Travel the world in style with nine of the world’s most amazing hotel experiences
Travel was once about the destination, the sights, sounds and people who could broaden your horizons. The place you dumped your bags before heading out was almost irrelevant. But all that’s changed. No longer content with endless cloned décor, by-the-numbers rooms and suites or serviceable lobbies, the hoteliers of the world have taken on a new mantra – to astound and blow the mind. In the 21st century, the hotel has become the destination.
From the beguilingly beautiful to the bafflingly bizarre, the world’s most astounding hotels will literally blow your mind. And to save you the trouble of having to sift through 10,000 thumbnail pictures as you try to discover the ultimate in astounding accommodation, we’ve hand-picked the world’s most amazing hotel experiences for your viewing pleasure.
Finnish Nights Under the Northern Lights
Over 250 km north of the Arctic Circle in the heart of Finnish Lapland is the Hotel Kakslauttanen. It is a stunning resort where you’re obliged to forgo television and wi-fi. Instead marvel at the utter bliss of lying in bed in glass-roofed igloos looking up at an Arctic sky unspoiled by light pollution. When the northern lights come calling you have a front row seat for the greatest show on Earth.
There are log cabins, glass and snow igloos and hybrid log-and-glass cabin igloos. As well as the rather sensational night-time views out into space you can go snowmobile riding, husky and reindeer sledding and ski. If you prefer a more relaxed pace of life, however, you can relax in the spa or your intricately carved wooden four-poster in the Queen Suite!
Kakslauttanen, 99830 Saariskelä, Lapland, Finland
+358 16 667100
Cool Cappadocia Caves
If you want to stay in a 5th century Turkish cave carved out of the limestone cliffs, Yunak Evleri is the place you’re looking for. Wake up to sensational sunrises over the mesa in one of seven cave houses and 40 cave rooms that make up the accommodation. Labyrinthine passageways lead you to your rooms, richly decorated with traditional Turkish upholstery and handmade pottery. The spectacular sunsets from the rooftop terrace are a sight to see. Yunak Evleri is the perfect place from which to discover Cappadocia’s cities, cavernous churches and fairy chimneys.
Yunak Evleri, Yunak Mahallesi 50400, Ürgüp, Nevşehir, Turkey
+90 384 341 6924
Sleep with the Kings
Thornbury Castle is a stunning 16th century Tudor mansion in the Cotswolds. It offers guests the unique opportunity to sleep in the same bedroom as one of the most famous couples in history – King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn.
Exposed stone walls are punctuated with the same arrow-slit windows Anne Boleyn gazed out of almost 500 years ago. The decoration is as close to authentic as possible and a night in the Duke’s Bedchamber at Thornbury is the height of 16th century opulence. A journey back through half a millennium of British blue-blood history.
Thornbury Castle, Castle Street, Thornbury, Gloucestershire BS35 1HH
+44 (0) 1454 281182
Home to the world’s finest matadors, the 17th century San Pedro bullring was transformed into Quinta Real Zacatecas. It is a luxury hotel with suites overlooking the main bullfighting ring, the Plaza de Toros de San Pedro.
The hotel blends modern-day opulence with the original colonial architecture. The hotel in Zacatecas, 600 km north of Mexico City, is steeped in history and overlooks the city’s iconic 18th century, pink limestone El Cubo aqueduct.
Quinta Real Zacatecas, Av. Ignacio Rayón 434, Zacatecas, 98000 Mexico
+52 492 922 9104
All Hail the President
It’s an age-old question – does money buy happiness? That we don’t know but what we do know is that 60,000 Swiss Francs buys you one night in the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson.
The world’s most expensive hotel room has twelve bedrooms, the same number of bathrooms, two dining rooms and a gym. The Brunschwig billiards table and Steinway grand is housed in bulletproof luxury on the top floor. It also includes spectacular views over Lake Geneva. Well, they’d jolly well better be…
Hotel President Wilson, 47 Quai Wilson, Geneva 1211, Switzerland
+41 22 906 6666
‘Wood’ You Stay in a Tree?
The concept seems simple. Build awesome treehouses, because everybody loves being in a treehouse right? But the thought processes were a little more philosophical. Sitting pretty in the treeline of Harads in northern Sweden is the Treehotel. It’s a unique concept of individually-designed treehouses offering absolute peace and tranquillity. It’s also an incredibly rare opportunity for a bird’s eye view of the stunning surroundings.
You can stay in the Cabin, the UFO, the Mirrorcube, the Blue Cone, the Bird’s Nest, the Dragonfly or the brilliantly-named 7th Room. Each one has its own Scandi-chic look and feel – but you’re not just stuck up a tree. There’s a whole host of Nordic-inspired forest-based activities available as well as a chance to see the northern lights.
Treehotel/Brittas Pensionat, Edeforsväg 2A, 960 24 Harads, Sweden
+46 (0) 928 10300
Salt of the Earth
On the edge of the world’s largest salt flat in south-western Bolivia is the Palacio de Sal – the Palace of Salt. It’s the world’s first hotel constructed entirely from salt – around a million 35-cm square blocks of it. Everything is made of salt including the ceilings, chairs, tables, beds and ornaments. Perhaps unsurprisingly the pool is a saltwater pool and the speciality of the house restaurant is salt chicken.
On the crest of the Andes, at an altitude of over 3,600-metres, the hotel was created by hidalgo Juan Quesada Valda. His desire was to ‘provide visitors of the salt flats a place to find a balance with nature.’ There is however, one very strict house rule that every guest must adhere to – you’re not allowed to lick the walls. Seriously. That’s an actual rule.
Palacio de Sal, Uyuni, Potosi, Bolivia
+591 684 20888
Stick Your Neck Out, Go to Kenya
Staying in a 1930s colonial-era mansion in Nairobi surrounded by 140-acres of the lush Langate forest is a great experience. But is it one of the world’s most amazing hotel experiences?
It turns into one when you discover that guests shares the space with a herd of extremely rare Rothschild giraffes. They wander the grounds and they’ll poke their heads through the windows at breakfast time for a treat or two. You can also feed them on the veranda and find them peeking into your room at bedtime! It’s where old-world charm meets nature at its most simplistic. For that reason it is one of the world’s most amazing hotel experiences.
Giraffe Manor, Langata, Nairobi, South Kenya, Kenya
+254 731 914 732
Ice to Be Here
Freezing has never been more fun! The world-famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, 200 km inside the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s an hotel made entirely of ice. The building blocks come courtesy of the Torne River. At the start of every spring artists from all over the world descend to create a different, yet equally unbelievable, ice hotel to the last one that melted. There’s enough of the snow/ice mixture to make 700 million snowballs and each chandelier in the Main Hall uses 1,000 hand-cut ice crystals. This is no basic igloo.
The temperature inside the hotel is kept at a constant -5C to -7C. Before you arrive you’ll have a list of suitable clothes to wear, but remember you’re close to the North Pole in spring. Don’t bother with swim shorts and flip-flops! They give you expedition-style sleeping bags, but there are mod-cons including hot showers, a sauna and warm rooms should you so desire. But if you’re travelling to the end of the Earth for one of the world’s most amazing hotel experiences…
Feature compiled with help from Historvius, the leading online travel guide to the world’s historic sites and fuses history and travel like never before, providing a unique resource for those seeking fascinating holiday inspiration