Unique Accommodation in the World

by | Jan 21, 2023 | Live - Accommodation, Live Work Play Travel | 15 comments

When I first started travelling solo I stayed in hostels and hotels – because that is all I knew. Then as my travels took me to many new countries I discovered there is so much unique accommodation in the world. Rather than sleeping in a hostel dorm or a budget hotel room with not much character, I discovered I could spend the night in an igloo, a beach hut or a lighthouse. How cool! So I’ve asked some fellow bloggers what amazing and unusual stays they have had while travelling the world, and this is what they stayed in.

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Bodrifty Roundhouse, Cornwall, UK

Contributed by Heather from Conversant Traveller

 

Bodrifty Roundhouse, Cornwall is small round thatched house.

One of the most unique places I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in is a Celtic roundhouse in the heart of Cornwall. Bodrifty Roundhouse is tucked away on a rural farm on the Penwith Moors. There used to be an Iron Age Fort here so the setting is fitting. Sleeping here felt like travelling back in time. The dwelling is an authentic recreation of an ancient roundhouse. There’s a thatched roof, a stone hearth and the floor is bare earth.

Daily life really takes you back to basics, and my husband and I loved being in tune with nature here in this leafy woodland glade. There’s no mains electricity or internet in the roundhouse. The fire in the hearth provided both heat and light. Yet we didn’t feel like we were roughing it, thanks to the sumptuous four-poster bed (which was carved out of wood) and the snuggly duvet. There’s also a treehouse cabin nearby which has a small kitchen and bathroom so you can do a bit of 21st-century cooking and washing!

 

Beach Fale, Samoa

Contributed by Sharon from Dive Into Malaysia

 

Beach Fale in Somoa. Hut on the Beach.

If you are looking for a unique style of accommodation which is also traditional and comes with absolutely gorgeous views, head to Samoa! Here the beach fales aren’t just a way for tourists to have somewhere, usually budget, to sleep for the night. They are how Samoans have lived for thousands of years.

Fale means house in Samoan. Traditionally, it’s in a circle or oval shape with wooden poles holding up a thatched rood. Instead of walls, there are blinds that can be rolled down all the way around the fale to block out light and rain.

While these structures can be found in other parts of Polynesia, they are particularly popular here. You will see them in many places as you explore Samoa. They have become popular in tourist accommodation. From high end hotels, which may have a fully enclosed fale with bathroom, to the more traditional fales right on the beach which can be very cheap and are the perfect way to enjoy Samoa.

I chose to stay in a fale at Taufua Beach Fales as I wanted to stay right on the beach. A trip to Samoa doesn’t seem complete without a stay in one. It enabled me to have my best views ever from accommodation and the stay came complete with traditional Samoan food at meal times.

 

Hut Bungalows, Thailand

Contributed by John-Paul from Escape the Stanway

 

Unique Hut Bungalows Accommodation on the Beach in Thailand.

Hidden away from the chaos of Koh Samui, one of Thailand’s most popular islands, sits an unexpected level of tranquillity (and plenty of colour!). The New Hut Bungalows are a collection of bright, small, budget-friendly, beachfront huts. After staying in an array of hostels on my backpacking trip around Thailand, I was on the lookout for something private, and quiet. After stumbling across the New Hut Bungalows it quickly became evident that this would be my new home to relax for a few days.

A picture speaks a thousand words” is a phrase that perfectly aligns with the uniqueness of this accommodation. Each bungalow has a different colour as bright as its neighbour. There is plenty of sand between your toes. They are surrounded by palm trees. A morning dip in the sea is only ten steps away. Or watch the sunrise and the sunset from the chairs on your porch.

However, the best part? During our ‘shoulder season’ visit, a front row hut for two people only cost £6 each. What is there not to love about this place? Just writing about it now, I would jump back in a heartbeat!

 

Glamping, the Sahara Desert

Contributed by Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

 

Luxury Glamping in Sahara Desert Camp Morocco.

One of the most unique places we’ve ever stayed was a luxury desert camp (aka a glampsite) in the Sahara Desert of Morocco. This luxury camp had large, spacious permanent tents that had a comfortable bed, heavy Moroccan carpets, electricity, running water, and wifi. 

Outside, there were beautiful carpets running down the pathway between the tents, with potted plants and chairs set up for people to enjoy. And of course, this was all set up right in the sand dunes of the Sahara. To say it was breathtaking would be an understatement!

