Just what is it that makes a hotel truly memorable to you? Is it great food, comfy beds, a room with a view? Well we think a hotel needs to have all of this and more if it’s going to live up to our standards. If a hotel is really going to be worth its price (let’s face it most hotels are not cheap!) it is going to need to have that extra something. Whether it’s a fascinating history, an unusual location or a ‘theme’ that takes you away from the everyday, these quirky hotels certainly have that unique factor. So if you’re looking for a getaway that is going to spark the imagination and give you plenty to discuss with the folks back home, read on.
Free Spirit Tree Spheres, Canada
I think it’s safe to say we love treehouses and all that they evoke. They’re fun, playful and also call for a healthy attitude to adventure (you have to get up to them remember…) These magical Tree Spheres in Qualicum Beach, Canada offer not just an unusual way to spend the night but inside they are rather chic too. Your children/grandchildren will be jealous but sadly these are just for adults (over 16’s), though we have to say this rather adds to the peace and tranquillity of the place. One guest said, “At night I felt like I was adrift in a sea of stars”. We had a similarly blissful sleeping experience, even though the spheres move a little with the canopy(!) and thoroughly enjoyed this genuine way to connect with nature and drift off to slumber amidst the forest. Sure, there is no on site spa or hotel bar but we loved this wonderfully quirky experience.
Ice Hotel, Sweden
When the Ice Hotel in Sweden first opened its icy doors in the 90’s wary guests couldn’t believe that anyone could possibly spend the night in a hotel made from ice. Of course, this soon changed as the first reviews began to be published and people have been enjoying the sheer novelty of this place ever since. Whilst you are there you can lounge on reindeer skins, sip chilled vodka cocktails and there’s also a chance that you’ll see the northern lights. A stay at this unique hotel is well worth the journey and offers many pleasures such as husky sledding, cross country skiing and horse-riding besides.
The Great Northern Hotel, London
This recently restored boutique hotel has once again taken its rightful place amongst London’s finest. Originally built by the ambitious Victorian architect, Lewis Cubitt, the luxury hotel was designed as a symbol for the new age of steam travel and had a defiantly curved shape. At the end of last century the hotel fell into a state of disrepair and until earlier this year was closed for a long period of 12 years. £40m later though and the Great Northern Hotel is once again a picture of elegance, this time every inch as grand as its original incarnation but totally up to date. We love the quirky Couchette rooms, which are designed to mimic the Classic Continental railway car sleeper. We also adore features like the ‘pantries’ on every floor where you can help yourself to home-baked cakes and the daily newspapers and the inclusion of USB plug points in every room. They also have a rather wonderful restaurant called the Plum + Spilt Milk where you can sample a selection of British classics – led forward by celebrity chef, Mark Sargeant. This wonderful boutique hotel makes travel glamorous again.
Hotel im Wasserturm, Köln, Germany
The hotel’s name Wasserturm, meaning ‘Water-tower’ tells you everything you need to know about this hotel’s strange beginnings. It was originally Köln’s (Cologne) water-tower. It is now a 5* hotel with real character and is a classified heritage site as well as a unique place to bed down for the night. Inside the design is sophisticated yet simple, grown up yet a lot of fun too. We love the terrace on the roof and the views across the city are rather special too.
The Ruin, Grewelthorpe, UK
Set amidst the beautiful gardens of Hackfall in stunning Yorkshire countryside, The Ruin is a wonderfully romantic retreat. It’s simply ingenious that the owners of this unusual 18th century ruin decided to turn it into a hotel but we are very glad that they did. Inside The Ruin offers accommodation for two, with a wood burning stove in the bed room, a delightfully snug sitting room and a little dining table just perfect for candle lit suppers and talking into the night. The property has stunning view from the terrace and of course you have every opportunity to get out and explore Yorkshire from your quirky base.
Do you have any favourite quirky hotels? What night’s stay sticks in your mind from a previous travel adventure? We’d love to hear about it.