727 Fuselage, Hotel Costa Verde, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Finding yourself in the remains of a jet plane is probably most travellers’ worst nightmare. But this vintage Boeing, positioned on the beach at the Costa Verde Pacific Ocean resort, is billed as Costa Rica’s most exclusive destination. The 1965 craft, which was transported piece by piece from an airport in San Jose, California, has three queen-sized beds, an ocean-view terrace, lush gardens and a luxury kitchenette (no cardboard textured in-flight meals here). It’s also stylishly adorned with teak panelling and hand-carved furniture from Java.
Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, Canada
These wooden and fibreglass “nuts” are suspended from trees in a British Columbian forest, and can be raised to anything up to 100 feet in the air. One to three people can experience a night of meditative oneness with the wild in what are perfectly comfortable, well-appointed rooms—providing they can cope with the fact that the spheres tend to sway in the wind.
Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin
Should you want to spend a night in the whimsical, slightly creepy mind of a German artist, this hotel will be right up your strasse. The 30 unique rooms that Lars Stroschen created between 1997 and 2002 include “Two Lions”, which offers guests the chance to sleep in cages raised on five-foot stilts (see below), and “Freedom”, a replica prison cell complete with bedside toilet and a hole in the wall through which you can “escape” onto the balcony. For a more, ahem, romantic break, there’s the diamond-shaped “Mirror Room” (see above), with its entirely reflective walls. In “Gruft”, the beds are closable coffins, but even more sinister is “Grandma’s”, a room decorated with newspaper wallpaper and the portrait of a disconcerting elderly lady, who looks down on guests as they “sleep”.
Sala Silver Mine, Sweden
The world’s deepest hotel room, over 500 feet underground, may not be everyone’s idea of luxury (you need to take a lift back to the main surface hotel for the showers), but it’s next to a hall that hosts cheese tastings, and you can take guided tours around the tunnels where miners once toiled. Late at night, though, you’re left alone—or so you think. Sala’s workers believed that a ghostly Mine Lady protected them while they were underground, so long as they followed her rules (no whistling, shouting or swearing!).
If the idea of “sleeping with the fishes” doesn’t remind you a little too much of a Mafia hit, you might like to spend a couple of nights at this two-room hotel, 21 feet below Florida’s sparkling waters. Originally an underwater research laboratory positioned on Puerto Rico’s continental shelf, it can now host up to six guests who scuba-dive down to their temporary accommodation and awake to the angelfish, snappers and barracudas of the surrounding Emerald Lagoon peering in through the portals. An umbilical cable from the surface delivers fresh air, water, power and communications but, apart from that, you’re cut off from the rest of the world. The luxury package includes a “mer-chef” who’ll dive down to prepare you gourmet dinners. The lodge also does a popular line in undersea weddings.
Magic Mountain Hotel, Huilo Huilo, Chile
Some hotels have elegant fountains in the lobby to create an atmosphere of tranquillity. Some have Victorian plumbing and non-existent soundproofing. But this man-made four-star retreat, 500 miles south of Santiago, actually has a waterfall running down the outside walls and past guests’ windows. The stone hotel, which is supposed to blend in with the surrounding nature reserve, is often covered with moss, has tree-trunk hot tubs and a rope bridge that takes you into a forest populated with pumas, toads, woodpeckers and pudús, the world’s smallest deer. The hotel even has a mini-golf course suspended some 40ft in the air, which uses the trees it’s built around as natural obstacles.
Tianzi Garden Hotel, Yan Jiao, China
Fu, Lu and Shou are ancient deities whose likenesses have long been found in many Chinese households. But, since 2000, they’ve also loomed over the town of Yanjiao — in the form of a ten-storey hotel. Tianzi, reportedly the biggest “image” building in the world, features Lu (in the middle), who signifies prosperity; on the right is Fu, the god of fortune; and on the left is Shou. He symbolises longevity and carries the Peach of Immortality—which, in this case, is also a suite—while there’s an entrance in Shou’s, er, shoe. If you’re wondering where the windows are, they’re hidden behind the wooden symbols on the gods’ robes. And the facilities? Details are sketchy, but one local reviewer describes the rooms as “adequate”.
The full article by Andre Langlois appears in the July issue of Reader’s Digest.