The 10 Craziest Hotels in the World
Until recently, few would have said that the hotel makes the holiday. Traditionally, they’ve instead served as a base; an amenity-stacked home away from home that – unless of the all-inclusive type – have been somewhere to kick back and relax after an action packed day. But in this brave new world of hipster niche travel, international interconnectivity, and Instagram, all this is changing. Hotels are coming to occupy center stage of the holiday experience, and more people are going the extra mile to seek out the most unusual.
Thanks to the herculean efforts of hoteliers around the world, holidaymakers are now at liberty to wake up wherever they like – whether it be underwater, up a mountain or even in space. Hotels come in all shapes and sizes: some small enough to house your goldfish; others large enough to have a realistic shot of declaring themselves an independent country. But in this list, we haven’t gone so much for size as for strangeness, quirkiness and individuality.
The hotels included here might not have the charmingly deranged management of “Fawlty Towers”. They might not have mirrors on the ceiling (actually, come to think of it, some of them might) and they might not offer pink champagne on ice. But hey – unlike the Eagle’s “Hotel California”, at least you can check out any time you like and, thankfully, you can also leave. Here they are:
10Capsule Inn, Osaka, Japan.
Since 1979, Japan has led the way in capsule hotels – accommodation that puts efficiency and simplicity at its heart. But despite claiming to offer a ‘first class hotel experience’, it’s difficult to get around the fact that your room essentially resembles a large washing machine.
Indeed, aesthetically the Capsule Inn looks a little bit like a laundromat only slightly more depressing; not so much because of the lighting or the designs of the pods themselves but because you’re left to watch men in suits routinely climb into the machines fully dressed.
Or perhaps a more accurate description is that it’s just like being in a morgue – the main difference being that you have to check yourself in and out by 10 a.m. every day. And you’re paying for your body to be there… in which case yeah, it’s actually just like being in a morgue.
Unsurprisingly, Capsule hotels are neither designed for – nor the first choice of – the rich and famous. As another similar hotel, Capsule Value Osaka, acknowledges on its website, their clientele are mainly people who’ve “missed the last train”, “want to feel more comfortable than in an Internet café” or simply “want to stay as cheaply as possible.”
But you can at least expect a high level of comfort and cleanliness if you check into a capsule hotel, not least because human-sized microwaves are notoriously easier to clean than regular hotel rooms. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to stay at a Japanese capsule hotel, get booking.
9Crane Hotel Faralda, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
It’s universally well known that lots of people travel to the Amsterdam to get high. For most, this means going to one of Amsterdam’s many coffee shops (which sell slightly stronger substances than caffeine) or smart shops (which sell significantly stronger substances than caffeine). But then there are those few who give literal meaning to their quest to get high by booking into the Crane Hotel Faralda.
The hotel cranes over the phenomenally hipster-sounding yet drearily industrial NDSM Wharf neighborhood. But it’s not so much what you can see directly below as what you can see around you that makes it so spectacular. There’s also a hot tub at the top and, of course, a bungee rope for those who wish to non-terminally throw themselves from the top of a crane. And for when you want to head into Amsterdam’s center, there’s a free ferry that’ll get you there in 10 minutes.
Rooms at the Faralda are relatively hard to come by (as is to be expected given the fact they had to be built into a giant crane). There are only three suites on offer, but each has its unique theme and design. The Free Spirit suite, occupying 36 square meters and two floors of sleek and stylish design, floats above the River Ij offering incredible views of the city. The Secret suite – a former machinery room – is a perfect lovers nest of blues and greens. Finally the gold and black Mystique suite, decked out in leather, offers an ambience more suited to lovers who favor whips and chains above sunset serenades.
8The Galactic Suite Space Resort, Barcelona.
A slight amendment is needed here at the outset: as the name might suggest, the Galactic Suite Space Resort isn’t actually in Barcelona. That’s just were the company was founded back in 2007. The experience awaiting prospective guests of this stellar accommodation instead takes place across several different locations. Before being blasted off into space, guests spend several weeks at an astronaut training facility – not in a bleak inner-country warehouse, but on a paradisiacal tropical island.
The figures are pretty mind-blowing once the guests have blasted off: traveling just short of 20,000 mph, guests will orbit the earth 15 times a day (or every 90 minutes). This will involve watching a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes – something that could admittedly be done from the comfort of your own home by looping this YouTube time-lapse video. The major difference, of course, is that the Galactic Suite Space Resort’s guests get to see this while experiencing weightlessness. True, you could watch the video while floating in an oversized water tank… but frankly that would look so ridiculous that you might as well just go into space (if you have €3 million lying around).
Most importantly of all, the whole experience looks to be super safe. While inside the resort, you’re treated to a velcro suit that lets you stick to the walls. So, assuming you don’t mistake the airlock for the bathroom door in the middle of the night, you can rest assured that nothing will happen that’ll have you floating frantically around space like Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”.
7Bivacco Gervasutti, Mont Blanc, Italy.
