1. Montaña Mágica Lodge, Chile
Situated in the middle of a rainforest in the Huilo-Huilo Unesco Biological Reserve in southern Chile, the Montaña Mágica Lodge (huilohuilo.com) is quite unique. To begin with, the only way to reach the hotel is to cross a rope bridge. The hotel itself is shaped like a volcano, and to complete the conceit, it even spouts water from its tip. Vines and moss cover the exteriors that make it look like something out of a fairytale. Guest can enjoy trekking, zip lining and indulging in relaxing hot baths in tubs carved out of tree trunks. In Montaña Mágica Lodge, fantasies come true.
2. Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland
How does the sound of staying in a glass igloo in the Finnish wilderness sound? Located deep in Lapland beyond the Arctic Circle, the Kakslauttanen (kakslauttanen.fi) is perfect for exploring the land of the midnight sun. It’s main USP though, are its glass igloos. Available between end-August and end-April—the best time to catch the Northern Lights—these four-person igloos are as comfortable as you please, with the added thrill of watching the Aurora Borealis without leaving your bed! For the more intrepid, the hotel also offers real snow igloos as an option.
3. Giraffe Manor, Kenya
Breakfast with giraffes anyone? The Giraffe Manor (thesafaricollection.com/properties/giraffemanor) in Kenya is the only place in the world where you can do so. This mansion-turned-hotel, owned by the Safari Collection in Nairobi, is set in 12 acres of verdant private land surrounded by indigenous forests. These forests are home to endangered Rothschild giraffes who visit the mansion every morning for treats from guests. The hotel also offers guided walks to the surrounding sanctuary as well as visits to the Matbronze Art Gallery and Foundry. You can also meet, feed and adopt baby elephants at the nearby at the David Shedrick Wildlife Trust.
4. Fair Chimney Inn, Turkey
Carved out of the famed tufa rocks in the heart of Cappadocia, this glorious hotel maintains a traditional style of architecture without compromising on modern amenities. Guests at the Fair Chimney Inn (fairchimney.com) can enjoy long walks to the surrounding valleys, the tufa caves and old Byzantine churches. You can also savour the stunning landscape of Cappadocia from a hot air balloon. A day tour to the underground city of Kaymakli and the Ihlara Valley is also recommended. At night, you might want to visit an old Seljuk caravanserai and watch a performance by the famed whirling dervishes.
5. Icehotel, Sweden
Icehotel (icehotel.com) is closer to an art gallery than a hotel, and this frozen wonder located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjärvi changes its icy art exhibits every year. When the first snow hits Jukkasjärvi every winter, artists from the world over gather here to create the remarkable works utilising the three quintessentially Arctic elements of ice, light and snow. The ‘cold rooms’, as well as the hotel with its exhibits maintain a steady temperature ranging from -5 to -7 degrees Celsius. When you opt to sleep in a cold room, you’ll find thick beds covered in reindeer hides to keep you warm. You will also be given warm sleeping bags and a tutorial by the staff on the art of sleeping cold. You do, of course, have the choice of staying in a normal room as well, but one night in a cold room is a must. You can take guided tours around the hotel and marvel at the ice sculptures with a catalogue in hand. Since it’s located so deep in the Arctic wilderness, you can also go dog sledding, river rafting, or explore the nearby boreal forests.
6. Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica
Even if you can’t afford to fly on your own private jet, well, at least you can experience what it must feel like to be in one at this Costa Rican hotel. Hotel Costa Verde (costaverde.com) houses a vintage 1965 Boeing 727’s airframe that’s been revamped into a luxurious two-bedroom suite. It rests on a 50-foot pedestal abutting the jungles of Manuel Antonio National Park. Each room is furnished with a queen-sized bed and has its own private bath and kitchenette. Enjoy your drink on the wooden deck while watching stunning views of the Pacific, with a plethora of birds, and multitudes of exotic monkeys to keep you company. You could also visit the national park and explore the many beautiful hiking trails in and around the jungle.
7. Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Spain
This design marvel created by Frank Gehry, one of America’s most renowned architects, is one of the most sought after luxury hotels in the world. Managed by Starwood Hotels, this landmark property is located on the outskirts of Elciego, a pictureque medieval village in the Basque country of northern Spain. The Marqués de Riscal (hotel-marquesderiscal.com) is the oldest winery in the Rioja wine-producing region, and in 1998 it chose to extend its area of expertise into hospitality. Gehry was commissioned to create The City of Wine, and the architect created this avant-garde hotel, consisting of a ribbon-like, multi-coloured façade made out of titanium to reflect the colours of the Rioja, as well as gold mesh which is the signature of all Marqués de Riscal bottles. The hotel conducts a variety of guided tours that will help you understand the history, culture and the area’s long tradition of winemaking. The City of Wine certainly lives up to its name as you can also sample local wines at the Wine Bar and even take a wine spa!