From fairy-chimney cave hotels to drainpipes on tropical islands, readers have spent the night in some rather strange places
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Winning Tip: Tubotel, Langkawi, Malaysia
Sleeping in a drainpipe doesn’t sound that appealing, but try the Tubotel. Each room is made of a brightly painted section of 2m-diameter concrete drainpipe, sealed at one end with a glass-door entrance that looks directly on to the Andaman Sea. The rooms are air-conditioned, with plenty of storage under the comfy double bed, bathrooms are shared, and your stay includes breakfast and free use of bikes and WiFi.
tubotel.com, rooms from £33 B&B
Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin, Germany
From a flying bed to the upside-down room, the bedrooms are like art in this unique hotel. Go for room 31 “Gruft” (grave), which contains two roomy and comfortable white coffins. A sign says: “No sex in coffins please. Box may break: coffins for one person only.” The coffin lids do close, so it is an authentic experience. For the faint-hearted, there is a bed below – but surely you wouldn’t want to do that.
+49 30 891 90 16, propeller-island.de, from £58 room only
Pedvale sculpture park, Sabile, Latvia
While cycling through Latvia, the only accommodation we could find in the village of Sabile was a guesthouse run by welcoming sculptor Ojars Arvids Feldbergs. The guesthouse is run almost as an after-thought to his life’s main project: 100 hectares of rolling countryside to which he adds immense natural sculptures that give the landscape a secret, unworldly life. We chose to camp among the sculptures and could walk among them after the park closed to visitors, and in the misty valley morning. A surprising highlight in a country full of the oddly fantastic.
+371 2913 3374, pedvale.lv, from £14 per person per night
Cape Footprints, Garden Route, South Africa
We spent an amazing week at Cape Footprints. This house is made from sandbags and faces the Indian Ocean. The thick walls and the round shape give the house its unique form; it exudes an ambience of love and harmony. The house is modern and spacious with wonderful walk-in showers, an indoor barbecue and a beautiful kitchen. And you fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
No phone, capefootprints.org. Whole house from £92 a night, sleeps up to seven
Fairy Chimney Inn, Goreme, Turkey
Holidaying in the surreal landscape of Cappadocia is like living in a dream. Sleeping and waking up in the Fairy Chimney Inn made our dream seem even more beautiful. The cave hotel, cut out of the mountains, had breathtaking views and the friendly and helpful owner Professor Emge added to an amazing experience of the area. The breakfast of freshly baked bread, cheese and olives and strong tea woke us up from our dream – briefly.
+90 384 2712655, fairychimney.com, from £46pn for a double
Uttar Kamalabari Satra, Majuli Island, Assam, India
We stayed at the Uttar Kamalabari Satra, a monastery on Majuli Island in Assam. When I tried to shake hands with one of the monks he recoiled; I hadn’t realised they don’t touch anyone from outside the sect when they are inside the monastery. Our room was spacious, spartan and silent, apart from at dusk, when the peace was interrupted by jackals calling to each other across the plains – a startling and eerie sound. It’s a place to sit, read or contemplate the universe.
Arrange your stay through Nature Hunt Tours ‘n’ Treks (+91 361 2450330, naturehunttours.com)
Hotel Enfrente Arte, Ronda, Andalucía, Spain
Sign in at the reception, where you can take a seat in an old Seat, and have a drink at the free bar, where matadors’ caps serve as light shades. Then relax poolside in vivid red chairs, moulded in the shape of human bottoms, or get a fish pedicure. Have your bedtime read under swivelling car spotlights. Eat breakfast at washing-machine-drum tables, after collecting your plates and cutlery from the boot of the Fiat 500 stuck into the dining room wall.
+34 952 87 90 88, enfrentearte.com, rooms from £67 B&B
Trinidad Galleria, Merida, Mexico
Fifteen years ago, three of us booked a cheap package holiday to Cancún, hired a car and took off across the Yucatán to Merida, where we fell in love with the Trinidad Galeria hotel. From our first step inside the lobby we fell into a world of tropical palms, original art works and eccentric architecture. Everywhere you looked you spied broken dolls hanging from the banisters, sculptures hidden among the greenery and intriguing passages which led who knows where. The colours were sumptuous and warm and the service haphazard. Even the swimming pool, hung over with lemon trees, was full of surprises – mainly when the fruit landed on our heads as we swam!
+52 999 923 2033, hotelestrinidad.com. Rooms from £14 per person
Hicksville Trailer Park, Joshua Tree, California, USA
Spend the day clambering on the jumbo rocks in Joshua Tree national park, then catch some truly kitschy Zs, nestled in sumptuous velveteen bedding, gazing up at three glowing wig heads. This is the Fifi trailer, modelled after a New Orleans wig parlour, just one of a selection of weirdly themed accommodations at the Hicksville Trailer Park. Of course, you’ll want to make use of the gaudy wet bar and glittery dinette – and do try on the wigs in the lighted vanity before you retire to the trickle of the mini-electric fountain.
+1 310 584 1086, hicksville.com, trailers from £63
Kari Ella Black Pearson
Clach Dion, Cairngorms, Scotland
Visited by prime ministers William Gladstone and Ramsay MacDonald, and the artist Landseer, the Shelter Stone (Clach Dion), is the most famous natural refuge in the Scottish Highlands. Once the preserve of a band of outlaws, generations of walkers and climbers have slept under the 1,700-tonne boulder left by an ancient glacier in the wild heart of the Cairngorms. At most, six walkers and their gear can spend the night. There may not be room to stand up straight but it is windproof and largely dry, so it genuinely is the “stone of the shelter” and certainly one of the most dramatic places to spend the night in the UK.
Google map: http://bit.ly/1a3psu6