nature.  The bedroom, one level down again, was the only room closed in with floor-to-ceiling windows to take full advantage of the view.

We cherished it for its privacy, beauty, and peace. The only negative was 280 steps down to the road. But we loved it so much we didn’t want to leave, so we spent most of our eight days enjoying the unique cave paradise.  

Treehouse in Peru #15

Written by Lindsay of Have-Clothes-Will-Travel

The Treehouse Lodge is one of the unique places I have ever stayed! My husband and I chose it as the place to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  It had always been my dream to visit the Amazon Rainforest, and my husband had always wanted to stay in a treehouse.

There is a total of 10 private treehouses to stay in, and each comes equipped with a (cold) shower, sink, toilet, and beds. While sleeping in our private treehouse, we heard all the sounds of the rainforest at night – from chirping birds to screaming monkeys! During the day, we were able to see the monkeys swinging from the trees outside our room and even see pink dolphins swimming outside our balcony.

Getting to the lodge itself is also an adventure. Driving from the airport to the boat landing takes roughly an hour. Then, you take a 1½-hour boat ride to the lodge. It’s very remote!

Our time at the Treehouse Lodge included excursions, from wildlife spotting (we saw sloths, pink dolphins, anteaters and more!), to fishing for piranhas and visiting a local village. Each treehouse comes with its guide service, so you will have your guide and boat driver when staying here. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I cannot recommend enough.

Unique Places to Stay in Oceania

Pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef #16

Written by Fiona of Passport and Piano

Taking a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a highlight of any holiday down under. When I discovered that you could spend the night sleeping under the stars on a floating pontoon, I didn’t need persuading. 

Reefsleep is an entirely excellent experience. When all the day visitors have left, you get to snorkel in what I can only describe as a magical underwater garden. 

As the area returns to its tranquillity after the hoards of tourists have left, the reef becomes teaming with life. Colourful fish are in abundance, and the sea turtles came to say hello. 

You then get to dine under the stars with a delicious three-course meal before taking to your swag for the night. The tents were surprisingly warm, and there was hot water in the showers in the morning. 

The sunrise was spectacular, and after breakfast, you get another opportunity to snorkel on the reef before the day-trippers arrive. Spending the night on the Great Barrier Reef was an experience I’ll never forget. It was indeed one of the most unique places to stay in Australia. 

Castle Stables in New Zealand #17

Written by Holly of Globe Blogging

Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to stay in a Castle if provided the opportunity? When that castle is in New Zealand, perhaps one of the last places in the world, you would expect to find a castle, sign me up!

Located in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, Larnach Castle sits on the Otago Peninsula with spectacular views out over the harbour. Construction commenced after the purchase of the land in 1870 by William Larnach. Designed to rival a country Sussex homestead, gothic and Australian colonial influences are incorporated into the design. Over the years, the property changed hands several times, eventually falling into disrepair. The current owners have gone to great lengths to restore the house and grounds to their original glory. It remains one of the unique places to stay in the area.

While you can’t stay within the main house, behind the house, there are a couple of accommodation choices available; Larnach Castle Stables is the option for the budget-conscious. The original 140-year-old stable building has been converted into six bedrooms with shared bathroom facilities. Besides the stable, there is a custom-built lodge, which is double the cost of accommodation in the stable. I found the stables comfortable and cosy.

Accommodation includes entry to the castle and grounds and guest access outside of opening hours. You can also pay for a three-course meal in the Castle dining room, an experience I would also highly recommend! Be sure to head up the tower to check out the 360-degree views.

Reviews, Availability and Rates for Larnach Castle Stables

A Catamaran in Tahiti #18

Written by Nuraini of Teja on the Horizon

I think one of the unique places I’ve stayed in is probably the catamaran anchored in a Tahiti lagoon. I guess yachts are already pretty offbeat as travel accommodation, but the catamaran I stayed in was even more quirky than that. It wasn’t an off-the-shelf fancy catamaran. Instead, it was a basic boat that was kitted out personally by a marine engineer whose day job is to keep a cruise ship running. 

It was perfect, just the kind of place I look for when I travel. It’s not just about the accommodation, you see. What I try to look for is an engaging host. And I love being on the water – how could I not stay on a boat when I find a good match? 

So, it looked fundamental, but it had all the essential luxuries – hot water shower, drinking water filtration, solar and wind power capability. While I was there, my host was experimenting with a plastic sheet + bamboo setup for rainwater harvesting so that he needn’t go to shore as often to fetch fresh water! Sure, the toilet was a marine toilet that you have to hand pump, and washing dishes required hauling your water from the side of the boat, but it all adds to the feeling of living a pirate’s life! 

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Amy

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Wow!!! These are amazing! I'm in love with the one in Peru

WhereAngieWanders

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

I'm glad you liked them and I agree that Peru looks incredible.

Lozzy Sq

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

So many quirky spots to choose from! The treehouse in Peru would probably be my pick!

Anda

Thursday 7th of May 2020

This is a great list, so many great choices! I'd love to stay in that cave house in Guatemala but I wouldn't say no to most of these places :)

WhereAngieWanders

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

I googled your suggestion, that looks incredible. What a position to have a hotel!

Alexandra

Tuesday 5th of May 2020

Wow! All these places look incredible, I think I would love to start with the Safari camp and the lighthouse probably. A night in a Château is not too bad either though...

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 5th of May 2020

It's amazing to think about how many unique places are springing up around the world. I can personally recommend the African tented safari.