7 Most Unique Hotels in the World: The Coolest Accommodations 

by Jon Miksis
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Looking to create new travel memories that you will never forget? Sometimes you want to hike the tallest summit or swim in the clearest ocean. Often, we view our accommodations as nothing more than a place to sleep at night. But what if we wanted something more? When it comes to the most unique hotels in the world, your accommodations may become the most memorable part of your trip. 

Traveling can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a journey to get in touch with nature. Maybe you want to check out one of the seven wonders of the world in person. Maybe it’s a trip to see friends or family or a solo opportunity to unwind and escape the everyday hustle and bustle.

One of my favorite reasons to travel is to have a unique experience. I go to new places to experience something different from what I would ever encounter in daily life. It’s an opportunity to live like someone else for a few days, to put myself in someone else’s shoes in a different walk of life.

When compiling this list of the most unique hotels in the world, that’s what I had in mind. What experiences would I like to have that are so far from my everyday life? From the most luxurious accommodations to experiences with wild animals to a 1900s prison, this list is full of opportunities to check out brand-new environments.

So, buckle up, and let’s take a trip to some of the most unique hotels on Earth!

most unique hotels in the world text overlay above a photo of icehotel in sweden
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Quick tip to find affordable airfare when traveling to the most unique hotels of the world

If you’re looking for the most unique hotels in the world, chances are you’ll need to fly. Flights can often be the other biggest expense of any trip, even when compared to luxurious accommodations. That’s why I use Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going) to get crazy-cheap flight deals. With the money I save, I can spend a bit more on an unforgettable hotel.

Getting started with Scott’s is simple. Start by making a free account and then input your closest airport. Scott’s will then send you free email alerts with extremely inexpensive flights. It’s as easy as that!

If you’re a frequent traveler like me, a bigger and better version of this service is also available. Check out Scott’s premium version, which costs only $49 annually. With the premium subscription, you’ll receive flight deals more often. This gives you the opportunity to scoop up those deeply-discounted fares before anyone else.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your flight today and start your journey to one of these unique hotel experiences!

The World’s Most Unique Hotels

While a hotel is often just a place to sleep at night, a unique hotel can be a destination itself. Any of these seven hotels is worth a visit. Not just because of the area they’re in but because the hotels themselves are so special. Whether you’re in the area and need a place to stay, or are looking for a destination to plan your next trip around, check out these absolutely awesome accommodations.

1. Icehotel – Jukkasjärvi, Sweden 

If you’re looking for a truly “cool” experience, check out the Icehotel in Sweden. This unique experience in Jukkasjärvi has offered the opportunity to live in a luxurious igloo since it opened in 1989. It is also an art exhibit; each room is designed to provide an architectural experience. The hotel features ever-changing sculptures made of ice and snow.

The Icehotel in Sweden is one of the most unique hotels in the world.
The Icehotel in Sweden is truly one of the most unique hotels in the world. | Credit: Booking.com

Icehotel is most interesting because you get a new experience after every visit. As you may have expected, Jukkasjärvi does not experience freezing temperatures year-round. For that reason, the hotel is only open from December until April, but what happens in between?

During the off-season, the entire hotel melts, and the accommodations are reincarnated. Each year, Icehotel welcomes new guests with a completely different design. The snowmelt goes into the Torne River until the hotel is made anew come winter. There’s no doubt that Icehotel is one of the most unique hotels in the world!

There is something incredibly beautiful about that sentiment. To borrow from the earth to create something unique that only a handful of individuals can enjoy before the building material is returned to the river. And then, each year, to be borrowed again to create an entirely new experience. Looking for something that feels exclusive and special? Visiting Icehotel is a unique experience you need to check out!

Every year, Icehotel's room designs and sculptures melt and are redesigned.
Every year, the room designs and sculptures melt and are redesigned. | Credit: Booking.com

2. Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel – Ottawa, Canada 

Looking for unique accommodations in Canada? The Ottawa Jail hostel is located in the former Carleton County Gaol. It’s more commonly known as the Nicholas Street Gaol or the Ottawa Jail and served as the area’s correctional facility from the late 1800s into the late 1900s. If you’re looking for a high-class experience, staying in a hostel probably isn’t for you. However, the Ottawa Jail Hostel might interest those looking to experience a bit of history! Staying at a former jail is one of the most unique architectural experiences you can have.

The Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel is one of the most unique hotels in the world
The Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel really was a former jail, making it a unique place to stay. | Credit: Booking.com

Hostels have a bad reputation. However, as someone who has stayed in many hostels worldwide, they are a great way to save money when traveling. Many are even nicer than hotels and motels. This is the case for the Ottawa Jail Hostel. If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom, this is one of the most fun ways to explore the world. And you get the opportunity to meet other interesting folks along the way!

