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 required to fulfil guest expectations – times have moved on.
In this post, I have highlighted 19 quirky places around the world to inspire your next adventure.
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Unique Places to Stay in Africa
Relive Africa’s heyday in a re-created 1920’s South African safari camp
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, you can experience 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, Quatermain’s Camp is undoubtedly one of the unique places to stay in South Africa.
Unique Places to Stay in Asia
Follow in the footsteps of weary travellers staying at a caravanserai in Azerbaijan
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 states 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 steeped in history and frequented by travellers for centuries is an incredible experience.
The hotel isn’t modern, and the rooms aren’t particularly comfortable, but hey, it’s all about the atmosphere!
Travel back through the centuries with a stay in a cave dwelling in Iran
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 because this area goes back thousands of years, and archaeologists have discovered signs of inhabitants dating back 12,000 years.
The village 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, running water, and a comfortable mattress). It is possibly one of Iran’s most unique places to stay.
The family runs a few tours to visit the fascinating surroundings. Be sure to book these in advance, as they are all custom-made.
Experience life as a nomad in a Mongolian yurt
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 comprise 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 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 stayed in some more budget-friendly tourist camps.
Unique Places to Stay in Europe
Enjoy the remote location of a fisherman’s rorbuer in northern Norway
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. Red and yellow fishermen’s cabins have been tastefully converted to luxury holiday stays with Nordic interiors.
The decoration is in keeping with the original feel of the cabin, so neutral colours and lots of wood.
Entering the sitting room, you will love how it has been decked out. Comfy sofas are made for relaxing, and luxurious throws keep you warm at night. The bedroom has the most comfortable bed imaginable, and the bathroom boasts a power shower and bath. A small kitchen (no cooking facilities) has a kettle, tea, and coffee.
The fishing village of Nusfjord no longer functions as a working harbour for the fishing industry. Still, it 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 a boat for the morning and visited some of the other small villages in the area. There are many great reasons to visit Lofoten, and staying at Nusfjord is one of them!
Find your sea legs in a unique lighthouse stay in the south of England
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 accommodations 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. Views from every bedroom is far-reaching over the south coast of England.
Even as you approach via the narrow track, the location is remarkable.
The South West Coast Path runs right by the lighthouse, and there are many coastal walks and hidden beaches just a short distance from the cottages.
Watching the sunrise and sunset from the tower is an experience you will never forget. Just be warned, if the weather is rough, the fog horn will sound, but don’t worry because the cottage has earplugs, so you can still sleep well!
Retrace the Vikings at a unique longhouse in Iceland
I’ve always considered myself an adventurer, but that became more evident after staying in a historic Viking longhouse in Iceland’s northern realm.
I always knew Iceland was 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 read Nordic folklore and transported 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 could 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 and a geothermal hot tub outside the longhouse offering panoramic night sky views.
During the day, the waterfalls were visible in the distance.
Even though it was never my lifelong dream to stay in a Viking longhouse, I felt like I had 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.
Channel your inner Harry Potter at Hagrid’s Hut in England
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.
Everything has been thought of here. 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 a 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.
The stay at Hagrid’s house was a glamping experience, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised that the hut was very toasty (and we were there when it snowed!).
The kitchen has no hob, but a combi-oven is sufficient for a few days.
The owners also kindly left us a spot of milk and a chocolate cake for our arrival!
Spend a unique night in a wine vat in Bordeaux
For a wine lover, there’s nothing more unique than waking up in a wine vat!
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 has a queen-size bed, a complete bathroom, and even a little kitchenette 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 with various attractions worth visiting, 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.
Find yourself at the Pilgrims Rest on the Camino de Santiago Route
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 has been here since 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, and although the outside still looks the same, the interior was significantly changed. 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 daily for the last ten centuries.
Stay in a French Chateau close to Paris
A French Château is a unique place to spend several nights away.
Fortunately, France boasts many beautiful fairytale castles and restored châteaux, with some 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, 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 guest’s comfort.
The main building is the old part of the château, which is completed with some more pavilions in the forest, some dedicated to hotel rooms. The other two buildings host a private restaurant, fitness room, and spa.
The hotel provides bikes to move between the different pavilions and other facilities like an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and games area.
Unique Places to Stay in North America
Discover unique links to American history with a stay at this South Georgia heritage hotel
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.
America’s first transcontinental phone call connected New York and San Francisco to Jekyll Island.
The Federal Reserve System also grew from clandestine meetings at the deserted clubhouse during the summer of 1910. 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 “cottages.” We stayed at the San Souci and felt like we were sleeping in a museum.
The island is known for its 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.
Book lovers will adore this unique literary-inspired Ontario hotel
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. It is a picturesque chateau style and is 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 in your room, whether it’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
I was determined to stay in the Hemingway Suite as a huge Ernest Hemingway fan. 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.
Sleep high in the trees in the fuselage of a Boeing 727
The Hotel Costa Verde in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is known for its unique accommodation, the 727 Fuselage Home.
This distinctive lodging option is created from the fuselage of a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 aeroplane.
The aeroplane has been carefully refurbished and transformed into a luxurious two-bedroom suite perched on a hillside within the rainforest.
The 727 Fuselage Home offers stunning views of the surrounding jungle and the Pacific Ocean.
The aeroplane’s interior has been tastefully designed to provide guests with a comfortable and memorable stay.
It features two bedrooms, each with a bathroom, a kitchenette, a dining area, and a spacious terrace where guests can enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
Staying in the 727 Fuselage Home is a unique experience, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the lush Costa Rican rainforest while enjoying modern amenities and comforts.
The hotel’s innovative approach to accommodations has attracted the attention of travellers worldwide and has contributed to Hotel Costa Verde’s reputation as a one-of-the world’s most unique and unusual places to stay.
Unique Places to Stay in South America
Enjoy a prehistoric sleep-over in this unique cave house in Guatemala
Over the years, we 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.
One level down was the bedroom, the only room closed-in and with floor-to-ceiling windows. This allowed us to take full advantage of the view.
We cherished it for its privacy, beauty, and peace. The only negative was 280 steps down to reach 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.
Immerse yourself in the jungle with an unusual stay in a treehouse in Peru
The Treehouse Lodge is one of the most unique places I have ever stayed!
My husband and I chose it to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary during our one-week stay in Peru. My dream had always been to visit the Amazon Rainforest, and my husband had always wanted to stay in a treehouse.
There are ten private treehouses to stay in, each 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 could 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
Spend the most unique night under the stars on a pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef
Going to the Great Barrier Reef is a highlight of any holiday in Australia.
I didn’t need persuading when I discovered that you could spend the night sleeping under the stars on a floating pontoon.
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 abundant, 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 were hot water 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.
Enjoy an unusual stay in a castle in New Zealand
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 over the harbour. Construction commenced after the purchase of the land in 1870 by William Larnach.
Designed to appear as an English country house, both gothic and Australian colonial influences have been 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, there are a couple of accommodation choices behind the house; Larnach Castle Stables is the option for the budget-conscious.
The 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 highly recommend! Be sure to head up the tower to check out the 360-degree views.
Sail away to paradise on a catamaran in Tahiti
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 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 had 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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