Want to dine underwater, cuddle up in a luxury Patagonian yurt and enjoy the peace and quiet of the desert from the privacy of your very own pool villa? Now you can. Because we believe this year should be about making memories, we’ve thrown together the very best hotels we have where you can do just that! Browse the top 24 unusual hotels you should certainly add to your bucket list!
1. Bedouin luxury in the desert, Dubai Desert
Nestled amongst the golden dunes of Dubai’s Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa offers 5* desert luxury at its best. This luxurious desert camp offers a choice of secluded Bedouin suites with your own private pool overlooking the rolling dunes. Spend your days in search of desert-adapted wildlife such as Arabian oryx and desert gazelle or indulge in a touch of adventure with authentic Arabic archery classes, wildlife safaris, falconry shows or camel trekking through the desert. Or simply relax at the Timeless Spa, offering a fusion of spa rituals from around the world. I want to stay here.
2. Sleep in an underwater suite, Dubai
Watch cow nose rays and angel fish gliding lazily past as you drift off to sleep in your luxurious underwater suite at Atlantis the Palm Dubai. The two underwater suites have floor to ceiling windows into the Ambassador Lagoon and its 65,000 marine animals from the Arabian Sea. Can you imagine anything more memorable? Plus, guests staying at Atlantis, the Palm will enjoy unlimited access to the Aquaventure Water Park and the Lost Chambers Aquarium during their stay. Don’t miss the chance to hurtle down the Shark Attack chute through a glass-enclosed shark tank! I want to stay here.
3. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Experience the spectacular Arabic culture of Abu Dhabi when you stay at 5* Emirates Palace. Situated on the shorefront amongst lush green orchards and landscaped gardens, this palatial resort offers Arabian opulence you won’t find anywhere else. Opt to arrive by limousine and enjoy a camel riding experience, complete with Arabian coffee, tea and dates served in a traditional Bedouin tent before along the edge of the Arabian Gulf on the back of a dusty camel. Plus, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of private butler service available 24 hours a day during your stay! I want to stay here.
4. Sail-shaped hotel, Dubai
The famous sail-shaped Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is the only 7 star hotel in the world and one of Dubai’s most famous and recognisable icons. Towering high over a manmade island and offering a new over-water terrace, it’s no surprise the Burj has been declared one of the most luxurious hotels on earth. With spectacular views over the city and the Palm Jumeirah, guests can enjoy the quintessential Dubai experience. Sip drinks at the rooftop Skyview Bar and relax in a private cabana on the pool terrace or on the private beach. Plus, you’ll receive complimentary access to Wild Wadi Waterpark as well as the kids’ club and shuttle to selected shopping malls during your stay. This is the life. I want to stay here.
5. Dine in anunderwater restaurant, Maldives
Did you know that 5* Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is home to the world’s very first all-glass underwater restaurant? Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is located five metres below the water’s surface and has been voted the “most beautiful restaurant in the world” by New York Daily News. Offering 180 degree views of the coral gardens that surround it, this glass-enclosed restaurant has live fish for wallpaper and six-course set dinner menus with luxury dishes like caviar on offer. But, when it comes to breaking food records, that’s not all this Maldivan resort offers. You can also enjoy over 101 different types of cheese at the wine bar! I want to stay here.
6. Stay in a villa with your own waterslide, Maldives
Every now and then, it’s healthy to act like a kid again. And that’s exactly what 5* Soneva Jani resort in the Maldives offers. Stay in a One Bedroom Water Retreat and you’ll have your very own waterslide that slips from your private villa right into the warm waters of the crystal-clear lagoon! Spend your days relaxing on your private deck or reading a book in an over-water hammock. Lazy evenings are reserved for “silent cinema” nights with movies screened over the water and star gazing with the telescope you’ll find at the Observatory deck. Does it get much better than this? I want to stay here.
7. Sleep amongst paddy fields, Sri Lanka
Retreat to the secluded paddy fields that only Sri Lanka can provide. The 5* Jetwing Vil Uyana is an eco-retreat with 30 individual dwellings nestled amongst forest, paddy fields, and marshlands at the foot of the famous Sigiriya Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Part of a three acre conservation site, the resort is home to 20 different types of mammals and a variety of other fascinating wildlife. End your day at the Graffiti Bar where you can relax with a drink beside a soporific lotus pool. Feeling tempted? I want to stay here.