A frighteningly unique accommodation

The Ottawa Jail Hostel gives guests a glimpse into the past thanks to the many architectural features they’ve retained. This includes cell blocks, iron doors, and stone walls formerly used to keep inmates inside the facility. Now, you can say you spent the night in jail without worrying about a mug shot.

If you’re into haunted attractions, this may also be an ideal way to spend time in Ottawa. Several guests and staff members of the Ottawa Jail Hostel have reported experiences with spirits, particularly the ghosts of those who passed away in the jail. One of the most notorious ghosts is Patrick Whelan, one of the three men hanged on the property after receiving a death sentence. Guests report seeing Whelan’s ghost at the base of their bed at night. Will you be lucky enough to share in the experience? Only one way to find out!

a cell at the Ottawa Jail Hostel
Some say the ghosts of former inmates are still enjoying the accomodations. | Credit: Booking.com

3. The Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel

Once a 19th-century convent/hospital in Israel, The Jaffa has been renovated into one of the coolest hotels in the world. The combination of original architecture of this historic building and modern-day luxury is what makes this hotel so unique. 

The Jaffa in Tel Aviv is one of the most unique hotels in the world
This unique hotel was once a convent and hospital in Israel. | Credit: Booking.com

Jaffa guests can stay along the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy the soothing sounds of the water as they unwind on their trip. Every room is designed to be the complete package of luxury and relaxation. Here you’ll find technology upgrades that don’t take away from the beauty of the rooms’ architecture and design. Some rooms offer private balconies, towering ceilings, and patio doors that take guests directly out to the pool for a cabana-style experience.

The hotel features a restaurant that shows off the best of Tel Aviv cuisine. Guests can also enjoy the rooftop infinity pool or reserve a treatment in their spa for the ultimate experience in luxury. If that isn’t enough to sell you on the Jaffa, think about how close you’ll be to the city’s downtown, as well as the stunning beaches, giving you the option for a little R&R in the sand or a late night on the town to enjoy Tel Aviv’s bustling nightlife. The choice is yours!

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The Jaffa's many luxurious accommodations include a beautiful outdoor pool.

The Jaffa’s many luxurious accommodations include a beautiful outdoor pool. | Credit: Booking.com

4. Giraffe Manor – Nairobi, Kenya

Is getting up close and personal with animals in their natural habitat on your bucket list? Then, Giraffe Manor is the ideal destination for you! This charming hotel features a resident herd of the most majestic creature on Earth—the giraffe—that roam freely across the grounds, interacting with guests, making this certainly one of the most unique hotels in the entire world.

Giraffe Manor is one of the most unique hotels in the world for animal lovers.
Giraffe Manor is one of the most unique hotels in the world for animal lovers.

Why you should visit this cool hotel

Giraffes are extremely gentle creatures; those who’ve stayed at this hotel can certainly attest to that. These stunning animals poke their heads through the manor’s windows throughout the day. Guests can feed them or take photos with them right up close!

Unlike many attractions that feature experiences with wildlife, Giraffe Manor is extremely ethical, which I think is always important to address. Giraffe Manor is a way to experience these animals in their natural habitat. It has been a preserve for breeding since well before it became a hotel. In fact, they continue to release giraffes into the wild that are former residents of the manor. They are helping increase the populations of endangered species throughout the area.

Since day one, their focus has been on conservation and the well-being of each animal. The giraffes here are free to roam as they please. Not only are they fed by guests, but staff members provide them with plenty of food throughout the day. The giraffes always have the option to return to their home in the forest at any time. What makes this experience special is that you are a guest in the home of these gorgeous majestic animals, giving visitors the opportunity to truly understand why preserving the lives of every animal—big or small—is so important.

a closeup photo of a giraffe in kenya
When you stay here, you can get up close and personal with giraffes!

5. Conrad Maldives – Rangali Island, Maldives 

The Republic of Maldives is a group of islands located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, just southwest of Sri Lanka and India, and it is home to one of the most stunning, exclusive hotels in the entire world: the Conrad Maldives

Conrad Maldives is the ideal luxury destination for beach lovers
Conrad Maldives is the ideal luxury destination for beach lovers. | Credit: Booking.com.

Twice voted Best Hotel in the World, this incredible vacation destination is visited by some of the most high-profile celebrities in the world, such as the Kardashians, because of the unforgettable experience it provides its guests

The Conrad Maldives is one of the most interesting five-star resorts in the world because it spans two private islands in the Maldives. It offers a variety of villas for guests to stay in, which include an underwater villa called Muraka. This famous accommodation is quite pricey—about $50,000. But for the few that can afford it, the Muraka provides an unforgettable sleeping experience deep beneath the sea.

