11 of the Quirkiest Hotels in the World
Published 30 March 2016
Hotels are a toughie – they’re not a one size fits all affair. Some travellers like them luxurious, others cultural; some even like them to be a mix of both. For those who prefer their hotels with a dash of the unusual, a certain quirk (or five!), a little more research is required. Until now that is. We’ve saved you the legwork and handpicked 11 of the quirkiest hotels in the world, many of which have been plucked straight from our intrepid Journeys range of holidays. Prepare to be inspired…
The Cullen, Melbourne
A boutique art-inspired hotel, The Cullen is as cool as they come. Not only is it in one of Melbourne’s hippest neighbourhoods (the Bohemian-style Prahran), but it’s also obsessed with local art and design – namely native artist Adam Cullen. Original artworks by Cullen adorn the walls of this colourful, super-trendy hotel, so much so that you can even take a creative tour of the property, led by the hotel’s on-site art curator.
Experience The Cullen on our Boutique Victoria Journey
Spirit Bear Lodge, British Columbia, Canada
Want to stay with the bears? No, we’re not talking about a Goldilocks re-enactment, but the Spirit Bear Lodge is as close to these fascinating, furry creatures as it gets. Its longhouse, First Nations design makes it one of the most unique hotels in BC too, as does the aboriginal West Coast-inspired art that’s wallpapered around the interior. This retreat is super remote and only accessible by float plane or a limited ferry service. This seclusion is what affords it such incredible access to wildlife – such as the rare spirit (Kermode) bear, which is endemic to BC. Hotel staff leads daily bear-watching tours, as well as helping guests spot orcas and dolphins.
Experience Spirit Bear Lodge on our Vancouver & The Bears Journey
MONA Pavilions, Hobart, Tasmania
Described as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’ and with a plethora of dark, large-scale exhibits, it’s no surprise the Museum of Old & New Art (MONA) in Tasmania attracts culture vultures in their droves. True art aficionados can take the experience even further by spending the night in the museum’s quirky on-site hotel. Much like the MONA, the Pavilions boast an unusual fusion of old and new, with rooms combining state-of-the-art technology – like climate control and touch-panel lighting – with decorative antiquities from the museum itself. This means that each room is unique and so are the packages: think wine and food pairings and a museum tour, paired with an overnight stay.
Experience the MONA Pavilions on our Tasmanian Explorer Journey
Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley
A cluster of modern chalets hidden amid more than 100,000 acres of dense jungle, the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (pictured above) is as authentic and close to nature as it gets. Lodges don’t skimp on luxury either and rooms even have outdoor tubs, the perfect lookout for the 340 bird, 124 mammal, 72 reptile and 56 amphibian species that inhabit the region. The best, quirkiest bit? This peaceful enclave has its own treetop walkway, spanning 300 metres in length and offering close-up views of this 130-million-year-old jungle canopy.
Experience the Borneo Rainforest Lodge on our Best of Borneo Journey (coming soon)
Move over Kennet & Avon, there’s a new canal in town. Or, more precisely a 560-mile network of canals in Kerala, India. Staying overnight aboard an Indian houseboat, cruising the backwaters, is an almost ethereal experience. The boats are converted from kettuvallam, another traditional wooden boat tied with coconut rope and painted with cashew oil; although updated to be quite modern with some traditional touches. And while the river may be a tourist favourite, the houseboat is a unique way to discover its waters.
Experience the houseboats on our Tranquil Kerala Journey
Longitude 131 Lodge, Uluru, Northern Territory
Imagine waking up to the red hues of Uluru at sunrise, just a stone’s throw from your luxury tent. In the beating heart of the outback, the Longitude 131 Lodge is glamping at its best; think decadence, unparalleled vistas and crystal-clear, astronomy-perfect skies. This indulgent camping experience is unlike any other hotel, property or tent stay because nowhere else offers views quite like this.
Experience the Longitude 131 Lodge on our Ultimate Sydney, Rock, Rainforest & Beach Journey
Mae Kampong Homestay, Thailand
The Mae Kampong Homestay offers a real taste of Thai hospitality. It may not be a hotel, but it’s one of our most unusual properties – the entire village has switched its main source of income from tea plantations to homestays. This unique offering is all about getting a traditional, local experience, immersing yourself in an old-style way of life, eating local and getting to know your hosts, as well as the townspeople.
Experience the Mae Kampong Homestay on our Temple, Palaces & Villages Journey
Gajner Palace, Gajner
Most of us have wandered around Windsor Castle, explored Balmoral or gazed at the towering gates of Buckingham Palace, but few can boast actually staying the night in a royal chamber. Well that ends now. The Gajner Palace is an ACTUAL palace! Need we say more?*
*Knighthood not guaranteed upon return to the UK. Corgis optional.
Experience Gajner Palace on our Royal Rajasthan Journey
Babylonstoren, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa
With its own fruit and veg garden (and more importantly: a vineyard on site), this working farm hotel in the Cape Winelands is pretty quirky. All meals are made using food grown in the hotel grounds, in one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, and are accompanied by home-made wines. The grub here is as fresh as it comes, serving up pack-a-punch flavours you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.
Experience Babylonstoren on our Gourmet South Africa Journey
QT Sydney, Australia
From the outside, the QT Sydney looks pretty normal. But step into the lift and head up to your bedroom and you’ll realise: it doesn’t get much quirkier than this. Whether you’re travelling between floors solo, with a companion, or with strangers, this intelligent elevator detects how many people are inside it… and then sings a song to match. No, we’re not kidding. So whether it’s Elvis’ Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Just the Two of Us or some MC Hammer beats blaring out to get big groups in a party mood, it’s an experience you’ll want to keep trying out, again and again. The hotel location – in central Sydney – isn’t bad either.
Experience the QT Sydney on our Ultimate Sydney, Rock, Rainforest & Beach Journey
Wildcatter Ranch & Resort, Texas, USA
Embrace your inner cowboy (or girl!) at the Wildcatter Ranch & Resort. This quirky adventure property is about more than having somewhere to rest your head at night: you can horseback ride, enjoy massages and sample first-class Texan cuisine until your heart’s content. Best of all, you can do it while exploring 1,500 acres of Wild West-style desert land.
Experience the Wildcatter Ranch & Resort on our Cajun Cowboys Journey (coming soon)