By Elizabeth Lavis
Booking a hotel can be pretty far down the list of what makes an amazing vacation stand out. But today, where you rest your head can be part of your adventure. Here are some of the coolest, most off-beat places to consider lodging in during your next trip.
The insanely unique Human Nest is built strictly for lovers of the great outdoors. This last word in glamping consists of a giant nest fit for a human or two at the Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California. Consisting of a lattice of logs and sticks, the Human Nest contains a single mattress and a spectacular view. It’s wildly popular, so book in advance!
The Hillside Homestead in Michigan prides itself on existing in a time capsule, with amenities, appliances, and furnishing from 1910. The farmhouse itself has been lovingly restored and is the ultimate antique B&B for history buffs. Even the food is made the old-fashioned way – from a Victorian-era cookbook over a wood-burning stove.
Yurts have been skyrocketing in popularity and for good reason: they’re extremely affordable, perfect for glamping, and have all of the accommodations you’d expect in a mid-range hotel. Many yurts come equipped with multiple rooms, beds, and functioning kitchens. You’ll still have to go outside to use the bathroom, but that’s a small price to pay for the experience of staying in this cool super tent. Find one nationwide on YurtLodging.com.
Behold, America’s biggest beagle. Sweet Willy isn’t only an iconic roadside attraction – it’s also a sweet little bungalow where you spend a night or two. The brainchild of Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin, the Dog Bark Park Inn B&B is a popular place to stop, whether you’re a dog lover or not.
If dogs aren’t for you, how about cats? At Turpentine Creek in Arizona, you can spend the night in the company of nature’s finest wild cats, including lions, cougars, tigers, and leopards! Visitors stay in safari-style rooms where they can listen to the sounds of the majestic creatures from the comfort (and safety) of their accommodations. Guests at Turpentine Creek may interact with the animals, learn about their care, and be assured that proceeds from their visit will go directly to their rescue and conservation.
Fancy a trip to Middle Earth? You don’t have to go further than Tennessee, where you can rent your very own cozy hobbit hut right on Forest Gully Farms near the Natchez Trace Parkway. These adorable accommodations are carved right into the hillside and resemble the huts from Middle Earth so much that you may mistake your neighbor for Frodo.
Fancy staying on a ship that rivaled the Titanic? The Queen Mary earned its place in history, first as a vessel of unparalleled sophistication and luxury before it was later transformed into a military ship during the Second World War. Book a cabin aboard this permanently docked ship and enjoy excellent dining and a comprehensive museum. The Queen Mary is also famous for its ghostly inhabitants, but don’t worry, they’re rumored to be very friendly!
Spend a night in one of Alaska’s Inuit- and Eskimo-style igloos for a sleep like no other. Your stay under the Alaskan sky may even include nature’s light show: the Aurora Borealis. You can stay in a clear-roofed igloo for the evening and watch the fantastically hued night sky from your bed at the new Borealis Basecamp. With luxury bathrooms and kitchens, these igloos are the last word in modern convenience while still offering one of nature’s most unforgettable experiences.
Leave it to Florida’s renown hospitality industry to push the boundaries of accommodations with … an underwater hotel. The Jules’ Undersea Lodge is 21 feet below the waves. Its three rooms are perfectly appointed, full of modern amenities while allowing you to check out the most spectacular seascape view from your window. Guests must swim to their rooms, but the hotel staff assists with that entry, then send luggage along in an airtight container that is completely protected from the water. You can even order a pizza to your room. It will float down from the surface in a watertight container!
Forget the hotel and check out a surprisingly spacious tipi. Also known as wigwams, tipis are remarkably comfortable and contain comfortable beds, fireplaces, and Native American artwork. At Montana’s Lodge Pole Gallery & Tipi Village, you can stay in one of 11 tipis, sample traditional Blackfoot food, and experience cultural activities, all while camping on the Northern Plains of America.
Barns are becoming more and more popular for good reason: they’re the perfect combination of camping and staying in a hotel. You’re still experiencing the great outdoors, but with cover from the natural elements. It’s warm inside a barn, and many come with all the comforts of home, like indoor plumbing and bathrooms, Wi-Fi, functioning kitchens, and comfortable beds. You can find farms offering barn stays online at FarmStayUS.com.