Fortunately, the Conrad has plenty of villas that non-celebrities can enjoy without taking out a second mortgage. Any of their villas will provide an undeniably posh experience, leaving guests fully relaxed. You will never be more at peace than when you gaze out across the Indian Ocean. You will wonder if this is how the other half lives all the time.

Conrad Maldives is one of the most unique hotels in the world.
Look no further than Conrad Maldives for a unique vacation experience. | Credit: Booking.com.

6. Burj Al Arab Hotel – Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

One of the most iconic hotels in Dubai is the Burj Al Arab. Dubai is already a city of innovation and unique experiences, and if you’re here to check out something entirely different from your daily life, the Burj Al Arab is the place for you.

The Burj al Arab is one of the most unique hotels in the world.
There is no other hotel like Burj Al Arab in the world. | Credit: Booking.com

This luxury hotel is situated on its own artificial island, just off the shore of the Arabian Gulf. It connects to the mainland by a private bridge, giving the entire experience a very exclusive feel. The hotel is often called the “Sail of Dubai” due to its distinct shape and its location within the sea.

When it comes to extravagance, the Burj Al Arab is the pinnacle. The hotel is one of the tallest in the world and was designed by architect Tom Wright. Completed in 1999, it has been a symbol of opulence for over 20 years.

The interior is just as extravagant as the structure itself. The hotel has soaring ceilings that draw your eye to the gorgeous furnishings. The attention to detail is astonishing, but what else would you expect from a hotel of this caliber? From the regal gold and jewel-tone interior to bold lighting fixtures, it seems every little detail has been considered when building the Burj Al Arab.

A unique hotel with stunning views

Because of its height and location just off the mainland, the luxury suites give visitors the most stunning view of Dubai. Spending time in your room can be just as exciting as exploring the city, especially in the evening when you can view the city’s lights as far as the eye can see. You can also choose a room that overlooks the water if you’re interested in a more tranquil experience.

Some of the suites offer more expansive amenities than others, such as access to nine different types of pillows, duvets, linens, and beds personalized for you, allowing you the best sleep possible. The on-site hotel also includes a restaurant featuring a large aquarium, a spa and wellness center, an infinity pool overlooking the Gulf, and so much more.

If luxury is what you’re searching for on your next adventure, the Burj Al Arab will surpass any expectations. It should be on everyone’s bucket list when it comes to opulent vacation experiences and the most unique hotels in the world.

Burj Al Arab has many luxurious amenities
When you stay here, it will truly be a memorable experience. | Credit: Booking.com

7. The Liberty – Boston, MA, USA

If you’re looking for one of the coolest hotels in the United States, I recommend The Liberty in my hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. What makes Liberty one of the most unique hotels in the world has a lot to do with the history of the former guests. Did I say “guests?” I should say “prisoners.”

The Liberty Hotel in Boston is one of the most unique hotels in the world.
The Liberty Hotel in Boston is a unique place to stay in New England. | Credit: Booking.com

What makes The Liberty Hotel among the coolest hotels in the world

The Liberty Hotel in Boston was once the Charles Street Jail. However, today it masquerades as a unique luxury hotel that blends history with modern-day elegance. Still, the signs of its former life are visible, much to the delight of those who stay here. 

Most of the original architectural features have been preserved. The granite exterior, towering iron doors, and imposing central rotunda all hark back to its storied past. The hotel’s interior design combines modern aesthetics with hints of its penal heritage. The 298 guest rooms and suites offer a luxurious and comfortable retreat for guests. Many of the rooms feature oversized windows, providing breathtaking views of the city or the hotel’s charming courtyard.

The Liberty Hotel excels in its dining and entertainment offerings as well. CLINK, one of the hotel’s signature restaurants, preserves the essence of the former jail’s dining hall. It showcases a striking blend of contemporary design and historical elements.  Though wrought-iron bars on the windows of the former cells, the food will remind you that you’re in a posh restaurant. For me, CLINK is one of the most unique restaurants in all of Boston.

In addition to its history, the hotel provides plenty of upscale amenities for guests. The hotel has a fitness center, business center, and ample event spaces for weddings or other occasions. If you’re looking for a hotel that provides a unique historical experience in New England, the Liberty Hotel is the perfect spot!

Clink is the name of one of the restaurants at the LIberty Hotel and it still features cell doors in the dining area
You can tell your friends and family you spend time in the CLINK, eating delicious cuisine. | Credit: Booking.com

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the most unique hotels in the world.

