When my wanderlust gets the best of me but I am unable to take an impromptu trip, I find myself living vicariously through internet search engines. Recently I have been fascinated by the spectrum of lodging options the world has to offer. Gone are the days when hotels were simply places to lay your head between long days of travel adventures in new and far off places. Hotels have instead become adventures unto themselves.
So I find myself on Google, entering search terms like “unique hotels” and “off-the-beaten-path lodging” and reveling at the results. I am confronted by a list that covers the spectrum of places I would love to stay to places I would love to stay…if I was perhaps a stronger swimmer. One thing is for certain, when spending the night at any of these distinctive hotels, the last thing you will want to do is sleep.
Hotel Kakslauttanen in Saariselkä, Finland provides a unique way of experiencing the northern lights. Open from December until August, the hotel’s Igloo Village is made up of twenty snow igloos and five fashioned from glass, allowing lodgers to sleep under the sky with a prime vantage point for viewing the aurora borealis. The Igloo Village also contains a bar made of ice and a chapel made from snow, both rebuilt every winter, as well as the world’s largest snow restaurant. With stunning scenery year round, Hotel Kakslauttanen also boasts the world’s largest smoke sauna and a stream where visitors can pan for gold.
If you are looking for a winter adventure closer to home, book a stay at Quebec’s Hotel de Glace. It is rebuilt every year in December and remains open for four months from January to April. The hotel is formed from approximately 15,000 tons of snow, 500,000 tons of ice and the frozen walls are four feet thick. While the hotel is built almost completely of snow and ice, it changes shape and design each year, the theme decided by a contest. Spending a night in a hotel room made from ice is not for everyone. All of the furniture in the thirty six guestrooms is also made from ice and lodgers are encouraged to wear multiple layers of clothing in order to withstand the temperature. Can’t take the cold overnight? Day tours of the property are also available.
If you prefer to stay below sea level, there are multiple lodging options for underwater adventure in various locals and price ranges. Jules’ Undersea Lodge is located in Key Largo, Florida and according to their website is “the first true ambient pressure habitat available to the general public.” In order to stay at Jules’ you must scuba dive twenty one feet to your hotel room. Once inside you will find all of the amenities expected of a hotel stay on land, yet the spectacular ocean view from the forty two inch round windows will remind you that you are quite certainly under the sea.
If you would like the underwater experience, but are not ready to don a wetsuit, there are underwater hotels that can accommodate your penchant for staying dry. The luxurious Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji offers accommodations forty feet underwater, accessible by elevator, and the rooms have panoramic windows that offer one of a kind ocean views. You can even go so far as to feed the tropical sea creatures by remote control from the comfort of your room.
So, when planning your next trip, consider making your hotel part of your destination. You have to lay your head somewhere, why not underwater, on ice, or under the stars?