10 quirky alternatives to hotels for inspiration

stay in a luxury tent and other unique accommodation

As a 20 something backpacker looking for accommodation I would focus on location and price as the major factors driving my choice. These days I like to look for something a little special for our family trips. Who knows when we will return to that part of the world, if at all. I look for quirky accommodation options that will enhance the experience of our trip from a cultural perspective.

Unique accommodation ideas

Here are a few favourite 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 château 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 located on the River Oise that is being lovingly restored by an english couple. We stayed in the Gite however there are 3 other accommodation options at the chateau that is a 15 minute drive to the market town of St Quentin.

An eco villa in Bali

I’ve loved Bali since my first visit 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, garden setting and open kitchen and dining/living area. The owners’ cook was also on hand to make delicious dinners and she was amazing with our babies.


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. Dinner is served as the sun is setting and you hear the sounds of the wildlife around you as you eat some truly delicious Sri Lankan curry. It really was a very special experience.

Rainforest treehouses in Australia

In the far north of Australia, most visitors stay close to the coast to 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 green possum.

A house boat in Amsterdam

This Easter we visited Amsterdam for a short break. I knew straight away that I wanted to stay on a houseboat. We chose one that is located close to the main attractions such as the Anne Frank house and the floating flower market. It was an amazing experience and you can read all about it here – Staying on a houseboat in Amsterdam.

Houseboat in Amsterdam - quirky accommodation options

How to find and book unique places to stay

You might be surprised to learn that we booked most of these trips via AirBnB or Booking.com. Using these sites opens up a whole new world of exciting accommodation options beyond hotels and bed and breakfasts.

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

1. Inside a volcano and waterfall in Chile

2. Cappadocia’s fairy chimney hotel is so pretty

3. Traditional Japanese guesthouses or ryokan look so peaceful

4. A glass igloo in Lapland- this is my dream, to lie in a cosy bed and watch the northern lights overhead

I’d love to hear your suggestions of quirky accommodation around the world

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Chateau de Lucy unique accommodation in Picardy France

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  1. 16th March 2016 / 10:03 AM

    I love all of these ideas!!! We lived thirty minutes from St. Quentin last year and never ever heard of Chateau Lucy! I’m kind of bothered…! Great post!

    • 16th March 2016 / 5:59 PM

      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

  2. 16th March 2016 / 2:07 PM

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

    • 16th March 2016 / 6:07 PM

      Ha! I’m quite adventurous ?

  3. 16th March 2016 / 2:18 PM

    Great post! I DO love reading and experiencing about unconventional accommodations all over the world. I was in a boat in Stockholm (it was an hostel but actually far more cozy and clean than many other hotels and B&B I’ve bumped into in my travels). I love the green villa in Bali! Wish I could see it. If you go to Amsterdam again, also consider this artist’s home. http://www.sabrinabarbante.com/soggiornare-a-casa-di-un-artista-ad-amsterdam/

    • 16th March 2016 / 5:56 PM

      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. 16th March 2016 / 5:04 PM

    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!

    • 28th April 2016 / 9:16 AM

      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

  5. 16th March 2016 / 5:15 PM

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

  6. 16th March 2016 / 6:31 PM

    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!

    • 16th March 2016 / 6:36 PM

      Thanks Aparna. Looking forward to reading about the ryokan ?

  7. 16th March 2016 / 6:40 PM

    I love them all – maybe not the tent though! Tempted by the eco lodge. Thank you for a great article. x

  8. 16th March 2016 / 7:10 PM

    Really loved this post! Some great inspiration for accommodation! 🙂

  9. 17th March 2016 / 4:04 AM

    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.

    • 17th March 2016 / 6:27 AM

      Thank you Blina. I think a tree house in Kerala sounds magical. I would love to visit India one day

  10. 17th March 2016 / 7:07 AM

    I am actually considering the house boat experience for an upcoming trip to Amsterdam! Great alternatives, this post was really creative!

    • 17th March 2016 / 8:28 AM

      Thanks Gabi ? I’ll be posting our experience on the houseboat in lots of detail do stay tuned!

  11. 17th March 2016 / 12:52 PM

    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.

    • 30th April 2016 / 10:19 AM

      A prison! Wow, that would be different. We are up to Oxford this weekend so I might take a peek. Thanks for the tip Amber

  12. 18th March 2016 / 8:09 AM

    Very inspiring indeed! Pesonally i always wanted to spend a night in a tree house:)

  13. 20th March 2016 / 8:00 AM

    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.

  14. 20th March 2016 / 9:04 PM

    I choose the house boat for now 😉 #wkendtravelinspiration

    • 20th March 2016 / 9:20 PM

      Full report on that coming soon ? thanks for stopping by!

  15. 20th March 2016 / 9:39 PM

    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.

  16. 23rd March 2016 / 8:30 PM

    Lush ideas. I’d love to try a boathouse in Kerala.

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