This desert camp was also unique in how you arrived at it. By riding camels across the sand dunes from the nearest town, of course! Our stay in the luxury desert camp also included meals (delicious), singing and music around the campfire (enchanting), sandboards (fun), and the option to go ATVing in the desert (an absolute rush). Plus, it was run by incredibly kind and welcoming Berber men (Berbers are an ethnic group in Morocco).

Start to finish, doing a Sahara desert tour was an experience never to be forgotten.

 

Hostel Pods, Copenhagen

Contributed by Alex and Leah from Alex and Leah on Tour

 

White Hostel Pods in Copenhagen.

By far one of the most interesting and enjoyable accommodations we’ve stayed at was CityHub Copenhagen. This humongous hostel is filled with endless pod-style beds allowing you to feel in some alternate universe. The rooms, our sound proof, have their own WiFi and downloading an app allows you to link up to the pods speaker system. This allows you to blast out music without a care in the world or watch a movie with cinematic effect.

We loved the fact we got our own space and the ability to finally relax in a crazily comfy bed.

Depending if you’re travelling alone, as a pair or couple, single and double beds are available.

It’s also a great place to come for digital nomads. This is because it has a great co-working space with a lot of comfy and professional seating to suit your needs.

Whilst it is a short walk, or underground ride, from the city center, there’s also an abundance of food options nearby so you’ll never get bored!

All of these were why we chose CityHub and it really didn’t disappoint. We absolutely loved our stay and would’ve happily stayed longer.

 

Rockwater Resort, Vanuatu

Contributed by Jake from One off Escapes

 

Rockwater Resort Tanna Island Vanuatu is a luxury accommodation resort.

Rockwater Resort on Tanna Island in Vanuatu is one of a kind. We chose this resort after hearing that the charismatic Australian owner John, had constructed the hotel entirely by hand using rocks sourced from the island. In a surreal way, the resort offers a Mediterranean feel, with colourful bougainvilleas climbing the stone walls, perched atop a cliff overlooking the ocean below.

The rooms feature solid walls that bend and curve in a feast for the sense. And wait for it, the floors are fine sand, bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘barefoot luxury’!

Rockwater’s pool is also breathtaking. The hand-laid masonry creating the feel of a natural yet luxurious water hole, complete with its own waterfall.

Tanna Island is already a very unique holiday destination. It’s a beautiful, raw and naturally diverse ecosystem with an active volcano on the island. Staying at Rockwater made our adventure extra special.

Champing – Camping in Churches, UK

Contributed by Helen from Things Helen Loves

 

 

Champing - camping in a church.

As far as unique overnight stays go, sleeping in a medieval church is one of my most memorable. Designed by the Churches Conservation Trust, church camping or Champing is the practice of lodging overnight in ancient churches. Visitors get sole occupancy of their church, and all equipment is provided.

Champing venues can be found across England and Wales, from humble chapels to huge historic churches. I picked St Mary’s in Edelsborough, Buckinghamshire. Set on a hillside with sweeping views across the countryside, the church is a beauty. What I love about Champing is how you can make the experience your own. Spend the evening exploring the Church and grounds, play games (old churches are great for hide and seek), sit round chatting over a glass of wine. I walked for miles from the gates of the churchyard, spent the evening relaxing and then woke up to gentle sunlight shining through the stained-glass windows. Bliss.

As well as creating a fun and unusual overnight experience, the funds raised help to preserve historic churches for future generations. It’s a win-win. You can read more about my champing nights and other adventures over at Things Helen Loves.

 

Glass Igloos, Machu Picchu, Peru

Contributed by Brandon from Zimmin Around the World

 

Sky domes or glass igloos in Peru are unique accommodation.

Trekking through the Andes to reach the famous site of Machu Picchu in Peru should be on everyone’s travel list. There are so many ways to arrive to Machu Picchu. Other then taking the train to Aguas Calientes and catching a bus to the famous site, many visitors opt to do a multi-day hike to Machu Picchu.

I did the Salkantay Trek which is the second most sought after trek after the famous Inca Trail Trek. The Salkantay Trek was a 5-day trek through the Andes. It passes towering mountains, low meadows, lush jungles, and high-altitude lakes. One of the highlights of the trek was the lodging on the first night. At the first camp, we stayed in glass igloos or sky domes.