8. Sleep under the stars above a wild reserve, Kruger National Park
Spend a night under the stars in a treehouse towering on stilts above Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa – home to the famous Big Five animals. A choice of three treehouses, namely Chalkey, Kingston and Tinyeleti, make up the astonishing Lion Sands Treehouses. These elevated bush bedrooms are scattered throughout the reserve and offer luxurious king size beds, en-suite bathrooms and no connection to the outside world – except for radio communication with the lodge guide. Dine by candlelight, taking time to admire the incredible view of the stars and wake up to sweeping views of the wild African plains. I want to stay here.
9. Get lost in the Palace of the Lost City, South Africa
When it comes to African luxury combined with the thrill of adventure, you can’t get much better than The Palace of the Lost City. This palatial resort forms part of the famous greater Sun City resort complex that has achieved Botanic Garden status for its most beautiful natural gardens. Spend your days exploring the hidden nooks and crannies of the resort. Get lost within the incredible Maze of the Lost City, unwind at the Valley of the Waves with its water slides, pools and lazy river, and discover the forest filled with swinging bridges and chattering monkeys. For those looking to combine their trip with game viewing, the Big Five Pilanesberg Game Reserve is just a short drive away and safaris can be easily arranged. I want to stay here.
10. Sleep in a hotel made from boulders, Zimbabwe
Camp Amalinda is a 4* wilderness of granite located in the boulder-strewn hills of the Motobo Hills. Nestled within an ancient bushman’s shelter, this luxury lodge is filled with historical African artefacts and antiques from years gone by. Spend your days exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Motobo Hills – home to the highest concentration or rock art in southern Africa. I want to stay here.
11. Stay in the wilderness of Damaraland, Namibia
When it comes to peace and quiet, Mowani Mountain Camp offers this in abundance. Tucked within enormous ochre boulders in Namibia’s tranquil Damaraland, this 5* camp is the ideal place to escape the city. Soak in an open-air bath tub with undisturbed views over the dry river beds, home to desert-adapted wildlife like springbok and jackal, before climbing into bed in your semi open air thatched suite. The star gazing here is phenomenal! I want to stay here.
12. Cuddle up in the treetops, Garden Route
The 5* Tsala Treetop Lodge is set high above an indigenous forest along South Africa’s spectacular Garden Route. Nestled above the foliage of Knysna Forest, Tsala Treetop Lodge is inspired by age-old African ruins and promises sky-high luxury with unsurpassed views across the hills and valleys. The resort is linked by elevated walkways high above the forest floor and each suite has an elevated private infinity pool tucked with the privacy of the foliage. Guests can also enjoy relaxing in the hotel living room with glass floor panels that peer into the forest below. I want to stay here.
13. Stay in a dome in Ngorongoro, Tanzania
The Highlands Ngorongoro offers a stay with a difference. This 5* lodge offers the chance to overnight in luxury tented domes on the lush green slopes of the mighty Olmoti Volcano. Each dome is solar-heated with cosy indoor fireplaces and large glass windows that overlook the dense forests of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In the evenings, guests can look forward to undisturbed star gazing and relaxing around the campfire where they can swap game viewing stories with other guests at the communal tent. I want to stay here.
14. Stay in a tented suite in the Congo forests, Tanzania
The 4* Greystoke Mahala offers an unhurried nature retreat tucked within the Congo forests of the Mahale Mountains. There are six thatched bandas set on the edge of a rural golden beach, each with a private chill-out deck where you can enjoy your morning coffee and absorb the sound of birdsong. Guests staying here can look forward to sunset boat rides on a dhow and exciting chimpanzee trekking in the forests. I want to stay here.
15. Visit the house that Fleming built, Jamaica
The 4* GoldenEye is the former home of Bond creator, Ian Fleming, and it’s also the location where he wrote most of the famous James Bond novels. The resort is now open to the public where guests can relax alongside a 500 foot stretch of white sandy beach in Jamaica and enjoy water sports, sunset yoga, and glass bottomed boat trips in the lagoon. Stay in the Ian Fleming Villa and enjoy the added luxury of your own private beach, swimming pool, manicured gardens and staff. Bliss! Browse this hotel.
