Weird places to lay your head
London - An undersea lodge, a cottage that houses a helicopter, and a giant wooden dog – these are just a few of the bizarre holiday homes that feature in a new book aimed at providing intrepid travellers with an alternative to run-of-the-mill hotels.
Unusual Hotels of the World features 200 unique hotels in 60 countries, from a disused US Air Force radar tower in the heart of the rainforest to a cabin in a dockside crane in the Netherlands.
Those who want to get back to nature can spend the night in one of three Free Spirit Spheres in Canada. The spherical pods are tethered to the tree tops in Vancouver Island forest using ropes and sway gently when the wind blows.
Guests are promised a “spiritual connection to the forest” – but you have to climb back down to the forest floor to use the loo.
Even more nail-biting are Parc Canopee’s treetop hammocks in France. The tents are hung from pine trees between 3m and 15m above the ground and are reached by climbing ladders attached to the trunks.
Guests have to remain fastened to their harness overnight to prevent them from falling and are provided with shelter in a tent back on solid ground if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
If swinging from the top of a tree isn’t covered in your travel insurance, head to the Sala Silvermine in Sweden, where rooms are located 155m underground in one of the world’s best-preserved mines.
Visitors get to explore the vast caverns and hear all about the industrial heritage of the mine, which is described as “cold, damp and dark but very beautiful, if not a little scary”.
While you’ll have to wear a hard hat to stay at the mine, guests at Jules Undersea Lodge have to don diving gear to check in to their room.
The hotel in Key Largo in Florida started out as an underwater research laboratory in the 1970s but now features two bedrooms, a shared kitchen, a “wet locker” with hot showers and a recreation area.
Creature comforts include books and DVDs, but the lodge’s large round windows provide all the distraction needed, and guests can watch tropical angelfish, barracuda and snappers swim by.
Several decommissioned industrial sites and former military bases also feature.
Aviation fans can sleep in the cockpit of a 747 jumbo jet at Arlanda airport in Sweden, while visitors to Winvian farm in Connecticut can pour themselves a drink in a former US coastguard helicopter.
Spitbank Fort in the Solent – once home to hundreds of soldiers guarding the approach to Portsmouth Naval Base in England – now offers nine luxurious suites.
Guests are picked up by speedboat from nearby Gosport for their stay at the luxury private island, which has an open-air bath, a spa and a restaurant that used to be the officer’s mess.
But probably the most bizarre building of all is Dog Bark Park Inn in Idaho, which offers the chance to stay inside a huge wooden hound.
The giant beagle is the brainchild of husband and wife Dennis and Frances, who specialise in wooden canine carvings. It sleeps up to four people and guests can wander through the B&B’s grounds, which are dotted with animal sculptures, along with the artists’ studio, where they can put in an order for a carving of their own four-legged friend.
Other odd abodes include an Austrian hotel built in concrete sewage pipes, hi-tech igloos in Switzerland and the Magic Mountain Hotel in Chile with its cascading waterfall. – Daily Mail
l Unusual Hotels of the World by Steve Dobson is published by Jonglez Editions