Closely resembling a scene from the 1993 survival drama “Alive”, the capsular Bivacco Gervasutti looks something like a fuselage that’s crashed really quite violently into the side of a mountain. Named after the famous Alpine climber Giusto Gervasutti, it’s perched – seemingly precariously – on Mont Blanc’s Frebouze Glacier, some 2,835 meters above sea level. And, remarkably, it’s not the first lodging to have been built on this site, having replaced a much more spartan, wooden structure built in Gervasutti’s memory in 1948.
Unlike the unfortunate survivors of “Alive”, guests at the Bivacco Gervasutti can dedicate their waking hours to recreational pursuits rather than simply trying to stay alive and/or munching on chunks of co-pilot. Because of its mountainous situation, there are fantastic trails and hikes, all complimented by a backdrop of sublime Alpine views. And despite its remote location, the Bivacco Gervasutti isn’t even that cut off from society: its solar-powered energy provides an Internet connection for those who need to check their emails or send for urgent help.
Measuring 30 square meters, this remarkable design sleeps 12 and comes equipped with two dormitories, a living and a dining area. While cozy, nobody would go out of their way to say it’s the world’s most luxurious hotel. But it’s definitely better than chancing it in the sub-zero temperatures outside. And it’s probably safe to assume that its guests aren’t required to balance their weights accordingly when they sleep so they don’t inadvertently send the capsule toppling into the glacial abyss below.
6Skylodge Adventure Suites, Cusco, Peru.
If you’re one of those people who like to live life on the edge, the Skylodge Adventure Suites might be the perfect choice for you. Since 2013, the 3 suites that make up the accommodation have been offering its guests stunning 360-degree views over Peru’s picturesque Sacred Valley of Cuzco. Made from aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate, each suite measures seven meters in length and nearly two-and-a-half meters in height and are absolutely solid and completely transparent (apart from the bathroom which is, fortunately, concealed).
In terms of what the suites offer their occupants, the sky’s the limit. A night’s stay comes with gourmet food and wine (although it may be best to hold off on the drinking until you’re safely locked away inside your capsule) and a professional bilingual guide who can say “don’t look down” in your language of preference. But the Skylodge Adventure Suites are not targeted so much at foodies as at adrenaline junkies, couples wanting a romantic yet active experience, or couples wanting to send their better half plummeting to their death while making it look like an accident.
One thing to bear in mind is that the transit to and from your accommodation isn’t the easiest. In order to reach the suites, lodgers must choose between a 400 meter climb up the Via Ferrata or negotiate a perilous trail requiring zip lines and nerves of steel. Having said that, I can think of holidays when my journey back to the hotel room was more challenging than that, and I was staying on the first floor…
5Das Park Hotel, Ottensheim, Austria.
It’s fair to say that most people go on holiday to get some respite from all the crap in their lives. It’s also fair to say that most people wouldn’t part with their money for the privilege of staying the night in a converted concrete sewage pipe. But then again, it’s fair to say that most people will never visit the Das Park Hotel.
To be honest, the 9.5 ton suites look more like somewhere you might crawl into as a last resort during a nuclear apocalypse: when the doomsday clock reaches midnight and mushroom clouds begin to bloom in the sky. Consisting of a raised mattress and a lamp, the décor doesn’t exactly scream extravagance. But there is at least a power outlet for you to charge your cellphone, walkie-talkie or flashlight. And there’s loads of space for you to stretch out and wait for the nuclear dust clouds to blow over.
But surely the Das Park Hotel is in a decent location? Well, actually no. Situated upon the site of an old purification plant (who would have guessed), it sits a short distance from the River Danube to the south and Ottensheim – known by absolutely nobody as the “Paris of the Danube” – to the east. Or you might want to try the sister sewage pipes located near Essen in neighboring Germany. Still, there’s one thing that can be said to the credit of Das Park’s suites: they’ve been thoroughly cleaned since their original use.
4Hotel CasAnus, Antwerp, Belgium.
Keeping with the theme of waste, our fourth hotel takes the shape of a giant anatomically accurate intestine, designed by Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout. The organ, known as the CasAnus, lies sprawled out in the middle of a particularly swampy field known as the Verbeke Foundation Statue Park. And at just €120 per couple per night, it can probably count itself among the world’s more affordable rentable anuses.
Aesthetically it’s… pretty disgusting. Built from wood, PU foam and fiberglass-reinforced polyester, from the outside, the colon appears raw, red, and throbbing. On the inside, however, it’s pure, pristine white – much unlike yours. But this has done nothing to distract from its enormous popularity, particularly with couples for reasons unknown. Annually, it’s believed to sleep between 200 to 250 people. Breakfast is provided (provided you can stomach it) and the colon comes kitted out with a double bed, central heating and shower (should the compulsive urge to scrub and cleanse yourself get the better of you).
The CasAnus isn’t Lieshout’s only magnum opus though: in this Vice interview he discusses his BarRectum – the perfect watering hole for those who like nothing more than enjoying an icy Belgium beer inside a comically oversized anus. No plans are yet afoot for affixing an extension to the BarRectum. But we’re still hoping for one for the CasAnus – the semicolon.
