11 quirky accommodation ideas for travel inspiration

stay in a luxury tent and other unique accommodation

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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.”

Mark Twain

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 - quirky accommodation options

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

When we visited Amsterdam for a short break I knew straight away that I wanted to stay on a houseboat. Luckily there are plenty to choose from.

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.

Houseboat in Amsterdam - quirky accommodation options

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.

Bali eco villa - quirky accommodation options

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.

Quirky accommodation options - Brussels Art 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.

Quirky accommodation options – The Canopy
Images courtesy The Canopy Treehouses

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

At this luxury Japanese guesthouse or ryokan in Kyoto you can relax in your very own open air bath. Learn more about Nazuna Kyoto Nijo-tei

My dream is to see the Northern Lights in the comfort of a glass igloo. Just imagine lying in your cosy bed watching the northern lights overhead. Learn more about the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

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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25 thoughts on “11 quirky accommodation ideas for travel inspiration

  1. Daniela says:

    All of them sounds like you need a shot before booking them, especially before sleeping inside a volcano!

  2. Emily says:

    Fun list! My fave accommodations thus far have either been beach camping in Tasmania, or a tiny studio smack in the middle of Barcelona’s Gothic quarter–we could reach out our window and practically touch the walls across the “street.”

    Enjoy the houseboat. I’ve never been inside one, but I’m sure it’ll be an experience!

    • Katy says:

      beach camping in Tassie sounds amazing.. I am picturing a nice big bonfire as well. The houseboat was such a treat and I’d definitely do it again. Thanks so much for stopping by

  3. Heliana Alvarez says:

    This is such an awesome article! I love all these alternatives and will definitely keep them in mind!

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Christy. It was a small and not very well advertised chateau – why I liked it ? I think Picardy is a little bit under the radar for a lot of visitors to France. My husband would go back just for the epic pain au raisin he found there

    • Katy says:

      Thank you Sabrina, the artists home looks lovely and yes the villa in Bali was a real treat. Hope to get back there one day. Do you remember the name of the boat in Stockholm? x

  4. Aparna says:

    Love all of it! The chateau looks amazing – and I am yet to try a treehouse, but it’s definitely on my list! I will be trying a ryokan in Kyoto when I visit in May and am really looking forward to it. Also, love Airbnb for finding quirky/unique spots!

  5. Bilna Sandeep says:

    This is really lovely inspiration. I love tree houses. I once stayed in one at Wayanad Kerala and the experience was great..

    I too love places to stay that are different from the usual Hotel experiences.

    I would definitely love to try these someday.

  6. Amber says:

    I love finding quirky places to stay at on my travels! Whenever I make it to Amsterdam I will be staying in a house boat! I think in Oxford they turned a prison into a boutique hotel . . . that would be fun to stay at.

  7. Corinne says:

    I love quirky accommodations and have tried most of these. Haven’t done the houseboat…I don’t think. Anyway, they are all so fun. Highly recommend switching it up sometimes.

  8. Paula McInerney says:

    We have stayed in a houseboat in Amsterdam, and love it so much. Stayed in a rainforest eco lodge in Australia and loved it; ditto an art gallery in Strasbourg, France so yes, we love the alternate accommodation options. Try a cave house in Turkey and a ryokan in Japan also.

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