This post was edited by Cicci at 2012-3-12 10:01|
By Bija Knowles From www.cnngo.com
Whether it's balanced on the rim of a volcano or made of crystallized salt, the right hotel can provide you with a good year's worth of bragging material.
The best part is you don't need to raid the kids' college fund to find some exotic, out-there rooms.
1. The Balancing Barn, England
The only stressful thing about this hotel is the swing beneath the barn.
Find a little balance in this precariously perched hotel. It was built by Living Architecture, the brainchild of Swiss philosophical writer Alain de Botton who wrote "The Architecture of Happiness."
The group created a series of homes in the United Kingdom based on high-quality, modern architecture and de Botton's work on the connection between environment, architecture and happiness.
The Balancing Barn in Suffolk, on the edge of a nature reserve, sleeps eight people. Clad in silver tiles and with large windows giving great views, it has also won a series of travel and design awards.
Living Architecture has also just launched its sixth property: a boat-shaped room where you can spend the night, perched on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank.
Cost: From US$38.90 per person.
2. The Mountain Retreat Inn, China
There's no telephone and no TV here, but there is a handy pizza oven.
With views of the peaceful Yulong River near Yangshuo in Guanxi province, the Mountain Retreat Inn has been named a top hotel by TripAdvisor and The Telegraph.
It's all very eco friendly, with sustainable local bamboo used for furnishings where possible, but it's the mountain scenery that makes this one for the scrapbook. The dramatic karst peaks along the nearby Li River are a big tourist draw, while the hotel itself has comfortable, simple rooms.
Cost: A single room from US$62.
+86 773 8777 091; www.yangshuomountainretreat.com
3. Wild Brown Bear Hotel, Finland
Hide your picnic baskets.
It's the surroundings here that are the attraction rather than the hotel -- but you can't trek through the forests of eastern Finland's Karelia region, over spongy carpets of moss and blueberries and under birch and pine canopies, without feeling as if you're walking through a fairy tale.
The Wild Brown Bear Hotel is a great base for getting close to Finland's natural side, and from here you can arrange an overnight stay in a hide looking out for wild brown bears and wolverines (a photographer's hide is also available).
Other activities in the area include kayaking around peaceful lakes, cycling and enjoying the great Finnish outdoors.
Cost: A one-night stay in the bear-watching hide starts from US$213 per person.
+358 (0)40 5469 008; http://wildbrownbear.fi
4. Hotel Saratoga, Cuba
Evacuate to the rooftop to escape the noisy traffic.
If you're in Cuba chances are you will pass through Havana, and there is no cooler place to stay than the Hotel Saratoga.
Its rooftop pool has some of the best views in town and goes some way to offsetting the traffic noise and hustle of the Paseo del Prado. It features on the Guardian's list of top 10 hotels in Havana and is considered one of the better bolt-holes in town. But avoid the food if you can.
Cost: Deluxe patio rooms start from US$238.
5. Houshi Ryokan, Japan
The secret to 1,300 years of business? Minimalism.
For an authentic, and Zen-like, Japanese night, try a ryokan. These inns offer simple tatami-matted rooms with futons, traditional Japanese food and communal hot water spas.
The Houshi Ryokan in Hokuriku, Ishikawa, north-west of Tokyo, is one of the oldest ryokans in Japan. It's been managed by the same family for 46 generations and has been in business for more than 1,300 years.
Its elegant sukiya-style rooms are designed according to Japanese architectural ideals and the ryokan's legendary hot spring, or onsen, is reputed to have curative properties. Local dishes are served for breakfast and dinner.
Cost: Guest rooms start from US$91 per night.