America is perhaps the world’s best hunting ground for quirky accommodation, but we’ve picked out something from all over the globe to tempt every adventurous family. See also our features on Unusual Places to Stay in Europe and Unusual Places to Stay In the UK.
Journey to the Land of the Hurons
This American Indian cultural centre offers families discounts on its marvellous adventures within the Jacques Cartier National Park in Quebec, star-gazing, learning about medicinal plants, making dream-catchers, canoeing, dog-sledding, snow-shoeing, and more. You can stay in a tepee or a Montagnais tent, on a fragrant bed of balsam fir!
Swaying gently in a forest near Vancouver, these carefully crafted tree balls sleep 2 +1, so maybe only for the smaller family, although you could rent all three of them if you can trust the children not to sleepwalk. The balls are kitted out like a Victorian liner, all brass and lamps and polished wood and make for a superb night’s sleep, gently bobbing with the branches.
King Pacific Lodge in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is only accessible by seaplane. If that wasn’t excitement enough for the little ones, it is also a superb place to spot Orcas, Humpbacked whales, wolves, eagles, grizzly bear and even the incredibly rare Kermode bear. Its a luxury hotel, with award-winning chefs and a wonderful spa, so not a budget option, but maybe if the kids have got an especially good report!
Home to all manner of unconventional luxury accommodation, this 113-acre estate a 2hr drive from New York City, in Connecticut, offers a variety of cottages with a different theme. The hangar-like ‘Helicopter’ contains a restored Sikorsky Sea King kitted out with a widescreen TV, bar and wood-burning stove, while the Greco-Egyptian style ‘Secret Society’ has a glass canopy for a ceiling, for stargazing. It’s not cheap, but under-5s go free and older children get discounts on the many ‘Family-Friendly Dates’. Free activities and amenities include snow-shoes, leisure and mountain-bikes, canoeing; extras include yoga, horse-riding, and c
Another famous American landmark, this mid-19th-century (but still operational) redbrick lighthouse on the Hudson River in New York State, with wonderful views down to the Catskills, is a rather special 2-room B&B. Located on a remote shoal and accessible only via a 1km trail, it’s a great place for communing with nature. Note that it gets booked up months, even years, ahead.
This whimsical B&B ‘inside the World’s Biggest Beagle’ was built as an homage to America’s old-time roadside architecture. Located in Cottonwood, Idaho, it has just one room, sleeping four (kids get fold-out futon mattresses in the loft).
A famous landmark in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, this lovely old wooden building is right beside the geyser of the same name, so you can eat your enormous American breakfast with the spray in your face. Most rooms have two double/queen-size beds.
Set in a 280-acre estate Arkansas, this self-catering lodge cleverly built within the impressive Orzak Caves has five bedrooms and a recreation room so makes a great venue for a quirky holiday with friends or family. On-site activities include spelunking, rock-climbing, hiking and nature trails, mountain-biking and horse-riding.
As if driving Route 66 wasn’t exciting enough, you also get the chance to park your Chevy by a wigwam. Built in 1949 as part of a chain of wigwam motels, this is the best preserved and has recently been renovated and redesigned for modern travellers. This is pure, mid-century Americana – there are classic cars in the parking lot, retro neon signs ushering you about and all manner of vintage kitsch. The wigwams these days come equipped with power showers and flat screen tv’s. The rooms are comfortable, you get to pretend you are either an Easy Rider or a cowboy/indian – what could be better. Your kids are bound to recognise it from the film Cars 2 as well.
This famous, well-loved hotel within the Amazon rainforest delights families with its 6km of wooden catwalks 20m up in the treetops, connecting the bedrooms to the dining room, and with its monkeys, birds and butterflies – who seem as comfortable here as the human guests. There are wonderful tours up the Amazon if you can tear yourselves away from this ultimate treehouse.
Possibly the only thing better than being on holiday in Costa Rica, is staying in a 727 hotel in a jungle on holiday in Costa Rica. Rescued from the junk heap, this 1965 plane is now a luxurious hotel suite sleeping 6. It has 360 degrees views over garden and jungle and large terraces to entice monkeys on to.
This hotel, looking for all the world like a mountain out of a fairytale, complete with waterfall cascading from its pinnacle roof and accessed via a ropebridge, will delight kids. Set in the Hulio Hulio reserve, it has 13 rooms plus 11 cabins for 4–6 people. Look out for condors and eagles in the skies and pumas on the ground.
This wonderful, bohemian, boutique hotel offers individual cottages created by a theatrical designer, including family villas with up to four bedrooms. Situated near a little fishing village and with its own stretch of beachfront, it can arrange nannies so that you can take advantage of its spa and yoga classes.
Staying in a 1930’s Scottish mansion near to Nairobi might seem eccentric enough until you meet the other guests. Rothschild giraffes roam the gardens and are eager to join you for breakfast, sticking their enormous heads in to share in your muffins and porridge. Its all quite surreal and all quite wonderful.
This eco-lodge 250km from Colombo will blow kids’ minds – it’s within a giant straw elephant, and you sleep in the belly! Guests might also spot real-life elephants in the moonlight, or glimpse peacocks roaming at sunrise, and can explore the fascinating riverfront and miniature island, trek on the other side of the property (Yala, Sri Lanka’s most famous wildlife sanctuary), take a guided tour to the wildlife parks and historical sights, go night-driving to spot animals, or simply relax in the herbal plunge pool.
This famous mining town amidst the sandstone of South Australia gives you the chance to sleep underground in the kind of cave that opal-miners used to build to get away from the desert’s searing heat. Accommodation includes triple rooms. There are also subterranean shops and opal-display areas, and tours let you noodle for your very own piece of opal.
You wake to the sound of parakeets when you stay in one of the six two- and three-bedroomed treehouses within this 100-acre private wildlife sanctuary in ancient rainforest in Queensland. You might see cassowaries, rare Lumholtz tree kangaroos, endangered green possums and shy platypus, while red-legged Pademelon wallabies abound and coppery brushtail possums will visit your balcony every night.
A hobbit motel is just the latest addition to this eccentric farm-stay 2hrs from Auckland, where artist Billy Black brings Kiwi culture to life on stage – there’s also a train motel, a plane motel and a boat motel. Activities available include caving adventures, blackwater rafting, 4×4 bike-riding, and horse-riding.
This hugely ambitious resort built underwater in the South Pacific transports guests by helicopter and submarine to the middle of an enormous lagoon, then down by lift to its guestrooms complete with acrylic transparent walls so that you can watch the marine life around you. If you ever wanted to feel like James Bond, (or the villain).
- Stay at the Magic Mountain Hotel with a hunting and fishing holiday package to Chile! (bestdestinationholiday.wordpress.com)
- Unusual Places to Stay in North America (www.takethefamily) (allengeorgina.wordpress.com)
- Quirky and Family-friendly Places to Stay Around the World (for www.takethefamily.com) (allengeorgina.wordpress.com)
- Top Quirky Family-Friendly Places to Stay in Europe (www.takethefamily.com) (allengeorgina.wordpress.com)