Tired of staying in the same old hotels? Then our list of the most luxurious alternative lodging is the perfect cure to the ordinary. Pack some adventure and learn how to get off the beaten path without really roughing it at all. Get ready to swing from a rope to your own private tree house, wake up to exotic wildlife on an African reserve or cool off in a room made completely of ice!
Here are journeyPod’s Top Picks:
The Beach House
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort (Fiji) – Offering beach bures, luxury beach huts or “Palapas” as some people call them is amazing in every way. A romantic paradise with pristine beach, journeyPod rates this experience as 6 stars. Jodi Foster and other celebs love the villas that come equipped with private pool and daybed overlooking the beach. Reserve their private island for that Survivor Fiji Castaway Tom Hanks kinda feel. But don’t worry -it comes with a walkie-talkie so they can pick you up whenever you like. Listen to our behind the scenes podcast review of Cousteau.
The Overwater Bungalo
Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa (Bora Bora) – It’s no wonder Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban all chose this private paradise to rekindle the romance. The ideal honeymoon destination, couples wake up to turquoise water surrounding their beach bungalow, colorful fish swimming atop the reef and the impressive view of Mount Otemanu piercing the sky. Enjoy a day of snorkeling in crystal-clear water, a Champagne sunset tour on the Catamaran or a rejuvenating spa treatment on the beach.
The Cave Dwelling
Kokopelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast (New Mexico) – “Luxury cliff dwelling” is what the locals call this unique bed and breakfast. 70 feet below the surface, guests walk down sloping paths and intermittent steps to reach this private facility. With an unparalleled view of the ‘Four Corners’ from the cave and cliff top – this is one trip you don’t want to forget your camera!
The Ice Hotel
ICEHOTEL Jukkasjarvi (Sweden) – The world’s first hotel made entirely of snow and ice (snice), guests can’t help but be amazed by this architectual wonder. Every year about 150 wedding ceremonies take place in the Ice Chapel – guess “cold feet” has no meaning here. At the Absolut Ice Bar, drinks are served “in the rocks”instead of on them. Make sure to pack your best reindeer suit (or fake version), hat and thermal underwear (not the best attire for a romantic honeymoon) before retreating back to your comfy bed, or block of ice. Brrr…
The Safari Lodge
The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille (Kenya) – 6500 acres of grassy hills and deep valleys engulf you at this trendy reserve located on the Northern Frontier of Kenya. Safari adventurers might enjoy hopping on a helicopter to the nearby game reserve or camel riding through some of the most amazing scenery. Luxury travelers might opt for a spectacular spa treatment, ski-viewing from a GPS telescope or lounging around the infinity pool. Each of the private houses are fully staffed and serviced with a butler/cook, valet/housekeeper, driver/guide with vehicle and Askari (warrior). Nothing rough about this!
The Converted Jail
The Liberty Hotel (Boston) – “Bunking like an inmate” isn’t really the way to describe this jail-turned-luxury hotel in the heart of Beacon Hill Boston. The once Charles Street Jail has become one of the Leading Hotels of the World. Dramatic features that have been preserved include the vestiges of jail cells within the hotel lobby bar and magnificent, oversize windows. Our travel girl, Meg Ryan enjoys staying at this trendy hotel during her stay as does rocker Mick Jagger. A close runner up is the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam, where journeyPod had a chance to chat with the owner about this artsy hotel located within the walls of another former jail.
The Hotel in Motion
Hotel Everland (Paris) An exclusive roving hotel perched 30 meters above the Seine River on top of the Palais de Tokyo, Hotel Everland boasts a first-class view of the Eiffel Tower and shimmering city of Paris. When we say exclusive – we mean it – there is only one room at this ueber-modern facility and guests can only book a 1-night stay. Enjoy the lavish king-sized bed, mosaic-tiled bathrooms and elegant bubbly from the fully stocked mini-fridge.
The Ultimate Tree Houses
Namale Tree House (Fiji) – Tucked amongst lava pinnacles and lush jungle foliage, each “bure” – the Fijian word for home – is completely luxurious and utterly charming. Schedule a scuba diving trip, hike on their reef, reserve a private waterfall or enjoy lunch delivered to a beach daybed. It’s no wonder Meg Ryan and Tom Selleck are amongst the many celeb fans! Check out our podcast from the Namale Hotel!
Canopy Tower Hotel (Panama) – No Homo-Sapiens neighbors will disrupt you here – instead, awaken to a tropical chorus of motmots, toucans and fruitcrows. At treetop level, guests are no more than 40 feet away from exotic Panamanian birds. Listen to the serene sounds of the rainforest from your canopy bed and enjoy hand-picked, colorful fresh fruit. Who would have thought that Martha Stewart and Jack Hanna were such adventurers – just two of the many celebrity guests that have stayed here.
The Wine Barrel Turned Hotel
Hotel De Vrouwe van Stavoren (Netherlands) 3,000 gallon wine barrels are turned into the perfect sleeping casks – fitting accommodation for the true winos out there that eat, sleep and dream about wine. Fully equiped with a bed (obviously), lamps, TV and bathroom – not everyone can brag that they’ve spent the night inside a wooden oak barrel! journeyPod recommends visiting this unique hotel during off season when prices average only $40 a night.
Spring Creek Ranch (Wyoming) -“Dude, where’s my ranch?” It’s in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Located on a wildlife sanctuary, cowboys and cowgirls enjoy the rustic view of the Teton Mountain Ranch, wildflower meadows or endless blue sky. Enjoy horseback riding out in the open, a snowshoe hike in the winter or venturing on a wildlife safari.
The Underwater Hotel
Jules Underwater Hotel (Florida) – Upon visiting the website, you are greeted with a question: “Have you slept underwater lately?” Well, have you? journeyPod had not and was excited about this aquatic accommodation! Don’t bother straightening your hair before arrival as guests must scuba dive with all their belongings 21 feet below land to enter this cozy tank-style sleeper. Watch schools of fish swim by your bed, enjoy a pizza delivered to you via scuba diver or perhaps pop in “10,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was a recent underwater guest here. Stay tuned for Hydropolis to open in Dubai!
Hotel Monasterio An Orient-Express Luxury Hotel (Peru) – Your ears may pop upon ascending to the historic town of Cuzco, perched high up in the Andes. Built in 1592, this former monastery blends the Spanish and Inca culture with the best of modern. Voted “Best Hotel in South America” by Conde Nast Traveler, Hotel Monasterio is a unique and elegant accommodation worth taking the trip up the mountain. Spend the day sightseeing at Machu Piccho or enjoy authentic Peruvian cuisine.
The Token Castle
Château de Saint-Loup (France) – If you cannot own your own castle year round, then a short stay here is the next best thing. Complete with a water-filled moat, four-poster beds, manicured gardens and courtyards (perfect for an afternoon stroll), staying at the Chateau de Saint-Loup is a true vacation from the 21st century. Take in a hot air balloon ride over the French valley.