The craziest places in the world to stay, from an underwater floor in the Maldives to a tap in Amsterdam
Bored with standard vacation rental?
Blasé about top hotels, or Premier Inns and Travelodges?
Don’t be afraid – websites are overflowing with crazy options, from sleeping in a former Soviet prison to a suite in a tap in Amsterdam and a cabin in the Arctic. Here are ten of the craziest …
Bed down on an Arctic lake
At Lake Inari in the far north of Finland you can be towed by a snowmobile into a cabin and dropped off at night on a frozen lake
Imagine being dragged into a hut by a snowmobile and being dropped off every night on a frozen lake in the Arctic wilderness. That is what Lake Inari has to offer in the far north of Finland: a mobile cozy for two, with windows and a glass ceiling to see the northern lights from your bed.
Splashes on the wood-fired hot tub, an optional extra pulled in your wake. There are toilets and showers in the base camp. Ice fishing and husky sledding can be arranged. Available from November to April.
HOW YOU DO IT: Finnair (finnair.com) London to Ivalo from £ 279 return until March 22. A one-hour shuttle service to Lake Inari from £ 22 one way (kuljetusliikeilmarislant.fi). Cabins from £ 238 based on two parts (lakeinari.com).
Join the circus in Spain
In the Elephant Trainer’s Wagon, which once belonged to a circus, at Casa del Mundo near Alicante
The Elephant Trainer’s Wagon, which once belonged to a circus, is one of the seven places to stay at the resort of Casa del Mundo. In the interior, surrounded by lush gardens, it is half an hour’s drive from Alicante in southern Spain.
The car is rented next to the neighboring caravan, Punjab. Inside are polished wooden floors and painted walls, while outside a canopy covers two outdoor seats. Each car sleeps two and they share a central kitchen and bathroom. The on-site restaurant serves international delicacies and the beaches are 20 km away.
Stay in a Solent fort
Spitbank, a former fort in the Solent, that has been converted into an eight-bedroom hotel
One of the four Solent forts known as Palmerston’s Follies, Spitbank was built to protect against Napoleon III invasion and completed in 1878. An investment of £ 2 million saw the fort, a 15-minute boat ride from Portsmouth, converted into a hotel with eight bedrooms, some in former gun emplacements, with gun gate windows and a penthouse suite in the lighthouse.
There is a warm swimming pool and a number of unusual games are offered, such as biodegradable golf balls from the roof in the Solent and laser fights in the basement.
HOW YOU DO IT: £ 599 doubles, full board, including ferry transfers (solentforts.com).
Underwater in the Maldives
The two-level Muraka suite on the Rangali island of Conrad Maldives, where half of the suite is under water
Villas on the water in the Maldives are so passé. Now it’s all about going under water. The island of Conrad Maldives Rangali, on the South Ari Atoll, has created a new two-level Muraka suite, half of which is 16 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean.
Above sea level there is a private infinity pool; downstairs it is a spacious, ultra-modern villa with a glass viewing tunnel. Arrival is only by speedboat or seaplane.
Night in a Latvian prison
In Liepaja, Latvia, you can spend the night in Karosta, a former prison with food rations and hard beds.
A night in Karosta, a former prison in Liepaja, Latvia, is not for the scared. Built around 1900, it was once a Soviet military prison. Guests sign a consent form for the full “Extreme Night” experience. Expect food rations, mandatory exercises, orders from guards and a Spartan cell with a hard bed.
Survive the night and you will be rewarded with a tour the next day. Open from May to November.
HOW YOU DO IT: Wizz Air (wizzair.com) London to Riga from £ 52 return. Buses from Riga to Liepaja start at £ 6 one way (rome2rio.com). Rooms from £ 15pp, excluding meals (unusualhotelsoftheworld.com).
Increased in Amsterdam
Pictured Faralda, a crane hotel in the trendy NDSM district of Amsterdam
A short ferry ride across the IJ from the center of Amsterdam is Faralda, a crane hotel in the trendy NDSM district, a former shipyard that became a cultural hotspot.
Three luxury suites stacked on top of each other are mounted 50 meters above the ground in the interior of the tap. There is also a panorama lounge and a jacuzzi (which costs extra) on the upper deck. There are no ladders: an elevator takes you to your room.
Swedish nest egg
The Bird’s Nest, a two-bedroom tree-covered treehouse in Norrbotten, Sweden
The Bird’s Nest in Norrbotten, Sweden, is a tree-covered treehouse with a difference. Each of the six nests is inside with wooden panels, with two bedrooms, a living room and a toilet. It is accessible via a retractable electronic ladder and has underfloor heating.
There are two saunas nearby and meals are taken in “base camp” – the Treehotel Guesthouse from the 1950s, a ten-minute walk away.
Be a Bond villain in Oz
South of Melbourne, The Pole House overlooks a plinth above Fairhaven Beach, on the Great Ocean Road, accessible via a 28-meter walkway.
It is diamond shaped and mounted on a pillar of 40 meters with a glass facade. A wood-burning stove in the winter hangs from the ceiling and there are touch-of-a-button functions – you can imagine a James Bond villain like Scaramanga in this eyrie.
Sahara tent retreat
One of the Merzouga desert tents in Erg Chebbi, Morocco, an eight-hour drive from Fez
Live the Sahara desert dream in one of the five glamorous tents in Erg Chebbi, Morocco, an eight-hour drive from Fez (you need a 4×4 and a driver).
The Merzouga desert tents are based on camel-skin houses, but upgraded with local furniture and bathrooms.
You dine under the stars and a range of quads, four-wheel drives and camels are available to help you explore.
In the Sussex bus
Oak floors, a wood-burning stove and a bespoke kitchen are not what you would expect on a double-decker, but the Big Green Bus in East Sussex is special.
Saved from the scrap heap, parked in a field near Whitesmith, Lewes. The bedrooms on the upper deck can accommodate six people, there are indoor and outdoor showers and an outdoor hot tub.
HOW YOU DO IT: Bus costs £ 195 per night based on two sharing. Whirlpool bath extra (canopyandstars.co.uk).