Traveling With Kids | Your Kids Will Flip Over These Hotels with a Twist

by , posted on March 20th, 2014 in Traveling With Kids

hotels with a twist
The other day I was thinking about the fact that my twin daughters are about to turn 12 years old. I then started doing some mental math on how many years of school they have left which lead me to figure out how many more Christmas and summer vacations we have together as a family before they leave for university. Warning: I would not advise any of you do this. The shock of finding out how few years we have left as a family all living under one roof, started me thinking about how to make the coming years the best that I can. And since we’re a family who loves to travel, I began considering ways to make our trips even more exciting and memorable.

All this is a convoluted way of explaining how I got the idea for this month’s travel column focusing on some of the world’s coolest and most interesting accommodations. Accommodations such as these could add adventure and excitement to any trip. I know my kids would be ecstatic to stay in any one of these places (even if they might be a tad less comfortable for us parents). But hey, it’s worth it for the sake of family memories and I haven’t met a kid who doesn’t love to do something a little out of the norm. Staying in any of these places certainly would give them impressive stories to share with their friends when they get home.

There are of course the “ests” – the world’s tallest hotel, the smallest hotel, the most expensive hotel, the narrowest hotel and the oldest hotel. But in addition, there are also so many more wonderfully crazy and interesting places to lay your head while on vacation. Places that will most likely end up playing a major part of your family travel memories and stories. It’s true that a lot of these accommodations can be quite pricey but some are actually considered budget and would be perfect to fit into most family travel budgets.

Here are a few that I’ve come across I know my family would love to visit one day:

mantra resort

The Mantra Resort, located in Zanzibar, offers an underwater aquarium room which has the sleeping quarters located 4 meters below the water surface. Add in some underwater spotlights for nighttime sea-life viewing and I think while getting the kids to bed would be easier, getting them to sleep just got a lot more difficult.

jumbo stay hotel in Stockholm

Usually I can’t wait for the airplane part of our vacations to be over but I think I’d make an exception for this Boeing 747 that has been converted into a beautiful hostel/hotel. Located in Sweden at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, Jumbo Stay offers hostel style dorm bed rooms as well as a modern luxury suite in the plane’s cockpit. Considering it’s Sweden, the prices are actually quite reasonable as well. You can find another plane accommodation in Costa Rica here and if you have a train lover in your family, you can find a great list of hotels in trains here.


ice hotels image by
[Photos by Luc Rousseau]

Being Canadian, I have to include the world famous Ice Hotel located in Quebec City. I actually visited it many years ago and was in awe that everything from the front desk to the beds to the bar are all made from ice. No worries though, they keep you warm at night by laying animal skins on the ice beds and providing very warm blankets and sleeping bags. The kids will love the grand ice-slide located inside the hotel and the parents will greatly appreciate the large fireplaces and warm beverages. You won’t find me personally staying at The Ice Hotel because I loathe the cold but I know my kids and husband would absolutely love this experience. Find Ice Hotels in other countries here.

sphere hotel in Canada

Of all of these amazing and eccentric types of accommodations, I have to admit that the treehouse hotels are the ones that intrigue me the most. The thought of spending a night suspended amongst the tree tops seems romantically idyllic. There are many treehouse accommodations around the world including Canada (above), Sweden, India, France, Thailand, South Africa and Brazil to name a few. It’s a great way to escape our busy technologically-centered lives and experience the local nature and woods. For me, this would really be the ultimate childhood dream accommodation.

legoland hotel
[photo sources]

Two words: Lego Hotel. Your kids will lose their minds upon seeing this place. Located in California the Legoland Hotel is a veritable heaven for kids of just about any age. They offer many different themed rooms for pirates, princesses and adventurers and is conveniently located next to the Legoland amusement park. Kids are well taken care of with specialized kid’s meals, interactive play areas, entertainment and an amazing pool/fitness area. Find a list of other Legoland resorts here.