Each igloo at camp had enough space for two comfortable beds and a small stand in between. The entrance looked toward Salkantay Mountain and the glass of the igloo allowed me to view the starry night sky. After a long trek, it was magical to have your own personal space with some of the best views on the planet. The igloo offered plenty of privacy, a spacious area, and comfortable beds.

 

Beach Huts, Fiji

Contributed by Catrina from 24 Hours Layover

 

Beach hut in Fiji with Banana Leaf roof.

I spent 10 weeks traveling around Fiji and staying in various types of accommodation. The accommodation I loved the most was the traditional Fijian beach huts found on Leleuvia Island!

Known as ‘bures’ – traditional Fijian beach huts are made from wood and bamboo, with thatched roofs and no glass in the windows – just shutters you can open and close. The bures are simple and unpretentious yet very homely and spacious – which I loved. To me it was such a unique and authentic experience!

Our bure was about 5 metres from the sea. Listening to the sound of the waves at night and when you woke up was incredible and so relaxing.

An overnight stay in a Fijian bure is very reasonably priced. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to stay in one was to see the real Fiji. Away from the commercial, overpriced and slightly soulless chain resorts. I wanted to experience true island life, as well as the rich culture and history that this part of Fiji is known for.

If you want to experience authentic Fiji, then staying in a Fijian bure/beach hut should be on your list!

 

High Elevation Mountain Hut

Contributed by Morgan from Crave the Planet

 

Slow travel is a way of tourism that lessens environmental impact and increases your opportunity to unplug, meet the locals and have an unforgettable journey.

One of the very best ways to experience the wondrous mountains of Europe is by walking to and staying in a high elevation mountain hut. They are called rifugios in Italian or Hütten in German. These unique accommodations can be perched high atop a cliff (like my favorite Rifugio Lagazuoi in the Dolomites). Or on the face of an Austrian mountain like at the breathtaking Olpererhütte accommodation overlooking an glittering alpine lake.

Typically, people will take a daypack and hike up to the mountain huts and spend the night in comfortable beds in double rooms or shared dormitories. You’ll be served 3-4 course dinners with a choice of local wines. Then wake up to a hearty breakfast buffet. If you choose the dormitory rooms be sure to bring earplugs as hikers can snore.

 

Phinisi Boat, Indonesia

Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel

 

Phinisi Boat from Distance in Komodo, Indonesia.
Inside Phinisi Boat Bedroom. Bed With View Over Water.

Staying on a traditional Phinisi Boat in Komodo National Park is a once in a lifetime experience you won’t forget quickly. The national park can only be accessed by boat and since it’s so large, staying overnight on a boat is highly recommended. These boats are available for all types of budgets, ranging from as little as $70 per night to up to $300 or more. The boats have everything you need on board including a full kitchen with a team of chefs, spacious bedrooms with ocean views, running water and plenty of space to lounge on the deck. The national park is stunningly beautiful with untouched nature, pink beaches and of course the famous Komodo dragons which roam freely. Just make sure to keep your distance since their bite is fatal. Luckily, the boat is a safe place to spend the night. You can spend your time watching the stars instead of having to worry about the local wildlife.

 

Castle, Czech Republic

Contributed by Jake of Tymrazern

 

Typical castle with

Have you ever dreamed of feeling like a princess or a prince? It is true that wealth and lands cannot be conjured up overnight, but staying in a castle certainly is!

The castle in Svojanov (Czech Republic) offers such an opportunity, which is very popular. It is a building surrounded by a forest. At night there is perfect silence, interrupted only by the sounds of castle animals – peacocks, hens or goats.

The rooms in the castle are pleasant and decorated in a castle style. There is no modern technology and design, but it is clean and pleasant. I can tell you one secret. There is Wi-Fi.

If staying overnight at the castle is not adventure enough for you, maybe the fact that it is one of the most haunted buildings of this type in the Czech Republic will convince you? There are many legends about walled up knights or unfaithful wives. Discoveries over the years have revealed almost 20 skeletons hidden in various places of the castle.

 

Jailhouse, New Zealand

Contributed by Holly from Globeblogging

 

Jailhouse New Zealand is unique accommod

I’m always on the lookout for unique places to stay when I travel. When I needed a place in Christchurch for a couple of nights, I was naturally drawn to the Jailhouse Accommodation.