16. Have a drink in a cave bar, Jamaica
The Caves is a charming 4* hotel nestled along the cliff tops in Negril, Jamaica. Situated near the stunning sands of Seven Mile Beach, this adult-only hotel also boasts a romantic cliff top Jacuzzi and a mysterious cave bar. Why not choose to dine privately in your own candlelit cave with homemade cuisine and jerk barbeque on the menu or simply relax with a cocktail at the Blackwell Rum Bar – a fantastic nightlife spot nestled within a secret cave overlooking the ocean. If you’re into cave bars, Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels also offers its very own bar set within cave. Tell me more.
17. Overnight amongst cocoa fields, Saint Lucia
The 4* Boucan by Hotel Chocolat lies in one of the oldest remaining cocoa plantations in Saint Lucia and offers panoramic views over the plantations and the brilliant blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Guests staying here can look forward to special chocolate related activities, from cocoa-infused spa treatments to tree to bar experiences to learn about how this tasty treat is created from start to finish. I want to stay here.
18. Stay in a jungle treehouse, Malaysia
The 5* Japamala Tioman Island is a luxury resort that has been built seamlessly into the trees. Choose from secluded Treetop Chalets to Jungle Luxe Sarangs, each with its very own private plunge pool and an open-air bath tucked amidst the foliage. Treat yourself to spa treatments at the Samadhi Spa which offers luxury treatments in a natural open-air environment. I want to stay here.
19. Sleep in a tree house, Thailand
Tucked away in a forest on the west coast of Phuket, the 5* Keemala resort offers the chance to overnight in a tree house or bird cage inspired by an ancient tribe. Each villa has the luxury of its own private plunge pool overlooking the lush green forests below. Linked by elevated jungle walkways beneath a canopy of trees, the main area has beautiful views of the rainforest and a luxury spa that will surely tempt. I want to stay here.
20. Enjoy the Disney experience, Orlando
Relive your childhood at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with your favourite Walt Disney and Disney Pixar characters. Each room has its own colourful and creative theme, from the Little Mermaid to the Lion King. Plus, kids will love the chance to swim in the Nemo themed swimming pool which even has underwater speakers! Enjoy some memorable family bonding time at the Landscape of Flavours where you can build your own burgers for dinner. I want to stay here.
21. Stay at a hotel overlooking a volcano, Hawaii
Do you dare to stay at Hawaii’s epic Volcano House Hotel, overlooking the active crater of the mighty Kiluea volcano – the site of the longest known eruption on earth? Located within the borders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, guests can enjoy dinner at The Rim with locally sourced cuisine and excellent views of the crater. Spend your days exploring the sulphur banks and Thurston lava tube during your stay. I want to stay here.
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
22. Stay in an eco-hut, Colombia
The Ecohabs is a 3* hotel within the exceptional Tayrona National Park in Colombia. Each rustic hut is spread across the hillside and has a private deck with a hammock and an extraordinary view of the ocean. Guests can enjoy a real back-to-nature retreat at this minimalistic resort with a safe swimming beach, a number of hiking trails and two beach restaurants serving excellent seafood. Or you can spend your days relaxing in the Jacuzzi at the small spa. I want to stay here.
23. Stay in the Amazon jungle, Brazil
Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge is an exclusive 4* lodge in the middle of Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest. This All Inclusive lodge offers the ideal escape with all meals, transfers and excursions included. Each thatched bungalow is tucked away within the trees and offers a balcony with hammock and a spectacular view of the forest. Guests can look forward to serene canoe trips down the river and admiring the forest from a 13 metre high canopy tower during their stay. I want to stay here.
24. Stay in a yurt, Chile
Experience the beauty of Torres del Paine National Park from the unique sanctuary of 4* Patagonia Camp. Accommodation is available in a series of luxury yurts spread about the hillside or on the peaceful shores of Lake Toro. Each yurt is centrally heated and has a twin or king bed, a private bathroom and a terrace with views over Lake Toro and the Paine Massif. Don’t miss the chance to stay at this fantastic All Inclusive camp. I want to stay here.
What other unusual hotels do you know about? Let us know in the comments below! Chat to our travel experts about planning your holiday.