Can I let you in on a secret?
I’ve spent way too many nights in hotels.
In my former life as a business traveller I would be on the road at least twice a month staying at bland corporate hotels.
At first this was exciting and felt luxurious – yay room service – because as a 20 something backpacker I looked for the cheapest places with the best parties. But after a while, the hotels felt the same.
It is an art apart. Saint Francis of Assisi said, “All saints can do miracles, but few of them can keep a hotel.”
Having had both those experiences, these days I look for luxury and special stays for our trips. By that I mean: unusual and quirky accommodation options that help make our trip extra special.
After all, who knows whether or when we will return to that part of the world again.
Unique accommodation ideas for memorable trips
Here are a few favourite special places that we have stayed in. Some of them have been a bit of a splurge but others were very well priced for what they offered – unique accommodation in outstanding locations.
A chateau in France
I stumbled upon Chateau de Lucy by chance via a messed up Google search. Always one to go with serendipity, we built a whole trip around this beautiful château in France’s Picardy region.
Chateau de Lucy is a beautiful 18th century property on the banks of the River Oise that is being lovingly restored by an English couple.
We stayed in the Gite with its very own roll top bath and rooftop terrace. There are three other accommodation options at the chateau just a 15 minute drive to the market town of St Quentin.
Check availability and prices for Chateau de Lucy
A house boat in Amsterdam
We rented a boat that is located close to the main attractions such as the Anne Frank house and the floating flower market in the Jordaan district.
It was an unforgettable experience simply watching the passing traffic on the canal. You can read all about it here: Staying on a houseboat in Amsterdam.
Want to stay on a houseboat? This is the one we booked – Pantheos houseboat- trust me, this location cannot be beaten.
Check availability and prices for the Amsterdam Pantheos houseboat
A luxury eco villa in Bali
I’ve loved Bali since my first visit to Indonesia in the 1980s. There is definitely more traffic and noise these days compared to back then. But you can still find a piece of tranquility in the lush tropical island in the hills outside of Ubud.
We stayed in this gorgeous lodge a couple of years ago and loved the pool and garden setting. But what made this accommodation really special was the open kitchen and dining/living area looking over the rainforest and the villa’s very own temple.
The owners’ cook was on hand to make delicious Indonesian style dinners and she was amazing with our babies.
There was no place I would rather have been for our first trip abroad as a family
An arty apartment in Brussels
Location, location, location. This AirBnB find was right in the heart of Brussels and a 2 minute walk from the Grand Place, Mannekin Pis and other Brussels attractions. What I loved about the place apart from the location was the references made to Belgian art great Magritte throughout the apartment.
A safari tent in Sri Lanka
We went camping a lot as kids but it was on a much less grand scale than the campsite at Kulu Safaris. Camp is in the Yala National Park where you can spot elephants, buffalo, deer and monkeys and many other species of animals, reptiles and birds.
The tents are set up with proper beds inside and there is even a shower. It’s definitely a glamping, not camping, experience.
Dinner is served as the sun is setting and you hear the sounds of the wildlife around you as you eat the most delicious Sri Lankan curry and sambals. It really was a very special experience.
Check availability and prices for Kulu Safari
Rainforest treehouses in Australia
In the far north of Australia, most visitors stay close to the coast and visit the spectacular beaches and world renowned Great Barrier Reef.
Venture a little inland however, and you will find a magical rainforest and ancient creatures that have roamed the earth for thousands of years.
At The Canopy Rain Forest Tree Houses and Wildlife Sanctuary you can immerse yourself in this wilderness and even meet a cassowary, tree kangaroo or a green possum.
The six luxury tree houses are set in 100 acres of unique Australian rainforest and are designed to make you feel like you are at one with with nature.
Check availability and prices for The Canopy Rainforest Tree Houses
How to find and book unique places to stay
You might be surprised to learn that we booked most of these trips via AirBnB and Booking.com. Using these sites opens up a whole new world of exciting accommodation options beyond hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Check in the search function on these sites and under property type you will see the options available – example, ryokan in Japan
Read my guide on finding the best holiday rentals and learn the how to sift through thousands of listings to find the true gems.
Other quirky accommodation ideas I would love to try
Since I started booking special stays it is fair to say that I am hooked! It’s almost like I have set myself a challenge to find the most unique accommodation in the world.
You can spend hours browsing Instagram for unique places to stay but here are my top picks
This hotel in Chile is built inside a mountain and has it’s own waterfall!
Learn more about Huilo Huilo Montaña Mágica Lodge
Instagram favourite, Cappadocia’s Sultan Cave Suites . Imagine having your breakfast on the terrace here watching the hot air balloons float overhead. Learn more about staying at the Sultan Cave Suites in Turkey
I’d love to hear your suggestions of quirky accommodation around the world. Where is the most special place you have stayed?
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