This former women’s prison has been restored and transformed into hostel style accommodation. The rooms are pretty basic, but they are comfortable and inexpensive. Thus making it a great option for travelling on a budget if you are just looking for a room for a couple of nights. While the room sizes might make it a little cramped for an extended stay there are several spacious communal areas.

It’s a beautiful old and open building, with communal showers, bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities. The staff were helpful and they can make espresso coffee for the caffeine junkies. Not wanting to lose touch with the history of the building, remnants of its previous life are documented in the foyer. A display room shows what the cells once looked like.  

The Jailhouse is located a short and pleasant walk from the main CBD of Christchurch.

 

Yurts, Mongolia

Contributed by Breanna from Meanwhile in Mongolia

 

Yurt in Mongolia is unique accommodation there.

Living part-time in Mongolia, you really come to appreciate the simplicity of the Mongolian yurt, or ger as we call them, which is simply the word for ‘home’ in Mongolian. More than 20% of the population still lives this way. Setting up these felt tents all across the country, and sleeping inside one is the quintessential experiences to have here. My personal favorite thing about exploring the country.

They are so much more clean, comfortable, and functional than most people imagine. Stepping inside any yurt you’ll basically always find the same things. Beautifully decorated wooden furniture which includes at least two beds, dressers, and a wood-burning stove in the center which acts as a way to heat tea, cook food, and warm the yurt when temperatures drop. They can be broken down and packed up, moved, and set up again in a different location within a day. This is why Mongolia’s nomadic herders still live this way, moving seasonally with their herds. While Mongolians sleep in yurts year round, the best time to visit Mongolia and experience this way of living is in summer when temperatures are mild and enjoyable.

 

Konak, Turkey

Contributed by De Wet and Jin from Museum of Wander

 

Outside of Konak Turkey is unique accommodation in Turkey.

Konak outside

Konak from the inside is unique accommodation in Turkey.

Konak inside

A konak is a traditional residence in Turkey. These large houses are often protected or are national monuments due to their historical importance. When I visited the city of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey, I decided to stay in one of the many konaks in the old town.

Ali Bey Konagi is over a hundred years old and has a splendid location right underneath the castle, with all the attractions within walking distance. This konak has several spacious en-suite rooms set around a courtyard, and it’s the perfect spot to come home to after a day of exploring the city. 

The best thing about staying here is the breakfast. Gaziantep is the food capital of Turkey, and this konak does the city proud. A fantastic traditional Turkish breakfast includes all the usual trimmings and local specialities like katmer.

I just loved staying here, and the personal touches, homely ambience and warm service are things you cannot find in any hotel. If you’re looking for a unique place to stay in Turkey, give a konak a try. You won’t regret it.

 

Lighthouse, UK

Contributed by Suzanne from Meandering Wild

 

All over the UK are lighthouses and these make for the perfect place to stay.  All of the lighthouses are now automated. This means that the lighthouse keepers cottages have been converted into cottages for rental. 

The lighthouse we stayed in was Start Point Lighthouse on the Devon coast of South West England. This lighthouse is located on a headland at the end of a large sweeping bay and this is what attracted us to stay here. Large views of the ocean, crashing waves all night and if a storm comes in the fog horn sounding all night (but ear plugs were provided).

The accommodation is cosy and really did take us back to the isolated life of the keepers in the late 1800’s. As the sun rose we were the only people here. It was magical walking along the cliffs with no-one else around. Heading back to our cottage for breakfast as the day trippers walked out from the nearest public car park 2 miles away.

 

Cave, Cappadocia, Turkey

Contributed by Roxanne from Far Away Worlds

 

Cave accommodation in Kelebek, Turkey.

Arriving in Cappadocia at sunrise is a magical experience. Strange rock formations rise all around you and hot air balloons float in the air, silhouetted against the sky. The only thing that can make the experience more special is staying in a cave hotel, the room carved out of the soft volcanic rock.

Cave dwellings have been common in Cappadocia since ancient times, when settlers in the region carved homes and places of worship into the rock. Nowadays, cave hotels reflect this history. And the caves are now luxurious rooms with modern amenities and hand-woven rugs.

We have stayed in three cave hotels in Cappadocia. I found them all different, but each was imbued with a sense of the region’s culture and heritage. After visiting the cave churches and other old buildings in the area, staying in one of the cave rooms ourselves allowed us to feel a deeper connection to Cappadocia’s history. And, of course, our rooms were beautifully decorated, cosy and comfortable, with stunning views.