Boot Hotel in New Zealand

Dog Bark Inn in Idaho

[photo source Boot Hotel, Dog Park Inn]

And of course there are also unusually shaped hotels found all over the world that will really impress the little ones. A few you can choose from are The Boot Hotel in New Zealand, the 12 foot Elephant shaped Kumbuk River Hotel in Sri Lanka, the 10 story Chinese God shaped Tianzi Hotel in China, the massive Beagle shaped Dog Bark Park Inn in Idaho and the teepee shaped accommodations at Wigwam Village in Kentucky. And while researching for this column, I even found a hotel in Belgium shaped like the human colon called, appropriately enough, CasAnus (Google at your own risk).

strange hotels
[photo source honeycomb, prison, capsule]

And for older kids, the following accommodations will definitely make their head spin. You can book your family into the Karosta Prison Hotel in Latvia where you are assigned a cell with uncomfortable iron bed, given a prison passport upon arrival (as well as a mock medical exam) and served horrible food by unpleasant wait staff. And all this for the bargain price of around $15. Another option for older kids are the famous Japanese Capsule hotels. These narrow pods that fit just a single mattress are not for the claustrophobic but would be an experience of a lifetime.

And if you want your tweens and teens to think of you as the coolest parent alive then buy tickets for the Belgian Music Festival De Gentse Feesten and book a few of the original Honeycomb sleep capsules.

Barn Hotels in Switzerland

My family’s favourite accommodation with a twist is by far our experience sleeping in the hay in Switzerland. The Swiss Schlaf im Stroh program consists of over 200 working farms that allow tourists to come and, literally, sleep in the hay bales in their barns. A few years ago we booked into a farm in the mountains near Lugano, Switzerland and spent a night sharing sleeping quarters with about 20 snoring (stinky) goats. My kids were beaming with happiness during our entire stay (and we appreciated the fact we actually found affordable accommodation in Switzerland!). We have big plans to visit a few more farms this coming summer.

Would you ever think of staying in any of the above accommodations? Or have you stayed at a special one that you think families would enjoy? I’d love to hear all about it.

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9 Responses to “Traveling With Kids | Your Kids Will Flip Over These Hotels with a Twist”

  1. Jennifer Cooper Says:

    March 20th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I googled the colon. I may be scarred for life.

    EXCELLENT list Jill! I have to say, the underwater one sounds so cool. Don’t know if I could stay there for an entire week though. I also checked out the prison. It cracked me up!

  2. Traveling With Kids: Cool Hotels With a Twist | Jillian In Italy Says:

    March 20th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    [...] over on Classic Play today talking about some really neat and unique accommodations that I found and that I know kids [...]

  3. Jennifer Cooper Says:

    March 20th, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Just shared this with E + J and they thought it was the coolest. thing. ever. J wants to stay in either the trees, pods or airplane. E was up for any of them. Just not the colon.

  4. Kanchan Singh Says:

    March 21st, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Hi Jillian..I love your list..all look good to me. But I have to admit my kids are happy in any hotel as long as they have ROOM SERVICE and TV!

    Jillian In Italy Reply:

    Ha! That is true enough (plus a pool for mine). Are there any neat hotels in India that you know of?

  5. Cherrie Says:

    March 24th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    The coolest hotel we’ve stayed in was a cave hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey. The rooms were carved out of the rocks. Even the fireplace and wardrobe was carved into the rock wall. My daughter got a special alcove just for her bed in one corner, which she loved. It was the coziest hotel room we’ve experienced.

    I blogged about it with some pictures here:

    Jillian In Italy Reply:

    I saw some photos of that hotel during my research and actually forgot to include it! Thanks for reminding me. It looks amazing. Was it damp and chilly in there though? And it must be strange to have no natural light. In any case, I would love to stay there. And I know my kids would too!

    Cherrie Reply:

    It wasn’t damp at all. The rooms were not carved too deep into the rock, and they’re all above ground. They were also equipped with modern heaters. Once we turned up the heat, it gets warm and toasty really quickly (we were there at the end of October, so it was rather chilly at night). As for natural light, our room also got a window overlooking the hotel courtyard.

  6. Traveling with Kids | New York City’s Big Apple Greeter Tours Says:

    April 24th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

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