A freelance writer and bargain hunter with wanderlust, recently moved to Perth from Brisbane.
Published January 3rd 2014
Bizarre places to stay
I love staying at weird and bizarre places. The uniqueness of my surroundings take me out of my comfort zone and sometimes I feel as if I have just drifted on to my favourite movie scene or something from a fantasy. Interesting places need not cost the earth as well. You can live in a beautiful cave or in a restored majestic castle for a fraction of luxury hotel prices. See below for a list of options that are open to the average person.
1) Cave dweller for a night
inside a cave hotel
I stayed in Star Cave in Goreme, Turkey (cost = $40 AUD for a double or twin room). There is a dorm room option as well if you are on a tighter budget. The moment I set eyes at my accommodation for the night, I was in awe and couldn't stop touching the cave walls to make sure that I really was in a cave. The room was decorated in elaborate Turkish furnishings with Turkish carpets, rugs and vintage furniture. As expected, it was quite cold beneath the cave walls. Lucky my booking came with central heating and a private bathroom – cave living with all the extra trappings. Hospitality was fantastic and the views marvellous too. Definitely a night to remember.
2) All loved up
Fancy staying in a hotel surrounded by Hello Kitty decorations? Or a room with a merry-go-round right in the middle? In one of Japan's many love hotels you can choose your favourite fantasy. These hotels may sound kinky and some do have a reputation but they are definitely a bizarre and sometimes hilarious experience. Most of these hotels are rentable by the hour but if you go after 10pm at night, you can usually rent it out for the night at a fraction of the price of a hotel. You may need a Japanese native speaker to help you out as these places are usually quite discrete and are not catered to foreigners.
Have you ever dreamt of being called "my lady" or "my lord" whilst you gaze out of your centuries old castle? In Germany, you can do just that at an affordable price. Bacharach hostel at Burg Stahleck in the Rhine Valley is set in majestic Stahleck castle within the picturesque town of Bacharach. Pebbled cobblestones and an ancient main street will whisk you back to the Middle Ages. The interior has been refurbished and resembles a normal backpacker hostel but the outside and the grounds remain untouched. You can look outside at the amazing view of the Rhine Valley. Just be prepared to walk up the steep hill or ask a friendly local to help get you a taxi. I paid around 18 euros for a bed a few years ago. The hostel does not take online bookings so you will need to email them to book a place.
Did you once have a treehouse in your backyard and wished you could build a community there? Do you dream of living on the treetops? Kadir's Top Tree House in Olympos, Turkey is a great option if you are visiting Turkey. At around 12 Euros a night, it will not burn your wallet either. Olympos is a protected site so you can actually pretend that you are living in a jungle community without being surrounded by tall apartment buildings.
The Hostel in the Forest in Brunswick, Georgia, USA is another opportunity to live in the jungle but it goes a lot further into promoting environmental sustainability. Visitors have to take their rubbish out with them when they leave and you have to be a member of the hostel to stay ($5 membership and $25 a night per person). A vegetarian family style meal is provided each evening by the staff and guests and they have a garden for organic produce.
If your long-haul flight is not enough for you, you can try sleeping in an aeroplane. At Woodlyn Park, Waitomo in New Zealand you don't just get to sleep in any ordinary airplane – you get to spend the night in a military plane. The plane has been converted into a two bedroom unit and you can even sleep in the cockpit if you choose to. Prices start at $175 NZD a night for the tail of the plane.
6) Not one for the claustrophobic
If you do not need a lot of space and want to pretend that you are sleeping in a spaceship, a Japanese time capsule is just the thing for you. Usually catering for businessmen who just want a place to sleep for the night, you will sleep with other people stacked side by side in rows or with individual units on top of each other. When I went to Japan, most of these hotels were only open to males so make sure you check before you go if you are female or if you are travelling with a female companion. Bathrooms are usually shared as well if different bathing times for different genders. Prices are reasonable from $30-$50 USD a night.
Where else can you live like a Hobbit? The land where the Lord of The Rings movie was shot of course – New Zealand. At Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, you can stay in a specially designed hobbit hotel based on JRR Tolkien's books, built two years after the last Lord of the Rings movie was released. Accommodating up to 10 people, the inside is like another other self-contained accommodation with beds, kitchens and bathroom facilities. This is a bit more expensive at $250 NZD a night but makes for a great story to tell your grandkids.