5 Out-of-this-world spots to lay your head
Gone are the days when a hotel meant simply a bed, a desk and, perhaps, a minibar. A new wave of accommodations has bumped traditional lodging out of the way by offering unique experiences that are endlessly and irresistibly “Instagrammable”. Want to cozy up in a glass igloo to watch the Northern Lights? Or hang from the side of a cliff in a transparent capsule? You can do all that these days - for a price.
Getting close - really close - to wildlife
Africa is dotted with luxurious safari lodges for guests who want to get as close as possible to the continent’s incredible animal life. But some get you closer than others. At Mfuwe Lodge, in Zambia, 18 chalets are arranged around two large lagoons, creating the perfect setting for watching elephants, as they visit in the late afternoons.
The Jungle Bubbles, at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, in Bangkok, offers resort guests the chance to spend a night in a transparent bubble, witnessing elephants pass by.
But if you live in the US, you don’t have to travel far to get close to animal life. At the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, guests can reserve one of a handful of tiny houses and mingle with some of the 800 farm animals, rescued from abuse and mistreatment.
Tree houses, a perennial favourite
Regardless of where you are in the world, there’s a good chance you can stay in a treehouse-style accommodation. At Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, in the Amazon region of Brazil, guests can find themselves cocooned in the canopy of the Amazon, high above the Rio Negro river. Up in the tall trees of the pine forests of Northern Sweden, the Treehotel posits guests in mirrored cubes and cabins perched in the treetops, one of which is even shaped like a UFO.
On the edge of Kruger National Park in South Africa, the new &Beyond Ngala Treehouse opens this month, giving guests a chance to take a game drive out to the treehouse, where they spend the night up high in the bush, in a private tower. A different kind of treehouse greets guests in Costa Rica, at Hotel Costa Verde, where a decommissioned airplane was reconstructed in the jungle canopy, so that guests actually sleep in a plane in the jungle canopy.
At Skylodge Adventure Suites, in Peru, guests arrive either by hiking more than 1300 feet up, or by zipping in on a series of zip lines. The rooms are transparent capsules, hanging on the side of a mountain, with panoramic views of the Sacred Valley.
Under the sea
Not into heights? You can always go deep thanks to lodging options that offer an underwater experience. At Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, guests can reserve the Muraka, a two-level hotel room that includes an infinity pool and also reaches 4.9m below sea level. At The Manta Resort, off the coast of Pemba, near Zanzibar, a butler boats out to meet guests on their private underwater island. And in Key Largo, Florida, travellers with scuba certifications can dive down for a stay at Jules’ Undersea Lodge.
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A new group of hotels that have cropped up in some of the world’s coldest places provide travelers with the chance to experience hygge, the Danish concept of cozy contentment. At Cielo Glamping Maritime in New Brunswick, Canada, guests can cuddle up inside domes nestled in the forest, with clear sides for views of the snowy sunsets. Want to see the northern lights but don’t want to feel cold? Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland is designed for you. Featuring glass igloos (for lying in bed to watch the lights) and snow igloos (caves dug out of a snow bank), it’s the perfect place for fancy snow bunnies. If you find yourself in the middle of the Gobi desert, stay warm under a camel-hair blanket, in a traditional Mongolian tent (called a ger) at the eco-lodge, the Three Camel Lodge.
And if animals, tree houses or the cold really aren’t appealing, you can always settle for royalty. You may have heard of the famed Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India, the landmark hotel that, since 1903, has signified luxury tourism. But you might not know that in Jaipur, India, you can reserve a room in a palace once home to the city’s maharajah, Sujá* Rajmahal Palace. And for some British royalty vibes, check into The Newt in Somerset, where you can roam the grounds of the manor’s English gardens and sip tea in your castle. Or for Scandinavian style galore, try Nimb Hotel, in Copenhagen, a 1909 castle with exteriors inspired by Moorish architecture.