The way a room or home is made has a direct effect on a person’s mental state—and no, I’m not talking about Feng Shui here. There’s a whole field of architectural psychology that deals with how our built environments affect the way we think, feel, and interact with the world.
So if you feel like you’re in need of a mental shot in the arm, changing up where you’re staying (even for a weekend) might be just the reset you need. And if you really need a change of pace, staying in one of the world’s weirdest hotels could be the right medicine for your mind. But at the very least, it’ll give you a whole film reel of Instagram-worthy lifestyle shots.
Book and Bed – Tokyo, Japan
Walk into the Tokyo-based Book and Bed, and you might be a little confused whether you made reservations at the right place. At first glance, it appears that you’re shopping in a delightfully vintage used bookstore. But push through a few secret passages, and you’ll come to a book lover’s dream: Simple and spartan rooms built deep into the recesses of the stacks and stacks of novels. Single rooms are little more than a hardwood closet with a bed barely over six feet long, while the more spacious double or “superior” rooms will let you stretch your legs. A small menu of Japanese snacks and beverages rounds out the whole bookish experience.
The Mirrorcube – Harads, Sweden
Housed at The Treehotel in Sweden, the Mirrorcube looks like something straight out of a sci-fi flick. Measuring a perfect four meters on each side, all of its exterior surfaces are covered in mirrored glass. From the right angle it seamlessly blends in with the forest, giving the illusion of your accommodation disappearing into the Swedish hinterlands. If that doesn’t grab your attention, take a look at The Tree Hotel’s other ridiculously creative offerings: A single room that looks like a giant bird’s nest, or perhaps a picture-perfect UFO.
Palacio de Sal – Potosí, Bolivia
You can find hotels built from wood. From metal. From stone. Heck, even from ice. But the Palacio de Sal is none of these things—because it’s the first ever hotel to be made of salt. The well-appointed rooms are accompanied by top notch Bolivian gastronomy. And when you’ve eaten to your heart’s content, you can indulge in a spa day with a climate-controlled pool, body treatments, sauna, and nutritious drinks and snacks. Located only a short walk or drive to the Uyuni salt flats, it’s a palace of salt that’s as stark and white as the desert, yet somehow still welcoming and inviting.
The Underwater Room at the Manta Resort – Pemba Island, Tanzania
Tanzania’s Manta Resort is perfectly positioned between world-class diving waters and opportunities for an East African safari. But these two pleasures pale in comparison to the experience of staying in The Underwater Room—a floating room anchored to the sea floor, where you can watch schools of fish swim by from the comfort of your plush bed. Above the water is a hardwood lounge with a sun deck as its roof, giving you time to regain your land legs if the underwater experience proves overwhelming. There’s truly no other hotel room like it in the world, and the staggering nightly price certainly reflects that.
The Clown Motel – Tonopah, Nevada
When you look at a clown’s face, your evolutionarily-wired brain does something very strange: It can’t quite make sense of the features. And the longer you look at the clown’s face, the worse this feeling of non-understanding gets. Combine that with unpredictable stage antics, and it’s easy to see why some people end up with a lifelong fear of clowns. If you’re one of those people, you should absolutely, at all costs, avoid going to The Clown Motel. Built in 1985 in honor of the founders’ clown-loving father, it’s located directly next door to the cemetery where pops and dozens of old timey miners are laid to rest. Truly the stuff of nightmares (though the staff that works there are actually quite lovely, if a bit eccentric).
Free Spirit Spheres – Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The shores of British Columbia in the Pacific Northwest are home to an astonishing variety of plants and wildlife, with old growth trees providing the foundation for Free Spirit Spheres. The suspended spherical tree houses give a bird’s eye view of this gorgeous territory. One part back-to-nature and one part social media worthy glamping, these hotel rooms provide a curiously disorienting experience—which makes all the surrounding beaches, rivers, hiking trails, and fishing opportunities all the more enjoyable and comforting.
The Red Caboose Motel – Ronks, Pennsylvania
Shipping containers have gotten a lot of attention lately as an alternative type of home, along with tiny homes and tiny homes on wheels. But the predecessor to all of these trends has already been in service as a motel since 1970 with the Red Caboose Motel. Made from reclaimed railroad cabooses in varying shapes and sizes, it’s a blast from the past when rail travel was America’s main long-distance option. Now equipped with 38 unique railroad-themed cabooses, it’s a delightfully quaint place to stay and indulge in your most nostalgic feelings.
Faralda Crane Hotel – Amsterdam, Netherlands
It’s strange enough that all three exclusive suites in the Faralda Crane Hotel are housed in an old behemoth of a harbor crane. But the further you read into their press release about the hotel, the stranger it gets. At every turn, they’re certain to reiterate that “what happens in the crane stays in the crane” and that “our guests demand privacy” before offering you a private suite “with your Lover(s)”. I guess they really do things differently in Amsterdam—and if you’re looking to do the same, the Faralda Crane Hotel seems to be the place to do it.
Atomic Inn – Beatty, Nevada
So far, each of the weird hotels we’ve featured are remarkable in their design, location, or amenities. The Atomic Inn is a far cry from being an underwater hotel, or a tree house, or housed in a refurbished piece of industrial equipment—but I still vouch for the Atomic Inn as one of the most genuinely weird places you can stay. Located in Beatty, Nevada, they’re at the front door of Death Valley National Park, and seem to be permanently stuck in 1979. Seriously, just look at their webpage, including its pictures of tourists posing for pictures with a wooden alien cutout, and tell me you don’t want to go.
Dog Bark Park Inn and Chainsaw Art Gallery – Cottonwood, Idaho
How many times have you heard about a hotel in the shape of a giant beagle, financed by the unexpected sales of chainsaw-carved wooden dogs on QVC television shopping network? Well now you can say that you’ve heard it exactly once, because that’s the story of the Dog Bark Park Inn and Chainsaw Art Gallery. Its quaint rooms are housed in the World’s Biggest Beagle, and you too can take home a hand-carved dog statue from their gift shop before you leave. In my opinion, it’s the best darned reason to visit Idaho.