10 of the Most Unusual Hotels in the World

The entrance of the Hotel DeGlace in Quebec

Lukas Maverick Greyson / Shutterstock

Some hotels are more than merely a place to sleep while visiting a destination: They are destinations in and of themselves. Quirky designs, unusual décor and strange building materials are a few of the traits of the world's most unusual hotels.

Check out our collection of hotels that are charmingly offbeat, just plain strange, or odd and luxurious at the same time.

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Hang Nga Guesthouse, Vietnam

Photo: Tom Ravenscrodt [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

The Hang Nga Guesthouse, affectionately nicknamed “the Crazy House,” is an offbeat inn in the popular tourist destination of Da Lat in the highlands of Central Vietnam. It bears some resemblance to the most whimsical works of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, but can also be described as a Disney cartoon palace that has been rearranged randomly and then partially melted. Some tourists come just to walk through the twisty tunnels, unusually decorated rooms, and hidden hollowed-out nooks. But it is also possible to spend the night in one of the guest rooms. The themed bedrooms are just as endearingly strange as the exterior of the building.

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Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin

Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

This Berlin hotel takes quirkiness to a new level. Each of its 30-plus rooms has a different theme, emphasis on "different." One room has a king bed that has been divided into two singles by a giant guillotine. Another has a bathtub made to resemble an oversized plastic bag. Others are furnished and laid out like prison cells or mortuaries (complete with coffin beds).

One more detail sets the lodge apart: If you stay the night, leave your camera in its bag. The hotel notes that "The City Lodge is a work of art and it is the artist's intellectual property to have all the copyright for everything included." This means that "the listed room rates do not include the rights to make photos, videos etc." without explicit permission.

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Hotel de Glace, Quebec

Photo: Simon Desmarais [CC by SA-2.0]/Flickr

This hotel just outside of Canada's Quebec City is open only in the wintertime for an obvious reason: It is made entirely of ice. Popular with non-hotel guests because of its wedding chapel and “ice bar,” de Glace has a varying number of rooms each winter because it must be rebuilt annually once the weather gets cold enough. Some of the guest rooms have snow sculptures and fireplaces. Lighting is strategically placed so that the natural transparency and reflective qualities of the ice create a romantic atmosphere. Comforters and furnishings make it possible to actually enjoy a good night’s sleep despite the Arctic-like surroundings. Room packages start at about $400 per night, so the experience is not cheap, but you are unlikely to find anything else quite like the Hotel de Glace in North America.

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Kumbuk River Resort, Sri Lanka

Kumbuk River Resort.

This Sri Lankan eco-resort has a very noticeable eco-tourism theme. It sits near its namesake river bordering Yala National Park, one of Sri Lanka's best nature adventure destinations. This is elephant country, and pachyderms roam freely through the park, as do a variety of other interesting animal species. Kumbuk celebrates Yala's headlining mammal with a unique design. Dubbed the Elephant Villa, the resort's most stunning structure is made of wood and topped with a straw roof that sways in the breeze. The "elephant" is not just a clever name, however. The straw roof of the two-bedroom villa is actually shaped like an elephant (with a trunk, ears, eyes and all). Kumbuk also has a luxury "treehouse" and a main lodge that is designed to look like a classic Sri Lankan farmhouse.

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Ariau Amazon Towers, Brazil

Photo: keith_rock [CC by ND-2.0]/Flickr

This Brazilian resort sits at treetop level in the heart of the Amazon. Ariau's huge circular structures, built on stilts above the water and connected by a series of walkways, are not unlike something out of a “Star Wars” film. However, there is nothing sci-fi about this resort, which is a convenient base for tourists who want to explore the surrounding rain forest and the teeming waters of the Amazon and its tributaries. Ariau sits on the banks of the Rio Negro about 30 miles from the Amazonian metropolis of Manaus. Canopy tours and chances to get up close with the Amazon's rare pink dolphins are on the agenda for the Towers' guests.

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Cappadocia Cave Suites, Turkey

Cappadocia Cave Suites.

Cappadocia is the site of one of the most interesting historic attractions in Turkey. A series of unique cave dwellings in the region were occupied by members of the Hittite civilization long before the age of the Roman Empire. The Cave Suites, located in the city of Goreme, have been designed to resemble the ancient stone structures that draw so many tourists to the area. The rooms have individualized designs (so no two are alike). Despite the "cave" theme, these are fully functioning hotel rooms with Internet access, minibars and coffeemakers, so visitors won't have to rough it the way the original inhabitants of Cappadocia did.

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Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway

Jensen & Skodvin Architects.

This Norwegian hotel has a modern and minimalistic design that puts guests face-to-face with nature at every turn. Located in a river valley that features lush landscapes and rushing water during the summer and peaceful carpets of snow in the winter, there is certainly lots of nature for guests to enjoy no matter what time of year they visit. The cube-shaped design and almost excessive use of windows and glass bestow Juvet's cabins with a modern feel, but the fact that it is completely surrounded by nature gives this property an attractive, rustic edge.

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Kennedy School, Portland

Photo: SMcD22 [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

Sometimes it's OK to fall asleep in class. That's the case at this hotel in Portland, Ore., which was fashioned out of an unused elementary school that saw its first students nearly 100 years ago. Some of the hotel's 57 rooms are located in actual classrooms, with blackboards, desks and other educational paraphernalia still intact. The property now has a movie theater, several small bars with different themes, a soaking pool, and an onsite brewery. Murals and other works of art are a nod to the hotel's educational roots.

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Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island

Photo: Nicolás Boullosa [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

Vancouver Island's Free Spirit Spheres offer an interesting spin on the idea of treehouse hotels. Hanging from the treetops, these spherical rooms resemble ornaments on a Christmas tree and gently sway when the wind blows through the forest. Visitors can choose from three spheres, named Eve, Eryn and Melody. Each is made of a different material and has a different theme.

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Das Park Hotel, Germany and Austria

Photo: Arnoldius/Wikimedia Commons

This industrial-themed hotel, with locations in Germany and Austria, might be mistaken for a construction site at first glance. This is because the "rooms" are made out of giant concrete sections of pipe with coverings on both sides. The pipes are furnished with beds and lights and have interior murals. Though not luxurious by any definition, these rooms are definitely designed to provide a feeling of cozy comfort. And you certainly won't be able to beat the amount of privacy.