Farmington, New Mexico
Kokopelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast
Being at one with the earth takes on new meaning at Kokopelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast. Originally built as a geological research office, this man-made dwelling is carved into a cliff face 70 feet below the mesa top. It is reminiscent of the nearby Anasazi cliff ruins…with the exception of Jacuzzis and the stylish Southwestern furnishings. Authentic to the property is a traditional ceremonial kiva, a square-walled, underground room used by Puebloian Native Americans for religious rituals. Also notable is the deck, for viewing sunsets over four states (it is in the famous Four Corners region of the U.S.) and incredible stargazing.
Hôtel de Glace
Each winter, the Hôtel de Glace is redesigned and rebuilt entirely out of snow and ice, complete with snow archways, an ice bar and café serving drinks in ice glasses, and an ice chapel for weddings. The hotel opens for guests in early January through the end of March, usually creating 36 rooms and themed suites to choose from. Beds are made of a solid ice base with a wooden box spring above it, topped with an arctic sleeping bag to keep you snug and warm. Cool local activities include ice fishing on Lake St. Joseph, snowmobiling and dog sledding. But if you crave things cozy, too, there is a hot tub and sauna available for those chilly afternoons.
Green Magic Treehouse Resort
Reached by driving through miles of coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations, Green Magic Treehouse Resort is a dream come true for kids at heart. Imagine your own tree fort—there are two to choose from, one at 90 feet off the ground and another at 100. Each was built by Paniya tribesmen using local materials and indigenous techniques. The double-decker structures (bedrooms are on top, reached by winding wooden staircases) feature simple but lovely furnishings, wraparound verandas, toilets, (cold) showers and draperies of forest canopy. Keep in mind that the houses do sometimes sway. For those who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground, there is an eco-lodge here as well.
Capsule Inn Akihabara
This unique inn is located in Akihabara, a major shopping area in Tokyo for new and used electronic goods, and is known as a mecca to the technically inclined. The concept here is simple and efficient—and is unique to Japan. Guests pay a relatively low fixed rate (at time of publication, 4,000 Yen) each night for a small place to rest. There is a separate communal area with a lounge complete with computers available to guests, Wi-Fi, as well as a general bathroom area. The actual capsule section features small pods made of reinforced plastic, which resemble the cockpit of an airplane. There are separate floors for men and women and many business visitors to Tokyo seem to like the extreme nature of the concept.
Sassi di Matera Albergo Diffuso
Recently restored and upgraded, this 2,500-year-old series of Neolithic caves in the Basilicata region is not what most visitors expect in accommodations. The property offers eighteen guest rooms complete with wrought-iron beds and locally created furniture all accented by the natural glow of candles in natural crevasses and under fossilized ceilings. Guests are given a bulky iron skeleton key for their room and are filled in on the rich cultural history of the area, as they settle in. The unimposing town of Matera is situated on uneven cliffs and features stone steps, mazes of passageways and over a hundred churches and a few museums. Although the caves housed shepherds and the poor over the years, they now feature running water and electricity and make for a truly unique experience in Italy.
The Hobbit Motel
If you’re craving all things Middle Earth, then a stay at The Hobbit Motel in New Zealand is guaranteed to indulge your Lord of the Ring fantasies in the country where much of the movie trilogy was filmed. The Hobbit Motel is one of three unique lodging options in the Woodlyn Park Motel chain (the other two are a 1950’s railcar and a Bristol Fighter plane). Replicating an authentic hobbit hole, The Hobbit Motel is built into the side of a mountain. With its round doors and windows and specially designed Hobbit-friendly furniture, each unit is self-contained with a kitchen, shower and toilet and can accommodate up to six people.
Built in the 1920s by a count (the descendant of one of Napoleon’s generals) and later owned by expatriate writer Paul Bowles (who penned Spider House here), this two-and-a-half-acre private island boasts just one luxurious, five-bedroom, Palladian-style villa that is within wading distance from the shore of Sri Lanka. You can splash over, although it’s more fun to ride in on an elephant. The concept behind the villa’s design was to avoid interiors at all costs—there are views looking out to the sea from almost every point in the house. The island is staffed with houseboys, stewards, a cook, a gardener and security.
Accessible only via skis or snowshoe trek, the Whitepod Eco-Retreat offers an exclusive Swiss Alps experience. The camp, situated at 5,577 feet, consists of twelve pods designed to resemble igloos. The pods, actually dome shaped tents, are pitched on raised wooden platforms surrounding a refurbished 19th-century alpine chalet. Each well-insulated pod is heated by a wood burning stove, and has its own private front terrace. In case of a snow storm, the pods can withstand snowfall of 45 lbs./sq. ft. with winds of up to 130 mph. Along with the majestic views of the snow-covered mountains, the camp offers ice climbing, ski tours, guided and unguided snowshoe tours, back country skiing and dog sledding.
Built in 1862, this property departs from typical lighthouse architecture. It is built of limestone and Canadian pitch-pine, and resembles a clifftop castle. It operated as a lighthouse until 1985, and now functions as a pretty, traditionally furnished, bed and breakfast with views over the Irish Sea. Most remarkable is the panorama from the breakfast room, overlooking a 110-meter vertical cliff drop. Surrounding The Lighthouse is the rugged Great Orme Country Park.
Key Largo, Florida
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
For those who like the idea of living in a yellow submarine, this is the next best thing. Jules’ Undersea Lodge is an authentic underwater research habitat and hotel, inspired by the fantastical world of Jules Verne. Earn an Aquanaut certificate while enjoying unlimited diving (if you’re a certified diver). And when the day is through, partake in a gourmet dinner prepared by the hotel’s “mer-chef.” You can spend multiple days here without surfacing.