It’s been a tough year for travel. As the pandemic took hold of the globe – and still refuses to let go – millions of people had to cancel their travel plans. You better believe that those of us with travel ingrained in our souls have not stopped planning and dreaming of the day we can once again board a plane without a hazmat suit. Perhaps our thirst for adventure has become stronger than ever, and to quench it we may need to seek out extra-unique, once in a lifetime experiences. Here are some incredible theme hotels around North America that may just be weird enough to scratch that itch. I’m definitely putting all of these on my bucket list!
*As there are so many interesting places to stay across the world, this list focuses on a few in North America. Keep an eye on our Travel section for upcoming lists for other parts of the world!
For those who delight in the weird and the kitch, these suites in Pocatello, Idaho, will really hit the right spot.
Room themes span from the rainforest to the pyramids of Egypt. Want to sleep in a massive clam shell and realise your Little Mermaid dreams? Perhaps you’d prefer to be surrounded by twilight desertscapes as you read 1001 Nights and listen to the Aladdin soundtrack. A simple scroll on their Tripadvisor page reveals the incredible range of suits in which visitors can stay and realise whatever weird and wonderful fantasies they’ve been harbouring.
Each room transports its occupants to an entirely new place, and I, for one, would love to spend a night in each of them.
I’m not kidding when I say this place is kitch, though – but I mean that in the best way. They’ve gone all out and turned each room into a realm that will really assault the eyeballs –The walls are boldly painted with detailed murals, the furniture has been specifically chosen to suit the theme.
This is the kind of place that I need on my instagram. I can’t wait.
This psychedelic fantasy land is nestled in the wooded neighbourhood of Mission Canyon, in Santa Barbra, California. It’s an awe-inspiring tribute to architectural creativity, and is easily one of the most unusual residences in the state, if not the country.
Vice’s Mary Frances Knapp wrote that “The Whale House looks like a shingled snail that has been living, utterly unbothered, under a tab of acid for the past 40-ish years in the California foothills”. Honestly, that description is pretty on the nose.
According to their AirBnb page, “undulating walls of Venetian plaster, river rock, massive wood columns and beams, and a whopping 270 Belgian leaded and stained glass windows, are the structural art by which the home is defined”.
“The inner courtyard is the heartbeat of this majestic creature, where a 75-foot glistening lap pool magically flows into the tail of the whale – the detached Guest House. Around this inner sanctuary are lush plantings, luminescent lighting, shady oaks, and an enclosed outdoor shower”.
You’ll definitely pay a little more of this experience than you would for some others, but for those who appreciate natural light (those windows!) unique architecture and quiet, peaceful spaces, this may be the place for you.
Unique in North America, this exquisite, wintery hotel in Quebec, Canada allows guests to immerse themselves in this magical, Nordic environment and spend the night in a glowing igloo _ made of actual snow and ice! I bet you’ve never done that before!
Each of these suites has a unique design, every one of which will blow guests away. Neon lights illuminate the carvings on the walls, and fill the igloo with colour. Some suites even include fireplaces to keep guests cosy while they bask in the these very cool (literally) spaces.
Don’t worry, though, you won’t freeze over night. According to the hotel website, “even if the Hôtel and its furniture are entirely made of ice and snow, you will be getting a very comfortable bed. Blocks of ice make the base of the bed, topped a solid wood base and a comfortable mattress”.
“When the time comes, a cozy sleeping bag, an isolating bed sheet, and a pillow will be delivered to your room. Even though the room temperature stays between -3°C and -5°C (27°F and 23°F), no matter what the outdoor temperature is, the sleeping bags are built to resist temperatures between -15°C and -30°C (5°F to 22°F)”.
Their website offers a number of different packages and experiences, so guests can tailor their stay according to their desires or – probably more often, especially post-pandemic – their budgets. The hotel also has a skating path and a spa, so guests certainly won’t be bored – in case anyone thought that was even possible in such an interesting environment.
This will, without a doubt, be the coolest hotel experience you’ve ever had, and it’s an essential for your theme hotels bucket list.
The Area 55 Futuro House in Joshua Tree, California is right at the top of my theme hotels bucket list.
According to the AirBnB host, there are only 85 of these fantastically outlandish (and otherworldly) constructions in the world – 19 of which are in the USA. It’s an off-the-grid glamping experience, perfect for those who want to enjoy a digital detox OR those who want to do the exact opposite and get some killer content for their social media.
As it is glamping, there’s the slight element of roughing it. Showers and kitchen areas are outside, overlooking the breathtaking Josua Tree landscape. The same stunning views can be had from the row of oval windows which surrounds the space and the queen size bed.
If you ask me, this looks like an excellent place to switch off your devices, lie back and enjoy your favourite Science fiction novels with someone who shares your nerdy taste in literature.
Daredevils and particularly gutsy travellers can stay over on an abandoned US Coast Guard light station, 34 miles off the coast of North Carolina.
It’s been dubbed “the most dangerous hotel in the world”, although from the sounds of things it’s actually fairly safe apart from some narrow walkways and the gentle rocking of the entire structure.
From the tall, stilted structure – converted from a lighthouse by a former software engineer and his family – visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and a wide range of activities.
According to Anna Katherine Clemmons at Condé Nast, “the Tower now has eight bedrooms—five twin bedrooms and three queen bedrooms. The two-member crew, usually Neal and/or his family, shares an additional room. The Tower has two working bathrooms that use water caught during rainstorms in 11,000-gallon holding tanks. About 90 percent of the time, the Tower runs on solar power, though it also has a small generator. Tower staff provides meals, but guests often fish the nearby Gulf Stream and cook their catch that evening”.
To get to the hotel, guests can either charter a helicopter from Southport, North Carolina, or they can hire a powerboat or bring their own.
With amazing theme hotels like these, there’s no excuse to stay in boring accommodation. Add them to your bucket list and turn every vacation into an adventure!