3The Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho, US.
If you’re anything like me, and were brought up on an diet of slasher and horror classics, then you’re first instinct upon being asked to stay at a hotel owned by a pair of chainsaw artists deep in the heart of Idaho would be to run a mile. But that would be making a snap decision. The Dog Bark Park Inn, just on the outskirts of the small town of Cottonwood, is actually a haven for those who understand full well who man’s best friend is.
That the hotel is designed for dog lovers is something only vaguely hinted at by the fact that it’s shaped like a giant beagle. The world’s largest, in fact. And if that’s not enough, then something that really sets this hotel apart is that, in order to access your accommodation, you must ascend a flight of steps and enter through the dog’s rectum (yes, you read that correctly).
Once inside, however, you’ll find a comfortably canine, predictably puppyish interior – including a snuggly alcove situated in the muzzle. And hotel owners Dennis and Francis also serve up a wonderful range of food, from breakfasts, teas coffees and bagels (not beagles). Just make sure to keep chocolate away from the dog.
Go there alone, with friends, or with your partner. And sleep safe in the knowledge that no matter how south things go you’re already spending the night in the doghouse. And be sure to take your canine companion, the folks at Dog Bark Park do their very own dog carvings – that is to say they’ll do a carving of your dog. This isn’t a slasher movie…
2Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
It was inevitable that some kind of arctic-themed accommodation would make its way onto this list. And despite the phenomenal beauty of Norway’s Kakslauttanen Igloo resort, pride of place must ultimately go to Sweden for having founded the world’s first ice hotel back in 1989.
Unlike the polar ice caps, the Icehotel rejuvenates itself each year, with the rooms taking on a completely new form. Guests are offered a choice between cold or warm suites, depending on how much they want to chill. But this doesn’t get in the way of the hotel operating year round: every year, each cold suite is skillfully and artfully recarved and refurnished by the world’s best artists.
Because the ice suites hold a temperature of between -8 to -5 degrees Celsius, it’s recommended that guests sandwich one night in a cold room between two nights in warm rooms, and that they stay in warm accommodation for the first and final night of their trip. Because nothing ruins a holiday like hypothermia, and hotel staff don’t want to come in at 7:30 the next morning to find that you’ve turned into a “Shining” inspired icicle.
Funnily enough the hotel restaurant isn’t made of ice – presumably because nobody’s yet worked out how to make an ice oven that works, and because people rather like having their food served on heated plates. But there is a fully stocked Icebar where all drinks come in ice glasses. Fortunately, it features a floor of snow rather than ice, so as to avoid slippy unwanted encounters with other guests.
1Null Stern Hotel, Graubünden, Switzerland.
If the Icehotel is impressive for its sheer design and ingenuity then the Null Stern Hotel is impressive for the reason that it lacks both. Is it an art installation, a hotel, or a combination of the two? The debate rages almost as hard as your partner will when they arrive to find that their hotel room consists of nothing more than a bed and bedside table, exposed to the elements up in the mountainous middle-of-nowhere.
Translating literally as “no stars”, the Null Stern is situated 6,463 feet above sea level, completely annihilating any hope you’re partner might have had for spending a day at the beach. But there are things to do: you can go for walks, have deep meaningful talks, or wait for the unfortunate butler to deliver you breakfast in bed (though from where is frankly anyone’s guess).
It’s website is perhaps the most pretentious thing you’ve ever seen, with phrases like “the only star is you” and “the spirit coming soon to a location near you” barely masking the fact that the Null Stern is just one great big empty nothing. In fact, I take particular issue with the phrase “coming soon to a location near you”, as it assumes that you live in a romantic mountainous landscape where a whimsical exhibition like this would go down well.
If you’re looking for luxury facilities, five-star comfort, and a variety of things to do, you should go anywhere other than here. Yet, because, the world’s full of lunatics, if you do decide that the Null Stern’s the place for you, you must book well in advance. At least they cancel if it rains…
It’s just as well that the world is full of remarkable yet ridiculous places like these because we humans are also both remarkable and ridiculous. We clearly have the need to break out now and again, check ourselves into an alternate reality and fall asleep and wake up somewhere strange. And nowadays we have more choice than having to pick only between a hotel, motel, or holiday inn.
Some of us derive pleasure from prematurely checking ourselves into a morgue-like capsule hotel: accommodation that resembles what will one day be our resting place. Others take comfort in hanging out in a crane overlooking the bohemian paradise of Amsterdam, climbing to a pod overlooking Peru’s Sacred Valley, or carrying out a tamer reenactment of the film “Alive” in a capsule perched atop Mont Blanc.
Some of us can thing of nothing better than being blasted into space, possibly never to return again; but then there are those whose idea of a good time is kicking it back inside a giant self-serviceable sewage pipe, an anatomically accurate colon, or climbing up inside a beagles rectum. And these are just a few examples; there are infinitely more weird and wonderful places to fit everyone’s niche just waiting out there. Your job is to go and find them.