IF you’re looking for something with a little character during your next Asian sojourn, take a look at some of these unique hotels. Stay in these tree houses, flush toilets, capsules or boats and you may well find you’re writing about your hotel next time you email home, and not the destination itself.
Hang Nga Guesthouse, Vietnam
Also known as the Crazy House, this Dalat hotel is a rather unconventional place that looks a bit like a giant tree of a fairytale variety with rooms built into designs that look like caves, spider webs and other organic forms. It will come as no surprise that the architect Dang Viet Nga was inspired by Antoni Gaudi. There are 10 themed guest rooms, but if you’re not staying the night you can also visit during the day for a small fee. It opened in 1990 and has been regularly featured as one of the world’s weird buildings and places to stay.
The Old Jail, Mount Gambier, Australia
It may have been a prison as recently as 1995, but the only inmates now served at The Old Mount Gambier Gaol are the travelling kind that can lock their doors from the inside. The ex-prison cells are now dorm rooms, twin rooms and doubles. There are also non-cell rooms for those that feel a little unnerved about the other rooms. The historic old walls, yards and other facilities have changed very little since it first operated in 1866. Today the place is run by a family of four whose journey was to turn the old building into a community asset.
The Hobbit Motel, Waitomo, New Zealand
To really enter into the world of Middle Earth, you can stay in this place inspired by the Lord of the Rings books and films. You’ll be pleased to know, however, that the rooms are not Hobbit-sized, nor do you require hairy feet to stay. Like Tolkien’s creation, the Hobbit holes are uniquely designed, cozy and look to be a part of the hillside. The Hobbit holes are all self-contained with modern facilities, kitchens and toilets.
Hotel Everest View, Nepal
Stationed at more than 3,960 meters above sea level, the Hotel Everest View has the distinction of being the highest placed hotel in the world. Located above Namche in the high Himalayas, it offers wonderful views of Mt. Everest and other mountains from all its guest rooms, but these might come replete with headaches and nose bleeds too.
Poseidon Resort, Fiji
Enjoy a solid sleep under water during your sojourn in this hotel in beautiful Fiji. The view from your suite here is not of golden sandy beaches, but rather the underwater world of fish and coral behind windows of acrylic glass. The only catch is that it’s not finished yet – it’s still under construction at Katafinga Island. However, you can register your interest to be notified when they begin taking reservations. Prepare for a wait though, as more than 150,000 have already done so.
The Underground Motel, Australia
The Underground Motel is indeed that, underground, with all its rooms dug into a sandstone hill in this remote town famed for the quantity of opals mined here. While the Underground Motel is not unique in offering accommodation underground, it was the first, with accommodation first offered back in 1984. Today the rooms are warm in winter and cool in summer with plenty of ventilation. These factors are all important because it can reach as high as a baking 50 degrees Celsius here in winter, and temperatures can plummet below zero in winter. Coober Pedy comes from an Aboriginal term meaning “white man’s hole”.
Sleeping in a pod of 2m x 1m x 1.25m dimensions may seem to fit more with a futuristic time, or a sci-fi movie, but in Japan this is one cramped thrill you can enjoy today. There are now capsule hotels around the country and even in Singapore, China and New York, but the original belongs to Osaka and is featured here. Dating back to 1979, the capsule is actually quite comfortable, despite the small dimensions and comes with a pillow, mat, personal light, an alarm and TV. All provide access to lockers, change rooms and communal bathrooms. They are popular with business people and those who’ve had a night out on the town. For all the ins and outs of the experience, see our story about capsule hotels.
On this popular tropical island, it’s not unusual for hotels to have a seagoing or naval theme, but the Imperial Boat House actually features authentic teak rice barge suites. These barges once ploughed through the Chao Praya river, but are now used for vacationers and come complete with a living room, bathroom and deck. They also look out onto the pool that is the shape of a large ship, complete with a crows nest.
The Flush Hotel, South Korea
Probably topping the list of weird places to stay comes this hotel in the shape of a giant toilet. Apparently it cost US$1.6 million to build and guests pay $50,000 a night with proceeds going towards sanitation in developing countries. However, despite a search online and plenty of tongue-in-cheek reviews about needing to be flush with funds to stay here, no direct website link was found. Which begs the question: is the hotel still around or has been lost in the er, flush, of time? If you have one, please share in the comments below.
If you like your hotels on a grand scale then look no further than the aptly named First World Hotel. With 6,118 rooms, it’s the world’s largest – according to the Guinness Book of Records – and it’s located in Genting Highlands, considered by some as the Las Vegas of Malaysia. It’s also something of a world to itself with a theme park, casino, shopping, lounges, golf and dining within easy reach.