 

Jungle Treehouse, Panama

Contributed by Melissa from My Beautiful Passport

 

Jungle Treehouse in Panama.

The most unique accommodation I’ve stayed at thus far is a jungle tree house in Panama. Nested away in the jungle on Bocas del Toro’s Colon Island, is a boutique hotel La Selva: Nomad Tree Lodge with a small collection of bungalow treehouses. 

A short ride away from town, with monkeys as your neighbour, fully screened-in bungalows, and outdoor showers, I loved how connected the property was to nature. I wanted to experience sleeping in a Panamanian jungle. I had never slept in a treehouse or showered outdoors before, so I was excited and nervous. 

It was an unforgettable experience. I watched the monkeys playing in the trees from my balcony and spent afternoons swimming in the pool. Its close proximity to the beach meant I fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean and the jungle. Thus making it the most unique stay I’ve had on my trip to Panama and beyond.

 

Stables, New Zealand

Contributed by Holly from Globeblogging

 

Bedroom above stables.
Stables converted to accommodation.

New Zealand might be one of the last places in the world you might expect to find a castle, but given the Scottish heritage of the South Island’s Dunedin, perhaps its not so surprising. While not on the scale of a traditional English castle, Larnach Castle is still incredibly impressive in its own right, and is one of the main Dunedin tourist attractions.

With spectacular views of the Otago harbour, construction on the castle dates back to 1870 and was designed after a Sussex homestead. After changing hands and falling into disrepair over the years, it has now been painstakingly restored to as much of its original glory as can be achieved and is open for tours and formal dinners in the castle ballroom.

While the castle itself is not available to stay, visitors can stay in what was once the stables, a 140-year old building which is now six rooms with shared bathrooms. My room was clean and comfortable, and a stay includes a buffet breakfast in the downstairs dining hall in the morning, complete with the original cobblestoned floor! You also have the added benefit of having out of hours access to the huge grounds and potentially the castle. I was able to have a solo stroll around the castle after my formal dinner.

 

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Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!

 

Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, Booking.com is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers and World Normads has policies for general and adventure travel.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Intan

    Wow, I thought glass igloos only existed in coooold places. Would love to experience that some day! Lovely post!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Me too! Seems not. They look cool and I’d love to stay in one.

      Reply
  2. Lisa

    Some of the places mentioned in this post are absolutely stunning! I’d never think to look for this type of accommodation when travelling – I’m often worried these kids of accommodation experiences will cost an arm and a leg! haha
    Love seeing them all on your page!

    Reply
  3. Jenn Record

    Wow- you’ve picked some incredible spots… with incredible landscapes.. Turkey is on my top 10 list!

    Reply
  4. Annie H

    I’ve stayed in lighthouses, beach-huts, glamping in safari tents, caves, boats etc. Even had a night out in the open with only my horse for company (it wasn’t planned, but it got too dark to see the way back). Looks like there are still a lot of options of me to try.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      i’m sure there are more accommodations options out there I could include. I’m looking forward to hearing about them too!

      Reply
  5. Jeanine

    Oh these are fantastic, I love the Glamping in the desert and the castle…ok I like several of thses options a fantastic collection of choices thank you

    Reply
  6. Maggie

    What a fun list!! I’d love to do some of these, especially glamping in the Sahara. I did stay in a martian dome in the Wadi Rum desert, so that might be kind of close (and should be on this list!)

    Reply
  7. Teja

    Oh I love unusual accommodations! Great ideas! I’ve done a cave in Granada, a catamaran in Tahiti, beach huts, jungle huts, a pod in Sydney, converted stables in Penang, glamping in Ko Laoliang… if it’s weird I’ll probably take a look!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      I like unusual accommodation too. Particularly when they are part of the culture of the country.

      Reply
  8. Alanna

    Lots of great ideas in this roundup! I stayed in a unique Harry Potter themed Airbnb and it was SO FUN. Totally changed how I prioritize booking my accommodation.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Wow. That would have been fun. If you want to send a contribution I can add it to the unique accommodation list.

      Reply
  9. Yvonne

    Well, I just added a few things to my bucket list after reading this post. I would love to go champing, stay in a glass igloo or a cave! How fun! Very inspiring post!

    Reply
  10. Cosette

    Wow, some pretty cool places to stay at. The most unique place I’ve stayed at so far is a large wine barrel.

    Reply

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