Do you have lingering questions about the most unique hotels in the world? Well, I’ve got answers! Before embarking on your next unique trip, here are some of the most common questions I get about the world’s most interesting accommodations.

Are unique hotels expensive?

Unique hotels can vary in price, with some being more affordable and others catering to a luxury clientele. The rates often depend on factors such as location, exclusivity, amenities, and the overall experience offered. However, it’s possible to find unique accommodations that suit a range of budgets, allowing travelers to experience something extraordinary without breaking the bank.

Booking.com, one of the popular online booking platforms, provides a wide range of accommodations, including unique hotels, at different price points. They offer options catering to various budgets, allowing you to find a unique hotel that fits your financial needs. By utilizing search filters on Booking.com, you can specify your price range and explore unique hotels within your desired budget.

ice hotels are some of the most unique hotels in the world.
Ice hotels have some of the coolest accommodations you’ll find.

What can I expect from a stay in a unique hotel?

Staying in a unique hotel promises an unforgettable experience. From sleeping in a converted castle to living in a treehouse or even underwater, guests can expect to be immersed in extraordinary surroundings. These hotels often offer personalized services, exceptional amenities, and opportunities for adventure, creating lasting memories and stories to share.

How do I save extra money on my flight to some of the world’s most unique hotels?

Traveling to any of these destinations to stay in some of the most interesting hotels in the world can put you out a decent amount of money, but luckily, there are many ways to save money on flights and other parts of the travel experience. When it comes to scoring low-cost flights, I recommend Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going). This website offers fares to just about anywhere for 40-90% off the regular rates. 

By signing up for their completely free email alerts, you’ll receive access to low-cost fares. Thanks to mistake fares or airlines needing to fill seats at the last minute, you can scoop up some pretty sweet deals through Scott’s, and even more with their premium subscription. This service costs just $49 a year, but for a limited time, you can use coupon code JON20 to save 20%!

What country has the most beautiful hotels?

This is a hard question to answer, but one I get frequently. Ultimately, I think it comes down to your own taste. If you’re looking for extreme luxury, I recommend the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. They have some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. However, if you’re more interested in sightseeing and unique experiences, the small hotel rooms in Japan may suit your fancy. If beachy vacations are more your speed, Mexico or Hawaii may have what you’re looking for. Looking for something historic? Many countries in Europe, as well as the UK, will likely have something that piques your interest. No matter your taste, there’s a great place for you to explore and a new adventure waiting for you.

Dubai is home to some of the most unique hotels in the world.
Dubai is home to some of the most unique hotels in the world.

What is the most famous hotel in the world?

The Burj Al Arab, which you’ll find on this list, is considered one of the most famous hotels in the world. There are also plenty of other hotels that may not be the most unique or extravagant but are, for one reason or another, incredibly famous.

One of those hotels is The Plaza in New York. This has been the filming location for so many famous films, such as North by Northwest and Home Alone 2. It is also the setting for the children’s book Eloise at the Plaza. At the real Plaza hotel, you can stay in the Eloise Suite, decked out in all pink to honor the popular character.

Another famous hotel is Brown’s Hotel in London. This five-star hotel was made famous thanks to Queen Victoria, who loved to enjoy her tea here. Just a short ways away from Buckingham Palace, visitors can come here and enjoy a cup of tea just like the Queen.

The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas is also one of the most famous hotels in the world, likely because of its popular marine animal habitat that’s a favorite with visitors. The resort itself looks like a castle straight out of a Disney story, and features a water park that spans over 140 acres. This is an awesome destination for families of all sizes looking to get in touch with marine life.

While they may not necessarily be as famous worldwide, some of the most famous American hotels reside in Las Vegas, thanks in part to their unique themes. The Luxor, the Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio, Hotel Flamingo—each one of these holds a unique spot in the American zeitgeist.

What is the biggest hotel in the world?

The biggest hotel in the world is the First World hotel in Malaysia, featuring over 7,000 rooms. Coming up next are the Venetian and the MGM Grand, both in Las Vegas, with 7,000 and 6,800 rooms, respectively. Other large hotels across the world are Abraj Al Bait in Saudi Arabia, The Londoner Macao in Macau, and the Izmailovo Hotel in Russia.

In case you were wondering, the smallest hotel in the world is the The Eh’häusl Hotel in Amberg, Germany. This quaint, romantic spot—called “The Little Wedding House”—was built in 1728 and sits at just over six feet wide. This is a unique hotel to check out with your partner on a romantic vacation, but don’t bring along anyone else—there’s only room for two!

 most unique hotels in the world text overlay above a photo of the Burj Al Arab  hotel
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